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You may be forgiven for believing that a speaker is just a speaker with the only point of those thousand pound systems being to part fools from their beloved Mastercards. You would be mistaken for taking this line however, dear reader. Yes, I too, was once a sceptic, but that was before I heard a pair of speakers custom-built for Naim Audio's Peter Williams (one-time engineer of U2) - and lo the heavens did part.
Apart from when they're intended for recording studio usage, speakers rarely aim for a flat frequency response. The design is often geared towards flattering the sound based on a particular scenario. For music there may be more of a top-end emphasis and attention paid to creating a well defined stereo spread. For speakers geared towards game playing, less bass and sheer volume are often the order of the day.
During listening tests, my test PC contained Creative’s X-Fi card. Most noticeable on first firing up the speakers was the lack of treble. While this was easily rectified by altering the setting using the controller it did make one wonder why the default should sound so dull. Moving onto music, ranging in style from rock to classical, I was a little surprised that the sound wasn't more appealing.
Listening to pop or rock with the treble settings turned up high made music sound harsh and unpleasant. Reducing the treble did help but I could find no happy medium between a harsh sound and one that was simply dull. Overall musical quality was confusing with little definition. Switching to my budget studio monitors (Spirit Absolute Zeros, now worth only around £60 second hand), the sound was substantially better defined and well rounded although weaker at the bass end. The Gigaworks's bass also seemed difficult to balance with it either sounding too light or unpleasantly boomy.
For gaming I used the trusty Half Life 2. It's when playing a title such as this where you hear what the G500s have been designed for, delivering impact and noise rather than an accurate sound. The speakers pump out a very decent wattage, giving the weapon sound effects real impact. The surround sounds work well really, bringing you firmly into the game and the overall experience is satisfying. In-game music suffers from the same weaknesses as already discussed but for sound effects playback, the speakers certainly deliver. These speakers can really push out the volume, so please be kind to your neighbour when using these or you might find yourself on the wrong side of an anti-social order.
Whether the ProGamer G500s are worth purchasing depends on your rig and specific requirements. They present a decent option if you're primarily a PC game player who only occasionally dabbles in music listening or DVD watching. For £200 though, I believe speakers should be able to fulfil a wide range of functions with some finesse. As such other sets, of which there are no shortage, may be better suited.
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