Provides: 2.1 audio playback for your computer system
Developer: Altec Lansing
Minimum Requirements: Computer, iPod, or other audio device with 1/8″ stereo mini jack, USB 2.0 port for USB connectivity
There’s one thing I really don’t like about LaCie’s Sound2 speaker system, and I want to get it out of the way right now. They roll. That round design you see above (and below) is conducive to rolling, and it’ll happen. The slightest bump, and your speakers will be rolling around your desk.
I bring this up now because it’s my largest complaint, and it’s an odd one. Beyond that, LaCie’s Sound2 (Sound2) offer decent sound at a fair price, and the design is intriguing.
LaCie has been known to look outside the company for product design, and the Sound2 is no exception. Here, the design comes from Neil Poulton, a Scottish-born industrial designer who has won numerous awards I can’t pronounce. I have no eye for industrial design, but it seems to me his work tends to be minimal and reflects what the product provides. With the Sound2, the design reflects a 45RPM record minus the label, or perhaps a giant pair of headphones. Kind of cool, really.
The back of the right speaker contains the attached USB cable, as well as the ports for the power adapter (included) line in and left speaker. The left speaker, then, contains the attached cord for connection to the right speaker. Both include a plastic spindle around which you can wind the attached cables for easy storage or to keep extra cables off your desk. I can say with assurance as I look at all the twisty-tied clumps of cable around my computer that this is a fantastic design feature. The spindle on the right also serves as a spinning power button and volume control. The goodwill they created here, however, is eliminated by a very short power adapter. You’re going to need an extension cord with this system.
Note that unlike in the photo above, the spindles contain notches to hold the cords in place.
You can draw power to the Sound2 from the USB cable alone, but using the provided power adapter in conjunction will get you more volume. The location of the volume knob makes it quite awkward to reach, so you’ll want to find a setting you like and then use your computer to adjust volume. Also, a blue glow emanates from within the right speaker, but it’s not noticeable from the front. I’m guessing this is simply to indicated power, but since you have to go out of your way to see it, I’m not sure I get the point. An item that’s missing back there, however, is a headphone port, which I like to have in any speaker system I use.
Once you’ve got the Sound2 system connected, “LaCie Speakers” will appear in the Sound Output preference panel in Mac OS X and in Audio Playback for Windows users. Select it, and you’re set.
So, we get to audio quality. It’s acceptable, but I was expecting more considering the acoustics are designed by Cabasse. The speakers do a decent job at low volumes, but the lack of bass response becomes obvious as you increase volume. There’s also some distortion at higher levels, which LaCie recommends you combat by switching the pre-amp of your audio player to 0db.
System specs are as follows:
- Driver: Cabasse’s Wide Band ICF Driver – 70mm / 2.75 in.
- Signal Processing and Frequency: 16-bit / 48kHz
- Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20kHz
- Total Peak System Output: 30W (2x15W)
- Bass Technology: Bass reflex
- Maximum Acoustic Level: 95.5dB@1m
- Maximum Acoustic Peak Level: 98.5dB@1m
That’s pretty much what you should expect from $100 speakers, so no problem there. Considering that computer speakers need to be ready to handle movies, games and music, however, I’d be happier with better bass. The audio is clean, but somewhat empty.
The longer I had LaCie’s Sound2 speaker system set up on my desk, the more I grew to like the look. The lack of any sort of cabinet or housing in direct view provides for a sharp, modern look. Unfortunately, the sound never grew on me; I’ve heard better at this price. The lack of a subwoofer hurts, but some people just don’t want to deal with that extra piece of hardware. Fair enough. But you shouldn’t also have to deal with hard-to-reach controls, a surprisingly short power adapter cable, and the need to mess around with your audio player’s pre-amp setting to get optimal sound. The Sound2 system looks great, but I can’t recommend speakers based on looks alone.