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SoundScience QSB - Setup, Sound Quality and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
SoundScience QSB

Summary

Our Score:

9

The Soundscience QSB speakers are incredibly easy to use. Just plug them into your computer over USB and that's it. There are no additional drivers and the speakers automatically start piping out any audio playing within a handful of seconds. It's not as instantaneous as plugging-in speakers to a dedicated audio output obviously, but also not all that far behind.

All control over the sound, including volume, is done within your computer, using the standard volume controls of your OS. It's all part of being powered by the puny 2.5 Watts of power available through a USB socket.

SoundScience QSB

To get by with such little power, the Soundscience QSB speakers have to be ridiculously efficient and easy to drive. Therefore, inside each chunky cube is a 4cm Balanced Modal Radiator panel, a driver technology specifically designed for maximum quality in minimum space. The resulting sound is surprisingly powerful. It's very well-balanced, detailed and highly musical. Sat in front of a laptop with them plugged in you're able to get an excellent stereo image setup, especially with proper toe-in (aimed slightly towards the middle), unlike the less flexible - if more portable - Logitech Z305 laptop speaker.

Naturally, they can't hope to produce subwoofer-like bass from such small drivers but the QSB speakers have no trouble filling a room. The sound is surprisingly full and warm too. We imagine they'd be able to handle even more volume than it's possible to give them - there's no distortion whatsoever right up to top volume. We were able to introduce some nasty noise by further increasing the volume using VLC player (effectively overdriving the levels of the music itself), but that's not down to the speakers.

SoundScience QSB

How loud can they go? Loud enough to annoy the neighbours, but not quite loud enough to power a party.

The obvious quality of the drivers makes us wish we could use the Soundscience QSB speakers with another source, but the design puts a stop to that. They won't work with just anything with a USB slot either, it needs to be a proper computer. So that discounts TVs with USB slots, phones and all sorts of other gadgets that could be used with a more conventional set of portable speakers.

SoundScience QSB

However, there's a lot to admire about the purity of their design, especially when it's carried off so successfully. They're very flexible within a certain small set of criteria, but in a wider sense they're restrictive. We know that if they were bored into with more holes, for other inputs and power sockets, some of the desirability of these speakers would seep away. The audience for the Soundscience QSB may be limited by design, but the more we think about it, the more we like them just as they are.

Other USB powered laptop/computers speakers tend to focus on value rather than performance, making the Soundscience QSB rare beasts. Alternatives like the Logitech Z205 and HP's Thin USB powered speakers are available for less than half the price, but they don't come close to matching the quality and style of this set.

Verdict

The Soundscience QSB USB-powered speakers may seem pricey, but their great sound and build quality justify the outlay if you frequently work on a laptop and are not chained to your desk. Cool and convenient, they're probably the most desirable USB speakers around. They only function within a limited set of situations, but within these limitations they perform wonderfully.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Design 9
  • Features 5
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Value 7

jps IT

May 24, 2011, 12:14 pm

Hey guys, do these work as speakers on an iPad / iPhone with the USB part of the apple camera connection kit? I currently use a Logitech USB AudioHub for this - which needs a seperate mains adaptor.... wondered if these are able to draw enough power from the iPad socket...

Andrew_TR

May 24, 2011, 1:36 pm

Unfortunately we don't think they'll interface with an iPad as they won't be able to take the audio output from the dock port. It's a shame as they would make a fantastic pair.

breathe

May 24, 2011, 2:09 pm

jps
If you want alternative, good quality portable speakers, I can recommend the Soundtraveller K3000ST from Powertraveller.com
You can power them from the mains, AA batteries, USB and even the solar panel that the same company do (I have this too! Really good in the summer!) The sound quality is fantastic. I actually used them with my main PC for a while to play Crysis 2!
Disadvantages are that they are a single unit and so sound separation wont be as good as these reviewed here and they take sound input from either the built in iPod dock or a 3.5 mm jack - no USB sound input.

Can i also request that Trusted Reviews get some of the other gear this Company do in for review as its all really cool and useful stuff (Powergorilla, Powermonkey, Solarmonkey, Startmonkey etc!!)

russelk

July 8, 2011, 1:34 am

Bought these for the Mrs the other day and I'm very impressed! For speakers so small the sound is pretty amazing. The top-end in particular is very crisp, without lapsing into harshness. They are good enough to show the differences in quality between high bitrate and low bitrate internet radio. Bass is obviously not going to be deep or prodigious, but they are fine for casual/background listening.

Andrew_TR

July 8, 2011, 1:34 pm

Glad to hear you like them. We had to send our review sample back sadly! I kinda miss them.

Barchi

September 30, 2012, 7:14 pm

Purchased the speakers earlier this year from Amazon, I like them very much, the quality and sound is superb connected to my laptop, however just lately they have developed a problem with the audio jack connection. I should add that they have been very carefully looked after and not had any adverse handling whatsoever. The lead connector on the AUDIO IN has since new always been looser than the connector to the speaker marked with the USB/ AUDIO OUT connectors. I now find that I am unable to get sound sometimes, either that or it crackles on this AUDIO IN speaker. To get constant sound I have to fiddle with the cable and offer some support to the lead to provide a true connection. This is tiresome and not too happy about it considering the price I paid. It would be interesting to find if anyone else has or is suffering this same problem?
I want to contact the manufacturer but uncertain where to direct my complaint. Help from anyone out there would be be appreciated.

rob.luxton@btinternet.com

April 3, 2013, 9:44 am

get 'em back and try them with Windows 8. See if you still recommend them ;-)

alfminus

December 11, 2013, 6:07 am

Is it possible to use the two 2 x left channel speakers only with rca in or has each speaker got its own amp or is all the amping coming from the usb one ??

The reason I am asking is because they are so cheap now it might be possible to use my Fiio D3 dac into two left speakers signal coming in optical from optical or coax via the dac which is usb powered ( I have some Van Den Hul Hybrid RCA/Coax 75 ohms
cables ?

Ben

October 21, 2014, 1:00 pm

Yes I have the exact same problem, though less severe - it seems to be fairly stable at the moment, but there was one tighter than the other (they can only work on one configuration, if the ports are swapped, one is miles too tight. Also I find that I get a lot of crackling noise when they are hooked up to my laptop - it is mitigated by changing the USB slot used but never gets rid of it completely. That aside, they are nice-sounding speakers and work excellently on my desktop

Phil K

August 11, 2015, 8:43 am

Now why should which OS make any difference ?

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