The Kratos S3 is Creative’s very latest set of 2.1 speakers specifically targeted at gamers. What makes them gaming speakers? Apart from being able to get quite loud and having red Xs on them, not much. However, on paper, it’s still a capable set with plenty of power, and a step up in quality from entry-level 2.1 speaker systems.
At a glance, this set has an almost identical spec to the Logitech Z533, with each of the satellites sporting a 2.75in driver, and the subwoofer being a ported unit with a 5.25in driver, making for a claimed 46W RMS of overall power. Comparatively, the Logitech system claims to have 60W of RMS power.
However, while the specs of these speakers look similar, when you peer closer, it becomes clear the Kratos S3 is a step down from the Logitech in most other regards. The Kratos S3’s design is that bit more generic, and the BlasterX logos plastered everywhere lack class – the build quality is comparable, but Creative has effectively made its speakers look cheaper.
You also miss out on some of the extras. The satellites don’t have snazzy-looking drivers, you don’t get a wired remote and much of the cabling is non-removable. Only the speakers can be detached, and even then one of them uses a proprietary connection. All the cables are fairly short too, limiting your layout options.
What’s more, you only get one audio input, so you’re out of luck if you want to listen to music from your smartphone as well as your PC, for instance. This input comes courtesy of a tethered 3.5mm jack cable that runs from the back of the sub. You do get a headphone jack though. It’s situated on the right side of the right satellite, next to the volume and power knob. It’s a far cry from the wired remote of the Logitech system, but it gets the job done. Meanwhile, bass can be adjusted via a dial on the sub.
As for sound quality, again this system sits a notch below the Logitech Z533. On the plus side, you get a generally full, rich, warm sound, with the satellites delivering a good stereo image and the sub filling in the lows nicely. In fact, the overall sound is a little more natural-sounding than the Logitech set, which some people may prefer. However, the detail levels aren’t that great. If you’re playing any dense and challenging music, such as heavy metal, the sounds all just blends together.
It’s a similar story with films and games, where the overall feel is of a fun, lively sound with plenty of bass kick for explosions and impacts, but with the subtler details getting a little lost. You can also download Creative’s BlasterX Acoustic Engine to tweak the audio coming from your PC. It offers virtual surround sound and various EQ settings for different games and activities – it’s also a free download that doesn’t require the speakers, if you want to try it out for yourself.
In the end, the problem with this speaker set is that it’s priced just a touch high, while the Logitech Z533 is very competitively priced. The Kratos S3 feels like a $50-$60 speaker system – a step up from $40 entry-level systems but comfortably behind $80-$100 systems such as the Z533 – and it’s just not priced accordingly.
Creative has got the basics right with the Kratos S3. It’s a powerful, lively 2.1 speaker system that will happily turn its hand to music, movies and games. However, it’s priced a touch high so that right now, there are more feature-rich, better-looking and superior-sounding systems available for just few dollars more.