The new Stage SE Soundbar from Creative features a beautiful design coupled with the versatility of a Bluetooth connected speaker for your pc and gaming needs. The unit is light and easy enough to take with you and is able to extend sound from your PC/Mac but also from your PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch (via USB-A 2.0), Smartphone (via Bluetooth).
If you’re looking for an inexpensive sound solution for your pc or gaming platform, Creative’s Stage SE Soundbar delivers some nice balanced audio at a reasonable price point.
It’s a lightweight speaker that is easily portable with just a single wire for the power delivery. You can connect over Bluetooth 5.3 or use the supplied USB-A to USB-C wire. There’s also no Auxiliary port for a traditional analog 3.5mm (line in) plug.
Creative Lab’s Stage SE features 5.3 Bluetooth connectivity in this convenient single component soundbar. 48W of peak power output operating at 55-20,000 Hz frequency response with a > 80 dB signal to noise ratio. Creative’s racetrack drivers and Soundblaster technology give tuned performance. Tone adjustment lets you adjust between Warmer and Bright er audio; more on that in a moment.
The Stage SE soundbar measures 16.14 x 4.25 x 2.68 inches (410 x 108 x 68 mm) and comes with a 3.93 ft USB-A to USB-C cable for when you need a wired connection. Comes with an infrared Remote Control and an AC adapter with international plug attachments for convenience.
There’s a dedicated USB-A service port on the rear for any potential firmware updates in the future. This is meant for service only and cannot be used to connect the Stage SE soundbar.
You can connect your Stage SE via the supplied USB-C to USB-A cable or over a Bluetooth connection should your pc/laptop/device support it. Bluetooth seemed to have some spotty-ness where we would hear gaps or hiccups in the sound when connected to a Windows 10 machine.
There were also a handful of times where the speaker sound just cut out and the device had to be re-paired. Pairing the Stage SE is simple and once it is paired, a simple off/on quickly restores any lost connection. When you turn your pc on the unit is quick to re attach itself. The problem appears to be inherent to the ASUS AMD motherboards on Windows 10, we tried 2 in house with similar results.
Connectivity and Audio quality from the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is fantastic. Connection is quick and easy. iPhone 14 Pro was also quick and easy.
You’ll need the remote since the soundbar doesn’t have any controls except on/off, Pairing, Voice prompt on/off, also doubles as the volume dial.
On the remote you’re able to enable/disable surround sound, adjust the tonal balance and a Dialogue button that enhances speech. Additionally a power, input, Play/Pause/Prev/Next, Vol up/down, reset and a mute button.
The unit displays a subtle LED behind the grill near the right side red for standby, purple for USB, Blue for Bluetooth. When pairing the unit it will also speak to you and let you know, “pairing mode” or “Bluetooth connected”.
You can adjust between “Warmer” and “Bright”er sounds using the Tone +- rocker button on the remote. Warmer sounds give you more bass and vocals for movies or games and the “Bright” sounds give you better high-pitched sounds for crisper cleaner audio for speech. The Tone adjustment is used frequently; just a few clicks in either direction to find the sweet spot depending on what we were listening to.
While the Creative SE doesn’t include a sub-woofer it does provide some balanced audio for it’s class with surprisingly decent bass. The Stage SE is good about allowing you to listen to audio at 10 without sounding like it is blown out.
The soundbar did pretty well with music. Like any speaker system, the quality of the audio file will dictate how well the speaker seems to performs. If you choose a low quality recording the sound produced from the Stage SE will be reminiscent of a clock radio vs a media soundbar.
If you try and compare this soundbar to full size bookshelf speakers or a 2.1 with a subwoofer then you may be disappointed. The Stage SE does put out some of the best in class sound at this size and price point.
Works really well for studio produced music. Heavy metal like Pantera I’m broken or Walk, Megadeth Holy Wars, Nickelback’s Photograph all sound great. Rihanna’s We Found Love, Kid Rock’s All Summer Long; clean with thick bass… Rock probably sounded better than Rap here as the bass doesn’t ring out but rather thickens the sound.
Limp Bizkit’s Nookie, Rusted Root’s Ecstasy, Fifty Cent’s In Da Club, Jimmy Eat World’s A Praise Chorus didn’t sound quite as nice as they usually do and produced a somewhat over-modulated sound but Nicki Minaj’s Truffle Butter sounded great.
So there’s a fair amount of buzzing going on when listening to something like Sheryl Crow My Favorite Mistake or Paul Simon’s Me and Julio where the bass was very loud and prominent. The buzzing does happen for other music, it was just less noticeable.
Car chases, laser blasts, swooshy noises, there’s enough bass present in the Stage SE’s balanced output to make your movie experience better. Vocals are clear and crisp. For example Watching Band of Brothers over the Memorial Day weekend; the explosions are thunderous without sounding like it’s going to blow out the speaker, the crackle of thunder clouds sounded sick, machine gun fire, the rumble and clanking of the tank treads sound fantastic!
The Stage SE performed quite well with gaming sounds as well. Though it does lack a subwoofer it does a nice job of thickening up your game sounds. Laser Blasts, ships taking off, alert noises, bells and whistles all sound very nice.
The Creative Stage SE Soundbar is a great looking convenient portable little speaker addition to your PC, MAC, laptop, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch that enhances your audio experience without breaking the bank. It’s lightweight and very portable if you’re traveling. Works great for movies & videos, gaming and general purpose pc sound. It won’t bring the house down but it’s plenty loud for a dorm, bedroom, office, similar smaller room or sitting right in front of or near your pc/laptop/devices.
Creative Stage SE soundbar $59.99