Though there are a few cosmetic differences, it’s clear the T40s use the same amplifier due to the identical output figures, with 14 Watts RMS per channel and a frequency response range of 50 hz ~ 20 kHz. This is no bad thing either, since the T20s were already very good and quite capable of reaching heady volumes. However, since there’s no extra power output and the two extra drivers are essentially duplicates, are the T40s actually any better than what preceded them? To find out, it’s time to flex the ear muscles and find out how things sound.
For this, we’ve also enlisted the help of a set of Gigaworks T20s, providing us with a definitive comparison between the two. For starters, just playing a few different tracks made it abundantly clear that there’s a noticeable difference in the kind of the sound the T40s produce. It’s a much wider sound; the kind that can fill a large room comfortably at even moderate volumes. This should make them ideal for a living room, either plugged into a TV, games console or anything else you might like to use, like an iPod or another MP3 player. However, the sound is slightly hollower too, which isn’t such a problem when sitting away from the speakers but is noticeable if you’re sitting at a desk nearer to the speakers. There are some other benefits though, with the extra driver providing more clarity at lower volumes, an aspect where the T20s did struggle somewhat.
For more specific testing we threw a number of different tracks at the T40s, varying from some classical, hip-hop and more tradition rock and pop. Starting with Ready or Not by the Fugees, the punchy bass line was particularly impressive, while Lauryn Hill’s vocals were perfectly clear and well defined. This was also evident in Coldplay’s Fix You, with the vocal line cutting through the large variety of instrumental lines, which were also well produced. Moreover, the wider sound captured the epic nature of the song, adding real drama to the various crescendos as well as clarity and purity to the quieter parts of the track.
Moving to something with more percussion, Reckoner from Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows demonstrated the superb high-range performance, with the outstanding clarity to the light but beautifully arranged percussion. However, the lack of subwoofer was also evident with the bass line not as prominent as one would like. This is somewhat inevitable in what still is a comparatively small 2.0 set, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re a bass fiend.
For something a little more up tempo the explosive Good Luck from Basement Jaxx seemed like a good choice. Again, bass was punchy but not extravagant in nature, though percussion and vocals were truly superb. This track once again highlighted the wide and pleasing soundstage produced the T40s, good enough that you could happily use these for a house party with everyone able to enjoy the music.
Classical music is always a good test of any speaker set, simply because you get a massive range of instruments all of which need to be produced effectively to capture the essence of the piece. Here, the improvement between the T20s and the T40s was particularly striking. Playing Elgar’s Nimrod from the Enigma Variations, it was noticeable how this set dealt with the subtle tones far better than the T20s.
Ultimately, this meant it was far easier to set a volume where one could comfortably hear the quieter moments, and that wasn’t too loud when the crescendos materialised. This was also beneficial in the choral music, providing excellent distinction between the differing baritone, tenor, alto and soprano lines.