Everyone rocks headphones on the go, but there's nothing like listening to music out loud. For those times, you need quality computer speakers. Whether it's pure audio quality, size and shape, or bang for buck, choosing the best speakers is a tricky affair. Here are five sets that won't disappoint.
Photo by William Hook.
M-Audio is pretty well known for providing superior sound quality in budget-friendly audio products, and the AV-40 two-speaker set is no exception. A bookshelf-style dual speaker model, the AV-40s feature RCA and TRS inputs on the rear for connections to your computer, game console, TV, mixer or even an amplifier. There's also a headphone and AUX-in jack on the front for other devices. The speakers themselves don't have a built-in amp, but they connect beautifully to existing models. The AV-40s are geared towards people who love bass in their music, especially DJs and electronic or hip-hop enthusiasts, but you don't have to stick with those genres to appreciate this budget-friendly audio powerhouse.
It's not common for Bose to be on the budget end of a roundup, but this case is special. The Companion 2 Series II are aimed more at desktop users listening to music for entertainment, rather than audio professionals or people who plan to use their speakers to connect to multiple inputs. The set is a space-saving pair of desktop speakers that pump out some serious volume. Volume controls and a headphone jack on the front are easily accessible when you need them, and dual inputs on the rear let you connect your computer and another audio device at the same time.
Logitech Z2300/Logitech Z623
The Logitech Z2300 is a killer 2.1 stereo speaker set, but they're no longer available, having been succeeded by the Logitech Z623. The Z623s are also a great 2.1 stereo set, but the online consensus is that the Z623, while capable, may be a step down. The Z2300s are praised for their clean design, space-saving desktop speakers and control pod. Speaking of the subwoofer, the Z2300 subwoofer is one of the most powerful in a desktop set. The set also came with an adaptor so you could quickly connect game consoles and other devices to the AUX-in jack.
The Z623 that followed the Z2300s did away with the control pod in favour of on-speaker controls, but still sports an array of RCA and stereo connectors on the back that make it perfect for desktop computing or a space-saving home entertainment system.
The Klipsch Promedia 2.1 set features two desktop speakers and a subwoofer. It has been widely praised for its affordability and superior sound quality. Lifehacker's Whitson Gordon swears by this set, and he notes that it fits perfectly in that mid-range between simple desktop computer speakers and great audio quality you would expect from stereo gear. The desktop speakers are small but powerful, and the subwoofer fits comfortably under a desk where it offers amazing bass response and deep lows. Best of all, your money isn't spent on a system that only connects to a PC — you can connect this speaker set to your TV, game console or another audio source.
The Audioengine 5+ speaker series is well known and loved by audiophiles, music lovers and music producers. They're pricey, but a number of reviews point out that they offer the kind of high-quality sound you would normally expect from a speaker set twice or three times the price. If you have the cash to burn, you won't be disappointed by them. Don't let their simple looks deceive you — they pack a lot of power, enough that you won't need a separate subwoofer or additional speakers in the setup. Since they're powered on their own, you won't even need an external amp for them. The 5+ system sports USB for your mobile device and dual inputs for music players, computers and other devices.