Diamond XSTU21 Sound Tube & MSP100B Mini Rockers Mobile Speakers Review
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: February 14, 2010
Price: $39.99 & $49.99
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, any computer enthusiast should know who Diamond Multimedia is. For those of you not too familiar, Diamond Multimedia is known for its high end ATI based graphics cards, going back for years. One thing you may not be familiar with, however, is its accessories lines. Diamond Multimedia also produces a large assortment of multimedia accessories to enhance your video and audio experience. Today we are looking at two products that Diamond was showing off at the Consumer Electronics Show 2010 a few weeks back. They are the Diamond XSTU21 Sound Tube and the MSP100B Mini Rockers Mobile Speakers. These two devices are designed to give that extra power and sound to underpowered devices, such as MP3 players and even netbooks. The two devices can be used separately or together to give yourself the best audio possible on these portable devices.
Closer Look (Mini Rockers Speakers):
Diamond was gracious enough to supply us with a set of the Mini Rockers Mobile Speakers at CES 2010 to show us how well they perform. For the review, I will be using the black set, but they also come in a red and white color designed to fit your style and taste. On the front of the packaging, you can see right off the bat you have a great view of the speakers - I love to see what I am buying before the purchase and this keeps me from having to open the package. The Mini Rockers are designed to give you the best sound experience possible for all your mobile devices, as shown on the side of the package. They can be used for your mobile phones, media players, iPods, and more, that support a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Included in the packaging are the speakers themselves, a charging cable, the instructions, and a carrying case. For easy carrying, the speakers are held together by magnets and they are slipped into the carrying case with the charge cable. Each charge is claimed to last for about six hours. The speakers separate apart for use and are connected together using concealed cables contained in the units. Just unwind the cables, plug them in, switch it on, and you are all ready to go. For increased bass response, you twist the caps a bit and they pop up, increasing the depth of the sound that is output from them.
To operate the speakers, there is a physical on/off switch that ensures the device is turned off when not in use to conserve battery life. There is a line-in cable that comes out to plug into the device that you want to use the speakers on, as well as a volume slider to increase or decrease the volume directly without having to adjust it on the device they are being used on. To connect the two speakers together, there is another cable with a mini-USB head on it, which plugs into the mini-USB port on the second speaker. Both speakers need to be connected for them to be used since they are powered by the second speaker with the power switch. To charge the device, you connect the charging cable between the speakers and into a USB port on your computer and they will recharge even while being used.
Now that we have taken a look at the Mobile Rocker Speakers, let's check out the Diamond Sound Tube.
Closer Look (Sound Tube):
The XSTU21 Sound Tube comes packaged much like the Mini Rockers speakers, where you can see the device through the packaging before you purchase it to see if it is what you need. Also on the front are some of the features of the Sound Tube, as well as a photo of it plugged into a laptop so you get an idea of how the device works. On the back of the package, there is more information about the Sound Tube, as well as more features. The side of the package gives you a quick showing of how the Sound Tube can be used to improve your audio from your computers. Included in the package are the Sound Tube, an "L" shaped USB converter, and the instruction guide.
The design of the XSTU21 Sound Tube is simple, yet effective. To use the device, you take the tube itself and connect it to the mini-USB to USB "L" shapped converter and plug it into an available USB port on your computer. In just a few seconds, the device will be installed and ready to go. It will glow blue when the driver is installed, letting you know that the Sound Tube is ready. There is no software to install, as the driver comes from the Operating System itself. I also did try this on a Linux-based operating system as well, more sepcifically, Ubuntu 9.10, and it also installed using the built-in drivers and within seconds was ready to go. There are two ports on the Sound Tube - one is the speakers/headset out port and another is a microphone in port, which is great if you are using a web cam or gaming headset with mic for better sound quality.
With both items out of the package, we can move on to the testing part of the review.
Diamond XSTU21 Sound Tube:
- Transparent Vacuum Tube appearance
- Portable USB Audio
- Plug-and-Play, uses standard USB driver
- A Fade-In-Out Blue LED for Power-On & Idle
- Comply with USB 2.0 Full Speed
- Stereo Microphone-In (also could be used as Line-In by turning off Mic AGC in Microphone Control Window)
- Stereo Headphone-Out
- Work with PC/ Mac
MSP100B Mini Rockers Mobile Speakers:
- 6 Hours of Play Time
- Power Output: 4W
- Rechargeable Li-Polymer
- Battery Input: DC5V
- Speakers: 4 Ohm
- Dimension: 4” x 2”
- Patented Built-In Retractable Cables
- Standard 3.5mm audio plug
- Works with all MP3 music players, iPod™, iPhone™ and Laptops
To show how well the devices work, I will be testing them out on a computer that is in desperate need of a boost in sound quality. The test platform will be a Samsung N130 Netbook, which has only one 1.5 watt speaker, and when used for movies or music, leaves a bad taste in your ear, to say the least. The testing will be done playing a movie file with only the stock speaker from the netbook, then hooking up the MSP100B Mini Rocker Speakers by themselves to show the increase in sound with them alone. Finally, I will add the XSTU21 Sound Tube to give you an idea of how much better they sound together when the audio is decoded on the Sound Tube instead of on the netbook.
- Platform: Samsung N130 Black Netbook
- Audio Device: Diamong XSTU21 Sound Tube
- Speakers: Diamond MSP100B Mini Rockers Mobile Speakers
This video shows the stock speakers of the Samsung N130 before any of the Diamond Multimedia components are added. While the sound does seem loud, it is actually the high pitch of the single speakers echoing through the room. There is no bass definition and the sound seems to run together.
Next up is testing the MSP100B Mini Rockers Mobie Speakers. The sound seems to be lower, but it is not. This is because the sound is more defined and there is a bit more bass to it that was not there in the stock speakers. One thing I did notice is that the sound was not up and down. As it got louder, the speakers compensated so that it was more level instead of louder in some parts and quieter in others.
Lastly, we have the combination of the Diamond XSTU21 Sound Tube and the MSP100B Mini Rockers Speakers. Here you can clearly hear the definition of the audio being crisper and the bass pumping during the intense parts. Together, these two made the perfect audio for the movie. I actually had to watch this movie all the way after doing this review using the netbook and this audio setup.
The gear from Diamond Multimedia made a huge difference, especially when paired with a netbook lacking in that area to begin with. By adding the XSTU21 Sound Tube and MSP100B Mini Rockers Speakers, the netbook was turned into a multimedia station. I also noticed during the testing that when using the Sound Tube, there was less jitter and jumping because of the decoding of the audio and video than when the netbook had to do the decoding. When testing the speakers, I was able to get a bit over the six hours that is specified - I actually reached 6 hours and 21 minutes before they died. All in all, if you are needing to "spice up" your sound on your portable devices or netbooks/laptops, then for the price, these little gadgets from Diamond Multimedia are surely the way to go. I for one am glad that I have them, and with the carrying pouch of the speakers, which the Sound Tube fits in with them as well, I always have them with me on the go for that time when I need them.
- Inexpensive upgrade
- Produce great sound alone or paired together
- Speakers exceeded battery expectations