The Creative latest under-monitor soundbar, Stage series, are designed for small homes. Previously when I reviewed the smaller Creative Stage Air, I find it lacks the oomph that makes movie watching more immersive. Here with me is the big brother, Creative Stage, with a dedicated subwoofer that should deliver the much-needed rumble. And it retails at just S$129 with ongoing offers with up to S$20 savings from the Creative Store.
Design and Operations
The Creative Stage comes with 2 main parts. The soundbar is slightly longer than the Stage Air, but the length is about the same size as my Dell U2417H computer monitor. It will look too small underneath a massive TV. On the other hand, the subwoofer box is tall and slim, quite unexpected for a compact soundbar system. I was expecting like the SonicGear SPACE series type of subwoofer size. But after inspecting the Creative Stage, I find this a lot better finishing.
At the rear of the speaker are connections for 3.5mm AUX-In, optical, and TV (HDMI ARC). Additionally, the soundbar can be paired to your audio devices via Bluetooth, but the subwoofer needs to be connected to the soundbar by wire, which carries both audio signal and power. It would be great if they can go wireless, but you still need cable to power up the subwoofer, so either way, you will need to run wires.
There are screw holders to mount the soundbar on the wall, and the screws are also included in the package. It’s good that the mount is built-in to the soundbar so you do not need to pay extra for a separate mount.
Power and volume controls are located at the right side, just like the small Stage Air. A USB-A port is available to plug storage devices as an MP3 player.
More controls are available from the remote control, where you can select the source, adjust treble/bass/volume, select EQ presets, and power on/off. The remote control does not feel as solid as those you find on TVs, and this is the only hint that the Creative Stage is a budget-priced soundbar.
The Creative Stage obviously sounds better than the Creative Stage Air. Having a dedicated subwoofer definitely improves the impact of the lower frequencies. The soundbar delivers a decent level of clarity and details but at lower volumes, they do not project out as readily. The Creative Stage must be enjoyed at higher volumes to hear the details, while lower volumes will only get you the treble sparkles and some sub-bass. Or perhaps that is the intended design, since the Stage is actually meant to sit under the PC monitor that is a hand’s length away from you. I would prefer Creative Stage sound quality over the SonicGear SPACE series but that one also has advantages in its design and offering, plus it’s cheaper.
The Creative Stage delivers the audio quality that I expect from a 2.1 sound system. It’s got sub-bass that rumbles my room, clear treble that does not sound too brittle. With a 160W peak power, this compact system will deliver the needed punch you desire in your small room.
The Creative Stage is a good example that you do not need to buy a massive sound system to power up your movie experience, nor pay a lot to get a stylish premium-looking 2.1 soundbar. For S$109 (limited time year-end promotion), it’s another good-value product worth getting, if you are constrained by space in your room and like the convenience of a soundbar sitting neatly underneath the monitor.
Disclosure: Creative Labs is a fervent supporter of Music Photo Life and has been providing many of their products, like this one, free of charge for the purpose of producing quality unbiased reviews.