Even though most computers or laptops today have some sort of built-in speaker for sound expression, it’s usually better and more beneficial to buy a separate and more clearly defined speaker system.
Having a set of computer speakers offers you clearer and richer sounds than the speakers built into your device, plus overall enhancing the overall audio in all your endeavors.
As there are many good computer speakers on the market right now, it can be hard to choose one which would fit your specific needs the best.
It’s also alarming how many buyers base speaker performance on only a few things instead of looking for performance that encompasses a broader spectrum; case in point, buyers who only look into the quality of the bass, without looking into how that bass would translate into the whole speaker system or what driver would be used in delivering that bass.
In order to make sure that you get the best out of your purchase when it comes to computer speakers, it is first vital to know the basics regarding them and what to look for in a good set of speakers. Without further ado, here are some of the basics to know about computer speakers.
Computer Speaker Basics
Computer speakers vary differently from model to model, but today, in modern models, most are powered either through a USB cable, batteries, or an outside power source. USB 2.0 is the most common, unless the speaker system is in a configuration similar to home entertainment speaker systems.
For configurations such as 2.1, 5.1 or even 7.1, the speaker system uses an external power source because of the need to power various satellite speakers and subwoofers.
A USB-powered speaker system is usually comprised of two speakers: a left and right speaker. These speakers are mostly aimed towards only enhancing the sound output through sound amplification, and therefore the only knob for most cases is for volume control. In addition to a USB 2.0 cable, it has the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, plus sometimes bearing an additional auxiliary line-in jack and a microphone jack, too.
Some speakers go beyond the normal two-speaker set-up, with some configurations similar to living room speaker set-ups. The most common and affordable is the 2.1 system set-up, which is comprised of 2 satellite speakers complete with midrange drivers delivering warm and rich sound plus a subwoofer speaker, capable of delivering enhanced bass acoustics through subwoofer drivers.
Because the setup is more complex, there are usually additional knobs for in-line source switching and bass and treble manipulation. There may even be a separate subwoofer volume console for specific sound integration.
These speakers are usually made with wooden housing and built with magnetic shielding, much like the common speaker, in order to produce better and incredible acoustics.
Speakers also vary in such a way that some offer a plug and play experience, such as well-configured speaker systems. Some need to have specific drivers installed, mostly for specific sound integration within the computer itself, with the added cost of having to install the driver first before you’re able to use it.
Tips on choosing speakers for your computer
Picking a set of speakers willy-nilly can be very disappointing in the long run if you’re not careful. In order to avoid these problems, here are some tips which can be very useful in choosing a good set of speakers for your computer.
Upgrading to a sound card
Most computers use their own internal processors to produce sounds through a speaker. It would be more beneficial to install a sound card (if possible) in order to produce higher quality sounds.
Installing a sound card also takes away the processing burden from the internal processor and moves it towards itself, giving you skip-free and powerful audio output in all aspects.
Portable can sometimes be better
If you have a laptop that means that your machine already carries not only a native sound card, but an integrated speaker as well. So why should you invest in buying another set of speakers?
The answer is simple: because the native speakers usually have softer volumes and less quality to speak of. Portable speakers can be a solution to compact sound needs while keeping it relatively affordable, so think about investing in them instead of the usual computer speaker set.
Match your computer speaker power to the power amplifier of your system
Higher wattage speaker systems need more power than other computer speakers, so take note of your amplifier if you’re using a desktop system. Running your amplifier near or at capacity will degrade it over time, so it’s actually good to invest in a more competent amplifier in the first place.
This will help in boosting your audio output, especially in high wattages that are found in more powerful speaker systems.
Consider surround sound options
A surround sound system is the dream of every almost every audiophile out there. Consider a set-up that will cover your room, usually attainable in a 5.1 system or higher.
Sure, it will be harder to install and generally more expensive than simpler set-ups, but the pay-off is huge; you’re probably never going to go back once you’ve watched an action movie or played an intense adventure game in high-definition provided by a surround sound system.
Having a subwoofer is a superior in almost every way
Lower end sounds relatable to deep basses are achieved better by using a system that has an integrated subwoofer. It incorporates innovations and technology meant to enhance your bass in every possible way, giving you deep and expressive lows that meld perfectly with the rich and warm sounds provided by the satellite speakers.
If possible, go wireless
The argument for better systems usually end and begin with their wire-integration; a wired system will degrade over time, plus suffer from excessive wear and tear relatable to constant improper readjustment.
This is why in most possible cases a wireless system is better than a wired one. Wireless systems are also more portable than wired ones, which can be beneficial if you have a laptop.
Now that you’ve been acquainted with computer speaker basics, here are some of the best computer speakers on the market today, all judged according to cost-efficiency.
Satechi ST-WDS20 Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 Computer Speakers
The Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 speakers is easily one of the most affordable speakers on the market today. In terms of aesthetics, it is also one of the most gorgeous-looking.
An improvement over Satechi’s v1.0 model, the Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 is fully compatible with both Mac and Windows devices. The Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 achieves easy connectivity with its USB 2.0 cable and 3.5mm cable, making it perfect for almost any device out there.
The Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 is also free from driver installations, making it a true plug and play experience. The Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 features a unique state-of-the-art, ergonomic and conical design within a sleek and rubberized finish, elegantly fitting any computer desk easily.
The small dimensions of 4.1in x 13.4in x 9.6in means that it can easily fit any desk while having a design that can also fit in easily with any aesthetic scheme. It has a powerful frequency response of 90Hz – 20 KHz, giving high fidelity sounds distinguished by crystal clear highs and very deep lows.
The bass on this set of speakers is almost nonexistent. It was sacrificed during the design scheming of making the Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0 as small as possible. Treble can also be a little tinny and high-pitched, due to the lack of bass in the unit.
In terms of overall affordability, there’s few that can actually beat the price tag on the Satechi Dual Sonic Conical v2.0. It’s cost-efficient enough for its price, if you don’t mind the lack of bass and otherwise slightly lower volumes. A fair price for the set, all in all.
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX Certified Computer Speaker System
Klipsch’s own computer speaker entry is a premium one. The ProMedia 2.1 is fully compatible with any device and not only limited to computers and laptops. It can easily work with gaming consoles and most portable audio devices, provided that it has a 3.5mm jack and can be powered through a 110/120VAC external power source.
The 2.1 system consists of two powerful satellite speakers paired with an equally powerful subwoofer. The whole speaker system is one of the first to be fully THX-certified, upping its premium levels by a notch above its nearest competitors in the same price range.
The ProMedia 2.1 features easily controllable sound adjustments through the ProMedia 2.1 control pod console which features main volume adjustments plus a separate knob for subwoofer volume adjustment.
The ProMedia 2.1 utilizes Klipsch’s very own MicroTractix horn technology used in giving your audio a sound comparable to maximizing the potentials of digital technologies such as CDs, MP3 downloads, and streaming radio programs.
The satellite speakers also feature Poly compression tweeters for sound detailing to all distinct levels. Each speaker also makes use of 3” long-throw fiber composite cone woofers for rich and warm sounds.
The notoriously bad design of the ProMedia 2.1’s older DIN plugs is a cause for alarm for most buyers today. If you’re getting an older model, make sure to read up on how to fix those DIN problems on the web in order to maximize the longevity of the speaker system.
In terms of overall quality, few can match the power and clarity of Klipsch’s ProMedia 2.1 speaker system. Even in the quite expensive price range and bad DIN problems, it’s still worth buying if you can handle the above-average budget needed for it.
Altec Lansing VS4621 Octane 7, 2.1 Computer Speaker
Altec Lansing’s very own foray into the computer speaker market has been a very saturated one, with the famed manufacturer releasing no less than ten speakers with varying features meant for different niches. The most popular of this lineup is the Altec Lansing Octane 7, which is a powerful 2.1 speaker system with its unique innovations and powerful sounds.
The Octane 7 is fully compatible with any 3.5mm-fiited device. It also includes an auxiliary input jack that lets you connect to other devices while connected to your computer at the same time.
The Octane 7 is also a 2.1 computer speaker system which includes two satellite speakers. Each with its very own, impeccably designed down-firing midrange 3” driver that blasts the sound onto a hard surface and distributes it to listening ears as evenly as possible.
Both speakers also have a 1” dual micro driver that acts as the tweeter, giving you incredible detail on high sounds for a distinct feel. Both speakers work with the 6.5” subwoofer system which delivers very expressive and deep lows, giving you a one of a kind surround sound experience.
Sound distortion on higher volume levels make for an otherwise disappointing experience on those levels. Although this can be negligible for some, the true audiophile will not appreciate this, especially on a 2.1 system. If you can overlook it, though, there is no reason not to buy the Octane 7, which is easily cost-efficient for what it’s offering.
Altec Lansing’s Octane 7 is a true powerhouse of 2.1 speaker system in a more affordable form. Unless you can’t handle tearing and distortion in relatively high volumes (party high) then you will be generally pleased with the Octane 7, a very cost-efficient speaker system.
Arion Legacy Deep Sonar 550 Speakers
The Arion Legacy Deep Sonar 550 is a great set of 2.1 speakers perfect for those looking for a set below $100. Its plethora of features is too good to pass up and it can be an incredible speaker system in the right hands.
The Arion Legacy Deep Sonar 550 is fully compatible with any device bearing a 3.55mm jack, including most computers and laptops, and fully incorporates a driver installation-free scheme for a true plug and play experience.
The Arion Legacy Deep Sonar 550 also includes a 3.55mm-to-RCA jack, meaning that you can use this system to power up your living room entertainment system. The Arion Legacy Deep Sonar 550 has a separate control box console which unites all audio controls and ports in one, including the power controls, dual-input switching.
The control box also houses the bass, treble and volume controls, USB charging port for smartphones, MP3 players and Bluetooth devices and ports for the microphone, headphone and additional input line-in.
There are some isolated cases of poor parts being fulfilled by different stores, such as missing knobs and/or bad wires, so be on the lookout for those. It would be a good idea to buy from a trusted online store like Amazon in order to avoid those types of problems effectively, since they offer returns and refunds on purchases.
Although the brand name is not on the same caliber as Bose or maybe even Klipsch, the Arion Legacy Deep Sonar 550 is a great 2.1 speaker system if you’re under a budget of $100. The separate control box alone makes it worth it, and that’s not even including the rich sounds with deep lows you’ll be getting with such a powerhouse.
AVerMedia Ballista Trinity Gaming PC Speaker
There is a separate market for good gaming speaker systems, and AVerMedia is fulfilling that niche with its Ballista lineup. Perhaps the most premium in this lineup is the Ballista Trinity gaming speakers, a 2.1 speaker system designed specifically for gaming purposes.
The Ballista Trinity is fully compatible with any computer or gaming console bearing a 3.5mm jack and within the reach of an external power source.
It has its very own separate control console which provides all the control schemes in one box, This includes the power switch, Assassin mode switch, three-way input switch knob, volume, treble and bass control knobs, plus three separate jacks for microphone, headphones and a line-in input auxiliary device.
The Ballista Trinity offers an Assassin mode, which turns down the volume of the whole speaker system without loss in quality and clarity, useful for nighttime gaming without any kind of headsets.
Some bad wiring placements on some fulfilled models are causing the Ballista Trinity’s subwoofer to suffer some grounding, which are particularly noticeable with the presence of hissing noises in louder volumes.
Overall though, for its price, the Ballista Trinity is a cost-efficient speaker system worthy of the best gamers and their search for gaming speakers to increase overall performance thresholds.