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Gamers love beautiful graphics with millions of polygons and high-resolution textures, but there’s more to the experience than what you see. What you hear is important, too. Quality speakers can make a game more immersive and even give you an advantage by making important audio cues easier to notice. Here’s what to look for when buying audio equipment for your PC.

Hit The Bass, Or Not

The first decision you need to make when looking at PC speakers is whether or not you want a subwoofer. For those who don’t know, a subwoofer is a boxy piece of audio equipment that is used to pump out bass.

subwoofer

Dramatic music, gunfire and explosions sound best when a subwoofer is available, and picking one up is a good idea. However, a sub will take up some room under your desk, so make sure you have a place to put it. The deep sound produced by a sub travels, too, so picking up a big, beefy woofer isn’t the best idea if you’re in a dorm or sharing an apartment.

What Point What?

If you decide you would like a subwoofer you then need to decide the level of surround sound you’d prefer (there are no 5.1 sets without a subwoofer). A 5.1 system will provide a more immersive experience than a 2.1 (aka stereo) system, but you’ll also need to deal with finding a place to mount the extra speakers and run wire to them.

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This can make a 5.1 system impractical. Speakers can often be mounted to a wall, and speaker wire can be hidden by tucking it under the edge of the carpet (if your PC room is carpeted), but not everyone will find the trouble worthwhile. A good 2.1 speaker system can provide reasonably realistic audio, and a 5.1 headset The 5 Best 7.1 Gaming Headsets On The Market Today The 5 Best 7.1 Gaming Headsets On The Market Today Surround sound gaming headsets are an excellent way to increase the immersion of your experience. Read More is less trouble for those who demand full surround sound.  A 5.1 speaker set only makes sense for people with a dedicated computer room, entertainment room, mancave, or similar.

You also need to make sure your computer supports 5.1 audio. Most desktops do, but some older desktops and many laptops don’t. Refer to your system’s manual or, if you built your own system, check your motherboard or sound card Sound Cards: Do They Really Enhance PC Gaming? Sound Cards: Do They Really Enhance PC Gaming? That has damaged the market for sound cards, of course, but there’s still a niche of high-end cards that promise better sound quality relative to integrated alternatives. Is there any truth to this claim, or... Read More manual.

PC speaker sets that offer 7.1 sound (or greater) are rare, and for good reason. Many computers do not support anything more than 5.1 output and most games aren’t optimized for 7.1. This is not to say they won’t output to 7.1; they will, but many developers put little effort into mixing audio to properly use the extra channels, so the improvement in surround relative to 5.1 is often underwhelming.

Extra Features

You might think speakers are speakers, and for the most part, you’d be right. There aren’t a lot of extras to worry about. Audio quality is the most important trait once you’ve decided what type of system you want. Still, there are a few things you might care about.

Audio controls can vary from one system to the next. Every speaker set will have volume, of course. Those with subs usually offer bass adjustment. And expensive systems often offer bass, treble and fade. Such controls are nice to have for on-the-fly changes, but they aren’t necessary, as Windows includes audio controls that can change these settings.

pcspeakerremote

A few sets come with a remote control 3 Unique Ways To Remotely Control Your Windows Desktop 3 Unique Ways To Remotely Control Your Windows Desktop Care for a little remote desktop control magic? We present non mainstream methods for accessing your computer remotely using a Chrome extension, SSH clients, or over the air using your mobile device. Read More . This is a must-have extra if you plan to listen to music on your PC but don’t want to have to walk over to it every time you’d like to change the volume. However, most only control audio volume and balance, and won’t let you stop a song or start a new one. This is mostly useless for gamers.

Finally, buyers of 5.1 sets will want to have a look at the mounts used by the speakers. Some speakers are designed only to sit on a flat surface, which makes positioning the rear channels a huge pain. Others come with adjustable stands or hooks that make wall-mounting easier. Manufacturers usually don’t say much about this in their promotional material, so you’ll have to take a close look a product photos, look at the speakers in-store, or call the manufacturer.

Recommended Brands

audioengine

There are a lot of companies in the PC speaker business but a few do stand out.

Logitech: This company has been making PC speakers for years and remains a strong choice for folks who want a quality system at a low price. Their offers range from the $39.99 Logitech Z313 to the $320+ Logitech Z906. True audiophiles will notice that Logitech tends to over-emphasize bass, but this trait can be a positive for players who enjoy hectic shooters with lots of explosions.

Creative: Another stalwart of PC audio, Creative makes a wide range of products for people who want big sound on a budget. Their reputation is not as strong as Logitech due to occasional customer reports of shoddy build quality, but overall they still offer good value. Buyers who don’t want a subwoofer should take note of the Creative GigaWorks T40, one of the best sub-less speaker sets around.

Audioengine: This company sells its speakers as sets without a subwoofer, but a sub can be added to the system. The speakers provide amazing audio quality even without the sub. You pay for what you get, however, as even the relatively basic Audioengine A2+ sells for $249.99. Gamers who crave a balanced sound will love this brand, but those who just want big bass should stick with Logitech.

Conclusion

Here’s what you need to do; decide if you want a subwoofer, decide if you want 2.1 or 5.1, consider the extra features you may or may not need, and then go buy the best Logitech system that has what you want. Easy!

What speakers do you use, and are you happy with them? Let us know in the comments.

  1. gaurav anwardekar
    March 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

    what about ARTIS and F&D speakers? there sound is better than logitech

  2. joseywales
    March 20, 2014 at 2:32 am

    @zuperman

    Bose is shiite IMHO for what they offer for the price. It's not that they're bad speakers, it's just comparatively speaking they're no match for SOOOO many other less-known speaker companies out there. They only remain prominent because of their marketing/advertising budget. Paper cones = crap.

  3. joseywales
    March 20, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Cambridge Soundworks Extreme 2.1 for the win. They're amazing, point blank. The only comparable 2.1 system IMHO is the Edifier S730, which I haven't had the chance to audition but know they cost nearly twice as much. You're selling yourself short if you don't consider the Cambridge Soundworks Extreme 2.1.

  4. Mark
    March 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I wanted something better than computer speakers so I got an FIIO A1 amplifier.

    I connected the audio out from the PC to the FIIO, it connects to regular Bookshelf speakers and has a bulit in 2x14w amp.

    I've got it connected to a set of PSB Image B4 bookshelf speakers.

    Then I ran the Subwoofer out from the PC to a Polk Audio PSW108 10" subwoofer for some real bass.

  5. zuperman
    March 19, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    What no Bose ?

  6. Stephan K
    March 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I have a pair of TORANDO? speakers mounted above my battlestation, these are 10 + years old but they still sound pretty good. I also have a pair of MECER AT-41 speakers for watching movies and listening to music.

  7. Xenios K
    March 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Actually Logitech is crap. For really good sound check out Teufel at http://www.teufelaudio.com
    My E300 system with controller blows away anything in their price range and well above.
    Paired with their Aureol headset it becomes a personal audiophile paradise.

  8. Ashley
    March 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I have the GLA-55 Harman Speakers. They are delicious and do not require a subwoofer because they each have built in base individually. But they are at the high end of the price bracket. Superb for gaming, TV, movies, everything.

  9. Abilash A
    March 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Here's a quick guide to choose the best speakers - 8 things you should know before buying a speaker system

    http://thetechgears.com/2-1-speaker-system-buying-guide-8-things-you-should-know-before-you-buy/

  10. Jurmy C
    March 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Logitech rules, I recommended, sounds awesome!

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