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Creative Labs ZiiSound D5 Bluetooth SoundBar - Testing

Following on from our coverage of the Creative Pure Music launch down under, we now have a sample of the new ZiiSound D5 Bluetooth SoundBar to try out for ourselves.

| WiFi / Bluetooth Speakers in Audio, Sound & Speakers | Posted: Aug 13, 2010 3:46 am
TweakTown Rating: 90%      Manufacturer: Creative Labs

Testing

 

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We found the overall performance of the D5 to be of a critically high standard throughout testing, offering the highest fidelity audio we have heard to date from either a SoundBar or from a Bluetooth device.

 

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Some issues were found with the (extreme) low and high end reproduction capabilities due to size and component limitations faced. However, these were not beyond what is characteristic of this size enclosure, generally speaking.

 

- High end:

 

The Apt-X Bluetooth codec samples up to 22kHz, but without a dedicated tweeter the D5 will struggle to make those frequencies heard. Technically, those full range drivers may be able to reproduce this high, but not with fantastic audibility/clarity.

 

We're sorry, but no, just no. Generally, speaker manufacturers would need to spend a considerable amount in time and resources, not to mention specialty components to accomplish this.

 

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Yes, this is another system that uses full range drivers to handle the high frequencies. When questioned about this choice at the product launch, the engineers from Creative informed us that the use of tweeters would require a dedicated crossover network and would ultimately push the price up past what is thought to be a competitive figure.

 

During our evaluation of the D5, for the most part high frequencies had a very balanced and airy tone reminiscent of a small pair of hi-fi speakers costing a few hundred.

 

Truth be told, these full range drivers sound great a lot of the time. Unfortunately, as soon as they are played up against a dedicated tweeter, things become readily apparent as to how much high end information is actually obfuscated or simply missing entirely.

 

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To further expand and clarify, we all know that most people have heard a live drum kit before. Right, so then, do you remember how the cymbals and high hats seemed to sit out from everything else and you could hear them ring out after being struck?

 

Well, it's those dynamic transient frequencies that provide the presence and air to a stereo reproduction.

 

- Mid Frequencies:

 

Arguably this is the strongest point in performance for the D5. We found no issue whatsoever with how mid bass sounded. In fact, performance in this area was amongst some of the best we have heard period from a small speaker solution. We found ourselves hearing parts of albums and swearing that they were not in the mix before; this simply because of the beautifully balanced tonality and intrinsic detail of these frequencies extruding from the pint sized D5.

 

The sort of tonal balance across the range we found when evaluating this criterion was entry level studio monitor quality ($350-400AUS). We also found musicality and rhythmic integrity to feature highly in this performance by the D5. Basically, if you are listening to a recording and not at least bobbing around a little from time to time, then the system is doing a poor job of conveying the recording's original musicality.

 

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- Low End

 

Again, much like the high end, this area of performance is (by implication) hamstrung by the small size of the unit and the use of full range drivers. While low end extension is aided by the inclusion of a bass port on the rear of the unit, things never really hit their stride when attempting to meet this criteria.

 

Unfortunately for all of the tonality and musicality on offer with the D5, really low bass (under 80Hz) is simply absent for the most part, which is going to be considerably more noticeable with some varieties of music than others.

 

When listening to something with a lot of bass guitar, the middle part of that instruments acoustic envelope sounds absolutely fantastic, but rolls away to almost nothing below that point.

 

It's the same with a drum kit. Listening to the snare and toms sounds great, but the kick drum just seems to disappear somewhere within the mix. This scenario is only more apparent when shifting to heavier rock and metal music.

 

We feel that this system could easily have a line out connection built in to the rear of the unit. This would allow flexibility of connection to suit a wider range of users needs while not adding much to construction costs.

 

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