The Complete Guide to Buying Computer Speakers

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The Complete Guide to Buying Computer Speakers

Computer speakers differ from stereo speakers in both size and output capabilities. Unlike computer speakers, a stereo unit is usually powered via an amplifier that dramatically increases the output capabilities of the stereo system. Because of this, stereo speakers are usually much larger than their computer cousins because computers do not have the amplification capabilities to power large speakers. This means that speakers that are specifically designed for computers need to be smaller in size and still be capable of producing high-quality sound and volume with less power than stereo units.

When shopping for computer speakers, there are a number of factors that consumers should take into account. Prior to purchasing a set of computer speakers, a prospective buyer should consider the speaker requirements, the type of speaker system that ideally serves those needs, as well as the features of the speakers. Additionally, it helps to be aware of how one can utilise the functionalities of an online retailer such as eBay to find the right set of computer speakers.

Identifying Requirements for Computer Speakers

Perhaps one of the more important places to begin a search for new computer speakers is to determine what needs the speakers are meant to fulfill. There are different types of computers, many of which come with built-in speaker systems. It is up to the buyer to determine if the on-board speaker system on the computer is effective enough or if more clarity or volume is needed.

Computer Speakers for Work

Computers that are used mainly for work purposes are usually less dependent on high-quality speakers as they rarely are used for entertainment. Laptops that are used in the office come with built-in speaker systems that are usually adequate for routine business needs. If the laptop is to be used for both business and entertainment purposes, then it is advantageous to purchase a set of speakers that amplify the sound capabilities of the laptop. The same applies to desktops as well.

Computer Speakers for Entertainment

For many people, a laptop or desktop serves as a do-it-all device that is used for work and play. For these types of computing needs, speakers that are designed to handle high-end music and gaming sounds are preferred in order to enhance the entertainment experience. Entertainment speakers are the more intricate of computer speakers and have built-in amplifiers in order to dramatically increase the sound output potential of the system. Depending on the requirements of the user, entertainment speakers can vary in size and output capability to handle everything from light music to loud computer gaming. The price differences in the speakers range dramatically depending upon the requirements of the system.

Speakers for a Laptop

Nearly all modern laptops come with built-in speaker systems. Many laptops are available with high-end speaker systems designed to augment laptop gaming, listening to music, or watching home videos. For individuals who need a portable machine to do everything they want, these high-end laptops have everything they need.

However, the majority of laptops available in the marketplace have speakers that are adequate only for basic listening needs and are inadequate for gaming. Computer speaker systems come in different configurations and sizes, and there are compact versions that can easily be plugged into the speaker port of a laptop to dramatically improve the sound performance of the machine. If higher levels of sound quality are needed, there are more complex systems that can be utilised with a laptop that include several speakers and a subwoofer.

Speakers for a Desktop

Unlike laptops, desktop computers are not portable and are seldom moved from one location to another. Desktop computer systems are larger and have more room for larger sound cards and video cards, so they are well equipped to make use of additional speakers to amplify their sound output. While there are some desktop systems that have integrated speakers, the majority of the desktops systems require external speakers in order to produce sound. Computer speakers that feature different speakers as well as a subwoofer are popular for use with desktops because the computer stays in one location, so more elaborate computer speaker configurations can be set up.

Configurations for Computer Speakers

Speakers can be purchased in different configurations. The limit to the amount and price of speakers used in a computer system depends on the needs and budget of the user. An individual who only uses a laptop for office-related tasks and light music can get by with a basic two-speaker system, while those who play video games and loud music need a more advanced set-up.

Wired Speakers

Wired speakers are the more common type of computer speakers available. Wired speakers plug directly into the speaker port of the computer, and each speaker is attached via wires. Wired speakers are limited by the length of their wires, so they are usually located near the computer. Although wired speakers can be placed around a room or office, the wires that attach the speakers can limit this capability.

Wireless Speakers

Wireless speakers alleviate the problems of wired speakers by allowing the user to connect the speakers and subwoofer to the computer via wireless technology. Wireless speakers are linked to a hub unit that is connected to the main computer. Wireless speakers can easily be placed around a room or office and in discreet locations for optimal sound enjoyment.

The 2.0 Computer Speaker Configuration

Computer speakers are designated by a set of numbers that include a primary number followed by a period and then a secondary number. The first number indicates the number of satellite speakers in the system, and the second number indicates the presence of a subwoofer. A 2.0 speaker configuration features two speakers that are plugged into the computer with no subwoofer present. This set is ideal for portability and good for use with laptops that are frequently moved.

The 2.1 Computer Speaker Configuration

The 2.1 system features two satellite speakers and one subwoofer. This is one of the more common speaker systems, especially for smaller computers and workstations that do not have the space available of multiple speaker setups.

The 5.1 Computer Speaker Configuration

This system features four speakers, a centre channel speaker, and one subwoofer. The 5.1 system is excellent for all-around sound reproduction from a desktop computer. The 5.1 system provides high definition and surround sound capabilities for all types of computer systems. The drawback is that this system is not ideal for smaller spaces and compact work areas.

The 7.1 Computer Speaker Configuration

The 7.1 system includes six speakers, one centre channel speaker, and one subwoofer. The 7.1 is one of the more advanced systems available for computer users and offers a higher level of sound quality and performance for music listening and high level gaming.

Features to Look for in Computer Speakers

When searching for computer speakers, buyers should be aware of the wattage of each system and the level of output that is more effective for a computer. The size of the computer speaker and the quality of construction are also important aspects for buyers to consider prior to purchasing.

Watts and Sensitivity Ratings for Computer Speakers

Watts are the designation for the power handling capabilities of the speakers. A computer speaker that is rated for 50 watts can handle that amount of power input. It is important to note that watts do not directly translate into volume output or quality of sound. The sensitivity rating of the speaker along with watts adds to the volume. Watts merely indicate how much power the speaker can accept. It is important to match the speaker system with the capabilities of the computer so as not to overpower one or the other of the components. Decibel levels are used to indicate the type and intensity of sound produced.

Decibel Level

Type of Sound Produced


Human breathing


Rustling leaves

40 - 60

Restaurant background noise

60 - 70

Normal speaking voice

70 - 80

Traffic; vacuum cleaner

80 - 90

Noisy factory

90 - 110

Loud motorcycle

110 - 130

Rock concert

130 and up

Pain threshold; jet aircraft

Higher wattage speakers that are rated with higher sensitivity can produce higher volume outputs and decibel ratings. One watt of power in a speaker with a 90 decibel sensitivity rating can produce 90 decibels of sound. A 25-watt speaker system that has a sensitivity rating of 87 decibels can produce over a 100 decibels of sound, so wattage is only one of the indicators of performance for a speaker.

Size of the Computer Speakers

The size of the computer speaker package is an important consideration for many. Space can be a vital consideration when it comes to a work space. Smaller speakers are much easier to place on desks and workstations that are limited in size. On the other hand, larger areas can accommodate subwoofers and multiple speaker configurations more easily.

Quality of the Computer Speakers

The quality of the speaker's construction has a critical effect on the quality of its sound production. High-quality speakers can make better use of the available power generated by the computer. The sound they produce is of a higher quality because of the better materials used in their construction.


Computer speakers are more specialised than those needed in home stereo systems because they have more limited space to operate in and need to be more efficient at utilising power. Computer speakers are usually much smaller in size than stereo units, yet they are expected to perform at proportionally the same level, depending on the needs of the user. High-end gaming and music speakers can rival the output of their stereo speaker relatives. Multiple speaker packages can help a computer system enhance audio performance dramatically, and many of these units can be found at affordable prices.

Buyers who utilise the advanced shopping tools on eBay can select from a variety of computer speakers and easily find the right prices on the units that ideally fit their needs. Thanks to this website's many useful features, there are few other places to shop for and compare the different brands and types of computer speakers in one location.

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