Owl-eyed noise: a product review


7 January 2010, 22.39 CET

Recently I’ve found the experience of listening to music or radio on earphones for hours on end while working at the computer to be claustrophobic and extremely tiring. After all, one of the purposes and pleasures of music is to create an atmosphere which you can then be a participant in. It is frustrating if your atmosphere doesn’t extend beyond your own admittedly oversized ears, particularly when you’re home alone.

So, today I purchased a lautsprecher-systeme to fix this problem. While at the store I tried to balance the equal demands of appearance, sound quality, portability, and price—no quick task—before settling on the Philips SPA2210.

Despite their unimaginative name they convey a certain charm, although I was afraid they would sound like complete shit. While they will never be confused with the sound of a real set of computer speakers, they do have advantages:

  • Sound surprisingly great! More than adequate and actually quite fun-inducing.
  • No heavy power supply (they are powered via a USB cable connected to your computer).
  • Aren’t predominantly black and utterly bland.
  • Aren’t square-edged and dictatorial.
  • Have white cables (matching the look of my power cable, mouse, and keyboard).
  • Will easily fit into my luggage when it’s time to move on.
  • Are charming, in a dorky eighties-ish way.

Of course, there are disadvantages:

  • Also take up the headset port on your computer rather than getting the audio via USB.
  • Don’t have an input port for my iPhone or iPod Shuffle. (This is a feature of the SPA3210 speakers (€5 more), but the store didn’t have them and I don’t particularly like the look of them—they look like quizzical, confused nieces/nephews of E.T.)

These aren’t too much of an issue though, because I can plug the audio jack into my iPhone and the speakers will still be powered by my laptop. Thus the first limitation actually mitigates the second. Still, it would have been easy enough to include an extra audio input and output set.

Overall, I’m very happy with these little singing owls and don’t think that for now I can do better than this for €25./$35. Thanks Philips!—The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, et cet., et cet., are sounding much better now that they’re out in the open.