26 February 2013

REVIEW: Creative Sound Blaster Axx SBX20

Apparently Bluetooth is named after some Finnish king who Nokia really liked, for some reason or other. We don’t know whether or not he actually had blue teeth, but what we do know is that Bluetooth speakers are brilliant – especially the Sound Blaster Axx SBX20.

A great shiny obelisk of black wrapped tech, the Sound Blaster is an extremely attractive looking Bluetooth speaker, shaped like an alien hexagon of the kind that apes sat around in the opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Complete with smooth black panel with touch-sensitive controls on top, the Sound Blaster looks incredible in the corner of your room, on your desk, or even as a feature in your bathroom (if you’re a bit weird).

Connecting to your phone (thankfully compatible with both iOS and Android) the speaker allows you to play high quality sounding music from a distance of up to thirty feet. As Bluetooth speakers go, we really like this one, and not just because of the striking styling. Not just for music, it can also connect to your phone calls and possess a pretty sensitive microphone, allowing you to wander around the house enjoying a hands-free chat with your mum in Australia. Ask her why she left. Anyway…

It’s that voice-call quality that we also found handy during Skype chats. Sitting close by your laptop or desktop, the Sound Blaster acted as a great speaker and mic during international chats with our foreign friends, far outperforming anything the built-in computer speakers and mic could deliver. It also works well while using voice command apps, such as Siri on iPhone and Utter! on Android. Being asked “How can I help?” by a dislocated, robotic voice as the application esquires what it can do for its human masters, was both pleasing and a little disconcerting. Still, it was basically like talking to the computer in Star Trek. At one point we asked it to initiate the self-destruct protocol, but it said it didn't understand.
As we said, the quality of sound produced through the Bluetooth connection was impressive - just not that amazing. At higher volume levels the music sounded too bass-y, and even by touching the ‘SBX’ button on the top of the unit – something that is supposed to enhance the sound – it still sounded a bit forced and, well, cheap. We discovered the speaker was far better at quieter sounds, particularly that of voices via calls and Skype.

But aside from that wee niggle, we really love the Sound Blaster Axx SBX20 from Creative. Great looks and… passable sound led us to enjoy its presence at The Test Pit very much.

£169 Depending on where you buy.

© The Test Pit

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