However, it's not all rosy and as soon as you throw anything with a bit of bass at them, the HD50s struggle to convince. For Pop, Rock, Indie and even Heavy Metal this isn't too much of a problem as these genres can be carried along by the guitar/piano/vocals/percussion as rendered by the upper and mid-ranges. Indeed, the volume the HD50s can reach does loud tracks plenty of justice. Dance, though, simply isn't an option. Trying out a few tracks from Evil Nine's Fabriclive.28 session, the stark, pumping, electronic kick drum that drives the music along is simply none existent, leaving it largely unlistenable. So, unlike their bigger brothers, the HD50s would be useless for a bit of background party music.
Of course, this was particularly obvious while reviewing them as I was regularly switching between other speakers that could provide much more bass. However, with extended isolated listening the HD50's light and precise sound does actually grow on you and I happily sat through every track that came up when listening to my randomised music collection. From Oasis to Napalm Death, all the tracks were crystal clear with a beautifully even sound that I'd be happy to hear everyday.
And, this really is the point; if you want an all-round set of speakers that you can crank up when having a few friends round, or to sit back and watch a movie on your computer screen, the HD50s are not up to the job. On the other hand, if you just want a set for your desk that you'll only ever listen to while sat up close and personal and with which you don't want to disturb the neighbours/baby, you can't get much better than the HD50s and I would recommend them.
To finish things of I had a quick gaming session and was actually pleasantly surprised. In fact, ironically, it was the lack of bass that actually made the HD50s a good choice for gaming, especially on a competitive level. The clarity of sound effects and voices makes placing yourself and your competitors in the virtual world all the easier. Other speakers that can deliver booming explosions and rumbling atmospherics may immerse you more in the game overall but vocals and the subtle noise of nearby footsteps or far off gun fire is much more discernible with the HD50s.
The Creative Gigaworks HD50 2.0 speakers are petite little beauties to behold and they sound every bit as good as they look. However, that small design does leave them very much lacking in the old bass department and for such a high price this will probably prove a deciding factor for many.