Creative TravelSound 400 Portable Speaker
Creative has, for a while now, been at the forefront of small speaker design, whether the speakers in question are 2.1 computer setups or much smaller travel speakers such as the $69.99 TravelSound 400. When listening to a pair of travel (read: tiny) speakers, one often assumes that ease of use and portability will trump sound quality. The TravelSound 400 is no exception, and for those looking for spiffy, compact design that will easily fit in any briefcase or small backpack, this speaker set is a fine candidate. If stellar sound quality is what you're after, however, you'd do better with a more robust set, such as the Logitech mm50 Portable Speakers for iPod, which feature an auxiliary line input for use with other MP3 players.
The Creative TravelSound 400 is true to its name, measuring a travel-friendly 6.2 by 1.6 by 2.8 inches, weighing a scant 12 ounces with its four AAA batteries installed, and boasting a swivel design that offers a variety of listening angles and protects the drivers when it's flipped shut. You should have no problem stowing this device in a small carry-on bag or purse. Like many of Creative's speakers, the TravelSound 400 sports a snazzy aluminum-and-black color scheme. There are two drivers pumping out 2 watts per channel and situated roughly 2 inches from each other on the TravelSound 400's swivel panel. Stereo separation will not be much of an option, though Creative has done something interesting to combat this issue (more on that later); you can also easily angle the speakers. Therefore, regardless of what surface you place the speaker set on, you can point the drivers at your ears with relative ease, provided the surface is level with or below your ears. At 23 inches, the included connecting cable for MP3 and CD players is disappointingly short, however, so placement of the speaker unit may be dictated by what spaces have room for both the unit and your player.
If you're looking for exciting features, well, there's one: the aforementioned solution to the lack of stereo separation. The Wide Stereo Effect button is an excellent innovation, instantly creating a wider-feeling stereo field once it is pressed. Is this true stereo separation? Not really--remember, your ears are farther apart than these speakers, so that would be a hard trick to pull off, but the Wide Stereo Effect certainly implies more space, and it makes the listening experience more pleasurable.
The Creative TravelSound 400 has very little low end, so bumpin' rap and pop songs lose a little in the translation. In testing some early Dylan as well as Iggy and the Stooges, we found that acoustic songs and punk rock, respectively, fared a bit better. Regardless, you won't be purchasing this speaker set for its bombastic quality. The speakers are powered by four included AAA batteries and are rated for 35 hours per set of batteries--not bad at all. On-the-go types looking to take their tunes anywhere they wish will be pleased with the TravelSound 400; it's portable and attractive, with a feature that makes the sound seem to break out from the unit's small frame.