Creative ZiiSound D5 Speaker System - Creative ZiiSound D5

By Hugo Jobling

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Creative ZiiSound D5 Speaker System

Summary

Our Score:

8

Fortunately that's not likely to be an issue very often, because it's only when using the 3.5mm connection that the device's own volume control needs be used. Wirelessly connected devices can take remote control of the ZiiSound D5's volume level. As such there's no dedicated remote included with the speaker - not that we ever found that a problem.

To say that the ZiiSound D5 uses Bluetooth doesn't tell the whole story; Creative is well aware that Bluetooth isn't the best transport for quality audio. As you know, the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) provides a maximum possible 723kbps of bandwidth which, in the real world where theoretical maximums are never reached, leads to degradation of audio transmitted via Bluetooth.

To counter this, the ZiiSound D5 uses a third-party codec called apt-X, which compresses the audio stream. The downside of this is that a dongle is required, as it has the encoder built-in. One is provided in the box for the iPhone and, in fact, any iPod with a 30-pin dock connector. Rumour has it that future Creative players will come with native support, but there's no official word on that yet.

There are benefits to the use of a dongle, though. The primary one is hinted at by the three metal contacts on the dongle's back. These match up with a set found in a slot located towards the back of the ZiiSound D5, into which an iPod can be docked. So the ZiiSound D5 is actually an iPod speaker dock in a sense.

Another advantage of using a dongle is that there's no need to pair with the speakers. If you have more than one iPod in your household that's actually quite a big bonus - getting the ZiiSound D5 to cycle through paired devices can be harder than it sounds.

The ZiiSound D5 is also compatible with the same USB dongle bundled with the Inspire S2 Wireless speakers, as they also feature apt-X. Otherwise, any device with Bluetooth built-in that's able to stream music over that connection will work, albeit without the advantage of apt-X doing its magic.

Hamish Campbell

May 13, 2010, 11:56 am

Did I read that right? It comes with an ap-x adapter for all of apple's players, and not for creatives own?

Ed

May 13, 2010, 1:32 pm

@haim: So far as I'm aware, Creative doesn't have its own adapter anymore, it just uses miniUSB.

Hugo

May 13, 2010, 1:42 pm

There's a good reason to go after the iPod and not other players -





http://www.wired.com/images_bl...





(from http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab... -- credit where due)





There's nothing stopping third parties from making adaptors for other players, of course. And as apt-X is the only codec other than sub-band approved by the Bluetooth SIG it's likely that forthcoming media players will have it built-in.

adoniteINK

May 13, 2010, 3:06 pm

Use to be a big fan of Creative. Still waiting on Ziilabs to deliver with all that technical showcases on stem computing etc and if anyone at creative is reading this, then this is my plea.





Remember you use to make this really awesome audio decoder (DDTS-100) which had a huge range of connectivity http://images.techtree.com/tti... but stopped manufacturing them a long time ago.





I think its time you revise this product and put some zii bluetooth/AP-X magic into it because there is nothing in the market like it especially at the price it was sold. Its a gold mine waiting to be excarvated.

Dan97c

May 13, 2010, 5:16 pm

Are those product photos taken by TR or are they official photos from Creative?


Even without close-ups, it looks like its very grubby! Obviously not fingerprint resistant...





Count me out for one of these. For £20 more you can get the Zeppelin mini and for £100 more the flagship Zeppelin which is a visual and acoustic work of art.

Keithe6e

May 13, 2010, 8:07 pm

@Another advantage of using a dongle is that there's no need to pair with the speakers.





Looking at the dongle it appears to have a power connector too, so does this also help with charging the Iphone/Ipod etc while in the dock?, if so then that would also be another advantage and a very neat setup.

Phil

May 13, 2010, 9:22 pm

@Keith - yeah the iPhone/iPod charges while it's in the dock. It's a great feature.





@Dan - Ok, £20 more for the Zeppelin mini which is a nice piece of kit, but with this you can use it as a normal iPod/iPhone dock, or pick up the iPhone and play some Flight Control while listening to music from the speakers...

Stevie

May 13, 2010, 9:30 pm

I bought a D5 recently and am delighted with it. I run Apple Lossless files on my iPhone and the apt-X codec retains the fully integrity of the audio over Bluetooth..! I wonder in these audio listening tests, with 8/10, were your original tracks AAC?


By the way @Keith, there a power connector on the dongle, so you can dock and charge, then when you pick it up the audio keep streaming seamlessly.

Hugo

May 13, 2010, 9:39 pm

Dan - they're our photos and yes, it does attract fingerprints - I was handing it a lot more than a 'normal' person would though.





Phil - I didn't think about that. brb, flgt plng ctrl :)

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