Pros:Very high quality components. Surprising sound with balanced bass. Small yet durable design.
Cons:Blinding power LED. High volumes and bass settings can cause woofers to cough.
The Bottom Line: Get decent, natural sound anywhere you can fit them. With extremely high quality components, the T20's are made to last without ever dulling out.
I bought the Gigaworks T20 speakers as something I could bring with me to use with my notebook computer when I travel. Here's a run-down of each aspect of these particular speakers as I see them:
Recommend this product?
WHAT ARE THEY?:
The GigaWorks T20 are a 2.0 speaker system designed to give some of the quality found in professional studio monitors. These speakers do not use a subwoofer, making them very space-conscious and ideal for bookshelf placements or travel. The T20's are among Creative Lab's highest quality speakers they offer on the market.
Each satellite measures up to be roughly a little bigger than five DVD cases. Though these speakers use a power-brick, it's certainly not cumbersome enough to keep you from stowing these speakers away in a bag. On a desk, they match 15" laptops and 20"+ desktop systems ideally, taking up a rather minimal amount of room above and below the desk, since there's no subwoofer to worry about.
Each satellite is constructed with strong, high quality plastics that feel like they could take a beating. The casings are dominantly a carbon-gray matte finish, in exception of the front face which has a slight gloss finish to it. The input jacks on the backside are typical plastic, but the jacks and knobs on the front side are metal. The speakers installed in each satellite are no joke. Creative spared no quality here. Each mid-range woofer has a VERY distinct yellow color which woven-glass fiber and Kevlar speakers are known for. Since they're constructed of woven glass-fibers, weather changes such as temperature and humidity will have next to no affect on their performance and lifespan, and they can get remarkably loud without damaging themselves. Each tweeter has a dome covering made of a durable cloth instead of plastic, making them more flexible to create louder and more accurate highs.
While using these speakers with my laptop, I have to admit I'm surprised every time I start playing a song. I always forget that the T20's are capable of producing rather full, natural sound. My music has depth and clarity that I usually expect to hear from larger 2.1 systems. This isn't to say that the T20's can completely compete with larger 2.1 systems, but they stack up admirably. The mid-ranges and highs are up-front, clear, and precise, there's no denying this about them, however the bass will not be to everyone's liking. This is to be expected, since there is no subwoofer. I describe the T20's bass as sounding "Natural." They produce low sounds that are pretty close to how you would probably hear it in real life. It's the kind of bass that you can hear, not feel. Studio Monitor speakers are known for this, meaning consumers seeking to use the T20's to throw a techno rave in their room should probably look elsewhere -- you're not going to be shaking the floor. Still, for those who can appreciate natural sound to kick back to, you'll likely find a lot to like about the T20's.
PERFORMANCE (VOLUME & ADJUSTMENTS):
The T20's can get incredibly loud thanks to Creative's choice of materials for the speaker cones. At louder volumes, the bass output also increases exponentially since there's more airflow through the Bass-X ports on the top of the cases. Though the speakers are constructed of sturdy materials, they're still certainly not invincible. At louder volumes [above the 60% position,] long deep bassy sounds can cause the mid-range woofers to cough, disrupting the integrity of what you're listening to. This is guaranteed to happen if you turn the Bass knob all the way to max. If you keep the Bass in the middle, you're likely to encounter the woofer coughs rarely and receive the overall best listening experience. [For clarification, a woofer cough is when the speaker is trying to produce a sound that it doesn't have the capacity to create. For the T20's woofers, turning the Bass knob to max can cause nasty vibrations which make the Bass-X ports "Cough", and affect the overall quality of what you're listening to.] At much lower listening volumes, however, turning the Bass knob up can make bass more audible again, and coughs shouldn't occur.
The T20's are very room filling. At ample volumes, the sound can flow through several open rooms. Their projection can either be a good or bad thing depending on your situation.
The T20's are priced very right at around $80 to $100 [depending on where you buy them.] For 2.0 studio monitor style speakers, this is a very ideal price. There are countless other 2.0 speakers within the range of $100, namely Bose and M-Audio, but only Creative offers the smaller foot print design and high quality components. [M-Audio speakers are traditional bulky box-design, but a decent alternative choice. Bose Companion2's use low quality materials for the speaker cones and do not offer Bass + Treble adjustments.]
The protective screens on the front of the units are a nice addition, but if you don't have a pet to worry about, you should really use the T20's with the covers removed. The yellow glass-fiber speakers are really just something that should not be hidden away.
I'm also unsure what Creative was thinking, but the T20's have a blindingly bright blue power LED. It's so bright, it could probably induce blindness if looked at for too long. I ended up cutting out a small circle of black duct tape to put over the LED. I'd advise you do the same.
Honestly, if you've ever though about buying an iPod dock speaker set, just buy these and an Apple iPod Dock to go with it. You'll be FAR more satisfied and save yourself some money at the same time.
WHY 4/5 STARS?
Though the T20's perform to very respectable levels, some better bass optimization could be obtained in a future GigaWorks release. Also, the LED light is just ridiculous. It's like looking into the sun. Your eyes shouldn't have to adjust to the brightness of a power LED.