JBL Creature II

They may look as if they were offloaded by an alien, but these speakers produce some very decent sound.

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JBL Creature II



JBL needs no introduction; it makes mid-range and high-end systems for homes and cars – and pretty good systems at that. It's one of the feathers in Harman International’s profitable cap. This of course is the company that owns and distributes some killer AV brands such as Harman Kardon, Infinity, Mark Levinson and many more.

One of the most famous innovations by the company is the JBL Creature – and now the Creature 2. Take a look at the photo below and you'll see why. This freaky 2.1 system for multimedia scenarios has been bagging good reviews everywhere, so we decided to give you the lowdown in our own way.

JBL Creature II

Design and Features
I don’t know how to put this, but the Creature 2 is the only system that distracted me more on account of its design than by its output. But let's discuss the output later... right now I feel the urge to get myself a space suit to feel at home with this system.

The woofer and satellites share a similar shape, both being an ovoid with a curvy base, sort of like a distorted 'shivling'. The units rest on a surface through four tiny legs jutting out of the four corners, rather than a flat rest – the sides of the base arc upwards, helping to give the unit its 'alien' design.

We received the black model, which according to me is the best color for a device with such contours. The finish is glossy while the knobs on the woofer are metallic with a shiny reflective surface. The satellites (apt name for this system, right?) have a flower-shaped 'window' to expose the driver, with the same shiny exterior.

The connections are all provided with the system; in fact the wires of the satellites are permanently attached. These color-coded wires slip in firmly behind the woofer, into a rack at the bottom. The power delivered is about 9 watts per sat and 27 watts for the sub.

The driver of the sats is known as Odyssey Plus, while the woofer is 4.5 inch Magnum woofer, which I assume is another proprietary part. The rated frequency response is 45-20 kHz while the crossover point for the system is at 180 Hz.

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Performance
With a design of this nature it's a little difficult to stop staring (read: tripping) on it and actually start working on the sound review. But alas, that’s what I'm expected to do in the end, so I plugged it in and lined up an array of MP3s and CDs.

The unit acted up at the start: the volume buttons were slow to respond, and created noises. A little tapping and patience got things back to normal. (Demo pieces throw tantrums sometimes.) To JBL's credit, we asked them to replace the piece and they did so right away.

The sound is quite good; as such we encountered no distortion or ‘cracking’ at high volumes – and speaking of high volumes, it does get pretty loud. The bass was overpowering the spectrum, a problem often encountered in 2.1 sub-sat systems.

One thing I must mention, however, is that the sub should be kept on the tabletop itself and not on the ground, or at least I find the sound fuller and more connected that way. Otherwise it sounds like two different sources of sound.

The bass and treble knobs on the woofer alter the sound a great deal, but don’t try to improve it – I liked it flat. We were listening to some Tech house podcasts and techno sets, which sounded nice and quite punchy, though ideally I'd have expected more punch and tightness as I’ve heard elsewhere.

With vocal tracks such as Diana Krall and Sting, the sound was okay, though not the best. On the high side the sound is nice and 'shiny'. Sibilance levels are good, as long as you don’t fiddle with the knobs.

Conclusion
To conclude this weird space trip of a review I can only say the looks of this unit exceed the sonic capabilities, though the latter aren't bad at all. For Rs 5,490 this speaker set is a reasonable purchase, considering you can use it as props at a rave. A demo is recommended.

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