Ogling—and then listening to—Creative’s I-Trigue L3800 speakers brings to mind that classic Sex Pistols’ lyric "We're pretty. Pretty vacant." The mod, sexy satellites look stunning bracketing a svelte flat-panel monitor. But lust dissolves into indifference the moment they make a sound.
The satellites’ brushed-aluminum cabinets house a pair of tiny NeoTitanium drivers—a rare metal found only in Creative Labs’ speakers and the occasional science-fiction novel—and look as if they could be displayed at the Guggenheim. (Snarkiness aside, the trademark springs from the fact that the drivers are fabricated from titanium, and they’re driven by neodymium magnets.) These high-frequency drivers are supplemented by side-firing midrange drivers, which lend the 2.1-channel system an impressively wide soundstage.
The satellites are bi-amplified, meaning that the 1.3-inch tweeters and 2-inch midrange drivers are powered by separate amps (delivering 9 watts RMS in total). This design choice typically results in superior fidelity, and the L3800 sats deliver satisfyingly meaty tones from their mids; but the tweeters rendered Neil Young’s harmonica work on “Prairie Wind” harsh enough to grate Parmesan.
The satellite amps were noisy, too; a steady background hiss emanated from the tweeters in the absence of an input signal. The 6.5-inch, side-firing, ported subwoofer and its dedicated 30-watt amp, on the other hand, delivered well-defined and agreeably punchy bass.
The I-Trigue line is designed for use with handheld media players and console game systems, as well as PCs. This is the first model in that lineup to come with an infrared remote that controls not just the speakers (power, satellite and sub levels, and mute), but several models of Creative’s Zen players, too. Plug one of these into the 3800’s wireless desktop receiver—which also has a convenient headphone jack—and you can use the remote to play, pause, and skip tracks on the Zen.
The I-Trigue L3800 provides a feast for the eyes, but its noisy amps and unforgiving tweeters left our ears feeling famished.