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Tuesday, January 11. 2011
I wonder what our readers use for high-quality computer speakers. I am using my machine more and more to listen to music while doing paperwork, even though I have a fine real sound system in my office for radio and CDs. I won't use headphones, and I do not waste time with computer games: engaging in real life offers more than enough games for me - and the result counts.
A friend told me the Bose stuff is good, but I have no clue.
Advice requested. Price, within reason, is no object.
Tracked: Jan 13, 12:21
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I use headphones myself but here's some suggestions from CNET:
I have a predecessor of the Logitech Z-2300 mentioned in the CNET article. Good speakers, and they won't break your budget. Though if money were no object, I'd probably buy the Bose.
I have had a system from Cambridge SoundWorks for over 10 years. (Owned by Creative Labs). I have a 2.1 system with a large sub and two small satilites. Sounds spectacular. Problem is that I hardly ever even turn it up 1/4 of the way, as it is very loud. :).
I finally settled on the Bose Companion 3 myself. The series 5 was just too much money as was the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Speakers at $500. If money was no object then Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 would be my choice. They don't take up very much space and sound incredible.
My wife and I use the Klipsch system at the link below on our desktops for about the last 5 years. Very satisfied. You can also plug in headphones
I am not an audiophile. Just don't have the aural acuity to get wrapped up in what it best as far as speakers for computers or even stereos or "home entertainment systems" (we used to call them TVs).
By an oddity of location while working, however, I have heard Altec-Lansing, Harmon/Kardon, Logitech, and JBLs of various models. Very little to distinguish one from the other but I think I preferred the H/Ks. Nothing bad about the others though.
That said, the ONLY speaker systems I have ever heard that broke though to my tin ears and registered a WOW factor were Bose. Always struck me as sounding "brilliant" (I could not possibly articulate the reasons for that).
I am an audiophile, but amazingly enough I got a great speaker set up from Logitech for $29 from Amazon
It depends on how seriously you're taking the music. If it's just for background listening, I think you'll be happy with pretty much anything around as long as it's a good enough system to include a sub-woofer. If you actually want to listen to the music, however, then you should probably spend the bucks and go with a system that has 'real' speakers -- as referred to standard cheesy computer speakers.
Me, I have the first type of system, some no-name brand I picked up from Office Depot. When I actually want to listen to music, I wear headphones.
People fool themselves a lot about sound quality. Often when they have too much money and some spare time.
Know thyself and what you really want.
Few adults hear well enough that the speakers matter. I hate clutter, wires, and those hideous power bricks so I have monitors with decent built-in speakers and HDMI connections.
Bose is held in very low opinion by mot audiophiles. They are considered first and foremost a marketing organization.
Stereophile magazine has been actively reviewing desktop speakers and has a reasonable point of view on the subject.
I suggest you google "Stereophile desktop speakers" for some opinions and options.
Note that there are some acoustic issues involved in what's called "near-field" listening. At the lowest end, those are significant but on any step-up, they might factor into your choice.
If you already have a fine sound system in your office, why not just connect the computer to it?
This is the cable I use:
[url] (http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10218&cs_id=1021804&p_id=5602&seq=1&format=2) [/url]
My dell laptop also has s/p-dif output, so I could just use a long RCA digital-audio cable or video-cable to connect from the dock to an S/P-dif digital input on the preamp.
1 - Most people can't discriminate "clean" audio from "dirty" audio. They think they can, but they can't. Cheap speakers are just as good as high end speakers. I'm using a set of cheapo Logitech speakers with sub-woofer and it sounds just fine. Lasted a long time to - maybe 10 years or so? I now have Bose.
2 - Bose anything is a great way to go from my personal experience.
3 - Douglas2 beat me to it - a cable to your stereo (assuming that it is within a reasonable distance) is a good way to go. I did that with my computer to the Dynaco PAT4 preamp to McIntosh 50s biamped to Bozak Concert Grands and it was quite an experience - overkill for watching Youtube.
Just remember that the older you get, the less likely you are to have the same hearing as you did when you were twenty so all the dynamic range stuff, etc., isn't something you need to be concerned with if it's just computer music.
Any serious audiophile will steer you away from Bose. With good reason.
This Logitech system gets rave reviews: newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836121048
The z2300's are pretty nice too: amazon.com/Logitech-Z-2300-THX-Certified-Speaker-Subwoofer/dp/B0002SQ2P2
Or for listening in the nearfield you really can't go wrong with a pair of nice studio monitors like these: pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Fostex-PM0.4W-Powered-Studio-Monitors-White?sku=600828
You'll probably need a sub to go with those if you like a lot of bass - parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-631
Really, anything but Bose. Trust me.
Bose is held in very low opinion by most audiophiles. They are considered first and foremost a marketing organization.
Probably the most meaningful comment in the thread. For a real alternative, consider the word-of-mouth performance speaker line, Swan.
yup. Decent construction, won't blow up on you, but sound quality leaves more than a bit to be desired.
Of course most PC soundcards won't produce high enough quality sound that you'd ever notice the difference, as any audiophile can also tell you.
I am like some of the others: i ran a splitter cable from the headphone jack to back of my bookshelf stereo. Sounds good enough to me. If you are looking for an all in one speakers and amp in a small package, check out ZVOX.
Bose is to good sound--what Krispy Kreme is to good doughnuts--that is to say: Don't bother!
While we are on this subject we are looking for a good cd player that will work with a top of the line 30 year old stereo system--any suggestions greatly appreciated!
I use a pair of Tannoy PBM5 which are very compact near field monitors intended for use in recording studios. They are no longer manufactured but they, and their bigger cousins, can often be found on the used market (eBay!) for surprisingly low prices. They do require a separate amplifier. I use an Alesis RA-100 but any decent stereo receiver would do.
I have a 27 inch Imac with the sound system by bose built in and I do all my listening to music, radio, tv and movies on the computer either by listening to music i have downloaded from the net or via a tv tuner card by elgato. http://www.elgato.com/
Frankly i think the sound is much better than the sony radio system in my car or the external speakers that I used to use when I had a dell.
I suspect that only at most 5% of the public has hearing that is good enough to tell the difference between a huge expensive pro sound system and the one that I have built in already. I see no reason to throw money away on a sound system beyond what I can hear or a graphics system beyond what I can see.
I spent $7 for speakers at a discount electronics store. I am quite satisfied with them.
I've heard great things about Axiom speakers - considering them for walls in the basement entertainment center. They make some nice looking computer speakers if you are willing to spend.
I wholeheartedly concur on Bose.
I use the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 on my computer. More than good enough for 98 % of computer work, unless you are doing serious audio work such as editing and composition, or extreme hard-core gaming. About $160, available on sale for $120 or so from time to time. I paid $100 plus tax about two years ago at Best Buy for mine.
For real audio and/or serious listening, I use one of my two JBL-based stereo and surround sound systems, or one of my other two systems. (Yes, I'm a little crazy.)
For suggestions on higher end systems, see:
Also Maximumpc.com and PCworld.com
I worked in pro audio for a long time and the standing joke was: "Got no highs, got no lows, must be Bose!"
Bose systems use a lot of psychoacoustic trickery to make their speakers "stand out". To discriminating listeners, "stand out" is not a good thing. But regarding the average listener, Bose will sound OK. So will many of the $30 - $60 speakers. I recommend saving the money.
I'm a fairly critical listener, having taken "listening courses" and having worked with some amazing audio talents. But the Klipsch is just fine for computer using, since I'm not one of these folks.
I stopped worrying about sound quality from my pc in 1994, using SB-16, our cat came in to defend its territory when I played a cat meow on my pc...good enuff for me I thought
The Audioengine powered speakers are really nice for the computer, and only $200. If you can swing it, the B&W MM1's are amazing, but as noted above cost $500. Bose? great marketing, horrible speakers (sorry, fans).
Stereo equipment salesmen are familiar with this bit of poetic wisdom:
Bose blows, no highs, no lows.
I've been pretty happy with Harmon-Kardon's SoundSticks, a 2.1 system. They retail around $150 or maybe less if you shop around.
I like the look and the touch-sensitive volume controls, as well as their audio delivery. But those are bells & whistles.
Another vote for the Klipsch Promedia 2.1. I have had mine for about two years and have had no complaints. Price is right and the sound is perfect for my setup.
I'd use that sound system...
You can always pipe the output of your soundcard to the AUX-in of the sound system, any decent system has an option for something like that.
When I upgraded my stereo to an A/V receiver, I moved the old stereo receiver to my computer system. Price: free. I added a pair of JBL bookshelf speakers (not quite so free). Most of the time I keep it muted, but when I want good sound from my computer, I've got it.
I get sick of people on net forums bashing Bose.
Bose speakers stand out because they have lots of bass for their size. The way they do this is by the following:
-Shifting the bass for both channels to a "subwoofer" which really isn't "sub" in the traditional sense. We still hear where the rhythm guitar is in the mix because the upper harmonics of the tones in the tiny speakers have it in the right place. There is some disadvantage in doing this in terms of the overall spaciousness of the recording, but one would probably only appreciate the difference in a side-by-side comparison that we don't often do. Lately, almost all "three piece" computer speakers do this.
-using long-excursion drivers for their speakers. If you want to move a lot of air, you can move a large piston a small distance or a small piston a large distance. They have "pie are squared" working against them in the displacement equation. There is a distortion & noise (turbulence) trade-off here, but their "acoustic wave" patent is essentially an acoustical low-pass filter that renders the distortion inaudible.
Bose has two other common tricks, not really applicable to all of their computer speakers.
-One is to build robust speakers and then electronically correct their frequency response. In every case where I've hear a professional audio engineer say"no highs no lows" in regards to Bose professional products, they could not answer my question "which model of the processor did you use?", which leads me to conclude that they did not RTFM before using a product that they did not understand, and blamed the product for their own idiocy. Meyer Sound had the same issue and now builds all of the electronics and power amps into the speakers so that stupid users can't make their product sound bad.
The other is their "direct reflecting" concept, which makes things sound nice for off-center listening but destroys the "imaging" that traditional audiophiles and sound engineers treasure. If you are a person who places the one listening chair in the sweet-spot and listens to whole albums without moving, then the direct-reflecting Bose products aren't for you.
Now, in all for of these points, the decision Bose makes for their products is opposite the choice I desire for my own listening. But in each case it is a valid choice with good justification.
My computer connects to the home sound system via WiFi. I don't personally know a thing about it, but it didn't present any challenge to the guys who set up the system for the TV and CD player.
I agree that Bose markets their products masterfully, as they are what most of the general public think of as "high end" audio. Really high end audio folks don't hold them in very high esteem, however. For computer listening to mp3s through a built in sound card, the potential for truly high end audio is limited, so don't go overboard.