It's been over five years since we reviewed the excellent Creative T3 2.1 speakers.
I still have them in my kitchen at home and use them for bouncing around the kitchen to loud music while I cook.
If you forget the perplexingly dismal Creative ZiiSound T6 system that Creative burped out a few years after the T3s and skip straight to today's menu, the new T4 Wireless 2.1 system is Creative's follow-up and it's excellent.
Packing two satellite speakers, Creative 'Slam' subwoofer, Bluetooth 3.0. aptX support and NFC for pairing, it's essentially the T3 system reborn for the smartphone generation, and we really like them a lot.
You can pump them full of your music using 3.5mm jack, optical in, Bluetooth and you can also plug in via USB and use the subwoofer as a functional plug-and-play soundcard if you so wish. The addition of NFC means you can walk through your front door, tap your NFC-enabled smartphone against the audio control pod and continue listening to whatever you had in your ears moments before.
NFC gets a bad rap from some quarters, but for pairing audio devices it's super-useful, and using Creative Multipoint, the T4 Wireless can actually pair with two separate devices at a time, making switching between sources super, super easy.
To avoid confusing anyone who isn't accustomed to using Bluetooth speaker systems like this, the 'Wireless' aspect of this product's name refers only to the Bluetooth functionality. The satellite speakers and the volume pod are all very much wired into the subwoofer (a browse through comments on Amazon reveal this has been a cause of some confusion since the product went on sale).
The T4 Wireless system didn't make an immediate impact on set up. The satellite's phono connections were quite tricky to plug in, requiring a degree of force you wouldn't normally expect from a sound system with a top price. The volume pod's connector also felt a bit cheap to the touch, certainly not a premium hi-fi setup experience. That said, once they're in they're in and you can forget about them, so it's not a big deal at all.
Pairing to a Bluetooth device is mega easy. If you have an NFC phone or tablet you can literally just tap it against the volume control pod and you'll be up and running immediately. For non-NFC devices, you can press and hold the Bluetooth button on said pod to place it in pairing mode and then search using your phone/tablet/laptop/whatever. Once you've paired your device, you can just connect with one touch of a button whenever you like.
The control pod has a lovely volume dial that feels nice to the touch and looks good on a table top.
However, we found it to be poorly calibrated. Turning slowly to the left to decrease the volume always reached a sudden cut-off point where the output would suddenly cease instead of phasing out to silence. That's a clunky irritation and really not how it's supposed to be. It's the only serious black mark on the T4's scorecard.
Luckily, the system looks and sounds excellent. The 2.1 configuration makes so much more sense than a speaker dock if you really care about sound quality and can accommodate a subwoofer. The punchy bass and sharp high-end output from this system really sparkles and will impress from the moment you hit play.
The subwoofer makes a particular difference at low volumes, retaining a satisfying punch where even the most expensive speaker docks become quite flaccid.
At high volumes, the Slam woofer as usual is mega bassy, so you may wish to dial this down a bit. There's a knob on the back which enables you to turn the bass up and down – just a slight turn to the left was all it needed for my taste. You won't find it hard to find a setting you find comfortable – it'll depend how big your room is and whether it has soft or hard surfaces etc.
Generally though, the T4 performs admirably at all frequencies, delivering bassy punch, trebly twinkles and meaty midrange that should please all but the hardest of audiophiles.
Whether you're after a 2.1 set for your PC, some wireless speakers for your phone or a punchy compact system for your TV, the Creative T4 Wireless is a decent option. It's certainly a fantastic all-round system.
The sound quality is excellent, nice and balanced across the board, and provides a lovely, creamy soundwash that you generally do not get from Bluetooth speakerdocks.
For £212/$280 it also represents a degree of value if you put more weight in sound quality than a portable form factor.