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Best Computer Speakers

Updated October 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 23 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 179 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best computer speakers

    Last Updated October 2018

    In the early days of computers, sound quality wasn’t a huge concern. Prior to the invention of streaming music, consumers were lucky to find laptop or desktop computers with speakers that sounded even halfway decent. But a lot has changed since then. Now we use web-connected devices for all kinds of audio, ranging from high-fidelity music to TV shows in multichannel surround sound, and having a good set of computer speakers makes a big difference when it comes to enjoying digital content.

    Luckily, the computer speaker market has blossomed in the digital age, taking advantage of advancements in sound engineering and connectivity to perform better than ever before. Whether you need a modest pair of speakers to play music while you work at your desk or a pair that will level up your next party, there are plenty of good, affordable options available, and BestReviews can point you in the right direction.

    Read on for everything you need to know about computer speakers. Discover the models and features that make the most sense for your lifestyle – and get ready for your devices to sound better than ever before.

    Computer speakers are designed to handle two-channel stereo audio. If you’re looking for speakers to handle multichannel surround sound with streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Video, you might be better served by a proper home theater kit.

    Key features of computer speakers

    Most sets of computer speakers can do a lot more than make your music sound great. Here are the best features you’ll find when comparing different models.

    Bluetooth: Many computer speakers include Bluetooth functionality, so you can wirelessly connect your smartphone and stream your personal music through them. If you need versatile speakers that will work with both your computer and your phone, get a set that includes Bluetooth.

    External subwoofer: Subwoofers are great for bringing out the bass in your music, TV shows, and movies – they’re basically a separate box that sits on the floor and handles all of the audio’s bass. If you love big, booming bass in your music and movies, pick a set of computer speakers with a subwoofer (just remember that subwoofers can be a little bulky, so you’ll need to figure out where to put it).

    Multiple inputs: Some computer speakers have multiple ports to physically connect additional devices for playback. Even if your computer will be your main source of audio, having multiple input options can be incredibly convenient for connecting things like a virtual assistant or an MP3 player.

    Headphone jack: Although the days of the 3.5mm auxiliary jack are numbered, there’s still a lot of value in being able to plug a set of wired headphones directly into a set of computer speakers for critical listening.

    Style meets functionality

    Sanyun’s diminutive computer speakers are as innovative as they are unusual – with their unique elliptical structures, each speaker generates 360° sound and creates a small aura with the built-in LED lighting. If you need a straightforward set of speakers for the office that doubles as a conversation piece, look no further.

    Computer speakers vs. other speakers

    It’s easy to get lost when shopping for any kind of speakers. There are so many different types that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. Computer speakers are fairly unique – if you know what to look for. Here are the main types of speakers you’re likely to see while you’re shopping.

    Computer speakers typically come in sets of two small, rectangular speakers and a modest subwoofer. These are meant to be stationary and plugged directly into both your computer and an AC power outlet. Most importantly, computer speakers include amplifiers, so they’re designed to take an audio signal from a non-powered source (like a computer or smartphone) and amplify it.

    Traditional speakers, like those you attach to a receiver, don’t include a power source, so they rely on an external device to power and amplify the sound. Most devices like smartphones, tablets, computers, or laptops provide an audio signal but don’t amplify it, so the only way to connect your devices to traditional speakers is by using an amplification source like a receiver in between.

    Portable Bluetooth speakers are usually marketed to users of mobile devices but can be used with computers as well. Portable speakers connect to an audio source with Bluetooth and typically have a built-in battery so they can be taken anywhere. If you need a speaker that will go with you, consider picking up a Bluetooth speaker.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you hear a slight buzzing from your computer speaker when nothing is playing, that generally indicates that part of the wired connection between the audio source and speakers isn’t grounded. This can be resolved by swapping in a higher-quality cable.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Computer speakers are designed to be plugged into an AC outlet. As you plan where to put your speakers, keep in mind that you’ll need an available AC outlet or an open spot on a power strip.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Most speakers require a “break-in” period of about 80 to 100 hours before they begin to deliver sound to their full ability.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Computer speaker prices

    It’s easy to overpay for computer speakers, so as you’re looking at your options, keep these price ranges in mind. You can expect to pay from $30 to $300 for a pair.

    Inexpensive: You’ll find competent speakers that are good enough for casual listening but won’t knock your socks off for $30 to $75. Speakers in this price range are fine for small offices or users who don’t need a lot of bass in their music. If you need speakers that will make your computer sound good but don’t need them to make it sound great, you can get a good value in this range.

    Mid-range: You’ll find the best balance of price and quality in computer speakers in the $76 to $149 range. These are models that come with impressive subwoofers, include full sets of connectivity, and sound fantastic. Unless you have an exceptionally large room or want a designer brand, there’s no need to spend more than this to get a good deal.

    Expensive: You’ll see luxury brands offering slick, modern-looking computer speakers for $150 to $300. Computer speakers in this price range will sound good enough to please any audiophile and offer every connectivity option available, but the improvements over less expensive competitors can be so slight that they’re not worth the investment.

    Bring studio-quality sound to your setup

    Edifier has long been known for its commitment to high-fidelity audio, and these computer speakers prove that the hard work has paid off. These Bluetooth speakers are worth the price based on the connectivity options alone, but the incredible sound is what steals the show. If you’re looking for some of the best speakers around, Edifiers are your best bet.

    Tips

    • Decide if you want to control your computer’s volume on the computer or the speakers. When you add a pair of speakers to your computer, there will be two places to control the volume – you can adjust the volume of the signal sent from your computer in your computer’s operating system, or you can adjust the volume of the sound coming from the speakers by turning the dial on the speakers. It’s easy to lose track of what’s controlling what, so we recommend leaving your computer audio at about 60% of full volume, so the speakers are always amplifying a consistent signal. You can then make adjustments from the speakers themselves.

    • Measure to see what length of cabling you’ll need before setting up your speakers. It’s easy to overestimate how much audio cable you’ll need, and extra cabling behind your computer will get messy quickly. Save yourself some untangling down the road by measuring how much audio cable you’ll need – the distance between your computer’s audio output port and where you plan on putting the speakers – and only use cables of that length.

    • Test speakers you’re comparing by using the same music sample. In order to do a fair comparison between different sets of speakers, it’s best to pick a song you know well and play it on both pairs. Once you hear how each handles the same audio, you can accurately judge the differences. Many audiophiles use Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to test speakers because of its sound spectrum. The band’s highest highs and lowest lows will quickly demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of any speakers.

    • Know that your speakers require a “break-in” period of about 80 to 100 hours. Over the course of the first 100 hours, the woofer (the main component that outputs the majority of the sound) will loosen enough to let more sound through. While the improvement is slight – most computer speakers sound good when you first plug them in – it’s worth noting that the sound quality will improve over time.
    You can use a USB microphone with a set of computer speakers to enhance video conferencing apps like Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. Others will hear you loud and clear, and you’ll hear others with new clarity.

    FAQ

    Q. Do computer speakers come with a remote control?

    A. Some computer speakers include a remote control that enable you to adjust the volume from a distance. Remotes are far from a common feature, however, so if you need one, pay close attention to which models have one.

    Q. Can I use a set of computer speakers with my TV?

    A. It depends. If you want to send audio from your TV to a set of computer speakers, you’ll need a TV that outputs audio in a physical form factor that corresponds to one of the speakers’ inputs. For example, older TVs have red and white RCA output ports, and those can be connected with an RCA cable to computer speakers with RCA inputs. Similarly, some computer speakers have optical input ports that can connect to optical output ports on some TVs using an optical cable. If you’re thinking about using a set of computer speakers with your TV, investigate the audio output options available on the back or side of the TV to determine your needs.

    Q. Which sounds better: audio over Bluetooth or audio over a 3.5mm cable?

    A. Bluetooth audio has made some major improvements over the last decade, so much so that most listeners can’t tell the difference in quality between music streamed over Bluetooth versus music coming from a hardwired audio source (like plugging your computer in directly with a 3.5mm cable). Technically, a hardwired connection will almost always perform better than a wireless connectivity option like Bluetooth, but unless you’re listening to high-fidelity audio formats like FLAC or ALAC, it’s unlikely you’ll notice any difference.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jacob
      Jacob
      Editorial Manager
    • Jaime
      Jaime
      Writer
    • Karl
      Karl
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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