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.
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.
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.
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.
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.