Back in the day, most people used a stereo sound system when watching movies or listening to music. Computer speakers were an afterthought, with cheap and tinny sound quality. But now, in the age of Netflix, Spotify and YouTube, our computers are powerful multimedia machines that we use to watch movies, play video games, and listen to music way more often. So if you’re still using stock speakers, it may be time to expand your musical horizons. That being said, most people don’t have an unlimited budget, so we’ll try to keep the prices reasonable.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the top PC speaker sets available for under $250. If you’re replacing a pair of $15 stock speakers or even a cheap upgrade, these options involve a jump in price, but you’ll be amazed at the jump in sound quality. We’re also going to avoid gimmicky 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems. They will clutter up your desk space, and you’ll need to spend a lot of money to make them worth your while. A set of 2.0 or 2.1 stereo speakers will get the job done perfectly well.
5. Logitech Z623
Logitech makes products at many different price points, and certainly produces some lower-quality items. However, the Logitech Z623 is a powerful speaker system that sounds surprisingly good. The system is THX-certified and includes a sub-woofer, providing up to 200 watts of power. It has a rich bass sound, and a solid soundstage. The design is nothing special, and the system is slightly lacking in higher frequencies compared to others on this list. If cost is an issue for you, this is the cheapest option listed here.
Pros: great price, good sound, THX-certified, includes sub-woofer
Cons: weak style and build quality, sound could be brighter
4. M-Audio Studiophile AV 40
These speakers have a great look, and provide a warm, rich tone, with a particular focus on high quality mid-range. If you’re using them for your computer workspace, keep in mind that they’re really big. This can work to your advantage because larger speakers provide a fuller sound, but the drawback is how much space they’ll take up on your desk. And if your workstation is in a small room, you may not be able to take full advantage of this expanded sound. The lack of a sub-woofer means that there is a slight lack of punch on the low end, although the size of the speakers does allow for quality bass. These speakers provide a great soundstage for gamers, and can also be used as low-end studio monitors.
Pros: sounds clean, warm and rich, solid build
Cons: they’re really big, lack punch on the low end due to the lack of sub-woofer
3. Harman Karman Soundsticks III
If you want your speakers to have a distinctive and unique look, these transparent polycarbonate speakers may be your best option. There’s no question they’re the coolest looking speakers on the market. But luckily, they provide equally great sound. It’s bright and full of quality bass and treble. The system uses two bar-style soundsticks on rotating stands, and includes a down-firing sub-woofer. Overall the sound is very crisp, with great high-end and strong bass. Due to the small tweeters, they are slightly lacking in the mid-range, and can get a little shrill at high volumes.
Pros: unique design, excellent sound, strong sub-woofer
Cons: average mid-range, bass volume control located on sub-woofer which can be annoying
2. Audioengine A2+
These sleek and durable studio speakers are definitely a strong contender. The system has a nice, clean look, and includes a built-in USB DAC, providing excellent volume and sound clarity, particularly in the mid and high range frequencies. The bass is pretty good overall, but still somewhat lacking due to the lack of a sub-woofer. Most people will be satisfied with the overall sound quality here, but if you’re a bass-head not willing to compromise, you’ll probably need to add a sub-woofer down the road to beef up the low-end.
Pros: audiophile quality sound, great look, internal DAC
Cons: no remote, volume and power controls on the back of a speaker, no sub-woofer
1. Klipsch ProMedia 2.1
It’s a tough decision narrowing it down to number one, and everybody has their favorite, but we’re going with these Klipsch beauties since they check off every box on our list. Klipsch is well known for producing great products at reasonable prices, although they can sometimes break down and stop working without warning. These speakers look good, and provide up to 200-watts of total output. They are THX-certified, and sound crystal clear even at high volume. A huge advantage they have over similarly priced speakers is the excellent sub-woofer. It provides a surprising bass thump to round out the bottom end of your music, and it really comes alive when watching a movie. The bass and volume knobs are located on one of the speakers, which means that you can tuck the sub under your desk and forget about it. While it may not be the very best at any particular sound range, there isn’t a noticeable weakness either. These speakers provide high-quality sound at low, mid and high-range frequencies, and also provide a great soundstage for gaming and movies.
Pros: excellent sound, even at high volume, quality sub-woofer with easy access volume control
Cons: questionable build quality, no power switch