The Creative Stage sound bar series was launched in 2018 to offer compact audio solutions for small spaces. The Stage Air is unique as a battery-operated sound bar which I can conveniently port around the house to enjoy (it’s now permanently in my daughter’s room). The Creative Stage is a 2.1 soundbar positioned for study room to be placed under the computer monitor. An updated Stage V2 released in 2020 is slightly bigger to deliver a bit more performance. The latest Stage 360 tops the rest with new features like Dolby Atmos which caters more for home theatre and gaming setup. Retailing at S$329, it is the next most powerful soundbar from Creative.
While the shape and form appears similar to earlier generations, the soundbar has changed the placement of the control buttons. Instead of the side, the buttons are now in the top middle, taking after the SXFI Carrier.
The LED display is located at the front, which displays the current source and other settings info. It is possible to turn off the display via the remote control.
Something absent on the soundbar is mounting hooks. What comes in the package is angled rubber legs to tilt the soundbar at a small angle. I would have preferred Creative to keep the hooks so to give owners an option, even though it’s unlikely the Stage 360 would be mounted.
The Stage 360 supports Bluetooth 5.0, Optical, 2x HDMI 2.0 and one HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel). USB Audio and analog 3.5mm jacks are absent, so I cannot plug my CD player or DAP over audio cable. The star feature of the Stage 360 is the Dolby Atmos, which only works through HDMI and ARC. Many new laptops already support Dolby Atmos, so remember to enable it from the sound settings.
Enabling Dolby Atmos dramatically improves the audio presentation, even when playing stereo music from music player software. With two racetrack drivers of 240W peak output, the Stage 360 sounds powerful and drives the audio details forward, filling the room with impact. Sound staging is wider, instruments are better separated and spaced, less compact compared to normal stereo mode. The subwoofer blends with the soundbar output and does not sound detached nor too artificially reverberating. Be warned though: the Stage 360 might be too powerful for small rooms!
Given it’s a 2.1 system, the Dolby Atmos multi-channel surround effect is not faithfully achieved, so I cannot experience positional audio. For that, you would need the SXFI Carrier.
- Bass – 7.8/10. Cohesive output with the soundbar unit without exaggeration.
- Midrange – 6.8/10. Clean presentation, lacks body.
- Treble – 7.5/10. Forward projection with clarity and space.
The Creative Stage 360 is the most powerful Stage-series soundbar, and the Dolby Atmos improves the audio experience for all types of sources – movies, gaming, even music listening. If your audio device uses 3.5mm connector, then I would recommend you to get the Stage V2 instead, because it would not be worth paying double the price if you do not utilise the Dolby Atmos surround mode. I would also recommend the Creative T60 which is a more conventional 2.0 desktop speaker system that has output connectors that are useful for communications, but the surround mode is no match for the Stage 360.
Visit the official Creative product page here for more info and purchase at S$329.