We’re spending more time at home working (and playing) on our desktops and laptops than ever before, and that means listening to our computer’s built-in speakers — which, likely, aren’t very good. An easy way to change that: buy a nice a pair of computer speakers.
A set of computer (or desktop) speakers generally isn’t as expensive or as big as a set of bookshelf speakers; in fact, you can buy a pretty good pair of computer speakers for less than $100. The pair is able to create a wider soundstage with much better stereo sound than your computer’s built-in speakers, and it’s a no brainer for anybody who cares about audio.
Before buying a set of computer speakers, there are a number of things you want to consider. You need to figure out how much you want to spend (which could range between $50 —$500) and what kind of system you want; some computer speaker systems come with a wireless subwoofer. You also need to consider how you’re going to connect your computer and speakers: 3.5mm or USB audio jack? Or a wireless connection like Bluetooth?
The last thing to note is that some of the most popular wireless speakers, which don’t support Bluetooth, can’t actually be used as computer speakers. You might be surprised that Sonos speakers can’t really be used as computer speakers (although there is a workaround). You also can’t use two HomePods or two HomePod minis as computer speakers with your Mac, which is a bit odd (and hopefully will change).
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Audioengine makes some of the best-sounding bookshelf speakers under $500 you can buy. Period. The A2+ are the company’s tiny and super versatile powered speakers. You can connect them to your laptop or desktop via a 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth (meaning it’s super easy to stream music from your smartphone, too). You can also use its RCA connections to use them as stereo speakers for your turntable. The kicker is that you can buy the A2+ in three different colors: black, red or white.
Released in 2020, the Z407 is one of Logitech’s most affordable desktop audio solutions. It’s a 2.1 system, meaning it comes with two stereo speakers and a wireless subwoofer, so you can expect some pretty substantial bass. The Z407 system is neat for a few reasons. It has wired and Bluetooth connectivity. Its speakers can rest horizontally or vertically on your desk. And finally, they come with a tiny wireless rotating volume dial that is convenient and oddly satisfying to use.
You can think of the Audioengine HD3 as a slightly dressed-up and a little better-sounding version of the company’s well-loved A2+ desktop speakers. And yes, they’re also a good chunk more expensive. The two speakers share the same drivers (silk dome tweeters and Kevlar woofer), crossover and power. They also have the same Bluetooth and wired connectivity options. The difference is that the HD3 speakers are a little taller and have a slightly bigger chamber, plus they have an improved built-in amplifier, meaning you can expect a little bump in overall sound quality.
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX
Klipsch is best known for its heritage hi-fi speakers and excellent home theater systems, and this little 2.1 speaker system takes a bit of that sound expertise and brings it to the desktop. It’s a fairly simple system and there’s no Bluetooth (which is really the only knock against it), but it’s almost impossible to get better sound in a more affordable package.
Razer Nommo Pro
Razer is best known for its high-end gaming laptops and RGB accessories (like mice and keyboards), so it really shouldn’t be too surprising that it also makes some great-sounding speakers for gaming — and it does. The Razer Nommo Pro is a powerful 2.1 speaker system complete with some of the most distinct looking speakers and a wireless subwoofer. It supports gaming-specific technologies, like THX Spatial Audio and Dolby virtual surround sound, and the base of the speakers actually has built-in RGB lighting (which works with Razer’s Synapse 3 software) to make the system even more immersive.
Harman Kardon Soundsticks III
Harman Kardon’s Soundsticks III speakers definitely aren’t bespoke. In fact, they share an odd resemblance to the classic Jony Ive designed Apple products of yesteryear, like the iMac G3 and the original iPod. If you love the design of the Soundsticks III, this 2.1 system is a pretty great value. The only real downside is that it’s not the more versatile. There’s no built-in Bluetooth and the only way to connect to your laptop or desktop is via its 3.5mm jack.
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