NoisyGeeks

10 Best Computer Speakers in 2020

Sometimes, you just want to listen to the sounds around you, beyond the constraints of your headphones. Maybe you are watching a movie with another person, want to feel the bass of a rock song or simply don’t want to wear headphones everywhere you go. Well, then you have come to the right list. Here are the 10 best computer speakers of 2020.

What are the criteria for this list?

Before we start, we will set a few ground rules to make sure this list is as fair as possible and can be applied to just about any computer, be it desktop or laptop.

  1. Must have an option to connect via the 3.5mm audio jack
  2. Must be designed for use with a computer. Bluetooth speakers with a 3.5mm jack do not count, as those are primarily designed for use with a mobile device. Home theater speaker sets are also excluded.
  3. Professional equipment, such as studio monitors, is acceptable, as this is available to the average consumer.

The list will also be in the order of the product’s date of release. If you wanna see which product applies most to you, check the first paragraph of each product, and it should contain the details you need to know.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s get into the list.

1. JBL Professional 1 Series 104-BT Reference Monitors

 

JBL’s newest line of studio monitors is better than ever, with these compact studio monitors being our pick for the best budget studio monitors. The 104-BT is a compact package which is more than meets the eye, thanks to its main 4.5-inch low-frequency driver, paired together with a 0.75-inch tweeter. Powering them is a 60 watt Class D amplifier, which sends 30 watts to each speaker. It also has a good amount of versatility, thanks to it’s added AUX jack and Bluetooth 5.0 support. 

The studio monitors produce a nice, neutral sound, which is perfect for those who need a set of speakers for audio editing, music production, or even for audiophiles on a budget. However, those who are very bass-heavy might need to look elsewhere, as these studio monitors don’t have a dedicated input for a subwoofer.

And despite the price, JBL has not made any shortcuts. The housing is made of a strong ABS plastic, which while not as premium as wood or strong as metal, can still take a beating. The rubberized base of the speakers also helps with reducing unnecessary vibrations. The metal grille in front of the drivers helps with providing a more premium feel and with protection. You can also choose which color you want the speakers to have, with the choices being black and white.

In short, if you need a great, cheap pair of studio monitors, which have plenty of features and great audio quality under $200, then look no further than the JBL Professional 104-BT.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • Sound quality is great for the price
  • Highly versatile, with AUX, RCA, TRS and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Very compact, almost portable
  • Cool design
  • Small, almost portable
  • Great price-to-performance ratio
  • Two choices of color: black and white

Cons:

  • Not the best for those looking for a strong bass
  • Can distort a bit at higher volumes
  • Due to their cylindrical shape, you can’t place them on their sides

2. Creative Pebble Plus


In terms of price-to-performance, there are no speakers better than the Creative Pebble Plus. With a price of only $39.99 as of writing, Creative seems to have hit the sweet spot for the budget speaker market, with this 2.1 setup. 

The speakers and subwoofer, unsurprisingly, are made of plastic, but that is a given for the low price point it is sold at. The speakers themselves are a minimalist and kinda orb-shaped, with a cut-up top for the 2-inch drivers, both of which are placed at 45°, surrounded in a shiny plastic finish, which might be a dust and fingerprint magnet. The subwoofer is an unremarkable cube, with feet to keep the downward-firing 4-inch driver off the ground.

The audio quality, however, is where the Pebble Plus truly shines. The speakers provide good detail and depth in both the highs and lows, with clear vocals and pronounced drum kicks, all without any major distortions at high volume. The subwoofer provides a solid kick to the audio, however, it can start to distort at higher volumes. But even at medium volume, you should be able to fill up your bedroom or smaller office room full of sound. Creative also offers a “High Gain Mode”, which increases the total power output to 8W RMS. However, this needs a separate 5V2A USB power adapter, which does not come in the box.

The speakers are very plug and play, with your master speaker containing a 3.5mm audio jack, USB connection for power, a connection to the other speaker, and an RCA cable to connect to the subwoofer. All these cables mean that you will have to perform some cable management while you set up your speakers. The RCA cable is a bit on the short side as well, as it is only 180 cm (6 feet). The volume dial is also on the master speaker, but we would have wished to have a bass regulation dial, for both the speakers and the subwoofer. The addition of Bluetooth would also be welcome for a V2 model.

In terms of speakers under $50, you don’t have to look elsewhere, the Creative Pebble Plus is the best you can get in the price range, especially thanks to the addition of the subwoofer. If you don’t want the subwoofer or if you want to save some cash, we’d recommend the Creative Pebble V2, but due to it’s added subwoofer, we’d still take the Pebble Plus for the extra $10.

Pros:

  • Interesting, minimalist design
  • Great audio quality for the price
  • Added subwoofer
  • Best value speakers under $50
  • Addition of a high gain mode

Cons:

  • Lots of cables
  • Bass can distort at higher volumes for the subwoofer
  • High Gain mode needs a separate 5V2A USB adapter
  • RCA cable is a bit shorter than it should be

3. AmazonBasics USB-Powered Computer Speakers

For those who are really cash-strapped, Amazon’s Basics brand has got you covered, with their USB-Powered computer speakers. Coming in at under $20, this is a solid option for anybody who just needs the basics (no pun intended).

The construction of the speakers is surprisingly good for the price. The brushed metallic finish gives it an industrial feeling and the blue LEDs give a futuristic vibe, which is a welcome improvement over the usual boxy, utilitarian design in this price range. However, the large AmazonBasics branding could be a turn off for some. In addition, the in-line volume controls feel quite cheap, and not as nice as a dedicated volume knob.

As for the sound, what more could you ask for a set of speakers under $20? The sound from the speakers is warm and balanced and doesn’t distort, even with the volume maxed out. Despite not being a powerhouse, having a total output of 2.4W RMS. 

The functionality is almost no-frills. The speakers instantly turn on when plugged into USB and there is no power switch. There is also no way to turn off the LED lights, which can get annoying.

If you want a set of speakers that just works and doesn’t have the typical cheap speaker look, then the AmazonBasics USB-Powered Computer Speakers are worth the thought.

Pros:

  • Nice build for the price
  • Warm, balanced sound
  • Cheap, under $20

Cons:

  • LED lights cannot be turned off
  • In-line controls are poor

4. Devialet Phantom Reactor 600

Okay, maybe we are slightly cheating with this entry (and especially ridiculous in the context of our last entry) since this speaker is meant to be portable, but in our opinion, this speaker can also work with your PC without any issues. One thing that is indisputable, however, is the price. Devialet’s “cheapest” speaker is still over $1’000. For some context, you could buy approx. 64 of the AmazonBasics USB speakers ($16.99), and you still wouldn’t hit the Phantom Reactor 600’s Amazon price point ($1’090 as of writing). So this speaker is definitely for either the 1% or for the extreme audiophile.

The build is nothing short of world-class. It’s stainless steel exterior (available in black and white) and aluminum core are the reason for its hefty weight of 4.3 kg (approx. 9.5 lbs). The design itself is out of this world. It looks like an alien weapon and porcelain sculpture, all wrapped up into one. Oh, and it’s made in France.

As for the audio, well, can you say a lot about a 600-watt speaker? The bass feels powerful, and at full volume, it is as loud as a revving motorcycle engine, all without any distortion. The audio quality across the range is fantastic, however, with the speaker by itself, you might find the sound to be a bit closed, so if you want a more open sound, you might have to invest in two Phantom Reactor 600’s, which is well over $2’000. If you want even more noise, there is always the Phantom 900, but that will also be more money in return.

There are two main reasons why the Phantom Reactor 600 is better than it’s bigger brother, the Phantom Premier, for computer users. Firstly, the Phantom Reactor has a 3.5mm AUX input, which basically every PC in existence also has, and something the Phantom Premier lacks. Secondly, because it is smaller. The Phantom Premier is a mammoth of a speaker, and fitting even one on your desk will be a challenge in terms of practicality. Meanwhile, the Phantom Reactor can easily sit on your desk, and even two of them will sit fine and dandy, as it is slightly smaller than most bookshelf speakers.

If you are an audiophile looking for some of the best bass in the business in a tiny package, or a person for whom money is no object and wants a great sound experience in a portable package, then the Devialet Phantom Reactor 600 is probably for you. For the rest of us, we should probably look elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Amazing build quality
  • Deep and rich bass
  • Plenty of ways to connect (Bluetooth, AUX and Internet)
  • Punchy audio
  • Intuitive app and configuration
  • Made in France

Cons:

  • Sound can be closed off without a second speaker
  • Very expensive speaker and accessories

5. Logitech G560 Lightsync

 

Can it really be an audio list in 2020 without an option for gaming? Logitech’s G division released these 2.1 speakers a few years ago, and are still the best speakers for gamers. 

There is not a lot to say about the build. The satellites look similar to the Logitech MX Sound 2.0 speakers, and the subwoofer is just a plain, old rectangle. There are quite a few cables, but they are not too messy and should be fine for most users. The real treat, however, is in the lighting system. Logitech has incorporated it’s Lightsync RGB illumination system which, when paired with Logitech’s software, produces a wonderful light show during your gaming adventures. Just make sure not to get carried away, as the lights can get a bit distracting.

The sound is what you would also expect from a gaming speaker set. The bass is very strong and warm, if not slightly too strong. This works great for shooters and action games. The sound from the satellites is also nice and clear, something you would expect from Logitech. The DTS:X Virtual Surround Sound also adds to the experience, giving you more of an inside-the-action feel while gaming, and adding more precision to the experience. However, we do wish that you could disable the subwoofer, as it can get overwhelming when listening to music.

Logitech has added plenty of features to the G560 to make it as user-friendly as possible. Logitech’s G Hub is probably some of the best software for any gaming product in the world. The speakers can be connected via USB, AUX, and Bluetooth, which is always appreciated. Logitech also offers an SDK for game developers who want to add Lightsync features to their games.

All in all, the Logitech G560 is our pick for the best gaming speakers. Razer also offers both the Leviathan and Nommo, with the Nommo Pro Chroma even having THX certification. However, the Leviathan is not as versatile and not as clear as the G560, and the Nommo Pro Chroma is incredibly expensive, which is why, in our opinion, the G560 is the better pick for the average gamer.

Pros:

  • Great for gaming
  • RGB is highly customizable
  • 240W of peak power
  • Great software
  • Plenty of connectivity options
  • Powerful bass

Cons:

  • No way to disable subwoofer
  • Not the best for music
  • RGB can de distracting

6. Logitech MX Sound 2.0

Logitech’s MX series might be more well known for its mice, especially the MX Master line, but it turns out the MX line also has a damn good pair of portable speakers. And for under $100, we also think it’s a great deal.

The design is really nice, with a fabric cover in front of the drivers, with the exterior having a circular shape, which will fit in well with any desk setup. The touch controls are on the fabric cover and are easy to operate. The plastic surrounding the speaker is not as nice, as it feels like your average Logitech keyboard or mouse, but fortunately, you won’t have to touch it that much, and it is by no means fragile. Their true advantage is in their size, as they will easily fit into most backpacks.

The audio has been improved from the 1st gen of the MX Sound, but still isn’t the best in its class (Spoiler: The best one is in the list). While the highs and mids are clear and crisp, the low end feels too closed off and muddy. The low end also distorts a bit at high volume. However, do expect it to get decently loud, thanks to its power output of 12W RMS.

The MX Sound 2.0 is a Swiss army knife when it comes to features. With two 3.5mm audio jacks, you can switch between devices in seconds, all without the need for an external switcher. It can also connect to your device via Bluetooth if so desired. It’s super easy to operate, and you should have no issues with finding a way to connect.

Some might think that the Logitech MX Sound 2.0 is form over function, but for those who just need a dead simple, good looking set of speakers that are also decently portable, then the MX Sound 2.0’s are worth the look. For those who want more audio quality and don’t need the extra functionality, look further into this list.

Pros: 

  • Nice design
  • Crispy mids and highs
  • Relatively portable
  • Simple controls
  • Versatile
  • Easy to switch between sources

Cons:

  • Lows could be better
  • Plastic could have been better quality

7. Kanto YU6

In terms of overall speakers, when including sound, functionality, price, and practicality, the Kanto YU6 might be the best overall package on the list. And before you ask, no, these are NOT studio monitors. 

The speakers are made of wood, with your choice of six finishes (matte or gloss black, red, white, walnut, and bamboo). In terms of dimensions, they are from the smallest, but what would you really expect for a set of $399 bookshelf speakers?

The audio is a delight, with a balanced sound range, well-separated mids and bass, with voices sounding clear. The audio is provided by the 5.25-inch driver with a rear woofer and 1-inch tweeter, with the speakers reaching 100W RMS. The genre of music does not impact the sound, but if you need to fine-tune the sound to your taste, you can customize the sound via the remote control. We only wish that the audio went lower than 50 Hz.

The Kanto YU6 is highly adaptable. It has RCA, AUX, Ethernet, and an input for a subwoofer. It even has a phono pre-amp, which means you can spin some vinyl and enjoy the extra quality of a vinyl record. Wireless connectivity is also great, thanks to the addition of Qualcomm’s aptX audio codec for Bluetooth. It also features USB, but we wouldn’t use it with a computer.

If you are ready to spend a bit extra, the Kanto YU6 is an excellent choice for anybody looking for a cheap pair of great-sounding, Bluetooth-enabled powered bookshelf speakers. It ended up beating the other best bookshelf speakers, the Audioengine A5+, because of price and compatibility, as the YU6’s are almost more than $150 cheaper than the A5+, and thanks to the addition of a phono pre-amp. Sure, the A5+ has aptX HD and a 24-bit DAC, but whether you are ready to pay the premium price is up to you.

Pros:

  • Made of wood
  • Simple design which fits in well with most rooms
  • Tons of connection options
  • Kevlar main drivers
  • Great sound quality across the board
  • Separate remote
  • Great value
  • Phono pre-amp is great for vinyl users

Cons:

  • Only goes down to 50 Hz
  • Could have had more power
  • Should have aptX HD in 2020

8. Edifier R980T Bookshelf Speakers

For fans of bookshelf speakers who might not have the budget for a pair of Kanto YU6’s, or don’t want a professional set of studio monitors, like the JBL Professional 104-BT, then look no further than the Edifier R980T. 

The R980T looks like your average bookshelf speakers, with a dark wood finish and fabric removable front grille, they are nothing special, but will be sturdy enough for everyday use. Edifier says that the fibreboard housing was specially designed to enhance bass.

The 4-inch subwoofer and 13mm tweeter have a decent range and loud, but slightly shallow, bass, and will definitely improve on any default computer speakers. Their sound is an improvement from the satellites of the Creative Pebble Plus and the Logitech MX Sound 2.0, but you would expect that given the size of the speaker. However, we do wish that it went lower than 70 Hz. The speakers are also front-ported, so there should be no worries about finding for those who are worried about rear space.

The connections are quite barebones, with an option for RCA to RCA and RCA to AUX. As a nice touch, you do get a dedicated bass control knob alongside the volume knob. However, if you want a remote control, you will have to spend extra on Edifier’s higher-tier of bookshelf speakers. 

If you are a penny-pincher and need an improvement to your existing audio setup (or lack thereof), then the Edifier R980T is just for you. However, if you spend a bit more money, you could get our favorite set of speakers, which appear at the end of the list. 

Pros:

  • Good price
  • Good audio quality for the price
  • Solid build quality
  • Ability to adjust bass
  • Plenty of power at 12W RMS

Cons:

  • Look a bit too utilitarian
  • Bass is a tad shallow
  • No remote control

9. Bose Companion 2 Series III

Bose, more well known for its premium audio products and solutions, actually makes an affordable set of speakers, and they are the best you can get under $100! On the surface, they don’t look very special, but these speakers pack quite the punch for the price and size, something you would expect from a brand like Bose.

The build is good for the price, with a metal build and a fabric-esque speaker grille. Cables are not an issue, and we appreciate the lack of a clunky power supply. Instead, the power supply is directly integrated into the power plug.

Audio is where the Companion 2 speakers truly shine. With distinguishable and clear mids and highs, and surprisingly good lows, the Companion 2’s provide a great sound for the price. Vocals come out great and the sounds of instruments do not sound muddy. It even gets loud enough to fill up more than one room. 

Features on the Companion 2’s are at a minimum. All of your connections will happen via the included 3.5mm audio jack, with no option to connect via wireless (unless you have a Chromecast Audio). There is only volume control at the front, with no way of changing the bass or treble without the use of a separate EQ. We do appreciate the addition of a headphone jack though, as this can be useful for when you don’t want to disconnect the speakers, yet want to use your headphones. 

Despite the lack of features, it makes up with the sound quality, design, and sheer value. For under $100, you will not find a better package for computer speakers. If you value a wireless connection, then sure, look elsewhere. But for those that don’t value that as much? Look no further than the Bose Companion 2 Series III.

Pros:

  • Simple, industrial design
  • Amazing audio quality
  • Great clarity in sound
  • Added headphone jack
  • Excellent value
  • Not large

Cons:

  • Lack of control over bass and treble
  • No wireless connection

10. Klipsch ProMedia 2.1

Klipsch has been producing the ProMedia 2.1 since 2002 and has obtained new features and refinements over time. But, as the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”. Despite newer options out there by Logitech, Edifier, and other brands, for under $200 with THX certification, the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 still stands as the best bang-for-buck speaker set for media consumption.

The ProMedia 2.1 has a no-nonsense design, with it’s classic mid-2000’s satellites and cube-like subwoofer all made of plastic. The plastic is by no means poor, but we do hope they make a version that uses a more high-quality wood or metal, which would be especially fitting of a ‘classy’ brand like Klipsch.

As previously mentioned, the ProMedia 2.1 has THX certification. What does that mean, you might ask? Well, to get to the point, THX certification ensures that the speakers have been fine-tuned for a certain size of the room so that the audio would playback just as the sound engineer and audio mixer had intended it to. The ProMedia 2.1’s deliver on that promise, with amazing audio in video games and, especially, movies. Music listening is also enjoyable on these speakers, with deep bass and vibrant range. At higher volumes, the subwoofer can distort a bit while playing music. Expect the volume to also get high, thanks to its peak power output of 200W.

Despite lacking wireless connectivity and it’s relative age, the ProMedia 2.1 is packed full of features. With independent controls on the main satellite for speaker and subwoofer volume, the speakers also have a headphone jack, which, just like the Bose Companion 2 Series III speakers, is always appreciated. Klipsch used to make a non-THX, Bluetooth version, but that one is both discontinued and not as good as the THX, wired ones.

For under $200, Klipsch produced a timeless set of speakers that fit well, with any desk space and produce amazing audio for any media consumer out there. There are other THX-certified speakers out there, such as the Logitech Z625 and Edifier M3600D, but for the price and sound, they fall short of the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1

Pros: 

  • Amazing for media consumption
  • THX certification
  • Brilliant value
  • Klipsch quality
  • Simple, no-nonsense design
  • 200W of peak power

Cons:

  • Made of plastic, not a more premium material
  • Bass can distort with high-volume music

A quick buyers guide

Picking the right speaker can be tricky, and not everybody knows speakers and other audio devices. We’ll try t0 give you as simple of an explanation as possible, so you understand which speaker is right for you.

Price

The main deciding factor for you will probably be price. Speaker prices can vary widely, and you must know which price category is right. It can be a cheap set, like the Creative Pebble Plus or the AmazonBasics USB Computer Speakers, which are both under $50, or a very expensive speaker, like the Devialet Phantom Reactor 600, which is over $1’000. That’s why is important to find that price-to-performance sweet spot, so you spend only as much as you have to for a good experience.

Sound

Of course, the sound quality should not be at the bottom of the pile, otherwise, we would all be buying those poorly-made, cheap-sounding computer speakers from the supermarket. There are types of ways that the sound is reproduced. There are bass-heavy systems, like the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 and Devialet Phantom Reactor 600, more neutral ones like the JBL Professional 104-BT, or great all-rounders, like the Bose Companion 2 Series III or Kanto YU6.

Use

Before you buy a speaker, you should probably know what you will be doing with it, be it casual use (Creative Pebble Plus), work  (Bose Companion 2 Series III), music production (JBL Professional 104-BT), gaming (Logitech G560 Lightsync), watching movies (Klipsch ProMedia 2.1), or just wanting an upgrade to an existing system (Edifier R980T). Most speakers are made for a target audience, so find the one right for you.

Build

Having a great build can impact durability and sound quality, so it is up to you to decide between paying more for a more durable product or saving your money in exchange for something less. None of the speakers on our list have the poor build quality, but the more expensive ones will, unsurprisingly, be more durable and use their enhanced build to their advantage.

Connection

Having the option to pair via Bluetooth, USB, or internet, alongside your existing AUX connection is always appreciated, and is super useful in a variety of cases, such as playing music from your phone or tablet, letting friends and family pair with your device, and making your personal space less cluttered. Speakers like the Logitech MX Sound 2.0, Kanto YU6, and Devialet Phantom Reactor 600 excel at this. Traditional ports are also of value if you want to plug in a subwoofer or other device.

Conclusion

Regardless of which of these ten computer speakers you go for, you can expect great build, sound quality, and versatility from all of them in their price range. These ten offer something different from one another, be it sound, build, connectivity, price, or intended use.

 

Thanks for reading! If you wanna check out or even buy any of these products, click on their Amazon links for a better look.

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Renis Ulps

2 comments

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