Performance and Report Card
Having tested the old Creative Gigaworks T3 speakers, we had a decent baseline and starting point for evaluating the newer lookalike. Using the same battery of tests, we can now jump in and see how well the new ZiiSound T6 compares with the older version.
Loaded up with 6.5-inch long throw drivers and Creative’s signature SLAM technology, the ZiiSound T6 delivered deep bass and performs admirably when building atmosphere. The volume swells on the Tyrannosaurus Rex Sound Effects from Jurassic Park were effective and created the ominous feeling expected. The two slave diaphragms gave the bass a wider soundstage, which comes to the fore on the Apollo 13 Lift Off Scene.
Unfortunately, the SLAM technology also meant that the ZiiSound T6’s bass was prone to going out of control. On Tiesto’s Elements of Life, the bass was loose, sprawling and sluggish. The notes seemed to lack definition and merged into the background fuzz. You could feel the bass but not hear it distinctly.
Passive resisters are known for providing bad transient response. Surprisingly though, on Hotel California by The Eagles, the drums and bongos sounded crisp and natural. We would say that its performance when handling alternate percussion has improved marginally over its predecessor. On the whole, the bass of the ZiiSound T6 has gotten better when compared with the Gigaworks T3, but it is still as unpredictable.
On our orchestral tracks, Theme from Jurassic Park and Theme from Cutthroat Island, the movement and flow of the piece was adequately captured. However the horns on Fanfare for Louis sounded flat and decidedly mid-tone.
The same feeling was experienced when listening to Adele’s song, Melt My Heart to Stone, where it appeared weak and her voice did not soar over the track. The same held true for our listening of Sail on Soothsayer by Buckethead. As an instrumental track, it is essential that the lead guitar cut through the mix. Instead we found the main melody to be muddied and it remained bogged down with the rhythm track.
Aluminum cones in the satellite speakers should have provided bright treble, but they fell short in this particular task. Treble and mid-tones help to grab the listeners’ attention first but based on its performance, the ZiiSound T6 can come off lacking energy.
Even though the ZiiSound is a 2.1 speaker system, Creative claims that it can simulate 5.1 surround sound. In order to achieve this effect, the top half of the satellite speakers can swivel. You can adjust them to create the soundstage required. For our listening test, we tried the out-of-the-box orientation with both speakers on each satellite facing the same direction (stereo configuration) as well as shifting the top speakers of the satellite through a 45 degree angle (surround sound configuration).
Surprisingly enough, the ZiiSound T6 mimicked 5.1 surround sound really well. For the Pod Racing Scene from The Phantom Menace we could heard the pods zooming past as well as discernibly feel sound being projected from behind our head. Seeing that the speakers achieve this effect with a 2.1 configuration, it offers movie lovers a hassle free way to enjoy their films in surround sound. It is ideal for those lacking the space and the drive to set up a 5.1 sound system the proper way.
However, the soundstage is not perfect. A weak center channel meant that dialogue from John Travolta’s character in the opening sequence of Swordfish was lost in the ambient noise being projected from the satellites. The sprawling base mentioned earlier also meant that sound effects on the Lord of the Rings starting sequence were similarly muddied and lacked definition. Overall performance when handling movies was patchy, with the ZiiSound T6 performing admirably one minute and then disappointing right after.
Finally, when tested out with Battlefield 2: Bad Company, the ZiiSound T6 sounded punchy, as the video games music score and sound effects lack a prominent middle range. The good soundstage meant that explosions and some other in-game events were impressive. The ZiiSound wows for short periods of time, but those gaming for longer periods of time should be prepared to deal with ear fatigue caused primarily by the absent mid-tone.
Allowing users to connect and play music wirelessly, the ZiiSound T6 lets you transmit music from your smartphone or notebook to the sound system via Bluetooth. Connectivity was typical and we ran in to the usual problems, like having the connection being dropped when we moved out of range or if there were obstacles in the way. The supported apt-X technology seems to ensure that there is no discernible loss in sound quality when streaming from other devices.
One significant problem is that the ZiiSound T6 continues to play tracks via USB or line-in even when you start using Bluetooth. The lack of an auto mute function seems to be a design oversight on Creative’s part. This makes using the Bluetooth less effective and takes away from the ease-of-use it should offer.
|Pod Race Scene from The Phantom Menace||8.5|
|Theme from Jurassic Park||7.0|
|Apollo 13 SFX||7.5|
|Theme from Cutthroat Island||7.0|
|Fanfare for Louis||6.5|
|Hotel California - The Eagles||7.5|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||7.0|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||7.0|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||6.5|
|Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Starting Sequence)||7.0|
|Swordfish (Starting Sequence)||7.0|
|Battlefield 2: Bad Company||7.0|