Siddharth BasrurJul 14, 2011 14:16:23 IST
Speakers are great for listening to casual or if you're watching a great action flick. If you're in the market, planning on buying a PC speaker set, you'll be surprised to see the number of choices available. You should check out our list of these five simple tips that will aid your decision.
Surround speakers (5.1) or 2.1 Speakers
Your first step would be to figure out whether you want surround sound or not. This depends on a lot of factors from space constraints and budget to even what your primary use of these speakers are going to be for. A lot of avid gamers love the 5.1 surround sound experience as this just adds to the thrill and excitement that games provide.
5.1 speakers - great for movie and gaming enthusiasts
A 5.1 system has 5 speakers and a subwoofer, so you’ll have to make sure you have enough space. Mounted speakers allow the sound to spread more evenly. Most speaker manufacturers don't bundle stands, so you'll have to buy your own or make some made. If space is an issue, you could always go in for a good 2.1 set (two speakers + subwoofer). This will take up less space and although you won’t have surround sound, the audio quality of a good 2.1 speaker set should keep you satisfied. Manufacturers such as Logitech, Creative and Altec Lansing that provide both 2.1 and 5.1 speaker systems.
Of course, if you want surround sound, you’ll also need a sound card that supports 5.1. Fortunately, most onboard audio solutions on desktops support 5.1. Sure, it gets a little tedious and maybe even expensive, but watching movies and playing games on your computer with surround sound is an event in itself. A good 5.1 sound system will give you all the benefits of surround sound while watching action sequences or playing games (provided the game is optimized for surround sound). Imagine hearing everything around you while playing an action game or helicopters whizzing past you while watching a movie. But you should opt for this only if that is what you love doing the most. If you are an occasional gamer or movie watcher, a good 2.1 system will be more than adequate, and a lot lighter on your pocket. If you want to check out some great 5.1 systems, click here .
2.1 or Stereo
A 2.1 system has a subwoofer, and sometimes there may be cause for concern with regard to the space in where your computer sits. Perhaps there is not enough room for the subwoofer, which can be pretty large at times. But fear not, for there is a solution to everything; you can go in for a stereo speaker system in this case, as there is no subwoofer involved. And just because a stereo speaker set has no subwoofer, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a good bass response from it, as some better speakers have the woofer built into the speaker cabinet itself.
Good for music and most casual users
A good 2.1 set like the Sony SRS-D211 2.1 will suit your needs perfectly, and though these aren’t very expensive, you can spend a lot more if you want to. As for stereo speakers, I’d recommend the Audioengine 2 Speakers as they pack quite a punch, although they’ve been around for a while.
Some 2.0 speakers offer superior quality to 2.1 speakers
Yes, there is a step below plain stereo, and these are called portable speakers. These are really small stereo speakers and are usually USB powered. Most people like to carry these around with their laptops, phones or MP3 players, but they can also be used with desktops. However, the sound quality will not be all that great, as these speakers are really compact and not that powerful. Nevertheless, they are still an option if you want something compact for both, home and for your trips. The XMini Max II Portable Speaker System is a good example for portable speakers.
Capsule speakers are great if you're constantly on the move
The ideal scenario would be to get a set of speakers with a remote. However, not all models come with one, and if you are a couch potato, you need to take this into consideration. Some basic models bundle a control pod that’s wired directly to the speakers. It is a good idea to check whether the controls are old-school analogue or digital. If it is analog, there’s a good chance of the volume dial getting spoiled in the long run, due to wear-n-tear. Also check what kind of functions the remote or control hub provides, apart from plain volume control, e.g. a mute button.
Check for Distortion
You can buy plenty of really cheap speaker sets of the road which is also a very easy way to get ripped off. So, make sure you test the quality of audio coming from these super-budget speakers, as they are most likely to be made out of cheap components. Look for telltale signs of bad design or poor audio such as vibrations from the speaker cabinet or abrasive sounds at high volume, for e.g., a crackling sound in the higher frequencies or distorted bass. Even when you are buying products from a reputed brand, make sure you don’t fall for just the name, as some low-end products might have the same problem due to low power.
If you can dish out a little extra cash, wireless speakers are definitely the way to go. However, if you are going in for a wired system, avoid pre-attached wires, otherwise, tangling and untangling wires and maintenance can be quite painstaking, and that’s something nobody appreciates.
Setting up 5.1 speakers can be quite a task
Also check for other qualities, such as, whether the speakers have a headphone out or an extra line in. If you are buying a 5.1 system, it is also imperative that you see if it has a digital audio input (an optical or co-axial). If it does, you don’t need to buy an additional sound card for your PC, as it will do the decoding itself.
So there you have it. By now, you have a clear idea as to how you should go about buying the PC speakers of your choice.
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