The Greatest You Can Get for the Cash – Evaluation Geek

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  • 1 – Absolute Scorching Rubbish
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Rubbish
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Execs, Tons Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Sufficient to Purchase On Sale
  • 7 – Nice, However Not Greatest-In-Class
  • 8 – Unbelievable, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Cash
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Value: $109

The Creative Stage v2 below a Gigabyte 34 inch ultrawide monitor
Cameron Summerson

Soundbars are probably the greatest methods to maximise your audio expertise with the least quantity of fuss. And if you happen to don’t wish to spend a ton on a killer little soundbar in your TV or laptop, the Artistic Stage V2 is the place it’s at. For simply $110, this factor slaps.

This is What We Like

  • Wonderful worth
  • Clear, articulate sound high quality
  • Wall mounting choice

I’ve been utilizing it at my laptop for the previous couple of months, the place it changed the extremely acclaimed Polk MagniFi Mini. To chop straight to the chase, the Stage V2 sounds virtually pretty much as good because the MagniFi for lower than half the value. The most important distinction is actually the energetic, wi-fi subwoofer of the Polk versus the passive, wired subwoofer on the Stage, however we’ll speak extra about that later. All you really want to know is that it is a good little soundbar for not quite a lot of {dollars}.

The Stage v2 is, as you will have guessed, the second iteration of the Stage soundbar. So, what’s totally different? To start out, the v2 is greater—it’s practically 5 inches longer and barely deeper, too. That makes it somewhat greater and somewhat beefier, which ends up in greater, bolder sound (even when it’s solely somewhat). It additionally strikes to Bluetooth 5.0 over 2.1 and has an improved, barely extra trendy distant management.

In different phrases, it’s nicer and extra trendy. Whereas Artistic nonetheless sells the v1 at simply $20 cheaper, I see no motive to think about it over the v2 if you happen to’re looking to buy one.

Options and Measurement: The Goldilocks Soundbar

The Creative Stage v2 under a Gigabyte 34 inch ultrawide monitor
Cameron Summerson

I mentioned it’s somewhat greater than the v1, however you’re in all probability questioning how massive it truly is. Properly, I broke out the ol’ tape measure and it is available in at just below 27 inches lengthy, simply over 3 inches tall, and virtually 4 inches deep. That’s a fairly good dimension for a small TV, nevertheless it’s additionally an incredible footprint to be used at a desk (the place I’ve been testing this one). For perspective, that’s a 34-inch monitor it’s sitting underneath. There are additionally mounting holes on the again you probably have a wall-mounted TV and wish the bar mounted beneath it. That’s cool.

The sub is expectedly bigger, coming in at virtually 17 inches tall, practically 10 inches deep, and about 4.5 inches extensive. It’s one of many narrower subs I’ve examined. Pair that with the truth that it’s additionally passive, and I used to be skeptical that it could have the ability to produce any form of bass. Whereas we’ll get into the sound particulars a bit later, I used to be comprehensible dissatisfied by its bass response.

For connections, Artistic ran the gamut: It has HDMI Arc, USB-C, Optical, Bluetooth, and three.5mm Aux. Just about something you may throw at it, truthfully. I examined all the connections at varied factors they usually all labored very properly. The USB connection would typically minimize out throughout quiet audio, however there’s an opportunity that’s a problem with my laptop computer and never the soundbar. Both manner, it was typically lower than a second and not likely bothersome. On a associated observe, I additionally discovered that my laptop wouldn’t fall asleep when the soundbar was powered on and linked over USB. Powering the bar down fastened this. A bizarre quirk, although one that might as soon as once more be attributed to my setup.

The Creative Stage v2's USB, HDMI, and Aux inputs
Cameron Summerson

Other than the varied connections, the Stage v2 has built-in bass and treble controls in addition to three distinct voices—Encompass, Dialog, and Off. Right here’s the short and soiled:

  • Encompass: Will increase the soundstage with digital encompass sound by “figuring out and enhancing the spatial info of incoming audio by way of Sound Blaster’s audio filters.” In different phrases, it’s simply Artistic doing what Artistic does—utilizing its personal tech to boost the sound. And that is one thing Artistic is very good at.
  • Dialog: This setting extracts and enhances spoken phrase, dynamically adjusting the quantity so it’s no drowned out by different issues occurring within the scene.
  • Off: Disables each encompass and dialog, providing a dry sign.

The most important downer there may be that you could’t use the encompass and dialog settings in tandem—it’s one or the opposite.

The Stage V2's remote control
Cameron Summerson

The included distant is a pleasant contact, because it affords simple and fast management of the soundbar, together with quantity, EQ, enter, and entry to the bar’s encompass and dialog modes. It makes use of a pair of AAA batteries, which Artistic consists of within the field. That’s a pleasant contact and one thing I didn’t anticipate at this worth level. It’s the little issues, ya know?

The dimensions and options are each glorious for the value level of this soundbar—it’s large enough to sound good and affords actually usable options whereas skipping the trivial junk. A wonderful worth certainly.

Sound High quality: Clear, Articulate Audio with out Extreme Low Finish

Artistic isn’t the primary identify you consider relating to soundbars, earbuds, and different audio merchandise, however man, I’m telling you—Artistic is aware of how you can produce glorious audio on a funds. I’ve mentioned it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: Individuals sleep on this firm. Each Artistic product I’ve examined over the past couple of years has been spectacular. The Stage v2 isn’t any totally different.

The Stage V2's power button, volume rocker, and Bluetooth button
Cameron Summerson

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying this $110 soundbar goes to compete with a $1000 soundbar. It’s important to preserve your expectations in verify and understand that the whole lot is relative. And for the cash, it sounds wonderful.

The audio expertise is sharp and exact for the whole lot I threw at it, together with music, motion pictures, and video games. The encompass function does a wonderful job of making a convincing and encompassing soundscape that interprets very properly to motion pictures and reveals. I didn’t use the dialog function a lot as a result of I didn’t have a necessity for it (dialog appears to return by way of high quality on the opposite settings), however I may see the profit if you happen to’re watching a podcast or livestream and wish to add somewhat emphasis to the vocals.

The front of the Stage V2's passive subwoofer The back of the Stage V2's passive subwoofer

And whereas I examined the Stage v2 on motion pictures, reveals, and video games, music was how I spent most of my time utilizing it. That is one articulate and balanced speaker. Treble is pristine and sharp with out being harsh or overbearing, whereas the midrange is targeted and balanced.

But when I needed to decide one space the place the Stage is missing, it’s bass. It has a devoted sub, nevertheless it’s passive, which suggests it’s not powered by electrical energy. Passive subs are at all times weaker than their powered counterparts, and it reveals right here. That’s to not say it has no bass, as a result of it does. It simply doesn’t have as a lot as I desire. Should you like bass however don’t prefer it to be overly pronounced, then you definately’ll love the Stage v2.

Conclusion: I Imply, Simply Purchase It

The Stage V2 below a Vizio 60-inch TV
For scale: beneath a 60-inch TV. Cameron Summerson

Right here’s the factor: It’s not the proper soundbar, nevertheless it’s additionally solely $110. For the cash, you’re unlikely to seek out one thing higher. It’s clear, articular, and may get a lot loud. I’d love the choice so as to add a powered subwoofer, however for the cash, I perceive why issues are the best way they’re.

Should you’re in search of a reasonably compact soundbar so as to add to your workplace or front room residence theater that received’t break the financial institution and will go away you impressed with what you get in your {dollars}, the Artistic Stage v2 is the soundbar for you.

Right here’s What We Like

  • Wonderful worth
  • Clear, articulate sound high quality
  • Wall mounting choice

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