MM-SPU8BK Review: Sanwa Supply Compact PC Speakers—Killer USB Computer Speakers for Far Less Than You'd Think.
When you spend all day at your desk writing, a good pair of speakers is a necessity. And, as I discovered a few years ago, they don't need to cost a whole lot either.
What's a good pair of computer speakers look like? The better question, of course is what do a good pair of computer speakers sound like…
I spend a lot of time at my computer—creating opportunities for residents of Japan to start their own website, building out new categories within Nihon Hustle, and working on far to many book projects.
All in all, when I'm not in teaching season here in Japan and wandering around Sannomiya a few days a week, I'm putting in about 12 hours a day behind the desk. And, being a musician, I need to tame that quiet with tunes.
In this quick review of sorts, I'll detail two (well, perhaps a few others!) mini speakers I've used to crank out more writing material than a sane person should do in the course of a year. First, the MM-SPU8BK from Sanwa Supply which you can buy on the ground here in Japan at any electronic store, or on Amazon. Second, the iHome iM60LT portable mini speaker which you can also get on Amazon in the States or otherwise.
What kind of music am I playing on these speakers?
The first three hours of the day start off with Rush (the volume boost and driving energy helps me work on the tech side of things… building out Divi pages and such), then it shifts to Debussy or Chopin when I'm needing to write creatively. Then, it's off to Pink Floyd as I'm winding out the last bit of the day in anticipation of the arrival of my wife and and wondering what to cook for the evening. When I take these outside, I'm also playing something a bit more calm and relaxed… usually some Chopin, or Jazz from Oscar Peterson.
Why does the type of music matter?
Because all day long, my trusty Sanwa MM-SPU8BK USB speakers carry that mental and productivity load, and they do it with grace. Loud or soft, they are awesome, and they cost less than a single Os Cinemas movie theatre ticket.
Aside from the price, here's why I love my MM-SPU8BK speakers:
- They look damn cool. Important, right?
- They take up hardly any space on my desk.
- The USB cord running from each speaker is long enough to stretch them out across my desk so I can hide them behind my books. Win.
- I can crank the volume up super-loud if I want to when watching a movie, or rocking out to Floyd's Pulse album, AND I can turn them down super-low when I want to keep some rock and roll going, while trying to think. I can fine tune the output exceedingly well with the circular dial in the back of the right speaker. Also, there is no distortion—only pure goodness. Someone on Amazon said he couldn't get his past 25% without distortion. My guess is he had a bad pair, or his computer settings were amiss. I recorded a little something for you below. Keep in mind I had to compress it to MP3, and it's recorded with an iPhone speaker, but the general feel is there.
I gradually raise the volume, then reduce it a bit while having the phone sit in front of me on the mousepad. I actually had to cover my ears it was so loud. On that note, many people think computer speakers are quiet because of the speaker itself. What it usually is is the sound settings being ill-configured and/or Amazon/Netflix streaming restrictions on volume increases. Go figure, it is a thing, apparently. It's not the speakers, though… these Sanwa's are top notch.
- Portable. Given that these are USB speakers and super light, they fit in any bag you can toss over your back, or carry with you thoroughout Japan. With some sort of matsuri (祭り) going on throughout the year, they're absolutely perfect and easy to pack on a picnic to see the cherry blossoms or if you just want to hang out near the water, or in the park somewhere.
- Their shape. I specifically purchased these laptop speakers because they're square. Round speakers look cool, and might possibly sound better, but are a pain in the ass to lug around. Jingle-jangle-crack-boom-bam. These are perfect, and they won't get skuffed and damaged in transit as well. Just wrap 'em tight, or put them in a Tupperware and you're good to go.
- No drivers to download and they work well on both my Macbook Pro and my old-ass Toshiba laptops.
So, there you have it. The Why. What I wish I could do, though…
The one thing I wish I could do with these speakers that I cannot, is plug them into my iPhone. But, as far as I know, that's simply due to the lack of power resources of the iPhone. I even bought a USB to phone jack adapter thinking that would do the trick. Sadly, no.
So, if you're looking for a great set of versatile, easy-to-use and install set of USB PC speakers, its really hard to go wrong with the MM-SPU8BK from Sanwa.
Of course, if you're looking for a massive set of speakers for gaming or home theatre watching there are a host of other insanely good and expensive options to choose from. But, if you're wanting portable speakers you can use deskside all day, then bring downstairs into your kitchen to whip us some soba noodles and nabe, I wholeheartedly recommend these puppies. Mine are three years old at this point and still truckin'.
What sort of USB speakers did I use before?
The iHome iM60LT. I loved this speaker so much when I worked back in Chicago that several of my colleagues purchased one for their desk as well. This little baby packed a ton of punch, and like the Sanwa's could also dial down in tone and tenor so people sitting in an open office configuration could still play music without disturbing others.
When I purchased this speaker back in 2013, it only cost $23 USD. These days, it seems the model has either been discontinued, or is a bit of a collector's item (they're awesome because you can collapse the speaker and carry it with you without the cord attached). Killer. They also come in a variety of colors you might dig.
iHome's new SPEAKERPH is one of their newer collapsable-type bluetooth/USB models, and it looks pretty sharp as well. I haven't owned this one, but the feedback online seems quite strong. It might not be the best for audiobooks, it seems, but for music it's pretty well reviewed. Portability, again is a big plus.
Two other good choices… especially if you want to use a portable speaker with your phone.
While I do love my Sanwa Supply USB speakers, I must say, I'm quite tempted to consider grabbing either the AYL Mini, or the Rokono Bass + Mini Speaker. Both have a 3.5mm aux jack, look super sharp (important, right?!) and, like I mentioned can be used with my smart phone. This is my only dig with the MM-SPU8BK pair I have at my desk. So, it's an option worth considering. Having two speakers is far better than one (especially if you're listening to anything from the 60's or 70's), and there have been more times than you'd think when I ended up picking them up and holding them at different angles around my head to get that really cool surround sound feel you can get with cool recordings from that period in music history.
Still, these two speakers rock out with thousands of reviews on Amazon and seem to be good competitors to one another. I like that the Rokono is reviewed by a cat in the music business… having worked in the business myself, and having particular audio tendencies, that sort feedback does carry a bit of weight, I'd say, and worth listening to.
So there you have it. Compact, USB speakers for your desk and phone…That should do it, right?
Because, then there is the beauty below—the Soundfit Bluetooth Shower Speaker, also from AYL. Because having a 5-watt audio driver on a bluetooth speaker you can safely bring into the bathroom is a pretty cool deal too, right? It's also insanely portable and can apparently carry a charge for 10 hours of music. Didn't I say something about having a nice pair of speakers to bring along to festivals and such… hmmm… time to log into Amazon again… the weather is getting nice here in Japan!
March 26, 2021