What speakers should I get for my computer?
Computer speakers come in a few different types. You can get a 1-piece speaker system, which help to add convenience and portability to your sound system, and are often compatible with mobile devices, such as iPhones and Android smartphones, through Bluetooth, but most have a 3.5mm auxiliary port as well. Single piece speakers are usually battery powered, though some have rechargeable batteries and even the ability to use a power cord.
2-piece speakers for computers include a pair of satellite speakers that support stereo audio, one for left and one for right, usually one of which holds controls for power and volume. Two piece speakers are most often only compatible with a 3.5mm audio jack, and are usually powered through wall plug, though some may use USB ports or have the option to use batteries as well. Some models of two piece speakers may use the USB port for audio.
2.1 channel speakers, or 3-piece speakers, have a stereo satellite speakers along with a dedicated sub-woofer. These are able to provide a more robust audio experience with stronger bass thanks to the sub-woofer. These are usually 3.5mm audio jack compatible, and the sub-woofer at least will most likely be powered through through a wall plug as they require more power. Some other audio connection possibilities for 2.1 systems are RCA plugs, or even speaker wire, in which you might need banana plugs to install your speakers. Make sure to check on your computers compatibility with RCA, speaker cable and banana plugs as you may need to install a compatible sound card to support these types of connections.
For bookshelf and wall mounted speaker systems, or home theater speaker systems, you'll likely need to have compatibility with banana plugs, but you may be able to install speakers using RCA audio plugs as well. Home theater speakers are able to provide a true surround sound experience by through the use of four or more satellite speakers and a dedicated sub-woofer. With this kind of sound system, you'll get to hear every word and noise come from the appropriate direction in respect to what's happening on the screen. Audio technologies, including Dolby Digital and DTS, help to provide the best home theater surround sound experiences.
What is the difference between computer speakers and home theater speakers?
The line between computer speakers for PC use and home theater speakers for living room / man cave use is blurring as more and more people integrate their PCs into their home entertainment setups. At the most basic physical level, computer speakers tend to use a different interface vs theater speakers. Usually computer speakers will connect via 3.5mm or USB, while theater speakers will use spliced speaker wire, RCA, COAX, Optical, or a proprietary connector type. Another major difference is that computer speakers tend to be optimized for short-range use while theater speakers are better optimized to fill a larger area (like a living room). The reason for this being that when you're using your computer there's a very high liklihood you're sitting a few feet away from your front satellites while when you're watching TV in your theater you may be much further away (sitting on your couch).
What type of speakers do I want to buy?
Computer speakers are often thought to be a cheaper or lower end form of your home theater or 'living room' speakers. That doesn't have to be the case! They make computer speakers to meet every size, shape, and audio need. And as computers become more and more important in the home entertainment realm, getting a good pair of speakers for your laptop or desktop have never been so important. Although cheap computer speakers do not offer outstanding audio quality, they do give you what you'll need for basic general use. For PC games or music, however, you can go with a high fidelity set that is either compact/mini with great sound quality or go for a larger surround sound system for the true high definition audio experience. A good PC surround sound system will have a center speaker, satellite speakers, and subwoofer - just like your home theater set.
Combined with a good sound card in your system, an equivalent computer speakers set is the best way to enhance the audio performance of your PC. This is especially true if you're a gamer or work with audio files. Now that most of us turn to the web for things like watching movies or internet radio (Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, etc.) there has never been more of a need to get a good pair of PC speakers.
Basic Computer Speakers - 2 Channel
A basic computer speaker set will have 2 channels and connect to your PC. Most low-end desktop computers come with a basic set of speakers right out of the box. Being 2-channels, these speakers provide stereo sound and are good for basic applications where you just want to hear something - but without a subwoofer and without any additional channels these are not recommended for gamers or audiophiles.
Speakers for Gamers - 2.1 Channel
For gamers you're going to need at least a subwoofer to truly feel the impact of the games you play. A good quality 2.1 channel pc speakers set will have the left/right channel satellites like the speakers above, but will also come bundled with a subwoofer that takes you to a whole new level of bass performance. Gamers want quality and without a sub your sound will never get there. So going to a larger, more powerful 2.1 channel model is highly recommended.
Ultra Portable Speakers
Now that people are on the go and devices are getting smaller and smaller, a new class of compact speaker boxes or mini speakers has hit the market. These ultra portable speaker sets offer surprisingly good audio quality for the size. They are also great in public places where you don't want to blast your sound - but rather, focus it directly on you.
Movie Computer Speakers
For the true movie watcher, we recommend plugging your computer up into a 5.1 channel speaker set or connecting it directly to your standard home theater receiver and equipment. While computer speakers have traditionally been capped in terms of power and price, there is no limit to what you can do when you get to home theater class speakers. So when the PC speaker class is not enough - don't worry, you can always hook your system up to your receiver!
What does 2.1 channel mean?
The number 2.1 simply indicates how many total speakers are part of the kit. So in the case of 2.1 you break that up as 2 satellite speakers (these are the left/right channel speakers) and the .1 (point-one) indicates that there is 1 subwoofer in the kit.
Why get 2 piece speakers?
What is a 5.1 channel speaker set?
2 piece speakers are often more affordable than larger speaker sets, and are able to provide a great audio experience as well. Two piece speakers are especially handy if you just need a decent set of speakers to get audio from your PC. There are, however, some very nice sets of premium 2-piece speakers that deliver incredible audio and will make your desktop system sound like a great entertainment system as well.
How do I connect two piece speakers to my PC?
The satellite speakers are usually connect to each other through a cable, and will have one 3.5mm audio jack to connect to your computer. For power, most standard sets of computer audio speakers use a wall plug, but some models require less power and will plug into a USB port. A few 2-piece speaker sets will combine the audio and power into one USB connection, often for portability. These smaller USB speaker sets are perfect for use with laptops.
These speaker sets include 6 overall speakers. Usually this includes 2 front, 2 rear, a center channel, and a subwoofer. These sets are really popular with gamers - like the Logitech z680 and others.