Even though there are many other options for listening to music these days, there is a lot to be said for a set of decent speakers with the PC. After all, the built-in speakers of laptops rarely amount to much and if a monitor already has them built in, they are only good for some system noises. Which speaker sets do you need for music playback on the PC?
Nowadays, many people prefer to listen to music via a Bluetooth or WiFi streaming speaker than via the PC. You can even easily connect a Google Chromecast Audio or a more luxurious streamer from a renowned hi-fi brand to the classic amplifier. Still, it is worth placing at least somewhat good speakers near the laptop or PC. Perhaps you do not want to let every YouTube video blare through the house via multi-room WiFi speakers, if only because in 2016 you would rather not announce that you have been kicked in a rickroll. It is more obvious that your PC is in a different place in the house than your sound system. In any case, stereo PC speakers have the advantage that they produce a better stereo image than their usually mono-streaming counterparts, while they are considerably cheaper. That makes sense, because there is no extra electronics or battery present. Also read: The 12 best bluetooth speakers of the moment.
Nevertheless, we see that the quality of the PC speaker sets that we have listened to for this test is substantially less good than comparable priced models from five or ten years ago. That may seem strange, but it isn't: in absolute terms the sets cost about the same as they did back then, which means that they have become cheaper in relative terms. In addition, raw materials, transport and even labor have become more expensive in recent years. The fact that manufacturers try to keep prices low will have to do with the fact that consumers in the PC market expect only price drops and more value for the same money.
Competition is mainly based on price and the number of brands that still participate is limited. For example, Philips has also reportedly left this market recently. The focus on price has led to quite a few products of dubious quality on the market, several of which we find in this test. Fortunately, there are also good PC speakers for sale, but take into account a compromise or just invest a little more. After all, you don't buy speakers to replace them after two years.
Hercules XPS 2.1 Bass Boost
With a price of around fifty euros, these Hercules speakers are among the cheapest in the test. You can see that: the satellite speakers are made of shiny, thin plastic and weigh almost nothing. The subwoofer is in any case a bit more solid. The right speaker is attached to the subwoofer, the left one has to be plugged in separately. The audio cable of this set is also attached to the subwoofer. The placement options are therefore limited. On one of the satellites are an aux input and a headphone jack, as well as the volume and bass controls.
The sound reproduction falls short across the board, only classical parts are still somewhat acceptable. With almost everything we listen to, the balance is lost, especially because the quality of the satellites lags behind the otherwise not great subwoofer. It overdrives as soon as you really need to produce low. The satellites also start to vibrate, which is really not acceptable.
Hercules XPS 2.1 Bass Boost
Website4 Score 40
- Aux Input
- Cheap plastic
- Fixed cables
You come across the set of Trust a lot in the store. It seems like a good deal, two reasonable-feeling two-way satellites and an imposing subwoofer with a claimed power of 120 watts. The practice is different. The tweeter on the satellites turns out to be nothing but a pattern punched into the plastic, only one driver is present. The Byron is functionally identical to the cheaper, also available Tytan of the brand. Here too we find an aux input and headphones on the wired remote control. The sound is below average. Vocals sound dull, almost like hearing them underwater. There is virtually no definition, which means that individual instruments cannot be placed and the bass is uncontrolled. At higher volumes in the bass, the subwoofer will thump. For half the price we would not be enthusiastic, but at the asking price of ninety euros we can only advise against the Byron.
2 Score 20
- Aux Input
- fake tweeter
- Poor sound quality
Alternative: studio monitors
As written, the quality of many of the tested models is disappointing. This is because the manufacturers mainly try to achieve a relatively low price point. If you are really looking for something of a higher quality to listen to music on the PC, you will have to spend a little more. It is then worth listening to so-called studio monitors. Actually, these are speakers that are specially designed for a neutral sound for use in recording studios, but this name is used in practice for all kinds of active bookshelf speakers. An affordable and readily available example are the Hercules XPS 2.0 60 and 80 DJ. Certainly the 80 DJ is a great buy for about 125 euros. Those who have more to spend can choose more luxurious models that cost just over 400 euros, such as the AudioEngine A5+ or the Edifier S1000DB, with a sound quality that far exceeds the sets in this test.