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I've always questioned the logic in multi-channel, surround sound speaker sets for the PC. I simply don't believe that most PC users have the space or the inclination to place speakers all around their computer desk and chair - after all having wires trailing all around your room is something of a recipe for disaster. As a result I often see PC users with multi-channel speaker sets all piled up on their desk, instead of placed around the listener. Despite being one of the orchestrators of this situation, Creative came to its senses last year and brought us the truly excellent GigaWorks T20 speakers, that duly walked away with a coveted Editor's Choice award.
The key to the GigaWorks T20s was their 2.0 channel configuration. So, not only were you losing the mass of satellites that come with a surround sound system, you also didn't need to have a subwoofer sitting under your desk. The latter point was an important one, since even though 2.1-channel systems have always been available from a number of manufacturers, most of them utilise woeful crossovers, which generally results in a complete lack of cohesion between the bass and the treble and mid range. Because the GigaWorks T20s and subsequently the GigaWorks T40s were full range speakers, there was none of the overpowering bass that plagues most 2.1-channel PC speaker systems.
I was therefore a little sceptical when Creative announced the GigaWorks T3 2.1-channel speakers a couple of months ago. In fact I stayed sceptical right up to the point when one of Creative's sound engineers flew over from Asia to demo the T3s. What I heard at that demonstration sounded pretty promising, but as always, I reserved judgement until I had a retail set in my possession, and that's exactly what I have right now.
The first thing you notice about the T3s is how small the satellite speakers are. When I met with the guys from Creative they demoed the T3s against a Bose set (not much competition I know), which makes sense considering the similar form factor. Of course there's a decent size subwoofer that sits under the desk, but even so the satellites are pretty tiny. The last part of the equation is the desktop control pod, and here Creative has outdone itself. The round remote unit has a silky smooth motion, that makes delicate volume adjustment simple. There remote also has both headphone and line-in sockets - the latter ensuring that you can plug in your MP3 player as well as listen to the music on your PC.