Cambridge SoundWorks DTT 3500 Digital 5.1 Surround Speaker System *UPDATED*by Jim Warren on December 23, 2000 4:00 AM EST
Creative Labs is perhaps best known for their Sound Blaster line of soundcards. After all, the Sound Blaster is the product put them at the top of the sound card market. Their acquisition of Cambridge SoundWorks three years ago immediately put them in the upper echelon of speaker manufacturers. The Cambridge SoundWorks name is now used on all their speakers.
Creative continues to build up the Cambridge SoundWorks line with the release of two new systems, the DTT 2200 and the DTT 3500 Digital Speaker Systems. These systems shortly followed the release of Creative's new SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 series of soundcards that followed the industry's trend of moving from four channel sound cards to six-channel host- based surround sound decoding systems.
As a surround sound solution with support for Dolby Digital, the DTT 3500 remains a freestanding solution to the extent that its connectivity is compared more to that of a small home receiver. Creative describes the system as "a powerful Dolby Digital home theatre speaker solution for use with either a Sony PlayStation 2 console, set-top DVD player, or a PC," going so far as to de-emphasize the nature of the system as a computer audio system. This same sort of philosophy seems to build into the design decisions for the product, as it works fairly independently of the computer system, as opposed to some of the other surround sound solutions that have actually shifted more of their tasks to the computer.
The results of Creative's efforts to make the DTT 3500 a standalone system are a number of options in configuring the system. The connectivity for the system is extensive, with multiple types of inputs for both digital and analog sources. Surround sound decoding is also handled by the integrated decoder, so a six channel sound card is not required for this system. The control interface for the amplifier/receiver is based in the theory of providing options for the user, with a number of input selections and volume controls on the front panel, and an abbreviated selection available via remote control for convenience.
The front and rear satellite speakers bundled with the system are going to be familiar to owners of the DTT 2500 system, though the center channel speaker has been enlarged and carries more power. Construction on the satellite speakers is molded plastic, while the subwoofer is in a wooden enclosure. The amplifiers and decoder are integrated into a single table top unit. For a retail price of $299, here's what Cambridge SoundWorks says about their speakers:
Specifications (Courtesy of Cambridge SoundWorks)
Total: 89 RMS
Satellites: 7W RMS (10% THD)
Center: 21W RMS (10% THD)
Subwoofer: 30W RMS (10% THD)
20 Hz - 20 kHz
Satellites : 2.5 inch
Center: 3.5 inch
Subwoofer: 6 inch
Satellites: 89 mm (W) x 89 mm (H) x 89 mm (D)
Center: 100 mm (W) x 100 mm (H) x 90 mm (D)
Subwoofer: 250 mm (W) x 204 mm (H) x 375 mm (D)
For those that read the original article, this is a revised review, resulting from Creative Labs informing us after publication that the original sample we received was a preproduction unit. They sent a final production model which corrected many of our problems. The changes we have made to the review in the final sections reflect the performance of the production systems.