Bringing Home The Bass: 2.1-Channel Speaker Roundup

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clownbaby

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Wow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash. The bass peaks and generally crappiness in the mid range seem to be a common theme. Almost no consideration seems to be given to music listening.

2.1 is the ideal setup for a computer imo. 4.1 at most. A center channel just isn't needed for monitor sized screens.

You can buy a cheap onkyo receiver, some low end bookshelf speakers and a small sub for a few hundred bucks and have sound that will destroy the best pc speakers.

The fact is, pc speakers are toys. There is no high end option. What they market as high end would be laughed out the door by the regular audio comminuty.

p.s. Plastic is not an acceptable cabinet material
 

d0gr0ck

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[citation][nom]clownbaby[/nom]Wow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash. The bass peaks and generally crappiness in the mid range seem to be a common theme. Almost no consideration seems to be given to music listening.2.1 is the ideal setup for a computer imo. 4.1 at most. A center channel just isn't needed for monitor sized screens.You can buy a cheap onkyo receiver, some low end bookshelf speakers and a small sub for a few hundred bucks and have sound that will destroy the best pc speakers. The fact is, pc speakers are toys. There is no high end option. What they market as high end would be laughed out the door by the regular audio comminuty.p.s. Plastic is not an acceptable cabinet material[/citation]

Pretty much this. I've been telling people for ages that their super-duper PC speakers aren't. Any brand that quotes max power over RMS values raises an instant red flag for me. Even 20yr old Radioshack shelf speakers can run circles on most modern PC speakers.

I die a little bit every time I hear someone with a premium add-in sound card is running generic PC speakers.
 

Mark Heath

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For all those who trash all PC speakers, they're usually the best option on the lower end of the scale. There are people out there who have compared entry level (sub 400) active speakers to the Klipsch Promedia set (best active speakers ~150 for sound quality imo) and they say that they're not that different. If you do it right, then it's not as bad as you might think.
 

cleeve

Illustrious
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[citation][nom]clownbaby[/nom]Wow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash.[/citation]

If you know audio, you know that the environment has a *MASSIVE* effect on response recording. Even moving the mic a few inches in the same environment can change the result by a large amount.

As we've stressed in the article, we don't have the luxury of a professional-grade anechoic chamber for testing. Our results are likely heavily degraded by comb filtering and phase cancellation, but they can be used to compare speaker output to each other because they were all tested in the same conditions.

The bottom line is, don't write these products off based on a response taken in less than ideal conditions.

Use these response graphs for what they are good for--not absolute, but relative measurements.
 
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I would be interested to compare these with the Harman Kardon 2.1 soundsticks III, which i own and i am very happy with, even though they are (only) rated @ 20W RMS (Sub) + 2 x 10W RMS (satellites).
 

pandemonium_ctp

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Is it just us, or are 5.1- and 7.1-channel speaker systems impractical for PCs?
It's just you (guys). Gamer immersion? IMHO more channels is more important for gaming than for watching movies (which I also do with my 7.1 setup; TV speakers = 2 additional).

Simple rules for buying good speakers (and anything peripheral):
-Stay away from wireless
-You can't really go wrong with Logitech, Bose or Altec Lansing (though not as good as they used to be)
-High RMS/Watt output means next to nothing (unless you're deaf and need speakers at high volume all the time and don't care about quality of tone)

[citation][nom]Tigsounds[/nom]This is all Go out and buy it junk. Build your own and end up with something that rattles the neighbors nerves if done right.[/citation]

I'm all for building your own, except most people won't know the properties that are important for stereo systems and will wind up with sub-par performance compared to cheap store-bought crap. If you're just after rattling your neighbors nerves then you're just a douche. :/
 
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I upgraded my computer speakers this holiday season and let me just say they are AMAZING now. I can't believe how much better real speakers are than PC speakers. I also tossed in a high end sound card and my music experience is surreal.

If anyone is curious, google for "WAF-1 Rosewood Pair" the price they are selling for right now is a STEAL right now. Unfortunately they ran out of the matching 2-channel amp, so you need to find an amp elsewhere. I also picked up a BIC V1020 subwoofer because I like dance music. I'll never go back to normal PC speakers again.

Price wise, it's the equivalent of getting a top-tier video card, but for your sound system.
 

reasonablevoice

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[citation][nom]clownbaby[/nom]Wow, those freq response graphs are pretty telling that computer speakers are basically all trash. The bass peaks and generally crappiness in the mid range seem to be a common theme. Almost no consideration seems to be given to music listening.2.1 is the ideal setup for a computer imo. 4.1 at most. A center channel just isn't needed for monitor sized screens.You can buy a cheap onkyo receiver, some low end bookshelf speakers and a small sub for a few hundred bucks and have sound that will destroy the best pc speakers. The fact is, pc speakers are toys. There is no high end option. What they market as high end would be laughed out the door by the regular audio comminuty.p.s. Plastic is not an acceptable cabinet material[/citation]
I've been saying this for years. It is 100% true.
As per damasvara's comment about audiophiles dissing casual listeners, nothing could be further form the truth. We are not criticizing you, we are criticizing these low end speakers! We are trying to tell you that there are much better products out there for the money. Come, join us, you'll never look back.
 
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Much more expensive but please vbuild and review a system like this:

B&W CM5 + Rotel RC-1550 + Rotel RB-1552 + Optical Out Sound Card
 

ZakTheEvil

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I'll never fall for another overpriced computer-specific speaker system. SPDIF connected to Home Theater receiver and a set of decent 5.1 HT speakers works for me well and adds the flexibility of multiple inputs and a fully featured remote, also has EQ, compression for night time listening, etc. Movie surround modes work great for games too.
 

Onus

Titan
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Oh well. Interesting, but won't be useful to me until I get a new 8th cranial nerve (come on, clone research, you can do it!). Still, if I ever build a rig for someone focused on sound quality, the information will help.
 
G

Guest

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Much more expensive but please vbuild and review a system like this:

B&W CM5 + Rotel RC-1550 + Rotel RB-1552 + Optical Out Sound Card

Or much less expensive than any of the reviewed products:

Mission Cyrus amplifier 30 Watts RMS or more (circa 1980) KEF Chorale bookshelf speakers (late 1970's) at flea market for £20 total (about $30).

The Mission is a bona fide hifi amp (albeit in poor condition now) but any of the popular Japanese amps from the 1970s (Trio/Kenwood, Pioneer, JVC etc) would be a fine choice as would any of the speakers contemporary to my KEFs.

A system like this makes the usual computer speakers sound like the plastic trash that they are !
 

cknobman

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Umm.... last thing I want to do with my limited budget is go spend $150-$200 dollars on a 2.1 speaker set!!!!!!!

My $80 5.1 Logitech set sounds just fine thank you, and the $70-$100 savings is better spent on gfx and/or cpu horsepower.
 
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