UCube USB speakers
So the quest was for a 2.0 (subwooferless) computer speaker that wouldn't make me grit my teeth. I'm coming from one of the Klipsch ProMedia systems, which is pretty good sounding for computer speakers.
Briefly, at the heart of the music, which is 99% of it, the UCube speakers absolutely kill it. The imaging is spectacular, and they do midrange beautifully. There isn't any real bass to speak of, but you don't really notice the absence of it, either. Female voice is lovely, jazz sings like a canary.
And did I mention that they're really, really cute? Aesthetics were a significant concern for me, and these speakers fill the bill in that regard.
What I basically learned is that the Klipsch speakers didn't do much for a soundstage, and imposed themselves on everything you played through them. Now I knew that going in, but didn't realize the extent to which that happened.
The UCube is a fairly neutral transducer, which means that crappy recordings will sound crappy, etc, etc. So be careful about that encoding rate when you download music, because you will hear it.
Setup is simple: attach the little stands, then the audio cable (RCA, so you can drive yourself crazy with interconnects if you're so inclined), then the USB into any port you like. I plugged it into my keyboard. Done.
You have to adjust volume via the computer, rather than the ease of having a volume control on the speaker, as the Klipsch and most powered speakers offer. So that's one drawback.
Another drawback is if you blast metal for a long time at max volume, the Class D voodoo runs out of steam. Essentially, the speakers have circuitry that acts like an accelerator, giving it more gas, so to speak, as demand comes. But with my boys in High On Fire, the demand is always there. So you get some volume fluctuation as the speaker struggles with the demand. It IS USB powered, after all. Turning down the volume solved the problem.
I also learned that the Klipsches were pretty craptastic at imaging, and doing that disappearing act that speakers are supposed to do. Again, I knew that, but figured "It's computer speakers. Why worry about it?" Turns out I was wrong. I LOVE having a little soundstage on my desk, with width and depth galore.
I'm keeping them, as they meet my needs of really good sound, small size (less than 6" high with stands attached), and they're cute as can be. I got red ones.
Only you can decide whether they're worth the $149 asking price, but I was knocked out by the sound, soundstaging and imaging qualities. Would I call them a great speaker? Contextually, sure. They're awesome, and had no trouble filling my smallish office with tunes, at a volume I would never listen at for any extended period.
For me, they filled the bill.
So as usual, just some basic information for anyone who might be in the same boat as I.