Just in time for back to school, LaCie just launched a new set of USB-powered speakers. Designed by Neil Poulton, these reasonably priced, simple-yet-elegant speakers compliment LaCie’s previously released FireWire Speaker set. Since not all computers and laptop have the ability to use FireWire, LaCie felt it important to release a set that could be use universally, by Macs and PCs alike.
These speakers are designed for ease-of-use at a price point that make them a near essential for any high school or college-bound student. What’s really nice about these is that there is minimal configuration required to quickly be enjoying crisp, clear sound in minutes.
The original FireWire version of these speakers were awarded the Janus 2007 Seal of Quality by the French Institute of Design and were listed in Time Magazine’s Design 100 issue. Not only that, this unique design also received a 2008 Design Observer Star from the France-based Agency for the Promotion of Industrial Creation (APCI). More information about the designer, Neil Poulton can be found on his website.
What most people will like about this product is how truly easy it is to get up and running on any computer. Simply locate the USB plug and then based on whether you are using a Mac or PC, select the output device for your sound. I followed the Mac path here. The steps are very straight forward, but even I messed up at first and had to quickly go back and read the manual. One simple has to connect one speaker to the other (the connections are clearly labeled) and then plug the USB into your Mac or PC. When I did this the first time, there was no sound coming from the speakers. I found the following in the short manual (which is written in 18 languages, 1 page per language):
Note: If you have connected your LaCie USB Spekers but you don’t hear any sound when playing an audio file, you may need to select the speakers manually as your audio output device.
Windows Users: Control Panel>Audio>Playback>USB Audio Device
Mac Users: System Preferences>Sound>Output>USB Audio Device
Once I figured that out, I was off and running. At first, the sound coming from the LaCie USB Speakers sounded a bit tinny. This was actually to be expected given that these speakers are only USB powered. In order to have a stronger bass that typically requires more power than what is available via USB. However this is easily corrected by adjusting the base levels up via an equalizer (e.g., in iTunes).
Once you fine tune your sound preferences to you liking, the speakers really do work well. They have a solid, crisp sound with clear left and right channel audio distinction. The sound is clear and not mushy in any way that I could tell and doesn’t distort until very high-levels. While you can’t provide the sound for a disco, you can provide nice ambient music to a small room (like a dorm room) or loud enough to fully annoy your cube-mates at work.
For about $60, you can get a good pair of stylish, high-quality digital audio speakers that are truly plug & play and don’t require the need to install any drivers. And, they won’t be a huge power drain when they are running. They come complete with a handy carrying case and an audio link cable which can be used to connect these speakers to audio devices (e.g., an iPod). To do this, though, you have to purchase an external power supply and wait for it to arrive.
HTD Says: All in all, the LaCie USB Speakers are a great gift for kids heading to college, for the office or just to set up some nice ambiant sound within smaller room or spaces. Sound is crisp, clean and clear and with the tweaking, these are a great set of speaker to have. I give them a solid B+ (would have been an A- if the “sold separately” power connecter was included).