In the past we’ve covered everything from the best USB mics to the best headphones for under $1000, but we’ve never done the best computer speakers. Many people spend a good part of their days sitting at a desk, and although there are plenty of Bluetooth speakers that will get the job done nothing beats the simplicity of computer speakers. After all, they’re designed for desk use.
If you want good audio while you work there’s a few different ways you can go. You can invest in a high end studio setup with all kinds of expensive added equipment, or you can go with one of the speakers below. These speakers aren’t going to give you to audio quality of some high end monitors, but some get pretty close and you probably want to keep it simple for your desk anyway. These speakers are easy to setup and still provide great sound quality. If you’ve been looking to add some sound to your work day, your search ends here.
No surprises here. The A2+ Audioengine speakers are some of the most commonly used speakers around. Not only because of their easy setup and great sound, but also because of their minimal design that matches any desk aesthetic perfectly. We’re going to focus on the A2+ here just because their smaller size is better suited for most desks, but if you have room to spare on your desk you should also check out the larger 5+ speakers. The A2+ speakers keep things fairly simple, with a compact 6” x 4” x 5.25” design. They have ¾” tweeters and 2.75” woofers on the front and that’s pretty much it. On the back is where you’ll find all of the different ways you can connect to these speakers, but the one that will get you the best quality will be USB. You can connect straight into a USB port on your computer and without any added software, play high quality music thanks to an integrated DAC. Because they plug in via USB, they can also communicate with your computer to a certain extent. For example, when you power down your computer the speakers will power down as well. The A2+ is a compact version of the larger A5+, and as such uses much of the same technology for the sound. The main difference is that, at a third of the size, Audioengine had to optimize the components for a smaller footprint. The housing is also made completely of wood which helps to give a nice tone to the sound. If you think you need a little more boom in your bass, you can connect a sub to them since they have a subwoofer output on the back. Still, these sound fine even if you choose not to have add a subwoofer. They come in the usual minimal colors like black and white, but you can also get them in red if you want to add some color to your setup. You can usually find these for around $250 and with 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, you won’t be disappointed.
M-Audio is known for their affordable production gear and accessories, but every now and then they have a product that bleeds into consumer audio. Their AV42 20-watt monitors and one such product. The pair of speakers might not have the most premium build quality in the world, but they offer a good enough sound to make up for it. Considering that the cost less than $150 for the 4-inch woofer and only about $80 for the AV32 3-inch woofer, these provide plenty of bang for your buck. they have RCA inputs for connecting to your gear and a 3.5mm output on the front so you can plug in headphones when you don’t want to disturb the neighbors.
If the A2+’s were a little too modern for your taste, take a look at the Hampden speakers by Polk Audio. These go for more of a retro design with wood panels and cream colored plastics. Unlike many other desktop speakers that sit flat on your desk unless you get a stand, the Hampdens have a built-in mechanism for keeping the sound aimed at the person sitting at the desk. The front frame of the speaker extends downwards, doubling as a stand that keeps the speaker aimed slightly up. The Hampdens are also Bluetooth compatible allowing you to connect wirelessly with any of your devices. The range is fairly standard at about 40 feet and these have a frequency range of 50 Hz - 22 kHz. Also included is the aptX codec for high quality streaming, but you can still connect in other ways as well. You have the option to plug in via a standard 3.5mm audio cable or a USB cable so you can connect directly to the computer for higher quality sound. Taking care of the low end is a pair of 4.5” cone woofers while each speaker also has a 1” silk tweeter for the highs. One interesting feature about the Polk Hampdens is that they can be used for more than just a desk if you download the accompanying DJ Stream app. The app allows you to authorize three other friends so that you can build playlists and vote on songs if you’re having a get together. At the end of the party, it even lets you know who had the most upvoted songs. Let the DJ battles begin. You can get the speaker for $249 on Amazon and with almost 200 reviews, it has a score of 4.2 out of 5 stars. The Hampdens balance a retro aesthetic with modern features. If you want a pair of computer speakers that can pull double-duty for parties, these are a great choice.
If you’re looking for something that’s slightly cooler to look at, then the BassPulse speakers by GOgroove are worth checking out. They’re not so expensive that they’re going to break the bank and they have a fairly unique design that won’t look out of place on a gamers desk. Even if you’re not a hardcore gamer, they can still add some color to your setup. It has two transparent 40mm tweeters that you can put on your desk to go along with a sub that you can place on the floor. The tweeters have small LED lights at the base that point up through the see-through plastic, so when you turn them on they glow a deep blue. The sub isn’t as dramatic, but it does have a small plastic plate on the front with some lights underneath, so it also glows a good amount. The built-in LED lights also give these a unique glow thatll pulse with your music. You can get these in a wired version as well, but you might as well opt for the slightly newer Bluetooth versions. It still has the standard 3.5mm audio cable to plug in to your computer, but it also has Bluetooth 2.1 enabling you to connect with your Bluetooth devices. You may still want to hardwire it into your computer, but portable items like phones that tend to stay in your pockets can benefit from the wireless connectivity. Another unique feature of the BassPULSE is one that it was most likely named after. If you turn up the knob on the sub that controls bass to over 80%, the lights will pulse to the beat of the music that you’re listening to. Don’t think of it as a strobe light, but instead a subtle dimming of the LED’s which is more suitable for a desk. The BassPULSE Wireless by GOgroove cost around $60 and have a 3.4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. You can also check out our full review if you want to dig a little deeper into them before making the purchase. Again, if you need something with high end sound you’re better off with one of the previous picks. But if you want something inexpensive with fairly good sound, these are worth taking a look at.
If you have a favorite pair of computer speakers make sure to let us know in the comments below. As newer and better speaker come out we’ll be sure to update this list to include them.
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