• Audioengine A2+

  • Logitech Z407

  • How We Tested

  • What to Know About Computer Speakers

  • Other Computer Speakers We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Computer Speakers of 2021

  1. Best Overall

    Audioengine A2+

    Pros

    • Rich sound across sources

    • Elegant design

    • Versatile connectivity

    Cons

    • No remote

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Logitech Z407

    Pros

    • Good sound

    • Versatile design

    • Strong bass

    Cons

    • No surround sound

    • Short cables

    • Strange remote

    Skip to the full review below
Audioengine A2+
Credit: Reviewed.com/Simon Hill
Best Overall
Audioengine A2+

They may be small, but the Audioengine A2+ speakers feel reassuringly solid and well-made. The elegant design and matte satin black finish blend in easily on any desktop, or you can opt to stand out with a glossy red or white exterior. The left speaker has a volume dial that also clicks on the power and there’s a pairing button for Bluetooth connections, but no remote is included. There’s no separate subwoofer, either, though there is an output should you want to add one. The cabling is good quality and generous enough to allow for a sit-stand desk.

We were instantly blown away by the power and punch of these speakers. Tested second to last, the jump in class was immediately obvious. Strong stereo separation makes for good positional sound in games. Voices come through loud and clear, whether it’s in-game chat, a movie, or a video call. But it’s with music that the Audioengine A2+ shows their quality and superiority.

There’s a real depth and accuracy to the sound with a rich clarity from low mids through to the higher registers. They may lack a little extra depth in the bass, but they produce a finely balanced and impactful sound, and you always have the option of adding a subwoofer. There’s also no digital signal processing (DSP) here, which can dampen things and is present on most of the other speakers on our list.

Connectivity is versatile with USB, dual analog inputs, and support for Bluetooth 5.0. It’s quick and easy to connect wirelessly and support for aptX and AAC codecs (a rarity in PC speakers) ensures high-quality audio when streaming.

There are no superfluous extras; the Audioengine A2+ focus on delivering excellent sound in a compact, unfussy package that’s perfectly sized for the desktop. The only obvious omission is a remote control, but that won’t trouble most people. One issue we did encounter was a major jump in volume when switching between sources, so that’s something to watch out for.

Ultimately, the Audioengine A2+ are the best compact PC speakers we’ve tested and produce the highest quality sound regardless of the source. What else could you ask for?

Pros

  • Rich sound across sources

  • Elegant design

  • Versatile connectivity

Cons

  • No remote

Logitech Z407
Credit: Reviewed.com/Simon Hill
Best Value
Logitech Z407

This attractively-priced 2.1 speaker system comprises a pair of capsule-shaped satellite speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers are plastic, but they look quite good and can be propped vertically or horizontally on your desk, so they should fit most spaces easily. The boxy subwoofer will likely sit on the floor, but sadly the cabling is too short to comfortably use with a sit-stand desk.

There are no physical controls on the speakers, but there’s an unusual dial remote instead. It’s like a big wireless volume knob that you can also tap to play or pause, and skip forward or back through tracks. It takes two supplied AAA batteries and some time to get used to.

While the subwoofer provides a good thump of bass it stops short of that deep rumble in your gut. The mids are reasonably rich and the treble is crisp, though there’s a lack of definition at times. The audio quality of any content suffers at higher volumes with some distortion creeping in, but considering the price, the Z407 produce an impressively well-balanced sound. There’s no virtual surround sound mode which limits positional sense in gaming, and you don’t get that visceral bass from explosions that take immersion to the next level.

Connectivity is decent with a Micro USB port, a 3.5mm aux port, and support for Bluetooth 4.1. You tap a button under the remote to connect to Bluetooth and it’s easy to pair a phone or a laptop. You will want to opt for a wired connection if you can because there’s limited codec support which means limited bitrate and consequently limited sound quality when streaming. The SBC codec is comparable to CD quality.

For all their weaknesses, the Logitech Z407 offer astoundingly good value for the money and pack in all the features you’re likely to want in a basic set of PC speakers. If you’re using a monitor speaker or an old set of mini speakers, this system is a significant upgrade in terms of sound quality and volume. If you want better computer speakers, you’ll have to save up because we can’t find any at this price.

Pros

  • Good sound

  • Versatile design

  • Strong bass

Cons

  • No surround sound

  • Short cables

  • Strange remote

Related content

How We Tested

The Tester

Hey, I’m Simon Hill, a freelance technology journalist with more than a decade of writing experience covering consumer technology. I spend hours every day at my PC for work and play. I prefer not to wear headphones all the time, so a great set of PC speakers is important to me. I have frequent meetings, listen to music, watch TV shows and movies, and spend long hours gaming, so I need speakers that can graciously handle a variety of tasks.

The Tests

All of the PC speakers in our guide have been through an in-depth set of tests. Our ranking system incorporates things like the ease of setup, the design and cabling, the connectivity options, the ease of pairing (where relevant), and the on-speaker and remote controls. Most importantly all the computer speakers are thoroughly tested for sound quality using a varied playlist of music, movies, and TV shows. We play a variety of games paying special attention to positional sound, dialogue clarity, and special effects. We also test the speakers out with both in-game chat and audio or video calls.

Beyond core functionality and audio quality, we delve into any special features on offer. We also consider aesthetics, build quality and design, and price relative to performance. Every set of computer speakers is extensively scored using a weighted rubric, so we can arrive at our final ranking.

What to Know About Computer Speakers

There’s nothing to separate PC speakers from most regular powered speakers, but there are a few important things to consider before you buy.

Sound

You’ll, of course, always want to shoot for the best sound quality that your budget affords, though that can be tricky to work out. Consider what you’ll primarily be using the speakers for and make sure they offer the balance of deep bass, rich treble, and clear vocals you crave. Location is important, too, as a booming subwoofer or very loud maximum volume might not be a good idea in a small apartment or shared space.

Design and Cables

The size and design of your chosen PC speakers are important if you want to ensure they fit in with your setup. Some speakers are simply too large for the average computer desk. If you go with a subwoofer or surround sound system, think about the practicalities of cabling.

Connectivity

Most PC speakers plug directly into the back of your computer, but there are many different connection types, and some speakers support wireless connectivity, too. Check what your soundcard supports before you buy. The combination of a wired connection for your computer and a Bluetooth connection for your phone or laptop can be very handy.

Price

Audiophiles can spend as much as they like in the pursuit of better sound, but we figure most people will have a limited budget for computer speakers. The speakers we test generally range from under $100 to around $300, with most falling on the lower end of that range.


Other Computer Speakers We Tested

Logitech G560 Lightsync

This 2.1 speaker system is part of Logitech’s G range designed specifically for gamers. The G560 Lightsync consists of a large subwoofer with two satellite speakers for your desktop. These compact round speakers have a curved loop that aids stability and also provides a canvas for the RGB lighting inside. Controls for volume, power, and Bluetooth can be found on the right speaker and there’s even a programmable button on top that cycles the lighting effects by default. There’s enough length in the cabling to have the subwoofer under a standing desk and the satellite speakers on top.

The Logitech G560 Lightsync’s sound signature is heavy on the bass out of the box, but you can use Logitech’s software to tweak the equalizer and choose from various presets. Playing music there’s an occasional lack of clarity and definition, but these are primarily designed for gaming. Positional sense is strong, voices are clear, and the rumble of explosions or approaching monsters can be felt in your gut. The DTS:X Ultra virtual surround sound does a decent job of emulating a 7.1 setup and it’s well worth turning on for movies and certain games.

Lighting is a big selling point here. The satellite speakers look great on the desk and project splashes of colored light onto the wall behind them. Each speaker has two lighting zones, and you can use Logitech’s software to change the colors and choose from a range of preset effects. You can also have them react to on-screen action and match colors, which adds to the immersion when it works, but is sometimes distracting.

To get the best from the Logitech G560 Lightsync you must plug in via USB, but there’s also a 3.5mm aux port and support for Bluetooth, though sadly it’s the older 4.1 standard. The Bluetooth button makes it quick and easy to connect your phone, but the sound quality isn’t anywhere near as good as through the USB connection. One other issue we encountered during testing was a sudden jump when adjusting volume, which was unpleasantly jarring, though it has only happened once so far.

Ultimately, the Logitech G560 Lightsync is the best choice for gamers, especially if you love lighting effects and already have other Logitech peripherals. While they’re passable for music and can get extremely loud, audiophiles can find better at this price. If games and movies come first, the Logitech G560 Lightsync should be on your shopping list.

Pros

  • Rich sound

  • RGB lighting

  • DTS virtual surround

Cons

  • Jarring volume controls

  • Not the best for music

Edifier Bookshelf R1280DB

Available in black or with a classic wood grain finish, these heavy, bulky bookshelf speakers offer an impressive range of features, strong connectivity, and excellent sound quality. These are stereo speakers with no subwoofer included here, though there is an output to add one if you want to. Dials on the right speaker’s right side control volume, treble, and bass. You also get a handy, compact remote control in the box. There’s a permanently attached power cable on the right speaker and plenty of lengthy cabling to attach the two. They proved too big to fit on a multi-monitor desktop, so check your space before you opt for these speakers.

A wide variety of music sounds fantastic on the Edifier Bookshelf R1280DB speakers and they offer impressive depth and real warmth. It’s easy to pick out individual instruments and voices are very clear. You can tune the sound to your preference, but the bass is limited. You won’t get that low rumble that a subwoofer can provide, which is missed most when gaming or watching movies. There’s also no virtual surround sound feature, though the positional sound is surprisingly good when gaming.

It’s important to connect using the RCA or optical input for best results. There’s support for the newer Bluetooth 5.0, which is swift, easy to connect to, and reliable, but the sound quality isn’t as strong when you connect wirelessly. All-in-all these speakers offer good value with enough features and strong enough performance to please most people. If you’ve been living with a tiny and tinny pair of speakers, the Edifier Bookshelf R1280DBs will feel like a major upgrade.

Pros

  • Clear, warm sound

  • Versatile inputs

  • Lots of features

Cons

  • Large

  • Dull design

Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3

Featuring a stunning design with a rounded glass top over a rubbery soundwave base that lights up white, the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 is bordering on art. As good as it looks, this 360-degree, basketball-sized speaker isn’t a very practical choice for most desktops. A disappointingly short power cable plugs into the back and there’s a standard aux port, but this is primarily intended to be a Bluetooth speaker. The simple controls are around the base, with volume and lighting easily accessible at the front, while the power and Bluetooth buttons are a little harder to reach around the back.

The Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 boasts impressive clarity and a wide soundstage. It fills a room easily and blasts sound in every direction, but this kind of design would likely work best on a coffee table rather than tucked behind a monitor on a desk. The other issue with placement is that the bottom-firing subwoofer vibrates the surface it’s set upon. While voices are distinct and you can pick out individual instruments in music and sound effects in games, the positioning is less clear, and we struggled to find the best location for this speaker.

Earlier versions of this speaker had more options, but the Aura Studio 3 is limited to a 3.5mm port or Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity (we can’t help feeling that maybe it should have the newer Bluetooth 5.0 at this price). On the plus side, it’s quick and easy to connect with a PC, laptop, or phone and the connection is very stable. Ultimately, if you’re looking for something impossibly stylish to beef up your laptop sound and sometimes play music from your phone, the Harman Kardon Aura Studio 3 could be for you, but it doesn’t fit well with a desktop PC.

Pros

  • Stunning design

  • Balanced sound

  • All-in-one

Cons

  • No remote

  • Limited connectivity

  • Not good for desktop

Logitech Z906

If you want a true surround sound experience without breaking the bank, the Logitech Z906 is a 5.1 system that’s sure to catch your eye. The speakers are reassuringly heavy, with a durable feel, and the subwoofer is enormous. The five satellite speakers are identical, with the center speaker simply turned on its side; all are angled upwards to make the most of the sound.

There’s also a simple remote control and a separate control unit with orange LEDs to show the input and which speakers are currently active. Regular thin speaker cables are provided, but you’ll want to plan placement carefully for the best results. Even though the satellite speakers are fairly compact this system claims a lot of desk space because you have the left, right, and center speakers, and the control unit. The speakers are fairly nondescript, but the control unit is ugly.

As you’d expect of a system this powerful with such a large subwoofer, the bass is deep and delivers a rumble you can feel coming up through the soles of your feet and into your gut. That powerful bass enhances action movies and games, though you’ll want to turn it down for music. There’s good separation of instruments and voices come through even in noisy scenes. The only way you’ll get a better positional sense in a game is by wearing headphones.

There’s also a 3D mode that converts two-channel stereo to surround and works quite well. But as much as we love the Z906 for movies and gaming, it can’t match some of the other systems we’ve tested for music. Even after extensive fiddling around with settings, it’s hard to get a balanced sound because the bass dominates, and the treble lacks a bit of punch.

There are plenty of input options with the Z906, but also some strange omissions for a system like this. You’ve got 3.5mm, RCA, six-channel direct, digital coaxial, or optical, but there’s no HDMI or USB and no support for Bluetooth. It’s worth mentioning that Logitech does sell a Bluetooth receiver separately, so you could always add Bluetooth support. This system is THX-certified and supports Dolby Digital and DTS, though it stops short of HD formats. Ultimately, if you’re seeking a surround sound alternative to headphones and you have understanding neighbors the Z906 truly enhances immersion for gaming and movies.

Pros

  • Surround sound

  • THX certification

  • Powerful bass

Cons

  • No Bluetooth

  • Underwhelming for music

Creative Stage V2

This modestly sized soundbar is finished in glossy black, which looks slick but immediately attracts dust. It’s a good size for most desktops and proved easier to accommodate than some speakers. An LED under the grille in the center lights up to display the connection and volume level. The Creative Stage V2 comes with a large separate subwoofer, but the relatively short cable makes it unsuitable for use with a sit-stand desk. You can find power, volume, and Bluetooth controls on the right edge and there’s also a good remote control in the box.

The Creative Stage V2 nails the rumbling bass you want for action movies and games, but there’s sometimes a lack of definition and clarity when playing music. It can sound a little muddy, though you can tweak the bass and treble. We appreciated the Clear Dialog option for bringing clarity to voices. The Surround mode cranks up the bass and general impact for added excitement. This soundbar struggles to fill a large room and sounds best when you’re around three feet away, which makes it a good choice for the computer.

Connectivity is excellent with HDMI ARC, optical, USB, Aux, and support for Bluetooth 5.0. It’s quick and easy to connect to your phone via Bluetooth and stability is good, but there’s no AAC or aptX codec support, so music quality suffers slightly. Ultimately, the Creative Stage V2 is an affordable choice if movies and games are your priority and a soundbar is a good fit for your desktop.

Pros

  • Lots of features

  • Clear dialogue

Cons

  • Glossy black plastic

  • Short cable

Creative SBS E2900

With a distinctive look that blends matte and glossy black with splashes of white in the drivers, the Creative SBS E2900 makes an impact. It comprises two smallish satellite speakers that are perfect for the desktop and a larger subwoofer that houses the controls and volume dial. Turn it on and an LED lights up the subwoofer driver in blue, with a small orange display below to show source and volume. There’s no RGB or fancy syncing here, but you can change the color manually using the basic remote control.

The Creative SBS E2900 is a bass-heavy speaker system with a surprisingly powerful subwoofer. It sounds reasonably good most of the time, but you do have to tweak the tuning controls to get the best from it. Music can be a little tinny and lacking in definition at times, but that’s reflected in the relatively low price. Dialogue in movies, games, and voice calls sounds loud and clear. The bass rumble is appreciated for explosions in games, but accurate sound positioning is lacking.

This 2.1 speaker system has an impressive, if slightly odd, range of features. There’s a standard auxiliary 3.5mm jack, but there’s also FM radio support, USB drive and SD card ports, and support for Bluetooth 5.0. Sadly, there are no PC USB or optical input options. It’s easy to connect your phone via Bluetooth and switch back and forth between wired and wireless connections. The cables to the speakers are annoyingly short, which limits your placement options and means it won’t work well with a sit-stand desk.
There were no stability issues with the subwoofer under the desk, though the SBS E2900 lacks support for aptX and AAC codecs, which limits the quality somewhat.

Pros

  • LED lighting

  • Loads of features

Cons

  • Short cables

  • Overpowering bass

Meet the tester

Simon Hill

Simon Hill

Contributor

@IamSimonHill

Simon Hill is a freelance technology journalist with a decade of writing experience covering everything from smartphones to smart home gadgets. For the last few years, he served as Associate Editor at Digital Trends where he wrote features, reviews, analysis, how-tos, and more.

See all of Simon Hill's reviews

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