I think we can all agree that music, art & even gaming are essential to everyday life which is why having a good pair of speakers for your computer is key.
Gamers predominantly use headphones, but speakers are pretty awesome to have when relaxing or watching your favorite movies & TV shows.
Speaker systems tend to vary in terms of price points, input types (RCA, Bluetooth, etc.), 2.0 or 2.1 & more, which is why we’ve researched and tested some of what we think to offer the best sound today.
Setup can vary as well, and you might need speakers that work just as well in the bedroom as it does pair with your television. They should have the ability to handle classical music, heavy metal, & hip hop with the same richness for instance.
There is a whole host of brands & speaker systems to choose from that offer their signature sound, and there can be a lot of debate amongst audiophiles about where the sweet spot lies.
Irrespective of that, if you happen to be a casual user, a gamer, a movie buff or an audiophile our list should have your back.
Note: From our experience, most folks out there prefer a simple two speaker solution or a simple two satellite one subwoofer set-up. This article is focused on these mainly as the quality of some of these “simpler” solutions are very good.
Best High-end PC Speakers
The A5+ by Audioengine is our high-end pick, and quite frankly it is the best sounding one amongst all the ones listed here. If you are going to sacrifice a bit of desk space, you need to get excellent sound quality in return, and the A5+ delivers.
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Across frequencies, the lows, highs & mids all sound crisp providing a luxurious experience. The analog amplifiers these uses are indeed pretty warm sounding which we liked. It’s available in 3 options the traditional black option looks impressive while the bamboo and white set will offer a clean finish to your PC setup. It’s worth noting that these speakers are about 11 inches high meaning they are quite large as well, and it’s almost like having a couple of mini-subwoofers beside your screen.
These speakers are not exactly cheap, but the sound quality does validate the price tag to a certain extent. But it doesn’t go lower than 50Hz (frequency response is 50 Hz to 22 KHz) which means you need a 2.1 solution like the BOSE if you want more bass. We do need to mention that the speakers do have excellent bass on their own but if you need more oomph then it might be better to pair these with the Audioengine S8 subwoofers. As far as premium bookshelf speakers go, it doesn’t get much better than the A5+.
The Bose Companion 5 is another excellent speaker system that delivers sound as cleanly as it looks. This elegant system is not too space consuming and offers good stereo separation. Meaning the speakers sound as though they are much further apart than in reality which is great when you are watching movies & playing games.
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Although it doesn’t come close to a proper surround sound experience, the Bose certainly has its upsides. The crisp sound and excellent bass response make it great for gaming especially FPS games. Granted you are not going to get the same immersive experience headphones, or true 5.1 has on offer, but you do get excellent capability for its small footprint. Another little feature that most speakers tend not to have is the mute button on the volume control module. We did, however, feel that for the price, this module should have been wireless.
Speaking of price, one of the main reasons this isn’t our winner is that it is quite pricey even for the quality on offer as you almost enter the basic 5.1 system realm. The angular speaker design is adopted to ensure the sound reflects off the walls to provide a surround sound effect but in testing, this wasn’t the case. Many users did report having issues on Windows 7 where the system fails to get detected when using it through a USB. Since the users of Windows 10 are growing this won’t be a con for long. Overall, a well-rounded set if you are craving an excellent movie & gaming experience.
Best Mid-range/Overall Speakers
If you’ve ever been in the market for speakers before then, you definitely would have come across Klipsch. Klipsch is a company known for producing speakers with stellar quality, and the Promedia 2.1 is one amongst many of their crowning jewels.
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The sound output is quite excellent with a strong bass response that rival many in classes above. This speaker shines through especially during movie sessions and is a lot better than some TMX certified models. Durability is another strong point of the Klipsch, a simple browse over the internet will bring to light a host of satisfied users who rave about having their Pro media 2.1 last them almost a decade. You get good stereo separation which makes it a great option to complement your TV too.
Looks wise it’s pretty generic which could temp folks towards the Edifer. A couple of things we didn’t like was the fact that there’s no standby mode or power control on the speakers. It doesn’t come with a remote either.
We tested the wired variant, and there is a wireless option too for people looking specifically for that. The subwoofer on the Klipsch is merely outstanding you might need to play around with the bass settings to get the sound you are after, but it’s quite easy to do. The 40% mark seems to be the sweet spot for us. This is without a doubt a powerful speaker system, and there is little to no distortion even at top volume. Make sure you don’t turn it fully up if you happen to live in an apartment as it can get pretty loud.
The right mixture of low-end bass, crystal clear highs & resounding mids are hard to come by & the Edifier has all of the above. The Bluetooth connectivity, the finish & the sound quality put together to offer amazing value for audiophiles as well as everyday users.
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If you are wondering why we picked this one in particular instead of other great options… In a nutshell, the sound quality is amazingly good for this price point. So why is it not the winner in this category? Well, the Klipsch is a 2.1 system that offers a lot that the Edifier does with even better bass. One could argue that you can’t directly compare the Edifier with the Klipsch which is true, but overall the two picks will appeal to different people based on preference alone.
The inputs are primarily RCA but you do get 3.5mm to RCA cables, or you can just use the Bluetooth input which makes it so much easier and reduces the number of wires lying around. The controls are on the side which means you don’t have to reach around the back to adjust the bass & treble which is the case with most solutions in the market today. The upward titled design is offering a 10-degree slant aimed at aiding the experience for the listener.
As for the sound like we mentioned earlier its great across all frequencies but it does have a warmer sound and crisper treble that you mind on many good bookshelf style speakers in comparison to 2.1 solutions. Some users did mention the excessive bass prevalence at times.
Best Budget Computer Speakers
There are many great speaker options with marginal differences in the mid-range category but the budget category is a bit more straightforward we felt. After extensive testing, we thought that the Cyber Acoustics 2.1 & the Logitech Z313 are a cut above the rest.
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The sound quality between the Cyber Acoustics and the Z313 are pretty similar, but the former does have a higher peak and RMS power. The speakers are elegantly designed and the set comes with a control pod for volume, bass and even a headphone output jack which makes it a versatile solution for gamers too.
Despite the control pod being a tad flimsy its adds a bit more overall utility when compared to the Logitech. This feature coupled with the sound quality on hand makes it an excellent pick for gamers on a budget.
Unlike most options on our list, these don’t work well enough when used with a TV the quality just doesn’t cut it. One downside associated with these is that the speakers are pretty top heavy meaning they can tip over a lot unless your desk is devoid of anything but the speakers which is rarely the case. We had to shift it around with care too during testing. The sound quality is quite comparable to the Logitech which is our runner-up as it’s an even simpler solution than this. A bit of tinkering with the settings on the computer and the sound can be quite clear & crisp although the bass is pretty bad when approaching max volume. Many users also reported enduring a constant humming sound with the sub was switched on but not in use.
For us, a good budget pick should be plug & play and have a decent amount of bass, and the Logitech Z313 offers both at a desirable price. It works quite well and to our liking when used with low to medium volume. There’s barely any distortion and the bass is quite heavy but still pretty good.
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It’s pretty decent when watching movies or playing games too. The two satellites are pretty small and are connected to the back of the sub. There’s only 1 form of input through the 3.5mm jack, and this is the norm for almost all budget options. The sub doesn’t occupy too much space as well, and there is a volume and power control module as well. At this price range, it is definitely a case of ”you get what you pay for” with the sound being quite average and not as crisp or dynamic as the others on our list. It isn’t winning any points for aesthetics too with a pretty ordinary design.
With age, you might hear some crackling when adjusting the volume due to the dust settling in the volume control mechanism. When we tested it out, we found the best place to keep the sub would be between the satellites for the best experience. It’s quite normal for the sub to be placed below a table in which case at medium to higher volumes the bass rumble can prove to be intolerable if you happen to be seated adjacent to the setup. Nonetheless, at its price point, it’s far better than many of its rivals except the Cyber acoustics 2.1 in our opinion. The Z313 is an excellent choice for those looking to upgrade from their stock speakers or for use with a laptop but is definitely not meant for audiophiles.
In a nutshell, we simply listened. If you are thinking “it’s all about that bass no pair treble” then it’s certainly not the case. We had multiple movie watching sessions, gaming sessions, and various music sessions to determine how each speaker performed across frequencies.
Vocal clarity is essential especially when we watch movies, and speakers like the Edifier excelled at providing a crisp & clear sound.
Bass is sometimes all that matters to folks, and we tested each of our sets to see how the bass delivery impacted the overall sound at low, medium & high volumes. It’s quite common that speaker solutions work well concerning one category and not the others.
We had multiple people from our team sample different speaker systems without them being aware of the brand or system. The placement or separation of satellites is another thing which we tried to standardize. We kept both at least 3 feet apart which is a pretty standard setup on desks. In the case of our high-end models, we tried a different special arrangement of about 7 feet which we felt was optimal if people opted to utilize them with their TV sets in addition to their PCs.
Here are the speakers and sound systems we teste that didn’t quite make the cut but still performed rather well.
Bose Companion 2
Among the others, we tested the Bose companion 2 was one of the more impressive options. It’s not often you find BOSE speakers at this price point, and these multimedia speakers surprised us quite a bit with the quality across volume levels. When considering our low-end models, the companion 2 probably has the best sound on offer. It is a pricier option in comparison to the Logitech.
Despite being their most affordable option, Bose indeed didn’t hold back as these produce a pretty balanced sound with mild bass. As is the case with most stereo systems the deep end performance can only go so far. Another great thing about these is that there’s no distortion even at max volume. If your budget is higher than the Acoustics or Logitech but lower than the Edifier or the Klipsch, then the Bose is a no-brainer in our opinion.
The Mackie CR4BT was another option that is extremely good and is not a mixed bag like the Harman or the A2+. The Mackie sounds terrific, and if you are in the habit of mixing music, then these are not to be ignored. The treble range and bass sound great. You can choose which of the powered or unpowered speakers is on the left or the right, which is handy. Bluetooth connectivity in addition to the RCA inputs is a boon and makes the Mackie one of the more appealing options in the market and probably the favorite for some. Other users have reported that when used with a wired connection the sound is much more vibrant than the wireless connection. The volume knob is on the front which can easily be accessed. They are pretty light too so if you want to shift them to the living room for a movie it shouldn’t be a hassle. All the accessories you need along with monitor pads come with the speakers. So why isn’t this higher on the list? Well, many users have reported durability issues with either speaker after months of usage. Considering that this is a sizeable investment the longevity on offer especially by the Klipsch was not to be overlooked.
Harman Kardon Soundsticks 3
The Harman Kardon is a classic in its own right. The signature design stands out to this day, years after its launch. These speakers are no slouch either with the extra bass being the main attraction. The sound is crisp even at full volume. The mids are a bit weak in comparison to other like the Audioengine A2. One could mistake this for being a massive device in a picture, but in reality, its footprint is surprisingly small leaving plenty of desk space for other items. Another plus point is that these are super easy to clean unlike most of the others which turn into dust magnets. One could say that this is a pricey option if you consider that there is no external jack for headphones and the lighting can’t be customized. They are also a tad fragile in comparison to others if they happen to get pushed off the desk. If you are looking for a fuller mid-range which is essential considering the price, then the Harman lets you down a tad.
Audio Engine A2+
The A2+ comes in 3 colors white red and black with the latter being somewhat ordinary looking. The audio engine A2+ is another solid speaker set for those who like to keep things compact while upgrading. The sound quality is phenomenal, offering a full mid and clear highs which are just marginally shy of the A5+. It’s quite impressive considering how small they are. You can connect a subwoofer to these 2 to enhance the experience especially if your usage shifts to the living room.
The flaws are mainly related to the design of the A2+ itself. The volume control is at the back of the left speaker, and there is no remote control as well, so you need to reach around every time you want to make adjustments. Considering they are small Audioengine fans will hardly view this as a sacrifice. Price is probably the A2+’s Achilles heel. Yes, the sound is excellent, but the price tag puts it far above the Harman Kardon, the Edifier or even the Klipsch. Especially for audiophiles, it’s hard to see a reason to look past the others and splurge on the A2+.