The Creative Stage V2 is far better than it should be for the price. A fuller sound stage is produced by the independent subwoofer. Which is much better than the built-in TV speakers’ best attempts. Clear Dialog is the feature that makes the difference for me. I doubt I’ll ever want to use another one without it. Imagine being able to understand them at last!
Creative Stage: Holistic Review
The Creative Stage V2 is a reasonably priced 2.1 stereo 80W soundbar ($110/£99).
That performs much better than it should at that price.
One standout feature that I adore about it is the Clear Dialog setting.
Which enhances vocals in difficult-to-hear or poorly balanced TV shows and movies.
It also has a separate subwoofer.
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Design: Creative Stage V2
The Creative Stage V2 stands out from other soundbars for an unexpected reason.
It is exceedingly small.
The packaging was unlike other soundbars.
I’ve tested it previously, so when it arrived at the door, I wasn’t sure what the enigmatic item was.
The main body is only 27 inches long and is composed of gleaming black plastic.
Although it looks a little cheap and is prone to collecting dust and fingerprints.
Because it will likely be concealed beneath your TV or monitor, this shouldn’t be a major issue.
I don’t anticipate solid wood and brushed chrome at this price point.
There are two 20W 2.25″ full-range drivers inside.
You’ll find screw holes for wall mounting it in addition to hiding it under your TV.
To allow this, the rear panel has been inset with the power plug and other ports.
The Creative brand insignia and a basic two-digit LCD panel.
Concealed in the centre are the only things that can be seen on the front of the Creative Stage V2.
Which is a black metal grill.
When turned on, this typically displays the input that is being used.
But it also adjusts to reflect volume changes and the on/off status of surround sound and clear dialogue.
Links To Everything
The main connection for the soundbar will be to your TV.
Either by HDMI ARC or a TOS Optical link.
It’s interesting to note that there is also a USB-A port.
Which you may utilise for direct digital output with a PC or PlayStation 4.
Mobile device connectivity is provided by Bluetooth 5.0.
With a normal 3.5mm stereo AUX serving as the default option for everything else.
The Creative Stage V2 Operation is easy to use and quick.
The remote control on some other soundbars can be sluggish.
Frequently requiring many button presses to switch inputs or adjust the volume.
The remote for the Creative Stage V2 was incredibly responsive.
And I never had to dance around trying to get the best line of sight or jiggle the batteries.
Because I thought they were about to run out.
Instant input switching and trouble-free Bluetooth connection were also experienced.
The volume buttons don’t repeat when you hold them.
Which makes it difficult to cycle between the 35 different volume levels of your input levels.
Or media vary significantly.
Creative Stage: Other Features
This meant that I had to hit 15 to 20 buttons to get YouTube and certain old TV programmes.
That we watch on Plex to normal volume.
You’re in for an auditory bomb if you don’t remember to return the volume to normal.
If I could have just one feature, it would be a set of programmed buttons.
That could store all of the settings currently in use.
Allowing me to switch between inputs, and increase the volume to my preferred level.
And tweak the EQ with the push of a single button.
One can dream, but that’s probably too much to ask of a soundbar.
That already provides so much for such a low price.
Lucid Speech And Surround Sound
The Creative Stage V2 is a 2.1 speaker system, which means it contains a subwoofer.
To boost the bass in addition to two primary speakers for stereo output.
Additionally, it has a “virtual” Surround Sound option that you can activate to simulate a more expansive sound stage.
But like most virtual surround sound systems, I was unimpressed with this component.
It does somewhat fill the space, but these systems also tend to give the sound a floating.
The ethereal aspect never quite sounds right to me.
The virtual surround capability was not used at all during my initial tests of the Creative Stage V2.
This may come down to personal preference, and if you’ve used a virtual environment before.
And know you enjoy the results, you’ll welcome having this choice available.
Stereo separation and audio quality
Although there are no significant issues to report.
The Creative Stage frequently had volume dips during the low-frequency spectrum sweep.
Even when the subwoofer was plugged in.
I put the Creative Stage through a variety of audio tests from audiocheck.net.
I didn’t notice anything strange throughout routine use.