The main reason that people want external speakers for their laptops is to give the audio a much needed volume boost. So the first thing that needs to be said here is that is that for a relatively inexpensive £50, the Palo Alto Musik speakers will do exactly that. See Group test: what's the best speaker set?
However, the actual power of these speakers fall a long way short of being impressive when turned up to full volume. The main reason for this is because the Musik speakers draw their power and audio input entirely from a single USB port. On the one hand this is great for portability as you can simply chuck these speakers into your laptop bag and then plug them into your laptop’s USB port and your speakers will have power and will be ready to go, with no need for an additional plug socket. On the other hand your speakers are limited to only 5V of power, and that will only get your sound so far…as we experienced with these speakers.
Since they use a digital connection, rather than the analog minijack which most speakers use, the Musik speakers have a built-in DAC (digital-to-analogue converter). Palo Alto says this is higher quality than your laptop's DAC and means the sound you hear is noisless and bit-by-bit perfect.
Unfortunately, the Musik speakers are a little underwhelming when listening to your favourite tracks. Vocals and mid-range sounds seem a little washed out, while the bass is pretty uninspiring too. The higher notes came through a bit louder and clearer, but it feels a little too much in comparison to the balance of the rest of the levels/range.
If you’re thinking about purchasing the Palo Alto Musik speakers, the questions you need to ask yourself are; when am I going to use these speakers and what am I going to use them for. If the answer is to listen to music at home, then you can get a lot more for your money elsewhere. However if you’re looking for a affordable and portable pair of speakers to catch-up with Eastenders (or something) on iPlayer when you’re away from home, then the Musik speakers take to make sense in terms of price and quality.