The PC Part You Forgot

The PC Part You Forgot
5 min read
13 July 2022

 You're building your brand new PC when you realize you made a rookie mistake, you forgot that speakers. So, you figure that you should go and buy some, unless you want to spend all your time wearing an uncomfortable pair of head clamps. 

It's not exactly hard to find a set of cheap speakers, specifically designed for PC that have great ratings on Amazon. Some of them even throw in a subwoofer or allow you to power them by a USB instead of running another cable to a power strip that lives in a tangled jungle behind your desk.

But hold on a sec, despite the name, PC speakers aren't necessarily the best way to get sound out of your PC. A popular alternative is to buy speakers that look a little more something like what you'd find in a home theater or a dedicated stereo system, the kind commonly referred to as studio monitors, bookshelf speakers, or satellite speakers.

The PC Part You Forgot

You see, although computer speakers and these other speaker types can look fairly similar. They were designed with different groups of people in mind and there are two aspects, in particular, where PC speakers differ.

Number one, convenience. Setting up computer speakers is typically as easy as just plugging them into that weird little green port on the back of your motherboard and then turning the volume knob that's built into the speaker itself. No other setup required unless you're setting up a subwoofer.

Two, PC speakers tend to be tuned a specific way. In order to sound impressive, they often emphasize the bass and sometimes also the treble. It's similar to the V-shaped sound signature you commonly get with mainstream headphones, as exaggerated bass and treble can make music sound richer and crispier, and who doesn't like hard hitting bass when an explosion goes off during a game. 

 But the problem is that designing your speakers this way means you're sacrificing the accuracy of the sound, not to mention that some of the cheaper PC speakers simply aren't built well enough to sound clear in the first place. And while there are definitely some very good PC speakers out there, a set of bookshelf or studio speakers could possibly give you clearer, more accurate audio that reflects what the artist or game developer wanted their creation to sound like thanks to larger drivers and generally better build quality. 

Make sure you're paying attention to whether the speakers you're considering are active or passive. Active speakers simply mean they have a built-in amplifier to power them. So, you'll plug them straight into the wall socket, kinda like you would with regular PC speakers. Passive speakers, on the other hand, they require an external amp for power. You connect the speakers to the amp with speaker wire and then the amp to your computer to get a signal. So yeah, there's another thing you gotta buy.

Although, active speakers can be a bit more convenient. Passive speakers allow you to upgrade later at a lower cost, as passive speakers are usually cheaper than the equivalent active speakers since you're not paying for a built-in amp. Opting for a good quality external amp can also allow your speakers to get louder without much distortion and even prevent that annoying hissing sound when you turn them up.

But remember you can't just pair any passive speaker with any amp. You need to make sure your amp can put enough power into your preferred speakers without blowing them up. But the good news is that for an average desktop PC setup where you're sitting just a few fit away from the speakers, an inexpensive 20 or 30 watt amp is likely all you need. Also remember, that most studio and bookshelf speakers and amps use RCA connectors for audio rather than the 3.5 millimeter Jack common on computers. So there's a good chance you'll need to pick up one of these Y adapters but aside from speaker wire, that's really all you need in terms of extra equipment. So don't be afraid to experiment when picking out your next audio setup unless you really need that extra RGB. You don't.

Den W. 3243
I'm a passionate tech enthusiast who loves diving into the world of software, programming, and tech reviews.
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