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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > Computers & Internet > Computer Speakers

Computer Speakers Cost


How Much Do Computer Speakers Cost?

 
low costLow: Under $50average costMedium: $50-$100high costHigh: $100+

The type and number of speakers to get for a home or office computer largely depends on how the computer is primarily used -- whether for listening to music, playing games or watching movies.

Typical costs:

  • For under $50 expect to buy a 2.0 speaker system, so called because it consists of two stereo speakers. Inexpensive computer speakers are useful for boosting general computer sounds or for listening to online radio stations but offer little improvement in audio performance than the generic speakers included with most computers. Logitech LS11 speakers are an example of basic 2.0 computer speakers available for under $20.
  • To experience noticeable audio improvements, expect to pay $50 to $100 for a multi-channel 2.1 speaker system. This adds a subwoofer (bass) to the twin speakers (the .1 in the 2.1 specification). A subwoofer enhances bass clarity and adds depth to audio effects such as gunshots and explosions. These speakers are ideal for listening to music at medium volume levels or if there is limited available space. A good example is the Altec Lansing VS2521[1] for around $50.
  • For $100 to $300, expect a top of the line 2.1 system or an entry level 5.1 system such as the Creative Inspire T6200[2] available for about $150. A 5.1 setup adds three extra speakers to a 2.1 system. The two additional rear speakers make it ideal for game playing since it allows users to better determine the source of sound effects, while the additional front-center speaker delivers a movie's dialogue track.
  • For $300 to $500 or more, expect top of the range 5.1 components from high-end manufacturers. The Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system is THX-certified and includes a digital control panel and wireless remote control for under $400. If the computer forms part of a home theater setup, a 6.1 or even 7.1 channel computer speaker system adds additional speakers for the most extensive surround sound. The OnkyoSKS-HT750B[3] is an example of a high-end 7.1 channel home theater system, also available for about $400.
Related articles: Desktop Computer, Laptop Computer, Monitor, Home Theater

What should be included:
  • The speakers should be magnetically shielded in order to prevent interference with the computer monitor.
  • Color-coded cables make for easy set-up.
Additional costs:
  • 6.1 and 7.1 systems require a compatible decoder or A/V receiver. The cost can range from $250 to over $1,000. See How Much Does a Stereo Receiver Cost.
  • Check compatibility with the computer's soundcard. Most can't handle above 5.1 channels. TigerDirect.com[4] offers a guide to upgrading to a high-end soundcard if necessary.
  • Multi-channel speaker systems may require additional speaker cables or wiring depending on the setup. These can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. RadioShack offers advice on wiring a home theater setup.
  • Speaker stands or wall brackets may also be required in order to obtain optimal speaker placement.
Shopping for computer speakers:
  • PC Magazine[5] offers a buying guide for computer speakers.
  • Don't put too much emphasis on watts per channel output. This can be misleading since it represents peak power rather than sustainable power. Instead, look for a watts RMS rating.
  • Take a favorite CD or DVD to a store and listen to different computer speakers in operation. What sounds good to one listener may not sound as good to another.
  • Check for any noise when the speakers are idle. Even a soft hissing sound can become annoying after a long period.
  • Compare reviews at sites such as Cnet.com[6] .
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External Resources:
  1.  international.alteclansing.com/iceland/
  2.  us.store.creative.com/B001MBUH36/M/B001MBUH36.htm
  3.  www.onkyousa.com/?m=SKS-HT750&class=Speaker&p=i
  4.  www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Category/category_tlc.asp?CatId=107&name=Sounds-C...
  5.  www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1234199,00.asp
  6.  reviews.cnet.com/pc-speakers/?tag=leftColumnArea1.0
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