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Every computer comes with built-in speakers, but to really experience your music, movies and games (and to turn the volume up), you’ll want to upgrade to a set of computer speakers.
While your monitor’s built-in speakers may work just fine, they won’t deliver the same premium audio experience as a pair of dedicated external speakers. Computer audio is often muddled and flat, and if we’re being honest, often an afterthought; manufacturers are mostly designing computers around their screen and image capabilities rather than their sound. What’s more, both desktop computers and laptops are getting slimmer and slimmer these days, so there physically isn’t any room to install decent-sized drivers in the units.
The best desktop computer speakers amplify the audio coming from your computer’s sound card, and are often designed for gaming and movies. While studio monitors will get you flat, natural sound, computer speakers are designed to enhance the bass, soundtrack and special effects to let you hear every note and drum beat from your songs, and every detail and from your favorite movies and games. You’re able to turn the volume up way louder too.
When buying computer speakers, think about the amount of space you have, the type of connection you want and the sound quality you’re looking for. All of the picks on our list fit comfortably on a desk, though some are more portable (and re-positionable) than others.
Computer speakers have an internal amplifier and will need to be plugged in to a power source. Most work with an AC adapter but some can be charged via USB as well, coming in handy if your computer setup has already taken up all the outlets on the wall. All of the speakers on our list come with a 3.5 mm jack that you then stick into the “audio out” port on your computer (similar to where you’d plug in a pair of headphones). Because you’re connected through a cable, sound is typically more consistent and reliable than trying to pair your computer to a set of speakers via Bluetooth (where the signal could drop off or not connect at all).
As for sound quality, any pair of desktop speakers will already be better than the cheap drivers built into your computer. Consider a sound bar if you’re demanding more bass, and order a set of larger computer speakers to get more swirling, room-filling sound. If you’re looking for more natural, unfiltered sound, you’ll want to look into studio speakers. Bookshelf speakers, meantime, have larger drivers and deliver more detailed highs and mids but you’ll need an amp or receiver to connect the speakers to your computer.
And while people love to plug their headphones into their laptop for more immersive listening, you can plug your headphones into many of the speakers on our list as well, giving you an immersive and improved audio experience.
We’ve rounded up the best computer speakers in terms of accessibility, portability, ease of setup, and full, loud and accurate sound.
1. Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers
Get Bose’s renowned audio performance and reliability with these multimedia speakers, which are great for gaming, music, movies and more.
These elegant speakers deliver clear, wide-reaching sound that stays consistent and won’t drop out. Bose says their “TrueSpace stereo digital processing circuitry” creates more spacious and lifelike sound, making your gameplay more realistic.
Compared to your computer speakers, the Bose Companion 2 Series opens up a wider soundstage with more detailed levels. Users say bass is surprisingly strong, great to enhance the rip and rumble of your games.
An auxiliary input lets you easily connect another device, and there is a headphone jack for when you want a more immersive experience — or when it’s late and you need to keep the noise contained to not wake up the neighbors.
PROS: Reliable, loud sound with no feedback or distortion — even at high volume levels.
CONS: Speakers take a bit of time to break in and you might experience some muffled or “flatter” audio at first.
2. Logitech 3.5mm Jack Compact Laptop Speakers
Whether you’re watching a movie, gaming or just falling into a YouTube wormhole, these Logitech Compact Laptop Speakers are an easy and accessible way to boost your audio.
Set up is super easy – just connect the speakers to your laptop with a standard 3.5 mm plug and you’re good to go. Each speaker measures approximately 9 x 6 inches and weighs just over a pound, making them easy to move around.
You get five watts of power per speaker, enough to make them a step up from your standard computer speakers.
PROS: Lots of value for the price point, handsome aesthetic blends easily with any desk decor.
CONS: Sound won’t be as vibrant or rich as other models on this list and bass won’t be as deep or distinct.
3. VIPEX Bluetooth 5.0 PC Speakers and Sound Bar
A sound bar is typically used as part of a home audio or theater setup, but the best compact sound bars also work well with your computer.
The VIPEX Desktop Computer Speaker features dual 5W sound drivers that project surprisingly loud and full sound. It won’t get the same amount of bass as a sound bar with a subwoofer, but users say there is still a clear distinction between highs and lows, with decent rumbling on the lower end. That makes it great to enhance in-game sound effects, and great for movie nights too.
Pair it with your laptop, TV, phone or tablet via Bluetooth or AUX connectivity. Place the sound bar on a table or mount it to a wall.
This set includes the VIPEX sound bar, an AC adapter, 3.5 mm audio cable, RCA jack and a user guide.
PROS: Durable, rugged construction; sound bar can be used not only for your computer, but for your TV as well.
CONS: If you’re looking for full, booming bass, you’ll want to consider a larger sound bar with a subwoofer.
4. Creative Pebble 2.0 USB-Powered Desktop Speakers
Inspired by a Japanese rock garden, these Creative Pebble Speakers are sleek and practical, delivering sweet, nuanced sound through chic, orb-shaped domes.
What we like: the raised, 45° sound stage enables your sound to be projected up towards you, rather than straight ahead. Adjust where the speakers sit on your desk to direct the audio to your liking.
The speakers measure just 4.4 inches wide and weigh just over a pound, making them super portable. A weighted base helps them rest securely on your desk.
Connect the speakers to a USB drive to power up; use a 3.5mm jack to connect to an audio source (I.e. your laptop or phone) to get the music going.
PROS: Chic, contemporary styling and decent sound for its size.
CONS: Sound won’t be as loud or far-reaching as larger, more dynamic models on our list.