Corsair SP2500 2.1 Speaker Review - Corsair enters another market
The Big Daddy SP2500
If a company wants to create an excellent first impression into a new market, then design will mean everything. The SP2500 speakers from Corsair are a serious step up from essentially everything that we have seen before in this particular space. There have been a lot of 2.1 speakers sets released through the past 20 years specifically for computers (remember that 2.1 set from Altec Lansing which was revolutionary for the time back in 1994?), but this set treads new ground.
The packing is intelligently designed, and has a minimal amount of polystyrene.
Instead of offering a 5.1 set of speakers, Corsair started off a bit simpler. By going with a 2.1 set, they limit their liability in terms of design work required and the bill of goods to manufacture said sets. If they had gone with a 5.1 set, it would have required 3 extra speakers (center + two rears) as well as more amplifiers and a more complex design. By going with a 2.1 set, they have chosen to still release a very high end product, but have limited potential pitfalls.
The first thing that catches the eye is the surprisingly high wattage rating of these speakers. The speakers push up to 232 watts of power. This is not some “number pulled out of a backside” but rather a very accurate number based on FTC standards. Some speakers systems can hit a certain wattage for a very short period of time, but then that wattage drops significantly after a second or two. These speakers can pull 232 watts indefinitely. They are rated to be run at 100% power for as long as the listener can stand it. This means hours and hours, and theoretically they can be played indefinitely. Eventually something will fail at that wattage, but each component is tested to last for 24+ hours at 100% power.
Power is provided from six separate amplifiers. Two power the subwoofer, while four Class-D amps power the individual satellites. The subwoofer has 120 watts total fed into it by the two bridged amplifiers. The 8” sub-woofer is housed in what is called a “4th Order Band Pass” enclosure. There are advantages and disadvantages to different subwoofer designs. For example, a sub which is not ported but exposes the woofer directly to the listener will give tight bass, but it will not have the same visceral and powerful effect as a ported unit at the same wattage and woofer size. A sealed unit will also require more power to give lower and more powerful bass. In a ported cabinet with the woofer facing out front, it typically will have a deeper bass response and requires less power (as compared to a sealed unit), but the bass may not be as tight due to the push/pull of air through the port combined with the movement of the woofer. Not to mention the “huffing” effect that is often exhibited with such ports. Logitech uses these exposed/ported subwoofers.
The driver is sealed in its own little chamber, while the second ported chamber is tuned to a certain frequency range.
With the 4th Order design, Corsair makes some interesting tradeoffs to achieve better overall bass response. The woofer is sealed, but not exposed to the outside. Instead it fires into another chamber, which is then tuned and ported to the outside. This has several advantages. First of all is the tightness and response of the bass due to the sealed speaker unit. The second is that the tuned port will only pass through the specific range of sound intended by the designers. The third is that since the woofer is sealed, we do not experience the same type of “huffing” through the port. The only real disadvantage here is the required use of more power to achieve adequate sonic pressure to get to the volume levels desired. Hence the need for 120 watts of power to the sub.
The next big jump is that of the satellites. Previously we have seen companies such as Logitech utilize single driver satellites, but attempt to get around high end response issues by creating “phase plugs” for their 3” drivers. This helps them get away from having to necessarily provide a 2-way satellite with tweeters. Such cones reduce the mass of the driver by not including the center portion, which typically has little to do with sound and more for structural stability of the driver. This allows the larger drivers to handle the higher frequencies more effectively. But there is only so much a 3” driver can do when it comes to sounds above 12 kHz or so. In high end and professional audio, the use of 3-way speakers is a given (at the very least). I remember when I first got into audio after high school; I just was not impressed by most 2 way speakers (2” to 3” driver for midrange and high end, and a 5.25” woofer for lower midrange and bass). I typically thought of them as muddy at the high end, and simply not having enough punch at the low end.