The best computer speakers to upgrade your laptop or desktop
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, probably, aren’t very good. A simple way to change that: buy a nice pair of computer speakers.
A set of computer (or desktop) speakers is usually not as expensive or as large 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 capable of creating a wider soundstage with much better stereo sound than your computer’s built-in speakers, and that’s a no-brainer for anyone who cares about audio.
Before buying a set of computer speakers, there are a number of things you need to consider. You need to figure out how much you want to spend (which can vary between $50 and $500) and what type of system you want; some computer speaker systems are equipped with a wireless subwoofer. You also need to think about how you are going to connect your computer and speakers: 3.5mm audio jack or USB? Or a wireless connection like Bluetooth?
The last thing to note is that some of the more popular wireless speakers that don’t support Bluetooth can’t 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 that will change).
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A2+ audio engine
Audioengine makes some of the best bookshelf speakers under $500 money 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 really 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 plus 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, which means it comes with two stereo speakers and a wireless subwoofer, so you can expect some pretty substantial bass. The Z407 system is neat for several reasons. It has wired and Bluetooth connectivity. Its speakers can sit horizontally or vertically on your desk. And finally, they come with a little wireless rotary volume dial that’s handy and oddly satisfying to use.
HD3 audio engine
You can think of the Audioengine HD3 as a lightly dressed up and slightly better version of the company’s beloved A2+ desktop speakers. And yes, they are also a good bit more expensive. Both 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 bit taller and have a slightly larger chamber, plus they have an improved built-in amplifier, which means you can expect a small bump in overall sound quality.
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX
Klipsch is best known for its traditional hi-fi speakers and excellent home theater systems, and this little 2.1 speaker system takes some of that sonic expertise and brings it to the office. It’s a fairly simple system and there’s no Bluetooth (which is really the only knock against it), but it’s nearly 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 shouldn’t be too surprising that it also makes great-sounding speakers for gaming – And that’s the case. The Razer Nommo Pro is a powerful 2.1 speaker system complete with some of the most distinctive drivers and a wireless subwoofer. It supports gaming-specific technologies like THX Spatial Audio and Dolby virtual surround sound, and the speaker base actually has built-in RGB lighting (which works with Razer’s Synapse 3 software) to make the system even more immersive.
Soundstick III Harman Kardon
Harman Kardon’s Soundsticks III speakers are certainly not bespoke. In fact, they share an uncanny resemblance to classic Jony Ive-designed Apple products of yesteryear, like the iMac G3 and the original iPod. If you like the design of the Soundsticks III, this 2.1 system is a very good value. The only real downside is that it’s not the most versatile. There’s no built-in Bluetooth and the only way to connect to your laptop or desktop is through its 3.5mm jack.
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