Bose computer speaker on a desk

5 Best Computer Speakers For Audiophiles

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As an audiophile, you want crystal-clear sound. It does not matter if the sound comes from the premium speakers in your living room, your headphones or earbuds, or your PC speakers.

If you don’t have the best sound, you feel like you are not living your best life. There is something about incredible audio which can make your day and something about sub-par sounds which can ruin your day.

While many PCs are used as entertainment centers, they simply cannot live up to that pressure. They are not designed to be a one-stop-shop for all of your audio needs, and the stock speakers included with the computer are there to be functional and nothing more. That is where a high-quality speaker set comes in. With a great speaker system, you can turn your PC from a box of electronics to a functioning home theater.

Come and check out some of our favorite speakers, which are all excellent for music, gaming, movies, and everything inbetween.

Buyer’s Guide For Audiophiles

When it comes to choosing the best set of computer speakers, there are a few things which you need to be aware of. There are different types of speaker and, depending on how much of an audio buff you are, that will form a large part of your choice. There are also some additional features which should not be overlooked.

Here are the main things to look at when you are choosing a set of desktop speakers.

The Types Of Speaker

When it comes to desktop speakers, there are three main types to choose from:

  • Stereo computer speakers
  • 2.1 computer speakers
  • 5.1 computer speakers

Stereo Computer Speakers

stereo computer speakers

This set consists of two speakers. By having two speakers, generally spaced so that one is to each side of you, you get a stereo sound when the audio combines. This is the primary type of speaker which you will see attached to a laptop or personal computer.

With computer speakers, you definitely get what you pay for (the same is true for most sets of speakers). You can save yourself some money by buying a cheap set of speakers, but you are only going to drive yourself crazy with the tinny sounds and low-quality audio.

When it comes to PC speakers, especially if you are an audiophile, you need to invest a little more.

2.1 Computer Speakers

2-1 computer speakers

Take the two speakers in the regular stereo speaker set and add in a subwoofer. The two denotes the number of speakers, and the one indicates a subwoofer. Again, the speakers are placed to either side of you with a subwoofer somewhere in between.

The subwoofer helps to create a delicate balance with the stereo sound and richness the bass. When it comes to a 2.1 system, the speakers are better quality (on average) than a conventional stereo speaker system. This means that you get good mid- and high-range sounds too.

5.1 Computer Speakers

5-1 computer speakers

If you want the complete package, the ultimate home theater system, then this is the best place to start. As with the 2.1 speakers, the 5 and the 1 denote speakers and subwoofers. You have 5 speakers, two for the front, two for the back, one central speaker, and one subwoofer.

The five speakers should be placed every around the room, with two rear speakers placed behind you, two front speakers placed in front of you, and a central speaker in the center.

This speaker system gives the fullest range of frequencies when compared with the other two speaker systems, and gives you the best audio experience when watching movies, playing games, or listening to music.

Style Of Stereo Speaker

No matter which option you choose, you are going to have at least two stereo speakers. That leads us on to our net question: does it matter what type of stereo speaker you have?

It does, and it doesn’t. What matters most is the quality of the speaker, but the style of the stereo speaker can also be a factor.

Speaker Enclosure

How much space do you have?

That is one of my primary considerations. Do you need the speaker to sit on your desktop? Can you hang it on the wall? Do you have floor space for it? The shape and size of the speaker will determine if you can even fit it into your room.

The shape will also dictate how the audio sounds too. A larger speaker will resonate more effectively at lower frequencies, and if the bass port is right, will also give you a richer bass sound.

When it comes to the surround material, wood is the best at enhancing the sound.

Speaker Cone

Each speaker which you get in your speaker set will come with at least one cone. Some have a single cone which produces all of the sounds while others have multiple. If you listen to a lot of music or play a lot of audio, then we recommend finding speakers with multiple cones.

The most common style of speaker which you will want to search for is one with two cones. One cone will produce the high sounds (the tweeter), and the other will provide the low and mid-range sounds (the woofer). If you split the sounds into high and low frequencies and play them through separate cones, you get better overall audio quality.

There are also speakers which have three cones, with a separate cone for the mid range. Again, these speakers split the frequencies and will give you a better overall sound, but you may not notice a lot of difference between two and three cones.

Harman Kardon SoundSticks II - Right Satellite
Harman Kardon SoundSticks II computer speaker with 4 cones

Active Vs. Passive

You may have heard the words passive and active, but do you know what they actually mean?

The difference between the two is in the way that they treat the audio signal. With active speakers, the speakers take the sound and either amplify or add an effect to the music. With a passive system, the speakers reproduce the audio as it arrives into the speaker. There is no amplification.

As active speakers amplify the sound, they need a power source to do this. Most models will get this power through a USB connection, and the speakers will connect directly to your laptop or PC. Others can be plugged directly into a socket and get energy from mains power. For true portability, a USB connection is preferred.

Passive speakers do not need a power source, so they are also portable but, since they do not am-plify the audio, they can lack in volume. They are limited by the amount of capacity which your PC or desktop computer can generate.

The Subwoofer

With the 2.1 and 5.1 desktop speaker systems, you get a subwoofer. If you are an audio buff, then you are probably pretty excited about this part. The subwoofer is the large enclosure which has a low-frequency cone inside (it can also have multiple cones).

Low-frequency sounds can travel further than high-frequency sounds, so you can put this anywhere in the room. In conjunction with the other two or five speakers, the subwoofer helps to deliver a well-rounded and balanced sound.

There is not a lot to think about when choosing your subwoofer, and you will be more interested in the speakers themselves, but some models will have a separate volume control for the subwoofer, and this is a benefit. Just be sure to position the subwoofer somewhere within easy reach so that you can turn the volume up or down as needed.

Specifications

When you are choosing your speaker, you will probably find numerous specifications that go along with it. They may sound great, but it is easy to get lost in the confusion. Here are some of the most common ways in which speakers are rated:

  • Power is generally stated in Watts (W). The higher the wattage, the more energy the speaker can produce.
  • Root Mean Square (RMS) measures the actual output power. 1 is a decent RMS, and anything above is better.
  • Music Power is also rated to give you the power output. Generally, music power is around half of the RMS.
  • Peak Music Power Out (PMPO) is also used at times. The PMPO is roughly a quarter of the RMS.

Durability

Just because a PC speaker is expensive, that doesn’t mean that it’s built to last.

All of the speakers on our list have a proven history of reliability. They are not only the best in terms of sound quality but also for build quality.

For example, the Harman Karman SoundSticks III (2.1 speakers) are on our recommended list because we know from experience that they last (you can check out our H/K SoundSticks II long-term review). Even after using SoundSticks II for over 15 years, they still work and sound like new. The H/K SoundSticks III are almost identical to the H/K SoundSticks II, so we know that these speakers will last.

Harman Kardon SoundSticks II - Subwoofer
Harman Kardon SoundSticks II

Another speaker that lasts, and is on our list, is the Logitech Z623 Speaker System with subwoofer. These are also owned by Henrik and are almost 5 years old. The Z623 system was hooked up to a PC for the first year, but it’s now used as a TV speaker. They still work perfectly and, 5 years later, you can still buy the same model. Just as with SoundSticks, this system was built to last from the very beginning.

Logitech Z623 Speaker System in a living room - wp
Logitech Z623 Speaker System

A premium speaker which didn’t last was the Logitech Z520 (2.0 speakers). We bought them 7 years ago, but they lasted only 3. The sound quality was comparable to the SoundSticks but, after 3 years of daily use, the sound quality greatly diminished. We still keep them in the office as backup speakers, but we don’t use them anymore. It’s no surprise that they don’t make those models anymore.

Logitech Z520 computer speakers
Logitech Z520 – Expensive computer speakers with great sound, but they’re not durable.

We have all bought a product only for it to drop dead a month or a year later, sadly before its time. The common factor has often been price. We are suckers for a bargain, a good deal, and this can be our downfall. It may seem like a great deal, but it is often not. An investment in the short term usually means savings in the long run.

A decent pair of speakers can set you back $100 but spend a little more, and you are going to have speakers which last. Cost is not always representative of quality, but more expensive materials and construction usually drive up the price a little.

The Top 5 Computer Speakers For Audiophiles

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 With Subwoofer

Are you sure that these are speakers?

You may think that you are looking at a work of art, and you would not be far wrong, but you are also looking at a set of excellent 2.1 PC speakers. This is the ultimate set for audiophiles everywhere.

They were the first set of speakers to be inducted into New York’s Museum of Modern Art. But, you are not here to listen to me speak about artworks, you want to know what these speakers can do.

There are four 1” full-range transducers in each speaker, giving you 10 Watts of power in each, which quickly fills a room, and one 6” subwoofer with 20 Watts of power for some of the best bass that you will ever hear.

There is a stereo mini jack, making them compatible with almost any device. You have touch volume and mute controls, along with separate volume control for the subwoofer. The satellite speakers are adjustable, and you can tilt them to point them where you want the sound to be directed. Basically, this speaker set looks and sounds stunning.

For the true audiophile, this system features a 6” down-firing subwoofer with volume control. Don’t get us wrong, the speakers are amazing, but the subwoofer is where the focus should be. It gives flawless bass and really fills the room for an immersive experience.

The entire system is energy efficient, gives perfect sound, and is one of the best-looking speaker systems out there — a real work of art.

Main Features

  • Looks amazing
  • Great bass
  • Subwoofer volume control
  • 10W per channel

Logitech Z623 400 Watt 2.1 Home 2.1 Speaker System

The strength of this audio speaker system is that you have multiple inputs available to you. You can connect to your TV, computer, music player, or game console. If you can listen to audio on it, you can plug it into these speakers.

They are wired speakers (though there is a wireless option available) and can deliver up to 400 Watts of power. The two satellite speakers are complemented by a robust subwoofer, a headphone jack, and the volume controls are right on the speakers.

200W RMS power delivers the audio which you have been dreaming of and will actually shake the room around you. You will be able to feel the rumble of the thunder or the vibration of the car as it screeches past. For movies and video games, this is a fantastic set.

With 3.5mm and RCA inputs, you have a lot of versatility in your connection. You even have the option to connect up to three devices at the same time and switch between them flawlessly. Once you are connected, you have all of the controls at your fingertips.

A fantastic set with a wide range of functionality.

Main Features

  • 2.1 system
  • 400 Watts of power
  • 2 satellite speakers
  • Large sound

Audioengine A5 Classic 150W Powered Bookshelf Speakers

There are built-in amplifiers in these active speakers, so the audio input is amplified and given a boost. The resulting sound is loud, warm, and vibrant. With the input, you have your choice of RCA and 3.5mm jack inputs. You can also charge the speakers through USB, so they are ultra-portable.

With improved thermal management and gold-plated connectors, you have a high-quality set of speakers which can really fill a room. Variable preamp audio output with 150 Watts of power quickly fills a room.

You can connect these speakers to any computers, a desktop PC or a Mac, they connect to almost any phone, and you can also take advantage of wireless adapters. Inside the speakers, you have Kevlar woofers and silk tweeters. The hand-built MDF wood cabinets give a subtle finish and showcase the speakers while enhancing the sound. They are magnetically shielded and come with full-size 5-way speaker binding posts.

A great pair of bookshelf speakers which you can also take anywhere with you.

Main Features

  • 150 Watt
  • RCA & 3.5mm input
  • Warm & rich sound
  • Multi-device

Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX Computer Speaker System

If you are looking for something stylish for your home, then look no further. This is a 2.1 home speaker system with two speakers and one subwoofer. The setup is compact and concise but still provides a lot of power and a booming, rich sound.

The ProMedia 2.1 is THX-certified. The three-piece system can transform a regular desktop into a home entertainment zone. The speakers are high-performance, delivering 35 Watts each. This gives a full-bodied sound in conjunction with the 130-watt subwoofer. If you thought that you had heard booming basses before, well think again.

The two satellite speakers help to maximize the clarity of the audio while being responsive to high-frequency distortion. There is a headphone jack in the back, along with analog and stereo inputs. The system is set up to work with multiple devices, and you can switch between them once they are connected.

The satellite speakers come with 9.5-foot cables, allowing you to position them where you want — great sound from an excellent system.

Main Features

  • THX-certified
  • 200 Watt
  • Multi-device
  • 31 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response

Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System (THX, DD, DTS)

This is a beautiful system which is THX-certified along with being a true 5.1 surround-sound system. You have five speakers; two front, two rear, and one central. There is also a subwoofer and remote control. By positioning the speakers around the room, you can turn any room into a home theater.

The system delivers 500 watts of power, but it is also possible for it to deliver 1,000 watts. With dynamic satellite speakers and a 165-watt subwoofer, you get crystal-clear highs, balanced and abundant mids, and booming bass. This is the closest that you can get to going to the cinema without leaving the comfort of your own home.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound recreates the sound on your Blu-ray, DVD, and video game as the makers intended them to be. You get authentic 3D sound and are immersed in the experience. With various inputs and an easy to read console control, you really have the world at your fingertips.

With a 5.1 surround-sound system like this, you may never want to leave your home again.

Main Features

  • 5.1 system
  • 500 Watt
  • Flexible setup
  • Multi-device


Comments

  1. I’m curious as to what way the “sound diminished” on the Logitech Z520.

    “A premium speaker which didn’t last was the Logitech Z520 (2.0 speakers). We bought them 7 years ago, but they lasted only 3. The sound quality was comparable to the SoundSticks but, after 3 years of daily use, the sound quality greatly diminished.”

    Maybe mine have too, and I haven’t noticed. Maybe not, yet….

    I don’t use them everyday, though do like their imaging and clarity – by comparison I find the Soundsticks ‘blurred’ and artificial. (They’re very good mind you, just “b and a” in comparison). The HK have much more bass and my wife loves them (except for the on-speaker volume control). She has HK SS V3 on her desk and I have the Logitech Z520 on mine.

  2. Hi, Colin. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

    The Logitech Z520 speakers were really, really good when they were new. I think I even preferred them over SoundSticks II. However, for whatever reason, the sound was getting more and more muffled. At this point I’d need to turn up the volume knob to 60-70% just to get them to a “normal” volume level. Also, the sound isn’t as clear as it used to be.

    A friend of mine bought the same speakers 2-3 month later than I did and he too was experiencing the same problem, but to a lesser extent.

    Maybe we were just unlucky and bought them from a batch which was somehow defective. I’m not really sure.

    I’m happy to hear that your Z520’s still work as they should!

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