For anyone who’s in the market for a soundbar for their small studio space or even a college dorm room, the Creative Stage v2 is an excellent choice. It’s fairly compact, comes with a subwoofer, and is a definite improvement over your TV’s speakers. Plus, for a little over $100, it’s an affordable upgrade to your viewing experience.
Other than that, the Creative Stage v2 might not be as impressive. It’s too small to properly fill a medium-sized room, and it really is best suited for watching TV shows with lots of dialogue. Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to pair with a smartphone for some music listening, but the audio quality you get is far less impressive.
Then there’s the notion that the Creative Stage v2 could be used as a desktop speaker system, which to some extent can work. But it’s quite a large thing to have sitting on your desk, compared with two satellite speakers that could be positioned beside your monitor instead. In short, there are many things that the Creative Stage v2 gets right, and a few things that need improvement.
Price and availability
The Creative Stage v2 is available now, and is priced at $109.99 (£99.99; AU$142).
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about how the Creative Stage v2 looks. A sleek, mostly plastic soundbar in black is what you get, with volume and power controls on the right hand side.
The bundled subwoofer is tethered to the soundbar via a 2m cable, which means you’ll only need to have one power cord going to the soundbar.
At the back of the soundbar you have ports for HDMI, Optical In, 3.5mm jack, and USB-C. The USB-C port can be used with the bundled cable to connect the soundbar to your PC or laptop, which pretty much immediately detects the Creative Stage v2 as an external speaker.
There are also mounting holes built into the soundbar, so you can mount it neatly under your TV. Sadly, there’s no mount guide included in the box – this is always a great thing to have to ensure that you mount your speaker correctly, so we hope that Creative can include this in the future. Included in the box is a 3.5mm cable and the USB cable, but no HDMI or optical cable is present – presumably to keep the cost of the unit down.
Also bundled with the Creative Stage v2 is a remote control, which lets you adjust the speaker volume, play or skip Bluetooth media, and quickly change input sources. Sadly, batteries aren’t included, so make sure you pick these up as well before setting up your soundbar. A slight oddity with this remote – it also managed to turn on our robot vacuum cleaner whenever we used it, which was incredibly entertaining.
Setting up is very easy – just connect the Creative Stage v2 to your TV and away you go. Creative recommends doing this via HDMI (ARC) for the best sound quality, however we found no difference when using either HDMI or the Optical port. We don’t recommend using Bluetooth even if your TV supports it, as there can occasionally be a noticeable delay, especially when there’s scenes involving dialogue.
One should never expect a soundbar to replace a full-blown home theatre experience, but what you should expect is a vast improvement over your TV’s default speakers, and to this extent the Creative Stage v2 does a decent job. It showcases brilliant clarity for voices, thanks to its Clear Dialog feature, so every word and syllable sounds crisp and clear.
Dual 2.25” drivers fire enough sound to fill a small room, and while the subwoofer is a good addition, the Creative Stage v2 is going to struggle with medium-sized living rooms. The volume just isn’t enough to project clearly the further away you’re sitting from it, so while it is an affordable upgrade, it’s clearly meant to be used in much smaller spaces.
The other kicker is that you won’t get any supported audio codecs here, so even activating the soundbar’s own surround mode doesn’t make much of a difference. Music quality is also sub-par, with mids sounding a little too tinny for our tastes. The subwoofer is an added bonus to bring a bit of life to tracks, but that’s the only plus point. One thing the Creative Stage v2 does do well is remaining consistent even at high volumes – there’s no distortion with voices at all even at max volume, which is a good thing.
If you do fancy using the Creative Stage v2 as a desktop speaker (and have the desk space) then you’ll probably have a better experience, considering that it’ll be blasting audio at you from just a few centimeters away. The USB cable though we found should have been a bit longer, as it was a little bit short to comfortably reach our PC case on the floor.
Should I buy the Creative Stage v2?
Buy it if…
You want a TV sound upgrade
The Creative Stage v2 portrays some excellent voice quality, so it’s perfect for boosting your favorite TV shows.
You’re on a budget
It’s a very affordable soundbar with various connectivity options, and can even double as a PC speaker.
Don’t buy it if…
You want loud volume
The Creative Stage v2 just isn’t capable of producing enough volume to fill anything more than small room, and this worsens the further away you sit from it.