Make Your Computer Sing: The 10 Best Desktop Speakers

When it comes to the audio that comes out of a desktop computer, many people are content to use the simple, basic speakers that come with their machine. They plug in these cheap parodies that no true fan of music or high def audio would ever allow in their home and they call it a day.

If all you want is a little weak noise to dribble out of your computer, then factory speakers might be enough, but if you want your music to blast, your games to hit you with all their audio glory, and the movies you stream to rattle your teeth and maybe even cause a loss of bladder control, then you need our guide to the 10 best desktop speakers to round out your computer’s audio system.

Edifier Exclaim Bi-Amped 2 0 Speaker System

Edifier Exclaim Bi-Amped 2.0 Speaker System

These are one of the few 2.0 channel systems that are worthy of making this list. The Exclaim is best suited to college dorm rooms, home offices, and fleshing out a basic desktop setup. They give good mid and high range sound that is deep and complex without just throwing a lot of wattage around. These won’t make you the envy of all your friends, but they will give you simple, expressive audio that won’t wake the baby. For $70 you’ll never regret replacing your factory speakers with these slim, minimalist noisemakers. [Purchase]

Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II

Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II

Another in the line of exceptional 2.0 channel options, the T20’s have managed to leverage the power of BasXPort technology to give solid bass without needing to add a sub. The 28 watts they use is more than enough to minimize distortion even at high volume. If you’re looking for simple speakers that you can really push sound out of it, then GigaWorks will give you the most raw bang for your buck. $85 is all it takes to bring these bad boys home. [Purchase]

Bose Companion 2 Series III

Bose Companion 2 Series III

A Bose set of speakers for only $100? The rumors are true, the Companion 2 series are the true desktop speakers you’ve heard about. They don’t come with a subwoofer, so they won’t magically transform your computer into a sound studio, but what they will do is give you that sweet Bose quality sound without draining your bank account. While they aren’t as artistic as some choices, and won’t make you feel like Queen is right there in your computer, they give you quality with limited space. They also offer a simple, classic design that features an input that allows you to expand on them if you want to. These are a bargain not to be missed. [Purchase]

M-Audio AV-40

M-Audio AV-40

The AV-40 speaker set is ideal for addition to a bookshelf system, but they work just as effectively on a desktop. They shine by being great for not only use with a computer but their various interfaces allow them to be attached to a mixer, an existing amplifier, a game console, or even a phonograph if you are one of the truly old school audiophiles out there. Plugging them in, it becomes clear that they are intended for electronic music and anyone who aspires to be an armchair DJ. That isn’t to say they won’t work with every kind of sound from spoken word to screaming thrash metal. They bring extensive power for only $120. Kind to your ears and your budget. [Purchase]

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III

Harman Kardon Soundsticks III

No, you aren’t having an acid flashback to the time that you were convinced that your lavalamp was picking up alien signals. The Soundsticks from Kardon just look like something that came out of Logan’s Run or a 50’s pulp sci-fi comic. Though they certainly have a weird design, there is nothing strange about the incredible sound they produce. The tiny speakers give you highs right where you need it while the 2.1 channel sub with 20-watt amplifier can make your music bump. Best of all, when you have speakers that look this artistic, no one will mock you for wearing a beret all the time or speaking with a fake french accent. Even the $150 price tag is stylish. [Purchase]

Altec Lansing MX6021 2 1 Expressionist Ultra

Altec Lansing MX6021 2.1 Expressionist Ultra

Altec has managed to make their component systems jam a lot of power into a relatively small space. The subwoofer can throw noise like a champ while the midrange driver and the neodymium tweeter will give anyone very crisp sound as they get closer to the computer. The industrial look adds a sense of post-modern style and uses the 200 watts effectively to push power in an elegant way. The Expressionist is the perfect $190 bridge between high-end consumer options and those of full professional grade. [Purchase]

Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500

Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500

As the name suggests, Corsair wasn’t trying to make desktop speakers that would necessarily let you hear the kettledrums of Swan Lake or have your ears split by the opening of Crazy Train. What they will allow you to do is hear every headshot in Call of Duty and every insult being thrown around by your guild’s tank in World of Warcraft. This system is what the professional gamers use when they are out there slaughtering n00bs. Make no mistake, they pump 232 Watts of continuous power so if you really want to get great music to keep you company during a 72 hour game binge, these can do it, but mostly they are intended for the digital gaming environment. At $230 only the hardcore need apply. [Purchase]

Edifier Spinnaker

Edifier Spinnaker

The Spinnaker series will give nightmares to anyone that ever found themselves in a bull fight. They are aimed at the person that wants versatility coupled with a very modern look. The speakers can work wired or wireless and have an optional optical interface for anyone looking to upgrade down the line. They are easily the most esoteric of all the speakers on this list. The design seems to be very polarizing meaning you will either love the Spinnakers instantly or hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. Very good for maximizing and circulating sound throughout a room, but definitely not for everyone. They will give you the most interesting sound quality for $240, but you should try before you buy. [Purchase]

Audioengine 5

Audioengine 5+

The 5+ seems expensive at $400 but the sound quality they produce can rival anything on the market that costs a cool grand or more. They don’t have a dedicated subwoofer like many expensive desktop systems, but with the 50-watt power amp they are pushing, you won’t miss it. They aren’t unique or stylistic, but what they lack in design they more than make up in sound quality. The 2.1 channel system will give you rich, deep sound that is surprisingly layered for a pair of computer speakers. They’re especially good if you do your own mixing or audio work from home and need professional quality. [Purchase]

Paradigm Millenia CT

Paradigm MilleniaOne CT

We know that most people don’t have $1,200 bucks lying around to spend on speakers, but no list of the true top-of-the-line list would be complete without including the MilleniaOne CT. They are a component system that includes a 2.1-channel subwoofer that can hit deep lows that will have your neighbors banging on your door while the small 4-inch mid-range and 1-inch tweeters can also make Mozart’s Magic Flute truly come alive. They’re expensive, but they are also the last computer speakers you will likely ever need, no matter what your listening habits are. [Purchase]

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