<£50 PC 2.1 speakers suggestions?

  James623 14:19 17 Apr 2008

i'm getting a bit sick of the sound my cheap basic speakers giving me so i decided to buy a set of 2.1 speakers

being a music student i think i'm quite sensitive to different sounds yet i'm not sure how to compare speakers...is it about the clarity of sound from different sound ranges or the quantity or what?

needless to say the best way comparing them is to listen to them personally but i dont have the time so by far i'm only comparing technical details of the speakers on amamzon, mainly looking at the number of Watt the satellite speakers and subwoofer give ( or should i be looking at something else? )

i've myself listened to the harmon kardon soundsticks II and JBL creature II, not planning to buy any of them though because my friends own them already, and from what i see on amazon the only set of speakers that come close to the Watt power they have ( and within the my affordable price of £50 ) is the Philips MMS430/05 Multimedia Speaker 2.1. From the reviews they seem pretty good too

i'd greatly appreciate it either if someone enlighten me on how to compare speakers or simply suggest me speakers i should buy within the budget :)

  GaT7 14:50 17 Apr 2008

"being a music student i think i'm quite sensitive to different sounds yet i'm not sure how to compare speakers...is it about the clarity of sound from different sound ranges or the quantity or what?" - I'd say it's definitely the sound ranges that matter more than quantity (volume?). Have you listened to something really high-end like Linns (click here) for example? Most of everything else will sound quite inferior in comparison - especially if you have the 'ear' for such things, as you do.

I was going to suggest this 2.1 Logitech Z-4 set click here for £45, but I think the Philips MMS430/05 may be better. G

P.S. Don't like Amazon's website changes, but I'll have to get used to it!

  Stuartli 14:56 17 Apr 2008

Hi-fi speakers manufacturer Altec Lansing also makes computer speakers at surprisingly keen prices.


click here

for a selection.

  James623 16:19 17 Apr 2008

thanks for the fast replies

i'm glad that you agree on my choice but i wonder why you think the Philips one is better? have to listened to them both or what info. did you look at when comparing 2 of them?

yes i've checked those Altec speakers
they produce less Watt than the Philips ones and sell for higher prices ( like i said i only compared the Watt number i dont know what else to compare without actually listening to them )

  GaT7 17:56 17 Apr 2008

The Philips has more power & a better Frequency range (it's called 'Media Included Qty:' on Amazon for some reason) - so was mainly basing my view on these two things. Signal-to-noise Ratio for the Logitech is mentioned, but can't find the same for the Philips one. There's probably nothing better than listening to them in person though.

Watts (in audio) is a measurement of the speakers' volume - basically more watts = more volume.

Here's a guide you may find helpful - How to Buy Speakers click here (I'm sure there are better ones out there if needed).

Note that Amazon seem to have gotten the model numbers wrong - 05 at the end refers to their 5.1 speakers click here. The correct 2.1 speakers model number is MMS430/00 click here - do a search for these as you may find them cheaper elsewhere.

Ideally you should be looking for better speakers, but unfortunately £50 won't get you much better. There's also the Creative brand of speakers to consider - in particular their I-Trigue click here & Gigaworks 2.0 ranges click here.


From my limited knowledge, here's a list of things I'd be considering for a 2.1 set (in no particular order):

1. Brand name - but if the reviews, specs & prices are good I may go for a relatively unknown too
2. Signal-to-noise Ratio (SNR) - higher the better
3. Frequency Range (FR) - very good speakers will have a range of 16-20000Hz or better I think (not that I could tell the difference anyway!)
4. Wattage - more the better usually, but I'd consider the above two as well
5. Price - more the better usually, but I'd stick to my lowish budget
6. Do I need/will I get a wired/wireless remote - & with base+treble settings if possible
7. Cosmetic appearances & dimensions

Don't know if there's anything technical in this - for about similar quality speakers, set a relatively low volume on powerful speakers & the same *audible* volume on lower-powered speakers - the quality of sound is usually better in the former. Have you ever experienced that? G

  Stuartli 18:12 17 Apr 2008

As Crossbow7 will probably agree, sheer wattage is not the only criteria - the minimum of distortion and clean, clear, transparent sound are more important.

My Logitech 2.0 speaker system (an urgent buy after my marvellous eight or nine-year-old IBM computer 2.1 speakers packed up) are just 2.5 watts RMS each (Root Mean Square, not the flattering PMPO); I don't have any problem hearing them...:-)

The reason why you may find prices higher with the Altec Lansings is simple - as I stated, they are produced by a leading American hi-fi speaker manufacturer and will include the desired quality levels for their task.

A similar US manufacturer, Harmen Kardon, also make computer speakers but they don't seem to be around as much.

Some guidance on sound pressure levels, wattages etc with regard to speakers can be found at:

click here

click here

Remember though we are talking about comparatively lo-fi computer systems and speakers...:-)

  GaT7 18:40 17 Apr 2008

"As Crossbow7 will probably agree, sheer wattage is not the only criteria - the minimum of distortion and clean, clear, transparent sound are more important." - agree absolutely, but as I buy most of my stuff online I rely on the specs & reviews to give me an idea. And my budget isn't very high usually - the last speakers I bought were a refurb Creative 2.1 (click here) set off eBay for £20 delivered. I don't think they're as good as the review makes them out to be but I'm quite pleased.

James623, just to explain why I suggested you should go for a better set. The ones mentioned so far will most probably sound very similar to the JBLs, Logitechs, etc you've listened to before.

Reviews (independent mostly, & sometimes user) always have something to moan about - even for the more expensive, better quality models. It's either the treble/bass/midrange/some-other-thing not being good enough or quite what they expected - & they're probably correct on most ocassions. So, you could go for ones double/triple the price & not hear much difference! In the end, I guess it comes down to your own ears & expectations (& budget!).

Last but not least, try to get hold of a reasonably good soundcard to go with whichever one you choose. G

  100andthirty 18:55 17 Apr 2008

you could try these; I have a set and they're very good:

click here

BUT....... if you're really into music in a big way it might be worth looking and amp/speaker packages at a hi fi store like Richer Sounds and connecting your computer to that - but you'd be looking at 4x your budget

  wjrt 19:04 17 Apr 2008

do not forget that the size of room and the furnishings ie large plush sofas and thick curtains greatly affect the sound quality and so what you hear in a showroom may be miles away from the sound quality you get at home and also the younger you are the range of frequencies you can hear is very much greater

  James623 19:14 17 Apr 2008

many thanks to both of you again :)

yes i kwow
people always have something to moan about no matter how expensive stuff are

now my choice comes down to either one of them - the Philips MMS430 2.1 speakers, or Altec Lansing VS4121/VS4221 (VS4121+ remote controll which i dont really need? )

i've seen so many positive reviews about the philips one, 20 - 20000 Hz frequency range (VS4121 - 25 - 15000 Hz,which looks a lot narrower ), its cheaper compared to VS4121 it lacks the treble control ( i really doubt if i'll ever use it though ) and headphone jack

and for Altec VS4121, well the brand sounds quite promising and price seems tempting for product from this brand but the Watt power is lower than the philips ones

i do both gaming and music listening with my PC...it is to me a tough choice
mind answering me this final question?

  GaT7 19:47 17 Apr 2008

As we've reaslised, specs aren't everything....

The Altec VS4121 got some good to very good reviews too (what would we do without them?!):

Independent: click here, click here, click here, click here, click here, click here

Some mixed user reviews on Amazon US: click here - the dodgy sounding/humming ones were probably faulty!

Volume/treble/bass can always be software-controlled, & headhones plugged into soundcard/case's front audio ports - so not a big loss if they don't have remotes/headphone jacks. G

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