Corsair SP2500 review

Corsair is sending out another raiding party into gaming audio waters today with the introduction of its very first set of speakers, the SP2500. Priced at $249 and boasting 232 watts of floor-shaking power, this jumbo 2.1 package is an unabashed play for PC gamers' hearts. We've spent some quality time with the SP2500s hooked up to our own desktop and can tell you that the company's boasts about these speakers' full volume range being usable is no lie. They're basically designed to be loud ... really, really loud. Check out the gallery to see just how massive they are and hop, skip, jump, or leap past the break for our fuller impressions. Spoiler: we'll be discussing loudness a lot.

Additionally, lest your wallet's not padded enough or your aural needs not quite so extreme, today sees the debut of Corsair's more modest SP2200 2.1 set for $99 alongside the introduction of an HS1A gaming headset, the latter being an almost carbon copy of the well received HS1 from last year, save for the replacement of the USB connector with a more conventional analog one.

The inevitable first thing you'll notice about the SP2500s is their sheer bulk: they come packaged in a box the size of which we haven't had to deal with since we stopped buying 20-inch CRT monitors. Padding and arrangement inside the box were both beyond reproach, however, as we were able to unbox and unwrap everything without scratching our heads once. Setup was also a cinch, as evidenced by our total lack of regard for the manual. Hell, we don't even know if one came in the box, it certainly wasn't necessary. Praise must also go to Corsair's exhibition of the lost art of creating packaging suited to re-boxing a product. We tend to be hopelessly lost when trying to repackage big products to return to their manufacturer, but the setup here was very intelligently laid out and made that bit a doddle as well. It's almost like these guys know what they're doing.

Nonetheless, you're probably still wondering why Corsair felt the need to make these speakers quite such leviathans. The reason for this dimensional excess becomes rapidly apparent once you get those cables hooked up and jack a sound source in. Bass response from the colossal subwoofer is terrific, delivering real low notes instead of just muffled approximations of the audio input (a hallmark of most desktop speakers), while the satellites really shine when taken to their maximum volume. Corsair proudly boasts that 100 percent of the SP2500's volume range is usable -- meaning that you won't have to suffer distorted sound or fear damaging the drivers if you keep 'em cranked -- and our experience confirmed that claim. No matter how high we took these speakers, all we got was an increase in volume, the clarity of the output was unaffected.

In truth, you'll be doing yourself a great disfavor if you never take these puppies out for a ride in boomtown. We didn't find enough of a difference between them and our usual Logitech X-230s when going about our daily business of trolling YouTube and listening to our collection of gangster rap classics, but then we put Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy soundtrack on and turned things up. The sound stage presented by the SP2500 is very impressive (though obviously not in the same class as a full 5.1 speaker system) and we'd go so far as to say that the sound it delivered was closer to what we heard while watching the new Tron movie in the cinema than what we can obtain from our usual desktop cones.

The wired remote control unit for the SP2500 comes with a 1.8-inch LCD, which color-codes the speakers' ideal volume range. Unsurprisingly, the green-shaded area for best output is way up in the high end, which yet again reiterates the point that this 2.1 set is designed to raise mayhem first and foremost, but also serves as a reminder that you should probably look elsewhere if you keep to more moderate volumes. The remote control itself is impressively versatile -- with separate sliders for bass and overall volume, a bunch of EQ modes (we didn't find any of them more appealing than the default output), and a very handy headphone-out jack -- though we do have a couple of grumbles to share. One is that the LCD used is of a poor quality, which typically wouldn't matter -- we're not so fanatical about high pixel density as to demand it here -- but the viewing angles are terrible and that can't be readily forgiven on a peripheral that you'll most often look at from an oblique angle. The blue and green sections of the volume bar both discolor to the point of being indistinguishable from one another. Our second complaint is that the cable wired to the remote is too stiff, elevating its rear end slightly and never allowing it to lay perfectly flat on our desk.

All in all, Corsair's splash into the PC speaker market has been a success in our view. Sure, it's got a couple of foibles to iron out with its remote, but the SP2500 is a ridiculously powerful desktop buddy, one that won't let you down if you decide you want to drown your entire apartment building in block-rocking beats. Construction and components are up to Corsair's typically skyscraping standards, which is also why these speakers come with a significant premium. We've got no qualms recommending them as a very high quality piece of audio kit, but you'll have to sacrifice the surround sound that cheaper sets from the likes of Logitech can offer you. It'll just depend on what priorities (and legroom, we're not kidding when we say that sub is massive) you have -- if precise positional audio matters to you less than booming, crystal-clear bass and twinkling treble response, the SP2500 kit might just be the one for you.