11 PC-speakersets review: cacophonous or melodious?

Cheap and good do not go together anymore



The market for pc-speakers has not been the most lively one, however there are still quite some sets on offer. Although there are the necessary alternatives for listening to music on the computer, there is also something to say for the ‘old-fashioned’ sets. We tested 11 speakers, all with very different results.

The late 90s and the early 2000s were the heydays for the market of pc-speakers. The supply was huge, both in numbers and in differing quality and price levels. Nowadays it is quite different. Leaving out a few exceptions here and there, the supply has been reduced to 2.0 and 2.1 sets with a price below 85 pounds / 100 euros{c:us}110 dollars{/c:us.

That is actually rather remarkable, because with the upcoming streaming audio and video there are only more reasons for non-gaming users to want decent sound with their computers. The reason for this impoverishment seems to lie mainly in the fact that modern forms of entertainment are not consumed on a computer, but on a smartphone or a tablet, or by means of a media player or game console.

For mobile devices a wireless speaker seems more like an obvious solution. The market for the Bluetooth-speakers has been booming, whereas the one for pc speakers has collapsed, luxurious audio streamers have been doing better as well. Besides the old-school Sonos, almost every self-respecting audio brand has an active speaker with a built-in wifi-receiver in its collection. These solutions also often work fine when paired with a laptop or a computer.

Adding to that, the number of households with a permanent placement for their computer has not exactly increased – the vast majority of the market still buys a laptop, not a desktop – and it will be clear that the need for or desirability of a separate set of speakers that you plug in with a wire is decreasing rather than increasing.

However, there are still people who do have a permanent place for their computer and who are not particularly charmed  by either an affordable, but mono Bluetooth speaker, or a pricey likewise mono audiostreamer. For this target group a pc-speaker set is potentially a not too expensive, yet good solution. Gamers can benefit from it as well, although the surround-experience is naturally not a good as stereo speakers that do not use HRTF, in contrast to headsets. In short: it is time for a new comparison test.

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