What are the best/best value computer speakers going right now?
August 24, 2011 7:16 PM   Subscribe

What are the best/best value computer speakers going right now? Maybe "semi-portable" ones?

I'm looking for computer/PC speakers in the range of about $60-$150 for my laptop/iphone.

I had an old pair, the brand/make of which I can't remember now, but two things I liked about then were that they had
1. an external volume control that had an 1/8" in and 1/8" out, which could sit on my desk unobtrusively, and
2. they had a bass control separate from the volume control, good for neighbours being home/not home, night/day etc.

Something like that would be nice, except it also occurred to me that it would be nice to be able to schlep them from my living room to my kitchen and/or bedroom when I want music there, and if there were a decent quality set with which it would be easy to do that, th would be nice. This would probably mean a 2.0 instead of a 2.1, fewer cords all over the place, maybe even a combined unit thing that had both L and R in one piece of plastic (or "MDF" (?)), etc--generally, easier to unplug and plug in in another room without making me groan every time I had to do it.

One of those Apple plug-in-your-ipod speakers would probably be the most practical solution physically, but I don't think their sound quality is that great, right, compared to a regular 2.1 in the $150 range?

I guess this is a two-part question: is there a good semi-portable unit?

If not, what do you recommend for just a regular 2.1 or 2.0 in my price range? I saw http://www.klipsch.com/promedia-2-1-computer-speakers, as recommended here, which look good, and which I'm considering.

If a decent-quality "semi-portable" unit doesn't seem to exist, I'll probably just buy my ideal external-volume-and-bass control thing for the living room and buy a separate little portable Apple-type unit for the kitchen/bedroom, so recommendations for both things are welcome. Thanks.
posted by skwt to Shopping (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Altec Lansing used to be pretty reliable in the cost/performance, build-quality, and "portability" factors.

Dunno how they are now, but a mid-range 2.1 AL system I bought back in '97 has been a workhorse "portable" and still running strong - the trick is knowing where to place the subwoofer and how far to place the speakers for the size/shape of the room.

Best music delivery system in 3 lab settings, large-backpack-portable for multimedia presentations, loud enough for a 50 seat room. Been lugged around lots and mistreated.

But I have no idea how well built their current lineup is.
posted by porpoise at 8:54 PM on August 24, 2011

Have you considered a pair of small self-powered studio monitors? M-Audio makes a set for around $150, and even without a subwoofer, they move quite a bit of air.
posted by Betafae at 9:53 PM on August 24, 2011

Thanks for the answers.

What would be the benefit of "self-powered studio monitors" over "PC speakers" in the same price range? Is there a difference in what they actually are?
posted by skwt at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2011

Those Klipsch's keep coming up, and people swear by them. If I were in your shoes, I'd get them hands down.

I have a pair of maudio av30 "powered monitors". They're 3" (which sounds tiny), but get amazingly loud. However, they've got some mid-bass resonance (which basically means some lower end notes turn out loud and honky, and make music less fun). So I don't consider them very monitor-y.

So the AV30's are good, better than most computer speakers, but not great. My logitech z5500's are fun too, but they're much more expensive (~$300 or more now?) and are not great for more accurate-ish music listening - they're better for movies & loud effects.

I love the *idea* of powered monitors for my computer. But good monitors seem to take money (400-500 to start for a pair), and I feel like most of the lower-priced "monitors" won't really be monitors anyway. In that case, just get a set of 2-way 6.5" bookshelf speakers and a T-class chip amp from parts express, and do some EQ tweaking in your audio player (or a cheap passive hardware EQ). I'm guessing that would sound better than most other options at nearly double the price.

| think you need to examine your listening habits. Having a great-quality sound system in a portable form that you can use for near-field PC listening, phone music, living room, etc sounds good, but it also puts a lot of restraints on your selection - and most likely will mean a more expensive set, or other compromises. It might be easier to get a $100 set of nice speakers for your primary listening spot, and a $50 decent portable set for anywhere else. Then you can get both great quality most of the time, and portability when you need it.

So go with the klipsch's. I'm guessing those will be small, look good, sound great for music or low-end heavy boomy sound effects, and you will be liked by internet speaker recommenders everywhere. Then get a small portable fun speaker to bring around. Bask in the awesomeness of good music.
posted by jumpfroggy at 12:11 AM on August 27, 2011

Thanks jumpfroggy.
posted by skwt at 7:15 PM on August 28, 2011

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