While most powered speaker systems use a subwoofer/satellite design these days, JBL’s Duet is a throwback to the early-90’s: small left and right speakers with no sub. Although this results in a significant lack of bass response, the Duet — like its bigger sibling, the Creature II — provides surprisingly good sound for the money and a modern design that doesn’t scream “computer speakers.” You shouldn’t expect the range and clarity provided by many of the better “big” systems we’ve reviewed, but for ~$40 (street price), you get sound that’s enjoyable enough to keep you company at your desk in a package that also happens to look good. Our only complaint with the Duet is that the speakers are a bit top-heavy, making them too easy to tip over accidentally.
Tip: If you’re looking for more bass and volume, check out the $50 Logitech X-230 we recently reviewed. Also consider stepping up to the JBL Creature II, which offers significantly better sound quality for only $20-$30 more (at street prices).–Dan Frakes