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Teufel Concept B 200 USB Speakers
It's immediately apparent that Teufel is doing something different with the Concept B 200 USB speakers. They're priced like a decent set of 2.1-channel speakers, but lack a dedicated subwoofer which might make you wonder what that £184 is buying. But as the System 5 THX Select 2 speaker set showed, Teufel doesn't mess around when it comes to providing excellent audio equipment.
The clue to the Concept B 200 USB's party trick is in the name. Rather than connecting to the audio output of your PC, the Concept Bs come with a dedicated amplifier unit, the CB 200 CS Control Station, that connects via USB. The benefit is self-evident; bypassing your PC's integrated (read: rubbish), soundcard. There are two reasons you might want to do that. One, the digital-to-analogue decoding in Teufel's amp unit will almost certainly be better than what your PC can provide, and two, amplifying an audio signal that has already been amplified itself (as a 'normal' set of speakers would) will only ever degrade it - an issue which Teufel's set-up avoids.
You only have to pick up the reassuringly heavy amp unit to get an idea of the quality audio it should output. Power is also drawn direct from the mains via a kettle lead suggesting that some serious components are at work inside (that toroidal transformer looks very nice). And if that doesn't sell you, the black anodised aluminium casing and glossy black plastic front fascia look great even if they get noticeably warm in use.
Teufel has made the interesting choice of having the amp unit double as a USB hub. Two USB ports sit at the rear of the amp, alongside the 'B' type connector which goes to your PC. The rear also carries stereo phono inputs, a 3.5mm input jack, the left and right speaker connectors and a 'proper' power switch, for when standby just doesn't cut it.
At the front, you'll find standby and source select buttons, microphone and headphone jacks and a third USB port. Three knobs, controlling bass, treble and volume adorn the right and all have a lovely, smooth action to them making fine adjustment a breeze. Good luck pushing the volume up above a third of its full range without needing new eardrums, though.