Whether you want them for listening to music, watching movies, or playing state of the art video games, good quality computer speakers are a must. However, there are a range of speakers currently available on the market, making it difficult to know which is the best for you. But of course that’s why you’re here – we can help!
If you are in search of the best computer speakers of 2019, there are number of important aspects to keep in mind. Do you absolutely need to have wireless speakers, or do you care if you need to plug them into your laptop or PC? Are you looking for an all-rounder, or does it need to suit a specific purpose? There are a number of considerations, so we’ll go through each in detail.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best computer speakers on the U.S. Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about computer speakers
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- High power speakers don’t necessary mean they are high quality in general. There are realistically very few situations in which you are going to need more than 20 watts of power. Other aspects, including frequency ranges, are a better indication of texture and sound quality.
- You can find high-quality wireless computer speakers, but you need to check they are compatible with the applicable codecs. You should decide whether convenience and usability or sound quality is your priority, and let this guide your decision.
- If you want to be able to watch movies, you’ll need 5.1 computer speakers. These are generally very high-quality thanks to their surround sound. Not all 5.1 speakers are compatible with all computers, but adapters are also available
Ranking: The best computer speakers on the U.S. Market
Up until quite recently (in tech terms) there was a somewhat limited number of computer speakers on the U.S. market. That, however, has dramatically changed. Over the last 15 years, thanks in large part to technological improvements to things like connectivity, there are now myriad options out there to choose from. The following is a list of the 5 best computer speakers on the market in 2019, designed around different uses and budgets.
No. 1: Logitech – S120 2.0 Stereo Speakers
Logitech has been making highly regarded computer speakers for quite some time now, and their S120 2.0 Stereo Speakers are no exception. They are a compact speaker that delivers a surprising amount of high-quality sound, taking of relatively little desk space for what they offer. They have a response bandwidth of between 50Hz to 20KHz and a 2.3 Watt nominal output power.
These speakers also come with a conveniently-placed headphone jack so that you can listen to your media privately, and an ergonomically placed knob for easy volume adjustment. They are incredibly simple to set up as well. Just connect them to any 3.5mm input and enjoy surprisingly clear stereo sound. A great entry-level computer speaker to be sure.
No. 2: Bose – Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers
Bose is one of the go-to names when it comes to computer speakers (or speakers and audio equipment of any kind, for that matter). Their Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers give you exactly what you would expect from a name like Bose. High-quality audio performance regardless of what you are watching, listening to, or playing are what you can be assured of with this great speaker.
The volume control is conveniently placed and highly responsive, allow you a high degree of customization. These speakers are designed to be compatible with both Mac and Windows, so compatibility issues are not something you’ll need to worry about. You will be amazed at how clear and crisp the sound from these speakers is, and lament not having made the investment sooner.
No. 3: Kanto – 2 Channel Powered PC Gaming Desktop Speakers
The powerful and surprisingly compact Kanto 2 Channel Powered PC Gaming Desktop Computer Speakers deliver incredible sound quality and clearness. The distortion-free sound you get will take your gaming experiences to a whole new level. What’s more, these speakers come in a just under 6 inches tall, meaning that you get amazing sound without having to sacrifice value desk and workstation space.
The acoustic-grade MDF cabinet has a sleek-looking rear base port that was specifically designed to mitigate any port turbulence, while also extending your bass response. They come in a range of color options, so you can chose a product that looks great with your current setup. Kanto gives you the entire setup when you purchase these speakers, so you get everything required to start listening to unparalleled audio quality as soon as you open them.
No. 4: Logitech – Z200 Multimedia Stereo Speakers
Logitech’s Z200 Multimedia Stereo Speakers give you a rich stereo sound at an entirely affordable price point. The 10 Watts peak and 5 Watts RMS power gives you a rich, deep sound that resonates throughout the entire room. The simple controls make it easy to adjust the volume, power, and bass settings. What’s more, the adjustable bass setting allows you to customize your bass for each and every multimedia experience.
This speaker’s easy to locate headphone jack means you can listen to your music or media privately whenever you like, and the standard 3.5mm connection lets you connect your speaker to a range of common devices. They come in both white and black, which go well with virtually any setup you might have. Overall a great entry-level speaker with some surprising customization capabilities and big sound.
No. 5: TaoTronics – Wired Computer Sound Bar
TaoTronics Wired Computer Sound Bar is a great option if you want something that is made to work with a wide range of different devices. The 3.5mm standard input jack can be used with TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and projectors, making this a great multimedia companion for everyday use. Additionally, this speaker system is small and compact, making it a great computer speaker to take travelling, or on the go. The speaker’s LED lighting makes it easy to locate in the dark, and also adds to any listening ambiance.
Capable of delivering surprisingly big sound for the price point, these speakers are easy to use, easy to carry, and provide you with a cinema-style listening experience. They are also microphone and headphone enabled, making them great for gaming and listening when you don’t want to wake the rest of the house. The side knob is very responsive, so you can easily get your desired volume level, whatever that might be.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about computer speakers
For audiophiles, good sound quality is essential. Also for ordinary mortals. Buying the right computer speakers can greatly enhance your experience. But in order to be able to enjoy your favorite video games and movies with the optimal sound quality, first you need to know the most important things about computer speakers.
What are computer speakers exactly?
Computer speakers are laptop and desktop accessories that are made to enhance the sound quality of your device, relative to the built-in audio capabilities. They tend to be made with gamers and gaming in mind, making video games more immersive and rich. If your computer or laptops built-in audio isn’t enough, you will likely wants computer speakers.
Having said that, many computer speakers have additional features because they are not only suitable for gaming. Some models, particularly those with 5.1 surround sound, are perfect for watching movies or TV series.
What types of PC speakers are there?
Which model of computer speakers you choose depends on various factors. This is not only the price. You have to consider what you want to use the computer speakers for. The space you have available is also important, as depending on the model you’ll need to fit one or more parts. There different types of computer speakers: 2.0, 2.1 and 5.1 sound.
Each of these types has distinct advantages and disadvantages, which determine the sound quality and the situations they’re best suited for. Logitech Z323 speakers are a great example of 2.1 computer speakers.
You can see more in this YouTube video from Bose HD:
2.0: These have two speakers in a set, are good quality and particularly versatile. They do not include a subwoofer. They are generally the cheapest speakers, and the best speakers for clean, high-quality sound with a rich texture. Usually, they’ll allow you to turn up the bass and some models will even allow you to plug in a subwoofer if you would like.
2.1: These are two speakers and a subwoofer. They are designed to produce bass sounds with great clarity and high quality. They take up more space than 2.0 computer speakers and if they are not balanced properly there can be sound distortion. Though they are more expensive than 2.0 computer speakers, there are budget models available.
5.1: These are the type of speakers that movie fans and gamers should choose. They consist of a set of several speakers: four surround speakers, a central speaker and a subwoofer. There are also 7.1 computer speakers available. As a general rule, they are more expensive than 2.0 or 2.1models. They also usually need a fair amount of space to install and the best 5.1 speakers need a high-quality computer to work well.
What is impedance in computer speakers?
Computer speakers are complicated devices, and the market is very large. There are a range of factors which impact overall performance. One of the most critical is a computer speaker’s impedance. Impedance is measured in ohms and it indicates a speakers resistance to the electrical current that passes through its many components and resisters.
A lower impedance means the current can more easily pass through the speaker, whether a computer speaker or another type. This, in turn, means that the sound produced will be closer to the original sound. Be careful, however, because if the impedance of your speaker is higher than that of the device which is emitting the sound, you will hear nothing at all.
What is the range in frequency for computer speakers?
According to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the United States advises “the general range of hearing for young people is 20Hz [the lowest frequency] and 20kHz [the highest frequency]”. Bass sounds range from 10Hz to 256Hz, mid-range sounds from 256Hz to 2000Hz and the treble from 2000Hz to 20,000Hz or 20kHz.
The best computer speakers take these frequencies into account. Any speaker capable of reproducing minimum frequencies of 18Hz and maximum frequencies of 20,000Hz is of high quality. Looking at the range of frequencies is useful when choosing between a speaker more focused on treble, bass or a balance between the two.
What is sensitivity in computer speakers?
A speaker’s sensitivity relates to the maximum sound intensity, which is to say, the level of acoustic pressure on your ear it is capable of producing. This aspect is measured in decibels (dB) and it is essentially the maximum volume the speaker can generate. 140dB is the maximum sound the human ear can tolerate until it becomes painful, therefore speakers are usually limited to 100dB.
This directly linked to the level of power. This is expressed in RMS and shows the maximum dB a speaker can produce before the sound becomes distorted. Exceeding this can severely damage your speakers. This is explained in more detail in the following video.
The best computer speakers use a series of filters which distribute the different sound waves, from low, medium and high frequencies thanks to different drivers which process each frequency range. To get technical, these are: woofer (bass), mid-range and tweeters (treble).
You can have three-way speakers, where it has a driver for each range of frequency. The alternative is a two-way speaker which uses a tweeter, and a mid-range speaker for medium and low frequencies. The more drivers, the better the quality of sound across all frequencies.
According to online tech publication Tech Radar, “Like any piece of computer accessory, finding the best computer speakers isn’t quite as easy as you’d think.” When you are shopping around for speakers, the sheer number of options might seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve developed this section to guide through the process of processing computer speakers.
- Wired or wireless
- Power and sound quality
Wired or wireless
Good computer speakers can be wireless or wired. More and more users are opting for the former because they are more movable. However, Bluetooth speakers also have a higher price-tag for the same level of quality. This, however, in no way means there aren’t great wireless options out there which offer you great value for your money.
Additionally, when looking at Bluetooth computer speakers you need to take their technical capacity into account. That is to say, that they are compatible with the right codecs for your computer. Broadly speaking there are three types of codecs, and you should choose a model with the desired sound quality as well as being compatible in terms of codecs.
Bluetooth speaker codecs
SBC: Compatible with A2DP Bluetooth speakers. The SBC codec is compatible with MP3 and AAC formats when marked accordingly. The audio presents a bitrate of 320 kbps (great for streaming music). It is capable of transmitting sample rates of 44.1 kHz and the audio is generally good quality, although inconsistent in budget models.
APTX: Superior level of encoding for audio. Capable of processing more information and has several alternatives (APTX LL and APTX HD). Available in PC speakers and high-end Bluetooth headphones, ideal if your audio requirements are more than simply playing music.
AAC: Similar to SBC. The difference lies, mainly, in superior sound quality. More appropriate for speakers than headphones. It has become popular thanks to the Apple iTunes platform.
Generally speaking, quality computer speakers are compatible with all types of computers. Some will be labelled as compatible with the latest versions of Windows or other operating systems. This does not necessarily mean, however, that they will not work with older versions, although sometimes this is the case.
When it comes to 5.1 sound speakers, you need to be very careful. This type of speakers are not usually designed to use with a PC. However, they are perfect if you love to watch movies on your computer or are looking for surround sound for any kind of multimedia content. Be sure to research thoroughly before making your purchase.
Power and quality
People are naturally gravitate towards speakers that claim to have more power than other speakers, or even the most power on the market. However, power without adequate control is effectively useless. In fact, manufacturers can often promote power ratings as a way of masking other short-comings. High power is not necessarily synonymous with quality.
It is, of course, difficult to know if a speaker is of good quality without testing it. Even quality brands can be disappointing in this respect. However, when choosing a reputable brand with at least 20 watts you can be more or less assured of decent quality. This kind of computer speakers will fill virtually any room with great sound.
If you like old school technology, you wouldn’t be blamed if you though wired computer speakers were the superior way to go. However, not all wired speakers are created equal. There are different types of cables, each with their pros and cons. Regardless, the first step is to check your compatibility. Otherwise, you risk buying something which is essentially useless!
3.5mm Aux outputs are the most common. More complex speakers may need up to three AUX ports. There are also RCA outputs, which are not designed for computers but can be used with adapters.
What you want to use them for will determine which are the best computer speakers for you. Do you watch movies on your PC? Then maybe you should go for a 5.1 or a medium to high range 2.1 system. Are you a gamer? You’ll probably be happy with medium to high range 2.0 or 2.1 speakers.
If you simply want to listen to music with a more or less decent sound, you can choose a budget 2.0 speaker. Additionally, think about how important sound quality is to you. If clarity of sound is very important to you, look for 2.1 speakers with a range of frequencies. On the other hand, if you want to be able to customize your sound, you will want speakers with different equalizers.
The best computer speakers do not have to break the bank. However, whether you are looking for a budget option, or something high-end, it is important to do your research. Not all speakers are suited to all uses. For example, different types of computer speakers (2.0, 2.1 and 5.1) have noticeable differences in sound.
Additionally, you need to decide if you want speakers that are designed for playing music, watching movies or gaming. Once you’ve made this decision, assess each option according to the various criteria we’ve covered in this article, such as power, impedance and frequency ranges.
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(Source of featured image: Białasiewicz: 107096337/ 123rf.com)