Computer Speakers That Won’t Take Up Too Much Desk Space

A simple upgrade that makes a big difference to your office.

Computer with computer speakers.
Turn your office setup into a true multimedia experience with computer speakers.Pixabay

An office should be more than just plopping a laptop on a table. Make yours feel more personalized, energizing and comfortable with one of the most overlooked office accessories: computer speakers.

Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers - for PC (with 3.5mm AUX & PC input)
Plug this set into a standard headphone port of any device to enrich the sound—whether it’s a conference call on your phone or a presentation on your laptop.Bose

There are two main types of speakers: passive and powered. Passive speakers are an older variety; they’re plugged into an amplifier or receiver for power, and that amplifier or receiver is often quite large. Powered speakers like those highlighted in this article don’t require that extra component, meaning they’re great for smaller spaces. Historically powered speakers haven’t sounded as full or rich, but that’s changed thanks to advancing technology. The vast majority of computer speakers are now and have always been powered, to save you from needing any more equipment.

Creative Pebble 2.0 USB-Powered Desktop Speakers with Far-Field Drivers and Passive Radiators for Pcs and Laptops (Black)
This product doesn’t require a separate cord to plug into an outlet, making a cleaner desk setup.Creative

Computer speakers are sold in sets, unlike a traditional stereo, which is sold piece by piece. That means that there’s an array of terminology to know. The most important is a number you may see on computer speakers, like “5.1” or “2.0.” Those don’t refer to quality, but simply the number of speakers. The first number tells you how many satellite speakers you have, and the second number, after the decimal, tells you how many subwoofers you have. So a 2.1 system, which is quite common in computer speakers, has two satellite speakers you put on your desk, and one subwoofer you place on the floor. A subwoofer adds a lot of extra bass, but you may not need it—or have space for it.

AmazonBasics USB-Powered PC Computer Speakers with Dynamic Sound | Black
This product uses a USB cord for power and a simple 3.5mm cord—the same one as your headphones—to connect to a computer.AmazonBasics

Speakers can connect to your computer in a variety of ways. Whereas big traditional stereo receivers have usually used what’s called an RCA cable (which has red and white plugs), computer speakers typically use a 3.5mm cable, the same one that headphones use. Increasingly, though, there are other options. Many computer speakers today use Bluetooth, which is convenient due to being wireless, but also has downsides. You may have to reconnect to your computer sometimes, and the sound quality isn’t quite as good. The sound quality issue won’t be a big deal with cheaper computer speakers, but if you want a higher-end system, look for a hard cable.