Let me first get this out of the way: if you’re an audiophile or someone who cares a lot about audio output, the Creative Stage V2 soundbar probably isn’t for you. That’s not to say that it’s bad at all, it’s just a very bare bones entry-level soundbar that eschews the extra features, bells, and whistles in favor of a competitive price point and simple setup. However, if you’re looking for something to add a little extra “oomph” to your onboard TV speakers, or want to give your computer a little bit more presence without breaking the bank, the Creative Stage V2 is an excellent option, perhaps the best in its price range.
Retailing for just $110, the Creative Stage V2 Soundbar is definitely a budget option compared to other home theater setups. But don’t immediately dismiss it because it’s the lowest price on the list. Going from onboard TV speakers to the Creative Stage V2 gives the audio a presence that the TV speakers just can’t replicate. Using it as a soundbar for a laptop or computer in a home office also provides a huge boost to the audio setup without going all way down the road of full complicated audio setups.
If we’re comparing the Creative Stage V2 to other devices, it doesn’t have quite as full of a dynamic range, but that’s an unfair comparison given the inexpensive price point. For its standing as a $110 soundbar and an option to upgrade from the most basic of audio, it’s a soundbar that will be hard to beat. In order to find something comparable, you’d need to start looking to units that are hundreds of dollars. The included subwoofer isn’t about to shake the house down, but does add notable depth and low-end dynamic range that you definitely aren’t going to get with onboard TV speakers.
The Creative Stage V2 is a simple device, with a relatively small footprint (26.8″ x 3.94″ x 3.07″) and slim subwoofer (17″ x 10″ x 4.6″). The subwoofer is wired, which creates some limitations on placement and setup, but it’s a small inconvenience overall. For the people who will be considering this as an upgrade to existing TV or computer setups, a wireless subwoofer probably wouldn’t even matter. It’s designed to fade into setups within small spaces and work with almost any configuration, whether you decide to mount it on a wall or place it on an entertainment center or desk. Aesthetically it looks like any soundbar, though the build quality is impressive considering its price. It feels more rugged and durable than its price would suggest.
Creative Stage V2 Soundbar Review – Audio Upgrade on a Budget
One of the major missing features is any kind of HDMI passthrough. It’s one HDMI connection is an ARC connector, meaning it gets paired to the TV, allowing you to control the soundbar with your TV remote. Your consoles and other devices will need to route through the TV itself, so make sure your TV has an HDMI output option and enough ports to support your devices. Most recent TVs will be more than capable, however, so most people shouldn’t need to worry too much about this. The Creative Stage V2 also has an optical port, USB, AUX, and supports Bluetooth connections too. Note that it won’t come with an HDMI cable packed into the box, so make sure you have an extra lying around to hook it up.
The Creative Stage V2 comes with two sound boost options: Surround and Clear Dialog. While Surround isn’t about to mimic the full surround soundscapes of a proper surround system, it definitely adds a sense of fullness to the audio that doesn’t betray the fact that this is a budget soundbar. Clear Dialog uses an “algorithm” to extract vocals and spoken audio (mostly elements that would sit on the center channel in a surround setup) and pull them to the front of the mix. While I didn’t enjoy having this one on during games—it made certain parts of the mix sound at little off at times—it worked well for movies and TV shows. The Creative Stage V2 tries not to overcompensate on the Clear Dialog option, however, so more than making the dialog too strangely imbalanced, it was a subtle shift sometimes only discernible through A/B testing of a scene.
Anyone looking for a boost to a default audio setup would do well to consider the Creative Stage V2 Soundbar. It’s an inexpensive audio solution that’s easy to set up for a variety of applications and can instantly take you into the realm of better quality audio for your TV, computer, or any number of other devices. While it can’t complete with more full-featured home theater and audio setups, that’s not the point of the Creative Stage V2, and its definitely not the price point.
Creative Stage V2 Sound Bar review unit was provided by Creative. For more information, please read our Review Policy.