10 Desktop Computer Speaker Systems Tested and Compared

Computer speakers
Brent Butterworth

We tested computer speaker systems to find the best of them. Our tests were extensive and the detailed results of are available as well for those audiophiles who want the specifics.

Testing details

The frequency response of each system here gives you a good indicator of how well-engineered a system is. Ideally, the frequency response of the blue trace in each chart (which corresponds to a measurement from 0 degrees, directly in front of the speaker), would be flat or close to it. And ideally, the green trace in each chart (which shows the average of responses at 0, ±10, ±20, and ±30 degrees horizontally) would be slightly downturned at the right side of the chart, as the test frequency approaches 20 kilohertz, which is the generally accepted theoretical limit of human hearing.

01
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Audioengine A2+ Measurements

Audioengine A2+ Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±3.3 dB from 82 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±2.4 dB from 82 Hz to 20 kHz

Although the A2+ has a substantial hump in the bass response centered around 140 Hz, the response overall is admirably flat. Because everything is normalized to 0 dB at 1 kHz, it looks like the A2+ has an elevated upper midrange and treble response, but really what it has is a midrange dip of roughly -3 dB between 400 Hz and 1.5 kHz.

02
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Bose Companion 20 Measurements

Bose Companion 20 Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±6.2 dB from 56 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±6.6 dB from 56 Hz to 20 kHz

The measured bass response of the Companion 20 goes really deep, but this measurement is at a low level, so don't expect big bass power from this speaker. The frequency response appears pretty ragged. As usual, Bose doesn't reveal the driver complement in its marketing materials, but this looks like the tell-tale response of a single, full-range driver.

03
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Creative GigaWorks T40 Series II Measurements

Creative GigaWorks T40 Series II Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±4.7 dB from 90 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±4.9 dB from 90 Hz to 20 kHz

Although the GigaWorks T40 has a fairly flat tonal balance, with approximately even amounts of energy in the mid and treble plus a bass boost to keep it from sounding thin, the response between 1.4 and 5.5 kHz looks pretty rough.

04
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Edifier Eclipse Measurements

Edifier Eclipse Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±5.4 dB from 57 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±4.5 dB from 57 Hz to 20 kHz

Here's a speaker whose measurements matched expectations based on how it sounds. While the Eclipse's bass response goes impressively deep (thanks to its dual passive radiators) and the midrange is smooth, the elevated response above 3 kHz is what gives this speaker a rather "sizzly" sound in the test.

05
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Edifier Spinnaker Measurements

Edifier Spinnaker Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±2.5 dB from 61 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±2.6 dB from 61 Hz to 20 kHz

The Spinnaker measures just about dead-flat. Most high-end speakers don't measure this well. Of course, the Spinnaker has digital signal processing inside that allows it to achieve such an excellent result.

Incidentally, small speakers like the ones tested here should measure flat because the broad dispersion of the small woofers can blend better with the tweeters. The reason so many of them do not measure flat is either that the engineers didn't have enough budget to put an appropriate crossover network in the speaker, or perhaps in some cases they didn't try very hard or didn't have the time to nail the design. With the Spinnaker it's even easier because it's a three-way design with a .75-inch tweeter, a 2.75-inch midrange, and a 4-inch woofer.

06
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Grace Digital GDI-BTSP201 Measurements

Grace Digital GDI-BTSP201 Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±5.0 dB from 72 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±4.8 dB from 72 Hz to 20 kHz

The GDI-BTSP201's measurements look pretty smooth up to 3 kHz, but pretty ragged above that.

07
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Logitech Z600 Measurements

Logitech Z600 Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±5.8 dB from 71 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±5.2 dB from 71 Hz to 20 kHz

The Z600 has a gradually rising treble response up to 5 kHz, which gives it a bright sound, but it doesn't have the bass response it needs to counterbalance the hot treble.

08
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M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Measurements

M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±4.2 dB from 78 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±3.9 dB from 78 Hz to 20 kHz

The AV 40 doesn't measure as smoothly as expected, nor does its bass go as deep as expected, even though its relatively large woofer should allow it to play louder at low frequencies than some of the smaller speakers here. Still, the overall balance of bass to midrange to treble is fairly even, with maybe a little bit of excess energy in the upper mids and lower treble, between 1.8 and 6 kHz.

09
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NuForce S3-BT Measurements

NuForce S3-BT Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±5.4 dB from 68 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±6.4 dB from 68 Hz to 20 kHz

Except for that scary-looking but probably not-all-that-audible sharp peak at 1.1 kHz, the S3-BT has a fairly flat frequency response through most of the audio range. The tonal balance is down-tilted and treble-shy, though, and the treble really falls off above 9 kHz.

10
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PSB Alpha PS1 Measurements

PSB Alpha PS1 Measurements
Brent Butterworth

Frequency response:

  • On-axis (blue): ±4.0 dB from 76 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Average (green): ±2.9 dB from 76 Hz to 20 kHz

The Alpha PS1 has a very smooth response except for that octave-wide peak centered at 1.6 kHz. Yeah, there's a big tweeter resonance at 18 kHz, but you almost certainly won't hear it.