Creative Stage V2 Soundbar Review: Sound Blaster Returns

If recent launches are anything to go by, affordable soundbars could be a major trend for 2021. While more expensive soundbars from brands such as Sony and JBL cater to an audience that would typically spend $1380.56 or more on a television, there isn’t as much on offer for buyers of more affordable televisions, such as the Mi TV and AmazonBasics ranges that are available at under $549.198. Realme made its first entry into this largely untapped segment with the 100W Soundbar closely followed by the product we’re reviewing today – the Creative Stage V2 Soundbar.

Priced at $138.05, the Creative Stage V2 Soundbar promises a lot for a reasonable price, including a dedicated subwoofer, plenty of connectivity options, and a massive 160W of sound. What is particularly attractive about this product is Creative’s legacy in the audio space, and the Sound Blaster tag that comes with it. Is all of this worth the $138.05 price tag? Find out in our review of the Creative Stage V2 Soundbar.

The bar speaker has a glossy plastic body with a metal grille at the front, and physical controls on the right side. There are ports and sockets at the back for power, the wired subwoofer output, Optical input (Toslink), USB Type-C, HDMI ARC, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input. There’s also Bluetooth 5 with SBC codec support for wireless connectivity. The main unit isn’t very long, and is ideally paired with a 43-inch or 50-inch television. A small monochrome display shines through the grille to tell you the status of the Creative Stage V2, including which source is in use, the volume level, and more.

The Creative Stage V2 is available only in black in India, and can either be placed on a table or wall-mounted. For the latter, you’ll need to attach screws to the wall yourself, with the soundbar hanging on using the common keyhole-style hooks. Included in the sales package are power, USB Type-C to Type-A (male), and 3.5mm stereo cables, as well as the remote for the soundbar. Key connectivity cables such as HDMI and Toslink would have been nice to have in the box, since these are likely to be used with a TV.

The remote lets you control playback, volume, and bass and treble levels, apart from switching sources and activating the ‘Surround’ and ‘Dialog’ sound modes that Creative says are part of its Sound Blaster technology suite. It looks and feels good for the price, but it’s worth mentioning here that batteries for the remote aren’t included in the sales package. I also had some trouble with responsiveness; the remote had to be pointed directly at the soundbar for it to respond to commands.

You get a slightly different look on the subwoofer, which has a wooden body and matte finish, with a fabric cover over the grille on the right side and a bass vent at the front. Expectedly, for the price, it’s a wired subwoofer that connects to the bar speaker for both the audio signal as well as power, with a fixed 2m cable. This takes away slightly from your ability to freely position the subwoofer in your room, but at least you won’t need an additional power socket for it.

With a rated sound output of 160W, the 2.1-channel Creative Stage V2 claims to be louder than most options in this price segment, including the 100W option from Realme. However, this is a peak combined output rating, and the rated operational output is considerably lower at 40W for the two-channel bar speaker (20W per channel) and 40W for the subwoofer. The bar speaker drivers are 2.25 inches in size, while the subwoofer driver is 5.25 inches.

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