Lacie USB Speakers
Price: $29.99 from LaCie.com with free shipping
LaCie’s USB speakers are attractive to look at, small enough to fit into a small carrying case, and produce a clean clear sound that will not cause hearing impairments. If you want the kind of bass response that makes cars and apartment walls vibrate, these speakers are not for you. However, given their size, the sound is impressive and the separation is distinct and clear. In a world where competition did not exist, a $30 pair of speakers that sounds this good would seem like a gift.
But competition does exist. Several other companies, notably Altec Lansing and Logitech, make USB speakers comparable in price to the LaCie offering but with more features. Some come with a miniature subwoofer and volume controls handily accessible on the unit itself, neither of which is to be found in this LaCie USB system.
However, keep in mind the extra features may be seen as attributes to some users and as impediments to others. For example, I will use my LaCie speakers mainly in my camper. I don’t usually have access to electricity where I camp, so the fact they’re powered off the computer’s battery is a plus. I’ll plug them into a USB port on my iMac, crank up iTunes, and listen to some music or a podcast while I’m relaxing in the evening.
My camper is small and compact – not one of those motor homes the size of a Greyhound Bus. I have neither the space nor the need for a subwoofer. And the last thing I want are speakers big enough to scare off the elk bugling at the edge of the forest. When it’s time to move on, I’ll wrap the speaker cables into the storage space provided in the base of each unit, place the speakers in their tiny carrying case and tuck them away in a cupboard.
Obviously, my needs are modest, so the LaCie USB speakers are perfectly adequate. If I lived in an apartment and didn’t want to drive my neighbors nuts, I’d feel the same way. The only features I’d miss are volume, bass, and treble controls on the speakers themselves.
There’s no real setup with these speakers. There are no drivers to install. You plug one speaker into the other, then plug its USB cable into an empty USB port on your computer. If by chance you’re not getting any sound, click on the Apple at the top left of your screen and open System Preferences. Click on Sound and under the Output tab, select the USB speakers. That’s as complicated as it gets.
You can also connect your iPod to these speakers, but for that you’ll have to get an AC adaptor, sold separately. The lack of an AC adaptor made me cringe.
A cautionary note: If I were a gamer or someone who wanted the kind of sound you’d get from studio speakers, the LaCie speakers would strike me as annoyingly inadequate. There’s the dilemma for both manufacturers and consumers. The LaCie speakers are $29.99 and some consumers want them to sound like units that sell for $900 each. That’s not going to happen, though more powerful sound, equal or superior to the quality the LaCie speakers, is available in the same price range from several other manufacturers.
In short, think carefully about your needs and how you’ll use the speakers before deciding what to buy. The LaCie speakers are far superior to the raspy nightmares that some computers ship with; tones are full and clear throughout their range. But if you want a subwoofer and more boom for your buck, look to Logitech and Altec Lansing.
2W audio; 1W per channel
Output Minimum : 2W audio; 1W per channel
Amplifier : Class D
Driver : High excursion neodymium driver (2 inches/5cm)
Signal Processing & Frequency : 16-bit / 48kHz
System Requirements : • Mac or PC with a USB port • Mac® OS X 10.3.5 or higher / Windows® 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista
Frequency Response : 90Hz – 20kHz
Size : 5.31 x 3.94 x 3.54 in. / 135 x 100 x 90 mm