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The Best Computer Speakers on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers
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Stereo, 2.1, or Surround Sound: What's the Difference?
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AirPort Express. Wireless powered bookshelf speakers or passive bookshelf speakers can also achieve this, but they tend to be too big to sit on a desk.
Computer speakers vary drastically in terms of size, price, and options. We used the following criteria to decide which computer speakers to test and how to evaluate their quality. With these criteria in mind, we looked through all of the available models on sites like Amazon and Best Buy. Before conducting blind listening tests, we broke in each system with music and video content. Daniel then listened to each system individually, determining its max volume and getting an initial impression of its audio quality.
This allowed him to quickly dismiss several speakers that sounded compressed or lacked bass response. We then separated the six remaining speaker systems into groups 2.
Wirecutter writer Jordan Bowman, musician and producer Will Marshall , and filmmaker Lauren Nolan joined Daniel on the listening panel. Using an iPhone connected via an RCA splitter box as the audio source, Daniel played each system for the group. Each panelist ranked the systems in terms of performance, then we factored in features and price in order to make final judgements. The highs sounded crisp but not harsh, and bass notes were well defined, not muddy.
Although some notes in the midrange like male vocals sounded a little muted, the CR4BT delivered a pleasant, balanced sound overall. Achieving this balance is difficult for computer speakers, which often have very small woofers that are incapable of producing a lot of bass. Each speaker is about as big as a rectangular box of tissues, if you stood it up on its side.
Photo: Sarah Kobos.
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These speakers are easy to add to any existing setup. The logical placement of all of these inputs and outputs, as well as the volume knob on the front, make this system much easier to use throughout the day. We think this should be a feature on every computer speaker. The less you need to access the back of the speaker, the better.
One last feature that helps with cable management is the inclusion of a switch that determines which speaker is left and which is right. Bluetooth-device pairing is quick, and you can easily reconnect a previously paired device by tapping the button on the front of the speaker. The CR3 is available with more soothing accent colors, including light blue and silver , and we wish the same were true for the CR4BT.
Every time you turn on the speakers, they will connect to the previous two devices that were used. It has most of the same features as the CR4BT but it puts a smaller 3-inch woofer in a smaller cabinet. However, our panel felt that although the CR3 speakers created nice open highs, their smaller woofer size limited the low end a little more than we preferred.
But beyond that, the performance between the two Mackie sets is quite similar. This makes the Mackie CR3 easy to add to your existing setup and use on an everyday basis. We found the green trim on our review sample to be distracting, but luckily the CR3 is available with more gentle accent colors, including light blue and silver. If you want a clear upgrade in performance and design, the Audioengine HD3 set has substantially better sound quality and a more elegant aesthetic than any speaker pair we tested—but it also costs a lot more.
It lacks a couple of the convenience features that the Mackie CR4BT offers, like the front-panel aux input and speaker-selector switch.
Mac Compatible Computer Speaker Recommendations
But if pristine audio quality is your top priority, this is the pair to get. We originally tested these speakers for our wireless powered bookshelf speakers guide, and they outperformed many larger bookshelf speakers. We found that the system offered a really great balance between sounds across the frequency range. The system includes stereo RCA and 3. There's also a USB digital input for use with computers and smartphones; however, we are aware of a bug in the USB input that can cause you to lose the first second or two of sound such as the ding of a notification as the speakers come out of sleep mode.
We did not experience this problem with our review sample, but a colleague who purchased the HD3 did. It also includes AAC, a codec used by Apple iTunes and some streaming services; Apple phones and tablets are compatible with AAC, so this feature could deliver a slight improvement in sound quality for Apple fans. The system is available in four finishes black, cherry, walnut, and white. Overall, the HD3 has an elegant neutrality, much like a black dress or well-fitting navy suit.
Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites
Has anyone ever thought that their conference call could use more bass? But if you watch a lot of movies or play action-heavy video games through your computer system, the Klipsch ProMedia 2. These speakers had the best sound quality of all of the 2. But the connection options are limited. Many of the 2. All of our panelists agreed that these speakers had a balanced, pleasing overall sound. The ProMedia subwoofer powers both speakers.
To set up the system, you insert the DIN plug from the left speaker into the preamp input and insert the supplied speaker cables into the spring clips. But our panelists for this update found the high end of the frequency range to be a bit unpleasant. Creative Pebble : We were curious as to whether these tiny speakers could produce enough bass to make them worth considering. Short answer: They cannot.
We also thought the speakers made higher frequencies, particularly female vocals, sound tinny. Edifier RT : These speakers have a smaller footprint than some other Edifier speakers we tested and are cheaper than the Mackie CR3, but none of our panelists thought they sounded good enough to recommend. Plus, like other Edifier speakers, the volume and EQ adjustment dials are on the back of the speaker, which makes them harder to use as computer speakers. The company compensates for this with the inclusion of a small remote, but we find that tiny remotes are too easy to lose.
Edifier RBT : These speakers have similar usability issues as the other Edifier speakers we tested.