Let’s be honest: the speakers that come with Apple laptops are tinny. Of course, so are the speakers in most laptops from any company. If you want to upgrade your audio a bit with some portable speakers, Palo Alto Audio Design’s (http://www.paloaltoaudio.com) US$49.95 Musik is one solution.

This isn’t a speaker set that will thrill hardcore audiophiles. It’s a relatively inexpensive, compact (8 x 4 x 4 inches) solution for adding some extra oomph to your laptop. Keep that in mind, and you won’t be disappointed with the Musik. You can also use the speakers with a desktop, but I’d go for a better sounding, if more costly and less portable, audio set-up.

The Musik speakers use a digital audio amplifier circuit that utilizes full-digital amplifier technology. This method amplifies a digital audio signal without converting the signal to analog, which is a plus. What’s more, the audio signal is sent from the computer to the speaker through a digital USB connection. Since the signal is kept in the digital domain until driving the speakers, sound isn’t degraded by any analog noise.

Audio is better than I would have expected from speakers of this size and in this price range. The treble is solid, but the bass is timid and distorts at high volumes.

Set-up is a breeze. You connect the Musik to your laptop via an USB cable. And since they draw power from the USB port, you don’t need an external power supply.

Rating: 6 out of 10

— Dennis Sellers