The speakers you use are somewhat of a status statement, and no company more clearly understands that than Klipsch. However, a company isn’t adopted in homes and theaters around the world for its looks alone. Klipsch has substance to its style, and that’s no more clearly exemplified than it is with the R-51PM computer speakers.
As a long time fan of the R-15PMs — which the R-51PMs replaced — to say I was excited for an update would be an understatement, and Klipsch definitely delivered. When I broke out the speakers for the first time, I was impressed with their style. The copper spun tweeter is a familiar hallmark, adding a perfect accent to an otherwise blank chassis.
The sound is really what sells these speakers. Small woofers are notorious for either lacking bass or crowding the rest of the audio field with it. The R-51PM’s humble 5.25-inch woofer sounds much bigger than its size would suggest, partly aided by the large rear-firing port.
If you’ve ever demoed Klipsch speakers —or any audiophile brand, for that matter — none of this should come as a surprise. The R-51PMs aren’t just for audiophiles, though. With a surprisingly clear 120W amplifier powering the two speakers, the R-51PMs are a plug-and-play speaker solution that anyone can pick up.
While my pair lives on my desktop, I’ve moved them around for various purposes in the past. They support a variety of connections, including your phone, computer, and TV. You could, for example, hook the speakers up to your computer through the USB connection and pop over to streaming music on Bluetooth with a single remote click.
Between the looks, sound, and versatility, The R-51PMs are the best computer speakers on the market.
Pros: Look great, sound great, has a ton of connection options
Cons: For $500 without a subwoofer, these speakers are a bit pricey
Why you'll love them: While the Logitech Z313 speakers don’t sound that great, the low price tag makes them an excellent upgrade to built-in monitor speakers.
The Logitech Z313 speakers don’t sound that great, but they make up for any audio woes in value. With a price tag of $49.99 and frequent sales to $35 or less, the Z313’s are the de facto choice for budget computer speakers. While not reaching the quality heights of Klipsch, the low price tag and simple setup of the Z313’s makes them worthy of consideration.
For the price, you’re getting a 2.1 system, meaning there are stereo speakers on your desktop and a subwoofer below. Everything is wired, but with only three cords going between each of the components, cable management shouldn’t be too difficult.
As far as audio quality goes, the Z313’s are best summed up with “good for the money.” The satellite speakers that live on your desktop are fairly tinny and the subwoofer doesn’t reach too deep into the lows. The system won’t get loud, either, with a total power rating of 25 watts (five for each satellite and 15 for the subwoofer).
The limitations only show up when you're trying to play music loudly through the speakers. Logitech attempts to duck the sound coming out of the satellites as the subwoofer gets loud, making for a wobbly effect when listening to bass-heavy music at high volumes. These speakers are best used when listening to music at low volumes or, say, watching YouTube videos.
As a replacement for your monitor’s built-in speakers, the Z313’s are great, especially for how cheap they are. If you’re interested in high-quality audio or just want to blare music, you’ll, unfortunately, need to spend a little more.
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to set up, includes a subwoofer
Why you'll love them: Despite a few issues in connectivity, the Audioengine A5+ powered speakers look as good as they sound.
The Audioengine 5+ speakers are an excellent alternative to the Klipsch R-51PMs. The woofers are the same size, as are the bodies, and both have excellent audio quality. However, with a slightly lower power rating, they may not stay as clear at high volumes. Despite that, CNET says the 5+’s “deliver phenomenal sound.”
As far as connectivity goes, the A5+ speakers are slightly worse than their Klipsch counterparts. One speaker has the amplifier inside, and you’ll connect that speaker to the other using an included speaker cable. For connecting to your source, Audioengine includes a 3.5mm jack (standard headphone jack) and stereo RCA inputs and outputs.
While fine for connecting the speakers to your computer, a USB or optical output would allow the A5+ speakers to be used in a more diverse range of situations. Thankfully, that’s offset by support for Bluetooth. You can connect any Bluetooth device to the speakers and switch to that source using the included remote.
For missing on optical and USB inputs, the A5+ speakers have one major strength in connectivity: RCA output. With that output, you can pair the A5+’s with Audioengine’s powered S8 subwoofer. While the speakers alone have “solid bass depth” according to PCMag, adding a dedicated subwoofer helps the lows a lot.
The looks aren’t shabby, either. At $400, you can choose either satin black or hi-gloss white, both of which look excellent with the kevlar woofers. For a $70 premium, you can also purchase the speakers in a natural bamboo finish that looks great.
Pros: Multiple color options, excellent audio quality, RCA output for subwoofer
Why you'll love it: The Razer Nommo Pro system is expensive, but for the sound and features it offers, the price is justified.
Razer is well known for its gaming peripherals but only recently did it make a serious contender for desktop audio. While PC gamers usually use headphones for the best audio experience, the Razer Nommo Pro speaker system is a clear and powerful alternative for gaming audio.
That comes at a price, though. At $500, the Nommo Pros are the most expensive speakers on our list. That said, you get a lot for your money. The Nommo Pro system is a 2.1 audio setup, meaning you get two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. Each of the satellite speakers has a dedicated woofer and tweeter, too, meaning you’ll have clear highs and midrange.
First, the satellites. Each speaker is equipped with a 3-inch woofer that’s angled towards your ears as well as 0.8-inch tweeter. The midrange woofers make the difference here. With a dedicated subwoofer, the Nommo Pros aren’t trying to reproduce bass with the satellites and, because of that, the midrange is clearer. Gunshots in games like "Overwatch" give just the right kick to the chest.
The low-end is filled out by the subwoofer, which gets surprisingly loud. In fact, the whole system can get loud. Razer has managed something special with the Nommo Pro system in that it can easily shake your room without distorting. Even when explosions are pushing the subwoofer to its limit and bullets are flying across the screen, the sound is clear.
Gaming isn’t the only use case for them, either. Razer includes THX, Dolby, and music modes. THX and Dolby go a lot heavier on the bass, which makes it ideal for watching movies. However, these modes sound dull when listening to music or gaming as the subwoofer overpowers the high-end finesse of the dedicated tweeters.
Why you'll love it: While it’ll take a lot of legwork to set up, the Logitech Z906 5.1 surround system delivers excellent audio quality at a good price.
If you’re an avid movie fan, surround sound is the way to go. While not the most convenient for your desktop, the Logitech Z906 surround sound system has small enough speakers with multiple mounting options to make it worthy of consideration.
The package is comprised of four satellite speakers that are meant to be placed around you, a central speaker, a front-firing subwoofer and control module for controlling the output. Across the speakers, the Z906 system delivers 500 watts of continuous power with the ability to go up to 1,000 watts. In short, it can get really loud.
At the center is the subwoofer, which contains the amplifier and all necessary inputs and outputs. Most surround systems are designed to work in a home theater and, while the Z906 system can be used for that purpose, the number of inputs makes it a great choice for desktop applications.
On the back, you’ll find three 3.5mm jacks, a pair of RCA inputs, two optical inputs, a coaxial input and a plug for six-channel direct connections. Furthermore, you can run these connections simultaneously and switch between them using the included wireless remote. If you use Logitech’s Bluetooth adapter — which is included for only $20 more if you use the link below — you can stream wirelessly to the system, too.
As far as sound goes, the Z906 system is excellent, worthy of official THX certification. According to Trusted Reviews, this Logitech system “delivers a very impressive sound with depth, punch and decent detail reproduction.”
Pros: At around $300, the Z906 system is one of the cheapest ways to buy 5.1 surround sound