Speakers that don't plug into the mains - or into a dedicated amp - aren't known for their robust sound and loud volume. However, when you're out and about a power socket's hardly ever handy. The Soundscience QSB speakers offer a genial solution without reverting to packing-in batteries - they're powered through a computer's USB port.
At £89.99, the Soundscience QSB aren't cheap. For the same price you could buy a full 5.1 speaker system for your desktop, but these two types of speaker set are talking to different audiences. These can certainly stay rooted to a desk if you want, plugged into your home computer, but to leave them doing so is to miss the point.
These speakers are begging to go on adventures with you, but at the same time they're not ultra-portable. Each speaker housing spans just under 10cm in each dimension and is fashioned out of ultra-tough, seemingly very thick glossy plastic, apart from the coated-metal grille on the front. The silvery edges aren't metal, much as it may look like they are from a distance. A brief glance may make you equate the Soundscience QSB with cheap PC speakers, but they're poles apart. They're solidly built and don't creak or flex under pressure at all.
As a result they'll handle some rough treatment, but in order to keep that shiny finish at its best, a decent carry case is included too. It's lightly rubberised and almost as tough as the speakers themselves. Moulded to the shape of the Soundscience QSB, it doesn't take up much additional space but is still a hefty slab that'll fill a significant portion of the space in a rucksack, and certainly won't fit in the average handbag.
On the bottom of each speaker are four rubber feet, to give them a bit of grace when they land on whatever surface you finally settle for. On the back of each there's just one gold-coloured, metal speaker terminal. It's a proper hi-fi phono connection too - none of that 3.5mm jack rubbish here. One speaker back also features a mini-USB port, but the rest of the speakers' bodies are blank. No buttons, no volume control - just smooth, shiny excellence.
The design is virtually seamless - literally. We can't find any way to open the speaker boxes up, and it'll take a while to even find out where its seams are. It feels like one solid lump of plastic. It may not sound as impressive as the metal unibody designs of Apple's laptops, or such like, but there's a similar high-quality vibe going on here.
An "audiophile grade" cable used to connect the two speakers is included, as well as a miniUSB-to-USB cable, to plug them into a computer. The ends of the speaker cable are lightly magnetised too. It's another neat little signpost of quality that does have some use - it means the fit between the RCA connectors can be a little looser, reducing damage whenever a cable's accidentally yanked out quickly. And that's more likely to happen with a portable product like this than a home-bound set.