Speakers are the neglected stepchildren of personal computers. Most people focus on processors, RAM, screen resolution, and hard drive capacity that forgets about sound quality. But you don’t need to be equipped with a computer speaker that integrates terrible sound. Advances in digital processing, improved Bluetooth codecs, and modern materials come together to bring great sound to your desktop. Here are five speakers that will make your ears pay attention. While these components operate color gamuts in terms of price, they all make a visual statement and — more importantly — an audio statement, too.
KEF Egg Wireless Digital Music System
You may want to nickname these people “Speaker Jerry Maguire” because they will have you when greeting. Even if you’re not a sound enthusiast, you’ll realize the superior quality of KEF’s Egg speakers right from the first note — the difference is profound. The Egg has been praised for its negative field, balance, detail, and warmth.
Among the PC speakers evaluated here, these are the only ones that make you want to look at the back of the house to see where someone parked the piano. KEF marks the system’s ability to process high-resolution audio files (24-bit/96kHz), the gold standard of better quality than even CDs that many manufacturers and studio engineers now record audio. In fact, the quality is so good that only a small number of listeners who are able to sense sound can fully enjoy it. To hear top-notch audio from Egg, you need to connect via USB and use the system’s built-in DAC (digital to analog converter).
DAC has been in place since the 1970s, but only recently has the computer’s storage capacity reached the point where storing large files related to high-resolution audio is no longer an issue. Today, the question is how to extract that data, which is where dac appears. High-resolution (or high-resolution) audio isn’t entirely orthodox yet, and there’s not much you can download these files — a representative KEF says no one has streamed them yet — but the two sites worth trying are HDTracks.com and iTrax.com.
Design & construction quality
The unique shape of the Egg has made it nicknamed, although it is similar to the rearview mirror of a car and the mask of a car. Whatever shape Egg suggests to you, its textured quality reflects its premium, sturdy ingredients. Each speaker weighs nearly 5 pounds, so the risk of accidentally spilling people is low. Each one measures 10.8 X 5.4 X 6.8 inches and has three colors: Translucent Blue, Glossy Black, and Pure White.
Eggs have KEF’s Uni-Q system (viewable, as the mesh panels are removable). The Uni-Q system places the tweeter speaker in the negative center of the mid-range driver — instead of placing it above, as in most other systems. As a result, the entire bandwidth frequency of the driver seems to appear from a point in space. KEF pioneered this very successful innovation in the 1980s and continues to use it to this day.
The 50 watt amplifier controls the speakers, dividing the power evenly between the two satellites, each consisting of a 19mm aluminum dome tweeter speaker with internal vents and a 115mm mid-range driver.
Connect & Control
The Egg is KEF’s second fork into the support speaker market, after x300A in 2013. When creating Egg, the company reduced the table area occupied by the speakers and equipped with a variety of technologies —including a variety of connectivity options —as it could into the smaller chassis.
Egg provides Bluetooth wireless connectivity, as well as USB input, 3.5 mm and optics. Wirelessly, the system uses the aptX codec, which has improved the file streaming capabilities of the Bluetooth format without reducing the sound quality.
Egg also has a port for subwoofer, although the bass is still surprising enough without it. But if you can’t live without loud sound or if you’re going to attach speakers over fiber optic cable to your TV as well as to your PC so it can double as a home studio, investing in a speaker can be worth it.
The controls of the speakers are excellent. At the right foot of the satellite are the power, volume, and power buttons. You press the power button to switch over and the color indicator gives you what source you’re using, Bluetooth, USB, optical, or AUX (optics and AUX share the same port, so you’ll have to choose one or the other at any given time, although the corresponding colors on the indicator light are different). You can access this port, located on the side, by removing a removable lid.
Comes with KEF Egg is a very cool looking remote control with eye-catching texture. You also get a fiber optic cable, speaker cable, a power block, and a USB-to-mini-USB cable. However, without a 3.5mm wire, this may be KEF’s wise way to discourage Egg owners from using that lower quality connection.
On the other side, bluetooth connectivity seems a little weaker than other wireless speakers. If you move your audio source away from the Egg, you can start to hear hiccups after about 30 to 40 feet. Also, Egg’s auto-off feature may not appeal to everyone; but KEF has a base program update that overrides this auto-off feature, in case you want to turn on your speakers.
As mentioned earlier, most users won’t feel a lack of subwoofer —a credit for how well these speakers are balanced. However, if you are a dedicated gamer and aspire to feel the tank as it rolls through the enemy’s fore end, you might consider adding a subwoofer.
Should you get KEF? They’re not cheap, at $500 on kef’s website. But for sound quality, you will hardly be able to do better than KEF Egg. These speakers were given an extremely high score of 95% by Techwalla.
Audioengine A2 + Desktop Speakers
If you’re looking for audiophile quality audio with outstanding clarity and detail, then A2+ desktop speakers from Audioengine are a great choice. They certainly pass their weight both in size and price. The sheer volume of the sound these speakers produce is incredible. They sit on your screen and fill a room.
The A2+ is built on the company’s original A2 speakers, adding a built-in USB and DAC connector. As a result, you no longer have to connect to your computer through a 3.5 mm jack input and rely on its (usually average) sound card for digital processing — meaning you can enjoy the full potential of these speakers.
Audioengine recommends burning these speakers for 20 hours or more so that the drivers have a stable chance. Playing music at regular volume levels for several days will do this. Then you will have bass that is more closely linked to other components. Placing the speakers on either side of the laptop facing straight ahead will produce the best sound field and image. But if you want to point the speakers towards your ears, Audioengine sells desktop racks just for that purpose.
Design & construction quality
The hand-polished MDF wood of the A2+ speaker and rounded edges give a striking appearance. The red and white versions have glossy finishes, while the satin black alternative version is translucent. The simple, elegant front lacks controls but includes exposed drivers and front port slots. These speakers do not require a grill, thanks to the use of sturdy materials.
The interior has a sound insulation layer and a circuit board that is mounted vertically to prevent mechanical shock. Everything is individually designed, from cabinets to toy-shaped lockers. Sound ingrown from 3/4 inch silk dome tweeter speakers with neodymium magnets and 23/4 inch Kevlar subwoofer. Powering these drivers is a dual-layer AB cymosis amplifier that provides a total power of 60 watts. Both drivers have a word shield so you can place them next to the video screen.
The active left speaker, weighing 3.55 pounds, contains most of the A2+’s devices. The speaker on the right is slightly heavier, at 3.15 pounds. Each speaker measures 6 X 4 X 51/4 inches.
Connect & Control
The connections of the A2+ (suitable for traditional speaker wires) and control buttons appear on the back of the speaker on the left. These include RCA, 3.5 mm, USB, power input, and volume. A2+ is compatible with most devices and certainly with all desktops, laptops, and laptops.
Audioengine includes all kinds of connector cables — minijack audio cables, USB cables, 6.5-foot speaker cables, power blocks, and power cords — and they are of higher quality than those that came with its predecessor, the A2. The A2+ is also elegantly packed, with speakers tucked into small fiber bags.
The main shortcoming of A2+ is the lack of wireless support. According to Audioengine, the addition of wireless will push the cost of the speaker up to 300 dollars. Audioengine offers its own proprietary wireless suit for $150.
Bass has always been a problem with small speakers, but Audioengine has done very well here. Its designers attempted to gain a decent amount of bass “without the use of digital signal processing or fake bass circuitry,” according to the label’s website. As with KEF Egg, you can connect a subwoofer, but you won’t feel the need to do so urgently.
As already noted, the controls are located on the back of the left speaker and are therefore difficult to reach. To protect the system, you probably won’t need to go back there when you first set it up. A2+ has a break mode when you turn off the computer, so you don’t have to worry about turning the speakers on and off. Volume is adjustable on the PC itself (Audioengine recommends leaving the volume knob on the speaker at 3 hours).
Audioengine A2+ is a set of desktop speakers that definitely make great sound. The product set retails for $250. Audioengine also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you buy online directly from the company’s website, showing a level of confidence that other speaker manufacturers can’t match.
Audioengine A2+ scored Onefctv 85%: “Obviously above average. There are only a few problems that make this device not the best in class.”
Harman Kardon Aura Wireless Speaker System
Bring about a boom. Harman Kardon’s Aura wireless speaker system boasts impressive bass, superior at low frequencies. In the middle and high range, it is not sneaky, bringing clear, balanced sound that immerses you in music. In fact, it immerses your apartment in music. Aura is more than just filling the room; it fills the room.
Design & construction quality
Among the speakers evaluated here, Aura won the design win. The company said it was aiming for Aura for people who “like music and art.” If you’re familiar with Harman Kardon’s Soundsticks speakers, you’ll realize that the Aura is very similar to the subwoofer part of that three-part system, having earned a place in the fixed collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, where it can match the likes of Degas and Bernal.
With Aura, Harman Kardon removed two desktop satellites from the Soundsticks system and combined all the speakers into a single unit — a polycarbonate dome atop a cloth-covered metal containing six mid to 11/2-inch high drivers and a 4 1/2-inch Subwoofer. Six drivers are placed around the stand, operating in parallel with the subwoofer, achieving what Harman Kardon advertises as multi-directional, 360-degree audio of the Aura, projecting sound in all directions, as opposed to ordinary speakers projected only in one direction. A 30 watt amplifier pushes 15 watts to the subwoofer and separates the remaining 15 watts out of the remaining six drivers.
Everything about Aura, especially design, is premium. The globe itself descends into a reflective gate to give sound waves to pass out. At the base is a coil (actually the rear end of the bass driver, facing downwards) gilded with white LEDs that add elegance in the dark.
Connect & Control
Aura offers many connection options. In the back you will find USB, AUX-in and optical ports. You can connect your PC via Bluetooth or AUX-in (a USB port for software and service updates only). If you have a TV nearby, you can connect it via the optical port. Aura is also very versatile in terms of wireless, Bluetooth support, AirPlay (streaming at 16 bits without data loss, 44,100kHz) or DLNA.
Touch controls for volume, power, and power run along a plastic strip just above the road where the fabric-wrapped base is in contact with the plastic ora ball. There are also Wi-Fi lights and headphone jacks. You can change the power by touching the power icon in half a second. The icon then changes color to show the source you’re using: Green is Wi-Fi, blue is Bluetooth, white is optical, and no color is an AUX gateway. Small convex spots help you find your way.
Unfortunately, the controls are quite difficult to see and therefore difficult to use. Adjusting the volume, switching the power, or just turning it on and off requires you to take a close look to see what you’re doing. Harman Kardon’s smartphone app doesn’t do much to mitigate the problem.
An important question to ask is: “Is Aura right for my desktop?” The answer depends on your workstation. If you have a small desk, you might be better with another system. But if you have multiple shelf settings, Aura will work fine. And if you have a TV next to your workspace, things get even better, as you can use the optical port to enhance the sound of your TV.
If you want a speaker that attracts admiration for its striking design and will fill your apartment with great sound, then look no further. Aura rated it 75% on Techwalla: “A solid product. Despite some flaws, it is still a good value.” Aura’s price has recently dropped to $350 on Harman Kardon’s website and you can find it at a much cheaper price elsewhere, making it a great value; if you can get it for less than $250, it’s a theft. You’ll have a PC speaker that can double into a TV and/or multi-room audio system, thanks to its powerful sound. And you’ll have a work of art to boot!
Creative T50 Wireless
Recently, Creative has done some interesting things with its audio devices and when it achieved success, it was not outside its laurels. T50 Wireless is a case in case. Creative used the well-received T40 Gigaworks series and added Bluetooth and NFC connectivity (near field communication) to it. Appearance is also improved. While the sound quality is basically the same as before, this doesn’t mean it’s bad: the T40 Gigaworks impressed everyone who listened when it launched.
The T50 delivers high-quality mid-sound, powerful, well-balanced sound system and a sound that is pur and pleasant. This ultimate strength makes it ideal as a PC speaker because most people on their computer are listening to a lot of talking heads — from news and entertainment clips, video tutorials, or family and friends via Skype.
Design & construction quality
The T50s is solidly built, with the 3.3-pound left satellite and the 3.6-pound right satellite. They look as if they can dominate your desktop property with too large an area, but it’s not. The speakers go up — they’re one foot tall — but not out and they fit quite well on either side of the laptop or screen.
They also look great. For the T50, Creative removed the T40 Gigaworks grille and added a unique contrasting glossy black finish with silver-rimmed tweeter speakers and mid-range drivers with gold trim. These eye-catching speakers definitely add style to a workstation.
The T50 has an MTM speaker layout (midrange- tweeter-midrange). According to the company, placing the tweeter speaker in the middle point between the two mid-range drivers allows for settings that deliver accurate audio image accuracy. Each satellite contains a 1-inch silk dome tweeter and two 21/2 inch woven fiberglass cones.
The speakers also include Creative’s BasXPort technology. A port tube that exits the top of each speaker and runs vertically down most of the length of the chassis enhances the bass without asking for a subwoofer. This design allows more air to pass through the speaker casing, loading into the chamber by a power line. As Creative engineers explain to Techwalla, “A good design would be able to enhance the lower octave input by adjusting it at lower frequencies.”
The exact size of the speaker is 12.4 X 3.6 X 7.3 inches for the left speaker and 12.4 X 3.6 X 7.7 inches for the right speaker.
Connect & Control
The controls on the T50 are well positioned. Bass, tones, and volume controls — as well as power and power buttons and a 3.5 mm headphone jack for the microphone — occupy the front of the right speaker. On the back of the right speaker is a 3.5 mm audio input, a cable plug that connects the speaker and power input. Bluetooth aptX connectivity is the best connection on any speaker rated here.
The T50 offers only a 3.5 mm jack for wired connectivity, which makes Bluetooth digital signals superior to poor minijack power. There is no built-in DAC on the T50. So while the speakers are perfectly capable of deliver high-resolution audio, you have to install a good sound card or independent DAC to enjoy the sound at that level. Creative has sold a portable audio card, Sound BlasterX G1, a 24-bit/96kHz dongle that can connect via USB.
Included with the T50 are speaker wires, power cords, 3.5mm cables, and RCA converter to 3.5mm for more connectivity options.
The most obvious negative of the T50 is the automatic shutdown feature. When not in use for 10 or 11 minutes, the speaker turns off. The inconvenience will therefore be a little less if the power button is within reach. But even so, most people do not want to have to constantly turn the speakers on and off. Sorry, Creative hasn’t released a firmware update to fix this. A mitigation factor: If you’re listening via Bluetooth, after being paired, the speaker automatically turns on when you start playing music.
An interesting feature of the T50 is that it can play simultaneously from multiple sources. For example, you can play music from your smartphone through your speakers at the same time when you hear audio from your PC.
The T50 Wireless is a solid, image-appealing 2.0 speaker system that delivers above-average sound quality. It retails for $200 but you can easily find it at a cheaper price, making it a bargain. The only downside that can cause someone to pause is the power-saving auto-interrupt feature, which is timed to work too fast compared to the tastes of most users.
Currently, there are not enough T50 ratings to deliver reliable scores. However, the T40 Gigaworks, which delivers identical sound quality, rated 78% on Techwalla: “A solid product. Despite some flaws, it is still a good value.” It is not unreasonable to argue that the T50, which has additional wireless functionality, will cost more.
Edifier Exclaim Connect e10BT
In some ways, Edifier’s Exclaim Connect e10BT is the most surprising of the speakers evaluated here. It retails for just $130, but it produces a rich sound level that you’d expect from a much more expensive speaker. The sound is crisp and clear, superior in the middle and high range, and delivers a respectable bass. The lumineers’ “Ophelia” vocals have surprising depth; and Meghan Trainor’s “Mother,” while not “All About That Bass,” delivers an interesting bang.
Design & construction quality
Exclaim Connect e10Bt’s design is both cool and handy: High sounds contain tweeter speakers that deliver high sounds at the right point in your ears. The upper part of each satellite combines two 11/2 inch midrange/tweeter speakers and an 11/2 inch X3 inch passive radiator. The base contains a 3-inch bass speaker and a 3-inch passive bass radiator. These are bi-amped speakers, so each satellite is controlled by its own amplifier, providing 16 watts for medium frequency range/tweeter speakers and 10 watts per 3 inch bass driver.
Each speaker weighs about 3.25 pounds. Although most of this weight is located in the base, the speaker is not particularly stable. If you tend to bump into your desk, that can be a problem. The size of each speaker is 4.13 X 7.08 X 12.2 inches. Their satellites are located in the corners of even a very small table. They have an unobtrusive imprint and stand out only in one good aspect — as interesting accessories make up the look for their singly design of the era.
Connect & Control
The side of the right speaker has three controls: two volume controls and a power button — the second as a power button so you can switch between wired and wireless. The only wired connection is a 3.5mm input for bluetooth-free devices. 3.5mm cable, speaker wire and power cord are included with the product set.
Exclaim Connect e10BT lacks the connectivity of more expensive rivals, which is understandable when the price is lower than itss. There are no optical inputs, USB sticks or headphone jacks. The 3.5mm input on the back is all you get. The system automatically switches to Bluetooth when you pair it with a device like your smartphone — even if it’s in wired mode.
For those who do not want to spend a lot of money on PC speakers, Exclaim Connect e10BT is a great option. For $130, you can own two great audio speakers, which have a sweet appearance that provides Bluetooth connectivity. This is the best of the speakers evaluated on this list. There aren’t enough ratings on Techwalla for a reliable score, but by reference, Exclaim Connect e10BT’s predecessor model, e10 Exclaim, with the only difference being the lack of Bluetooth, reaches 80%: “A product for sure. Despite some flaws, it is still a good value. “