We want the best computer, with the best keyboard, the best monitor, the fastest and largest capacity hard drive, the fastest internet connection, the best chair in which we will spend hours and hours working or playing … so why not bet on the best speakers for your PC? We are going to explain what you should reward before deciding on some speakers or others and being able to opt for the best option for you.
Everything You Need to Know About Speakers
Speakers are the device that allows you to audible the sound that comes out of your computer’s sound card. These can be connected via a 3.5mm mini-jack connector (the one with the headphones) although there are also those that connect via USB, Bluetooth or, those with Premium features, via a fiber-optic connection. One connector or another does not have to imply a worse sound, but certain extra functions do. But before going into detail about the different connectors and their possibilities, we must go into the structure of the speakers.
The speaker box is where the entire structure is mounted and its size, materials, and construction, largely determines its volume and final quality: the larger the box, the more air moves inside and the more maximum power it can emit. Literally, it acts as the resonance box and its size is usually proportional to that of the membrane or diaphragm. But be careful, because as we will see later, a very large speaker may sound bad in a small room and, conversely, too small a speaker may sound a bit too large.
The speaker diaphragm is the part that transforms the electrical impulse that comes out of the sound card. In the most economic ranges, the diaphragm (or membrane) is made of paper, silk, and plastic, while in the most Premium models it can be made of titanium and aluminum.
Many times we talk about 1, 2 and 3-way speakers. It should not be confused with stereo or 5.1 systems that we will see later. The ‘tracks’ of a speaker refer to whether it has 1, 2 or 3 diaphragms one for cutoff frequencies:
- The largest diameter dedicated to low and mid-low frequencies
- The medium diameter for mid frequencies
- The smallest diameter ‘tweeter’, around 2.5cm, for high frequencies
In most speakers, we will find 2 ways and, in 2.1 configurations, the subwoofer.
The subwoofer is a special speaker that only outputs the lowest frequencies in the human-audible range. This speaker noticeably improves the hearing of those frequencies.
Wired or Bluetooth?
Again it depends on each one. There are excellent quality portable Bluetooth speakers, but the autonomy depends on the capacity of its battery and they are not recommended for gaming. On the other hand, we have to divide the cable into three blocks: the traditional 3.5mm mini-jack cable (typical for headphones), USB and surround systems, which have their own installation of cables and features.
Focusing on the first two, USB allows powering the speakers without plugging them into the power, but this sometimes results in low-power speakers. Those that are directly connected by mini-jack are used to being connected to the electric current. This allows them to give more power thanks to the fact that both signals (audio and power) are separated.
Passive or Active Speakers?
To understand us, this concept refers to whether the power comes through the same cable where the sound comes from the amplifier (passive speakers) or if they are connected to the electric current or has a built-in battery (active speakers). The PC speakers that we are going to see here are of both types
Stereo, 2.1, 5.1, or 7.1?
This is one of the most controversial points when buying some speakers and it is that, depending on their application and end-use, we can recommend one or the other. Here we will talk about channels – not to be confused with the routes, of which we have spoken previously. By channels, we mean the number of speakers that make up a system. The stereo has a 2.0, stereo plus Subwoofer is 2.1 and so on up to five or seven channels plus subwoofer.
Stereo: This is the usual two-channel sound, left and right. To listen to music, play for a while or watch videos is more than enough. Of course, you will not have the spectacular surround sound and the bass can be somewhat muted, although this is not always the case.
2.1: It is an improved stereo with a subwoofer. It is one of the favorite options for many people, because it is still inexpensive, does not require large facilities and is a very versatile option.
5.1: we enter the surround sound. Here we have 5 channels (Left-Behind, Left-Forward, Center, Right-Behind, Right-Forward) and the subwoofer.
7.1: It is the modality that presents the most channels and that best accentuates the enveloping sensation. It has 7 channels (left-behind, left, left-front, center, right-behind, right, and right-front) and subwoofer.
There is a category of speakers 11.1, but it is dedicated to high-performance home cinema. We are not talking about a PC system, but to create authentic home theater rooms that require a very different infrastructure and investment.
Please note that surround speaker systems require a decoder from different surround sound systems. These systems interpret the sound to distribute it correctly through the different speakers, generating an enveloping sensation. Some computers or sound cards incorporate surround certifications. The most widespread are:
THX: created by Lucasfilms and one of the most advanced
Dolby: it is compatible with Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos, and DTS…
EAX: stands for Environmental Audio eXtension and was developed by Creative for gaming.
Where will you use it?
In explaining the characteristics of the box, we have commented that large speakers tend to sound bad in a small space. It is very important to know in which space you are going to use your speakers. The ideal would be to make an acoustic measurement and condition the space, taking into account what type of speakers you are going to use. Sometimes this is complicated if you are not an expert, so we give you some advice.
The first is that surround speaker systems require certain acoustic arrangements in the room where you are going to use them to guarantee the best possible sound. In other words, you must take into account the size of the room and prepare the room acoustically. You should also bear in mind that a 7.1 or 5.1 system can do little if, in the end, you use a low-quality pirated copy of that movie you wanted to see and that sounds so good in the cinema. The surround decoders are prepared to read the sound signal contained in the video file and decode it so that it sounds on all channels. If a poor quality stereo signal is found, the result can be catastrophic.
Finally, let’s go for a few technical notes to find out what those terms are that we sometimes find and may sound strange to us:
Impedance: refers to the resistance of speakers to an electrical signal and is measured in Ohms. In desktop speakers you should not be too concerned about this value, but if you are going to use them with an amplifier, yes. In that case, the maximum impedance of the speaker must be higher than the maximum impedance of the amplifier; otherwise, you can burn them.
Power and RMS: Expressed in watts, it can refer to both the continuous power (RMS) and the maximum power that it can support.
Sensitivity: is the minimum value in dB from which the diaphragm begins to move and generate sound. It will always be better to bet on a highly sensitive speaker, for being more efficient.
The Best Budget Speakers
In this first point we talk about cheap speakers, but well-valued by the user community.
Some 1.2W USB stereo speakers, surprising for their value for money. They incorporate software to control and equalize, as well as a mini Jack connector for ordinary headphones.
Mars Gaming MS1
A stereo speaker system focused on gaming and connected to the computer via USB. It is powerful speakers (10W) and surprising design, which due to its size can take you anywhere to enjoy your gaming sessions.
Elegant and sober for those who want functional speakers with good sound quality. Speakers with USB connection and a 6W RMS power.
The best Bluetooth speakers
In this second category, we will talk about the best Bluetooth speakers, both portable and desktop.
Harman & Kardon Soundsticks
These speakers are old acquaintances of all sound lovers, they are one of the highest quality options but also intended for those for whom the budget is not a problem. An inspiring design in clear methacrylate is on display at the MoMA in New York. It incorporates tactile volume controls.
Artchros desktop speakers
These are elegant speakers, with a power of 15W and that is presented in three colors and that you can use with cable or Bluetooth. There are many speakers which fall in the Artchros desktop speakers categories but saim deals suggest only those who connect any computer, Tablet, Smartphone or even television. They are ideal for medium spaces or living rooms.
Ideal for the computer desk, these speakers can be connected by mini-jack cable or by Bluetooth to any device. They come in two colors, black and white, and have 10W of power. Plus, they come with the Logitech manufacturer’s quality seal.
In this category, we have the best stereo and 2.1 speakers (stereo with subwoofer) in a somewhat higher price range.
Bose Companion Series 2 III
Bose quality is recognized by sound lovers around the world. These computer speakers have a crisp sound and 7W power. It connects to the computer through a mini-jack cable, you can also connect external devices and it is powered by electric current.
A 2.1 speaker system for your PC that incorporates 60W power, a subwoofer for good bass response and control buttons to control both volume and bass. In addition, it has a system that, if it stays on without anyone present, automatically turns off.
Impressive maximum power of 80W and continuous (RMS) of 40W and subwoofer. In addition, it incorporates a volume control and very elegant power where you can connect your headphones. Finally, you can connect any device thanks to its mini-jack input and RCA cable.
One of the most interesting options both by the manufacturer and by its relationship between quality and price. It incorporates a 3D sound system, in addition to stereo inputs and adapted for 5.1 and the possibility of controlling the volume of the subwoofer independently.
JBL Home Cinema 510
One of the most interesting and complete surround systems on the market. Manufactured in collaboration between JBL and Harman / Kardon, they have been manufactured to be an elegant and minimalist piece of decoration.
One of the great audio manufacturers could not miss in this review. Yamaha presents these surround speakers that will be a delight for lovers of good sound. Excellent bass, a good response at all frequencies, and a sleek, sleek design to fit seamlessly anywhere.