Computers have oh-so-many specs: processing speed, graphics, display, memory, storage - the list goes on. But many computer users forget about one of the most important aspects of the user experience: sound.
Sound is an essential component of many computer functions, from gaming and movies, to video conferencing, to watching online videos.
Don’t your Netflix shows deserve cinema-quality audio? Doesn’t your game-world deserve high-octane vividity? And don’t your ears deserve a little butter?
If you’re in the market for speakers - whether it's for a new computer or you’re trying to upgrade your old one - we’ll help you out. Let’s explore the best HP® computer speakers.
What makes a good computer speaker?
Computer speakers come in all shapes, sizes, and builds, each best-suited for a different purpose. How do you know which one is right for you? There are three factors you should take into consideration.
Watt should I care about? ...power...
You might want a powerful speaker, or you might not. Due to speakers being an electronic device, their power is measured in watts. Speakers with high wattage tend to be more powerful, while speakers with lower wattage are less so.
The higher the wattage, the more powerful a speaker is, which means it can produce higher volumes of sound. You’ll want a speaker with high wattage if you like to crank up the sound during movies and gaming or if you enjoy party-volume music.
The lower the wattage, the less powerful a speaker is. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t frequently play music at high volumes, then you’d probably prefer a low wattage speaker. And higher wattage models often cost more money than lower wattage ones.
A speaker with low wattage can still have excellent sound quality. Why pay more money for high wattage when you don’t play music at concert-level volumes?
Mono vs. stereo
Speakers offer either mono or stereo sound. Stereo sound uses two or more channels. Different sounds can be separated into different channels to be played by different speakers.
Have you ever listened to a song on your earphones? You might notice that some sounds play through your left earphone, while other sounds play through your right earphone. This is an example of stereo sound.
Mono uses only one channel of sound - hence the name. Remember, we’re talking about channels and not speakers. Mono can still transmit sound to a variety of speakers, it just doesn’t divide the sound. All the different sounds are emitted from the all of the speakers being used.
Typically, stereo sound is ideal for creating immersive soundscapes. Being able to emit different sounds from multiple sources is more realistic since it’s the way we experience sound in the real world.
If you’re playing a video game, wouldn’t it sound neat if an explosion to the left of your screen sounded from the left speaker while gunfire coming in from the right sounded from the right speaker? It would feel as if you’re really in the middle of a living, breathing battle!
Stereo can mean more than 2
When shopping for speakers, you’ll likely see numbers like 2.1 or 5.1. These numbers refer to stereo speaker systems. The first number refers to the number of main speakers, while the number after the decimal point refers to the number of subwoofers. So, a 2.1 sound system would have 2 main speakers and 1 subwoofer.
Mono is a viable alternative
On the flip side, mono has returned to popularity thanks to the development of soundbars. A soundbar is a bar-shaped speaker that usually sits underneath a TV or computer screen. Soundbars generate a (mostly) mono sound, and they’ve become popular due to their simple configuration. You might enjoy a mono speaker if you need a sound system for a tight space.
Wired vs. wireless
Some speakers must have a wired connection to your computer, while other speakers can operate wirelessly.
Obviously, a wireless speaker is preferable if you’d like to easily move that speaker from room to room - very helpful if you work on a laptop.
A wireless speaker is also helpful if you have a tight desktop space and don’t have lots of room for cables. The drawback to wireless speakers is that they have to be charged regularly.
In the past, it was commonly believed that wired speakers gave better sound quality than wireless speakers. But technology has advanced since then. There are many wireless speakers that are actually equal to, if not better than, some of their wired counterparts. A wireless speaker doesn’t necessarily have lesser sound quality.
Best computer speakers for music
So you like to jam out in your living room, huh? Well, then, here are some good computer speakers that will turn your computer into a bumpin’ sound system for your home music joint.
1. HP 400 speaker system
The HP 400 speaker system is simple, elegant, and has just a dash of modern flair. There are 3 components to this sound system: 2 satellite speakers and 1 subwoofer.
The satellite speakers are relatively small, so they’re easy to position on your desktop. Thankfully, they’re well-dressed, with rounded edges and a pixelated grate, so they’re stylish enough to look good next to your monitor, and simple enough to fit into any desktop aesthetic. Looks aside, the 2 speakers emit crisp sound at mid-to-high ranges.
It’s the inclusion of the down-firing subwoofer that really kicks this speaker system up a notch. The subwoofer is essentially just a black box - like most other subwoofers - and since it’s down-firing you’ll definitely want to place it on the floor (so your keyboard won’t be shuffling off the desktop, and also so you don’t spoil your desktop aesthetic).
The subwoofer is strong and efficient. If you listen to music that features heavy bass drops and beats, then you’ll appreciate having subwoofer support. It’s nice to get some extra “umph” when you’re playing loud music.
For such a compact sound system, the HP Speaker System 400 can deliver an impressive amount of range - which is great for home music listening.
2. Bose Companion 2 Series III multimedia speaker system
The Bose Companion 2 Series III has no subwoofer, but it uses 22 watts of power to churn out sound. You’re able to play sound at high volumes without distortion, which makes this speaker system great for playing music.
The 2 speakers each run a bit deep - and that’s not a bad thing since it means that there’s more muscle behind the cone. They’re slim enough, though, to fit nicely into a smaller workspace. They look good, too, with the speaker cloth covering about 60% of the front surface, while the bottom 40% is a glossy shell. Ah, the simple asymmetry of the modern age.
The speakers have an auxiliary input so you can connect an additional music playing device to the speakers, such as a phone or tablet. This way you’re able to produce great sound from a variety of devices.
Best computer speakers for gaming
If a souped-up gaming rig and ultra-wide monitor aren’t immersive enough for you, then you’re probably in need of some great speakers to truly sink yourself into your gaming world. Here are some high-quality speakers that will bring your PC games to life.
1. HP 400 speaker system
We discussed this sound system in the music section, and we thought that its features were also well-suited for gaming. The HP 400 speaker system is equipped with 2 satellite speakers and 1 subwoofer.
You can position the 2 satellite speakers anywhere on your desktop to create a more encompassing sound environment. But, again, the subwoofer is the key ingredient. Place the down-firing subwoofer at your feet and you’re in for a world of rumbling.
Heavy sounds - explosions, reverberations, crashing - will shake the floor around your feet just as if you were actually in the middle of the digital landscape. The subwoofer and quality satellite speakers make this a great sound system for hardcore gamers.
2. HP S100 speaker bar
Who says that a mono speaker can’t be immersive? Perhaps those folks who haven’t tried the HP S100 speaker bar. The HP S100 speaker bar is for gamers who game on desktop PCs, not laptops. It’s built to be attached under a monitor.
Why deal with a jungle of cords? The ultra-compact bar design prevents your desktop from being cluttered with cables. It’s an optimal sound system if you have a tight desktop space or if you frequently haul your computer to a friend’s house for LAN gaming.
Of course, we wouldn’t have included the HP S100 on this list if it didn’t deliver quality sound. It does, and then some. The soundbar is equipped with dual speakers, so you’ll have powerfully concentrated sound across the width of the bar. If you’re gaming in close range of your monitor, your face is in for an awesome barrage of sound.
3. Logitech Z200 2.0 speaker system
The Logitech Z200 2.0 speaker system has 2 speakers that are superbly high-powered. They deliver 10 watts of power, to be exact, which is great for a computer speaker.
Each speaker has 2 drivers, and not only do they produce rich sounds from mid-to-high range, but they’re also capable of delivering quality bass sounds. You’ll appreciate being able to get bass sounds without a space-eating subwoofer. The speaker system has a very wide range despite there only being 2 speakers.
You can plug in two devices at the same time since it has both the input and auxiliary line. You also get points for style: the bold, crater-esque drums are cool enough to fit into a flashy gaming rig.
Best computer speakers for Skype or video conferencing
Whether you’re in a digital hangout with friends or conducting business over the web, you want a good speaker system to supplement your webcam.
1. Sennheiser speakerphone
The Sennheiser SP 20 ML speakerphone is built for video conferencing. It looks like a high-tech coaster, but it’s packed with technology to enable you to make efficient conference calls.
You can hook the speaker up to your computer, phone, or tablet. It has an omnidirectional microphone and omnidirectional speakers so that anyone in a conference - no matter where they’re sitting in the room - can readily hear and easily speak.
2. Bose SoundLink Revolve+ smart speaker
A sound bar might not be a great option if you’re video chatting in a large conference room, since you might be hooked up to a large TV and not a desktop monitor. In that case, you might prefer the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ smart speaker.
This is a small, wireless speaker that offers Bluetooth connectivity. It has a built-in microphone that allows for voice prompts so you can access Siri, Google Now™, or manage Bluetooth pairing. That’s a lot of tech for a portable speaker.
But it’s not just bells and whistles. The Bose SoundLink delivers quality sound, and its small size enables you to position it anywhere in a conference room to make the sound audible to all attendees. It also comes in black, red, white, and blue color schemes.
3. HP Audio Module
The HP Audio Module eschews the traditional vertical-shaped speaker in favor of a horizontal one. It’s low and flat, looking more like a computer modem than a speaker. The horizontal shape makes it easy to carry and squeeze into small spaces.
The speaker appears to be a round version of a sound bar, but it has 3 speakers that deliver highly concentrated sound in multiple directions. It’s a speaker that you can place comfortably in the middle of a conference room table.
Best computer speakers for everyday use
What if you’re not a gamer? What if you don’t jam out to loud music or use your webcam? Here are some quality speakers for the everyday - for occasional music, for occasional games, for occasional videos.
1. HP S3100 Black USB speaker
The HP S3100 Black USB speaker is essentially the HP 400 speaker system without the subwoofer. The 2 speakers are stylish and produce very good sound. Sure, you won’t have floor-shaking bass, but if you’re a casual listener then you probably don’t need it. You’ll enjoy the compact design and capable sound production.
2. Bose SoundTouch 10 speaker system
The Bose SoundTouch 10 speaker system looks like a miniature version of the full-sized speakers you might find at a rock concert. There’s something cute about this desktop-sized version.
The speaker has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and you can actually place multiple SoundTouch speakers around your home and synchronize them. A single speaker will get the job done, though. You’ll enjoy the compact size, portability, and quality sound output.
Best mini computer speakers
What if you work in a very small space? What if you need a portable speaker you can carry around with your laptop? Here are some quality computer speakers that produce big sound in a small size.
1. HP Mini Bluetooth speaker 300
The HP Mini Bluetooth speaker 300 is so small, you could slide it into your pocket. It even comes with a clip so that you can hook it to a backpack or wall mount.
This speaker is a great supplement to a laptop computer. If you’re on-the-go, and you need quality sound on-the-go, you’ll appreciate a super small speaker that can easily connect to your laptop via Bluetooth. Although it’s tiny, it’s sure to deliver much better sound than your built-in laptop speakers.
The sturdy design and compact size make it highly maneuverable and easy to carry. You can quickly pick it up and comfortably set it down onto any space. The speaker features 360-degree sound, with wireless connectivity, a USB port, and voice control functionality.
There you have it! To enhance your gaming, to better your business, to maximize your space, to enliven your music (and your dancing), get yourself one of these high-quality computer speakers. You owe it to yourself to make the most of your sound options for your listening pleasure.
About the Author: Zach Cabading is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Zach is a content creation specialist based in Southern California, and creates a variety of content for the tech industry.
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