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Creative Brings on Zen Speakers

Creative has introduced three new speaker systems for its Zen line of portable media players, including compact speakers for traveling, a small bookshelf system, and a subwoofer-equipped music station with the company’s X-Fi technology, which promises to take MP3s and other compressed audio “beyond than CD quality.”

First up, the TravelSound Zen V docking speakers supports Creative’s Zen V and Zen V Plus players, offering four 36mm NeoTitanium microdriver speakers with a wide stereo effect featre which enables the system to simulate a wider field of sound. The system runs off either a power adapter or four AA batteries (which provide up to 25 hours of music playback); users can charge and load up their player while their Zen player is docked with the speakers. The TravelSound Zen V will be available for $129 online.

The Creative ZenDock Z500 speakers system offers more of a bookshelf solution, although it sports a carrying handle in addition to two 12 Watt drivers and a 24 Watt subwoofer in a compact package just over 5.25 pounds. The system runs off an AC adapter or 8 C batteries which offer 16 hours of music playback, and users can extend a built-in FM antenna and adjust the bass response on the subwoofer, then manage the whole thing from afar with the included infrared remote. Users can charge their Zen players while they’re docked with the speakers, and the system offers the same Wide Stereo effect which exaggerates the sound stage of stereo sound sources. The ZenDock Z500 will be available online in December for $199; it supports Creative’s Zen V/Zen V Plus and Zen Vision:M players.

Finally, the big kahuna of Creative’s new speaker systems is the X-Fi Sound System Z600, which sports two wall-mountable 35 Watt satellite speakers and a compact 130 Watt subwoofer, and supports Creative’s Zen Vision:M portable media player as well as external stereos and televisions through audio/video output, so users can put their Zen-bound video on big-screen TVs. The system also includes Creative’s X-Fi processor, which the company claims restores audio data tossed out by “lossy” compression formats like MP3 and plays back the recordings at “beyond CD quality” and offers “virtual surround sound” from stereo recordings. (Reviews of the X-Fi have been mixed—as with many things, a lot depends on the quality and nature of the recording and the encoder used to make the MP3 file.) The X-Fi Sound System Z600 comes with an IR remote which enables users to control key functions of the Zen Vision:M player. The X-Fi Sound System Z600 will be available online for $399 on November 24.

All three Creative speaker systems will be available at selected Singapore retail outlets as well as Creative’s online stores, although the units are priced at S$199, S$299, and S$588, respectively, in Singapore dollars.

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