Design and features
The Creative SBS A40 USB-powered speakers conform to conventions for these kinds of things. There are two small speaker cabinets (small, but perhaps a touch bigger than average), one passive and one active. The passive one — which weighs 215 grams alone — carries the left channel signal and is connected to the right speaker, which does most of the work.
The right one has within it a stereo amplifier rated at a modest 0.8 watts per channel (RMS, says Creative, for Root Mean Square, but that's not a valid term for power). This has on its top a push button hard-wired power switch and a knurled thumb wheel that acts as an analog volume control.
The USB cable and the input signal cable also come from the right-hand speakers.
Creative doesn't mention the size of the speaker drivers used in these units, but does note that they are bass reflex loaded (there is a bass port at the back of each enclosure) and magnetically shielded. We doubt that with the demise of floppy discs and CRT monitors that this is not of much importance any more. The drivers are fronted by a cloth grille stretched over a sturdy plastic grate. This grille cannot be removed.
Set-up is simple, of course. Put the green plug into the headphone socket, the USB plug into the USB socket, and you're done. After you press the power switch, of course. We like hard-wired power switches because you can be confident that when switched off, the system is drawing no power at all from your notebook.
The speakers are tilted up very slightly so that they "fire" a little more directly towards your ears.
As usual with separate speakers, they're not the best for taking with you on your travels. Indeed, the review set had obviously been used before and it took us a while once we got them out of the box simply to untangle all the cables.