Corsair blew our minds with its first speaker-building effort: The 2.1-channel SP2500 rocked hard. Now the company is back with a scaled-down system, the SP2200. This 2.1-channel set offers smaller and fewer drivers driven by a less-powerful amp. It also lacks the fancy tethered control module, but it’s $150 cheaper than its sibling. Can Corsair wow us again?
Yes and no. This is one helluva speaker system for the money, but Corsair can’t defy the laws of physics—or economics. The SP2200 uses a pair of bridged Class D amps to deliver 30 watts to the 6-inch paper driver in the ported subwoofer, while two independent Class D amps drive the 2-inch full-range paper drivers in the satellites with a modest eight watts each (46 watts in total). The satellites in the pricier SP2500 system are bi-amplified two-way speakers, with separate amps driving each tweeter and midrange (232 watts in total). The satellites in the SP2200 consist of full-range speakers, meaning a single driver in each cabinet is tasked with delivering the entire sonic spectrum (or at least all the frequencies above those assigned to the subwoofer).
Despite its ultra-low price tag, the SP2200 features four Class D amplifiers, two auxiliary inputs, and a headphone output. The satellites even have removable grills!
That’s a difficult task, and the SP2200’s satellites tend to over-emphasize the mids and flatten the highs. Listening to Steely Dan’s “What a Shame About Me,” from the Two Against Nature CD, the hi-hat strike that starts this track lacked the bacon-grease sizzle that we hear from higher-end speakers. And when we played Peter Gabriel’s cover of Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble,” from his Scratch My Back release (sampled at 48kHz and encoded in 24-bit FLAC by B&W’s Society of Sound music service), the speakers did a wonderful job producing the piano’s lower register, but Gabriel’s voice sounded as though he was singing from the bottom of a bucket.
While grooving to Tower of Power’s “Squib Cakes” (from Back to Oakland), however, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were listening to sub-$100 speakers. The SP2200 did an excellent job of distinctly rendering each individual instrument in the band’s horn section, and preserving the tiny silences in between the attack of each note that reveal just how tight these musicians can play. But while the sub delivered deliciously taut bass response, the music still sounded constrained to the middle of the harmonic range. We really missed some of the nuances—the crack of a tightly wound snare drum, for instance—that high-end sound systems are capable of reproducing.
That level of fidelity isn’t quite as important when you’re playing games, because your attention isn’t exclusively focused on sound when you’re dodging enemy fire or crushing a zombie’s skull. And the SP2200 delivered a great experience with Call of Duty 4 and Left4Dead 2, with thundering explosions, pounding gunshots, and bone-chilling screams from the horde without a hint of distortion—even with the volume dial turned hard right. The SP2200 boasts an off-the-chart price/performance ratio, but we’d happily pay more to get more.