Please see our updated 2016 article: The Best Computer Speakers
Harman Kardon Soundsticks III Computer Speakers
The Harman Kardon Soundsticks received editor’s choice on both PCMag and CNET for excellent sound performance and unique, aesthetic design. The frequency response range of 44Hz to 20KHz offers crisp definition for all forums: music, movies, and gaming. Power switch built in to the volume control on the subwoofer makes for energy efficiency. Satellite speakers can be angled to personal preference. You can own a piece of art and pop culture.
On the negative side, missing from this system is a remote control and a headphone jack.
The Harman Kardon Soundsticks III is on permanent exhibit at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. The third generation system was redesigned for 2010.
Features on this 2.1 sound system include 8 full-range transducers powered by a 10-watt amplifier in each speaker and 1 low-frequency, down-firing subwoofer powered by a 20-watt amplifier for bass. The system connects to 3.5 mm stereo devices such as computers and Mp3s.
The Harman Kardon Soundsticks III are on sale at Amazon for $145.81 or you can buy them direct from the Harman Kardon site.
Audioengine 2 Multi-Media Computer Speakers
Pros: Compact design fits well for a computer set-up. Superior sound clarity as reviewed by CNET, PCMag and Amazon customers who have given these computer speakers an average 4.5 star rating. Music and movies can be played at high volumes with no buzzing or distortion. Speakers are housed in hand-built wood cabinets to help amplify the bass.
Cons: The volume control is inconveniently located on the back of the speaker and doesn’t come with a remote control. PCMag thought the bass was slightly lacking compared with a subwoofer system.
Audioengine has successfully married compact size with superior sound and convenient features for a high quality computer speaker. Perfect for those who want a comparable subwoofer sound without the subwoofer, features on the Audioengine 2 include 2 audio inputs for both RCA and mini-jack, AC adapter, 15 watts of power per speaker with the left speaker housing power amps, Kevlar woofers and silk tweeters, and an auto-sleep power saving mode.
The Audioengine 2 computer speakers are on sale at Amazon for $199.00.
M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Powered Computer Speakers
Pros: Excellent sound quality and ample low end bass levels for those who listen to music or watch movies on their computer. The editor’s review at CNET says “they sounded bigger, delivered more bass, and played louder than the other PC speakers we had on hand”.
Cons: Though there’s no subwoofer to make room for, these speakers will still take up considerable space on your desktop. They also weigh 14 pounds each so if you’re looking for portability, say in conjunction with a laptop or switching between devices, then these are not the ones.
M-Audios are larger than other computer speakers and pack a powerful punch with 20 watts per speaker, 4-inch polypropylene-coated woofers and 3/4-inch tweeters. Other features include RCA inputs on both speakers, a 3.5 mm jack, a headphone jack, and an integrated bass boost switch.
The M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 computer speakers are currently on sale at Amazon for $149.00.
Logitech Z623 Computer Speakers
Logitech has a long-standing reputation for making mid-range, quality computer speakers at an affordable price. The Logitech Z623 computer speaker system was one of PCMag’s Best of the Year products for 2010. It features a sleek, efficient design ideal for desktop listening. THX-certified, the 2.1 system offers 200 total watts of power with a 130 watt subwoofer and 2 35W satellite speakers as well as convenient inputs for multiple devices including computers, iPods, DVD players, and gaming consoles.
Sound quality is commended by reviewers at PCMag, CrunchGear, and Amazon. Clarity and power are unrivaled at this price range. Subwoofer presents a powerful bass that can be easily adjusted by the on-speaker nob. No buzzing at high volume. RCA and 3.5 mm inputs provide simple transfer between devices. THX certified.
The LogitechZ632 computer speaker system retails for $149.99, but is currently on sale at Amazon for $136.99
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 Wireless Computer Speakers
The Klipsch ProMedia has a USB wireless transmitter that can stream audio from your computer to the speaker system from up to 30 feet away. Features a 2.4 GHz wireless signal and a total wattage of 120 watts between the 2 satellite speakers and subwoofer.
Pros: No pesky wires to clutter up the space. According to the review by PCMag, this system “packs so much power you’ll rarely raise the volume beyond half-way”. Using Apple’s Remote Application, iPhone customers can wirelessly access iTunes on their computer. Black cloth grilles are removable. It’s also THX certified.
Cons: No remote control. Power switch is inconveniently located on the subwoofer.
The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 wireless computer speakers are only available through Klipsch on their website or via Amazon for $199.99
Cyber Acoustics CA-3602 Computer Speakers
This 2.1, 3-piece speaker system from Cyber Acoustics is our budget pick for a computer speaker set-up. There aren’t many tech reviews on this model, but the user reviews are outstanding with 109 5 star reviews on Amazon and 168 5 star reviews on Wize. Cyber Acoustics has been putting out quality, affordable audio equipment since the 80s. This system includes 2 satellite speakers, a subwoofer, a separate desktop control pod for volume, power, and bass, and a cradle for your Mp3.
Pros: The price: with an MSRP of $54.99, the CA-3602 may not be the cheapest computer speaker, but it will deliver a more powerful sound than other discount speaker systems. The low-end bass sound has been rated as excellent. The desktop control is convenient and features an LED light when turned on and also contains a headphone jack. A good choice as a basic computer speaker.
Cons: Speakers aren’t protected by a covering.
The Cyber Acoustics CA-3602 is currently on sale on Amazon for $37.23.
JBL Duet III Computer Speakers
Tight on space? The JBL Duet III computer speakers are perfect for a small desktop setting or for your laptop. They are simple to set up and offer versatility with an AC adapter and a 3.5mm jack to plug into a Mac, Mp3, PC, or CD player. The 2 satellite speakers put out 10 watts each of power. There’s no subwoofer here, but the Duet IIIs are slightly larger than the predecessor, the Duet II, and therefore provide a bit more bass, though still not as powerful as a 2.1 system.
Pros: The design is both aesthetically pleasing and convenient for work space. Both CNET and PCMag recommend these computer speakers for decent sound quality at modest volume levels. These would be good in a work environment. Speakers connect to each other with a standard RCA plug. The price is reasonable at the Amazon sale price of around $100.00.
Cons: Not for bass lovers or those who are looking for loads of power. There isn’t an auxiliary input to plug in a second device as most of the other computer speakers offer.
The JBL Duet III computer speakers are currently on sale at Amazon for $107.98.