Best computer speakers for video calls and streaming – Evening Standard
our computer probably comes with a speaker, maybe two. You’ve probably tried them once or twice, and either swore to never sully the air with their tinny crackle again, or only ever to use them in an emergency, like attracting help when lost in a forest or scaring off a bear.
The reason for this is that computer speakers, particularly those in laptops but also in phones, tablets and modern TVs, are built to be small, and speakers need room to deliver decent sound. Time, therefore, to look for an external pair.
The best computer speakers offer much more than a blast of sound from your PC, they promise an improvement. This may just mean clean, clear stereo sound – nothing special, but considerably better than what you’re used to. It may bring a subwoofer into the mix, thickening out the bass and making watching movies or TV on your computer come alive. Or you may get a full-size surround system to really take advantage of modern games’ soundtracks.
Your computer will have some sort of audio connection on it. If you’ve got a full-size tower PC, you might find an optical audio connector for digital audio. You might be limited to a headphone socket, or Bluetooth may be the best it can manage. These latter two are not the impediment they may appear to getting decent audio out of a PC as computer speakers have been connecting to 3.5mm headphone jacks for decades, while the quality of Bluetooth speakers continues to improve. Watch out for support for the aptX codec if going Bluetooth, as it will improve the sound when connected wirelessly.
Other things to look out for include multiple inputs, so you can use them for your phone or smart speaker as well as your computer, remote controls – not as common as you’d think, and having to lumber across the room to alter the volume rapidly becomes a bore – and solid wooden or hard plastic constructions to prevent them from rattling when you turn on the beans.
These, then, are some of the best computer speakers out there.
Creative has a long history in computer audio – all the way back to the Sound Blaster cards it sold in the 90s to bring music and sound effects to otherwise silent PCs. Now that every computer can make some sort of sound, the company still makes high-end audio processors, but also a lot of speakers.
These are probably Creative’s best for most people. You get Bluetooth, 3.5mm, USB and optical inputs in a simple 2.0 design with a remote control. The 80W peak output should be enough for a decent-sized room, and for a system without a subwoofer the bass really isn’t bad. The USB input doesn’t connect to a computer, but instead allows you to plug in a flash drive full of MP3s or other music files, which can then be played directly through the speakers. It’s a nice feature to have, though having the drive sticking out the back of the right-hand speaker can be a little inconvenient (a USB extension lead could help).
The controls, however, are conveniently located on the top of the right speaker, and on the remote, so they’re almost invisible in …….