We find it odd that though there are a multitude of computer speakers and computer speaker reviews out there, it is very hard to find information about PC speakers for gamers. While the world of home theater audio has evolved by leaps and bounds since the 1990s, we cannot help but get the impression that today the same PC speaker models are offered that we already used when we played Age of Empires I.
The world of PC games has also undergone dramatic development, wherein the game audio and especially surround sound are an important part of the gameplay. While PC monitors (and TVs) have adopted to the new highs of PC game graphics, even offering HDTV on small laptop screens, PC speakers are basically still the booming 2.0 or 2.1 plastic boxes that they always were.
Interestingly, if you look for 5.1 gaming speakers on manufacturer websites, the category “gaming” shows mostly 2.0 or 2.1 and no 7.1 or even 5.1 systems. Why is that? No console gamer would even consider connecting his pricey high-tech game machine to such low-quality speakers. That thought wouldn’t even cross their mind.
If they do not use top-notch headphones, for them it is mandatory to connect the console at least to a high-quality 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound home theater. What puzzles us is that while Battlefield 3 offers even better graphics on the PC than on Xbox 360, it is still much simpler to find a 5.1 surround stereo for the Xbox than it is for the PC, especially if you are looking for wireless computer speakers.
We are not saying there are no options, only that it is much harder for PC users than for console gamers, and since we cannot do with less than surround sound for our gaming PC most well-intended computer speaker reviews are useless for our needs.
No, we can only accept speakers which master today’s nemesis of all PC gaming sound and video equipment, Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3. Well, there are a few PC speakers on the market which might live up to our high expectations and do support real 3D sound for our Ego Shooters. If you are looking for wireless computer speakers for PCs though, you are basically out of luck and need to rely on Home Theater Systems, so let us look at the wired computer speaker reviews here.
PC Gamers’ Sound System Requirements
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What are PC gamers like us looking for? For the perfect PC gaming experience, especially for our Ego Shooters, we need:
- true 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound
- five or seven satellite speakers with one subwoofer, not just simulated 3D sound from basically 2 speakers
- real speakers behind us for exact orientation on the battlefield
- especially high quality bass – best headphones play back as low as 15 Hz
- perfect subwoofer sound, no blaring or rattling even with massive explosions on the screen
- Dolby Digital supported
- digital and analogue inputs
- good technical support by the manufacturer
- a manufacturer with the “perfect sound DNA”
When we look for available computer speaker reviews on the Internet, not many speaker sets offer these specs. For some reason most speaker manufacturers rely on 2.1, and even if they have 5 speakers, these are atop of each other and cannot be assembled in a circle around the player.
Computer Speaker Companies
Two companies with great “audio DNA” and mostly good computer speaker reviews come to mind:
- Creative Labs
Both companies offer true 5.1 sound systems for direct connection to your gaming PCs. For completeness we also add Cyber Accoustic’s CA-5402 to the list of 5.1 for PC systems, with their computer speaker reviews on Amazon being good amid the usual amount of negative reports. Since the CA-5402 comes with the lowest price in this review’s review, we begin here and admit we are skeptical that a low-priced sound system can be the answer to our wishes.
When reading the newest customer reviews on newegg.com, with one customer complaining about the hardware coming apart after some time, our skepticism does not improve. More important for us gamers though is the review from July 2011 basically saying that the system has no bass to mention, so basically no real 5.1 system.
“This system entirely lacks the LFE channel, as the subwoofer …”
The reviews on Amazon are good overall (4 out of 5 stars, 5 of 98 one-star reviews), but with some hints of quality problems:
“but the sound was tinny and…the subwoofer didn’t work”
In either case it might be that the customer doing this computer speaker review had bad luck and got a faulty system, but a bad or missing bass is ill news for a gamer.
The reviews overall are positive, so these speakers might be an option, but we were not able to find any specs about the important features such as the frequency response rate.- All that we could come up with (researching amazon.com, newegg.com and cyberacoustics.com) was the maximum possible volume.The connector is a 3.5 mm plug which does not at all allow for real 3D battle sound, so we cannot recommend this system for PC gamers.
Creative Labs offers the Inspire T6300 at a similar low price. Their sound cards, known as “Soundblaster”, have probably been the audio cards of choice for many of you, especially if you can still remember the 80s. With the T6300, the Labs offer a very good option for us PC gamers at a reasonable price. At the time of this writing there are only 2 computer speaker reviews on Amazon for this system, and both are very positive even if the second review is only 3 out of 5 stars because the reviewer thought that the T6300 would replace the sound card, which is obviously not its job. He laughed about his misinformation and only gave 3 stars nevertheless, though he says the system is very good. So we decided to rate this as 5 stars, giving the system 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. There are no reviews yet on newegg.com.
Creative Labs published the specs or made them easy to find:
- Frequency Response: 50Hz ~ 20kHz
- Connection: 3.5 mm stereo jack for analogue line in
The frequency response range is okay, though great headphones go as low as 15 Hz, making for a fantastic bass. This is easier to achieve with headphones though, so the lowest frequency still is “okay”. Yet again the missing analog and digital connective possibilities for us make this system a very good speaker set for listening to your music on the PC, but not for top-notch gaming sound. It seems for a price below $100 that we could not find anything ideal for us PC gamers.
So we moved on, and finally the well-known PC accessory company Logitech offers the Surround Sound Speakers Z906.
Computer Speaker Reviews for Gamers: Logitech Z906
Let us begin the computer speaker review by acknowledging that this Logitech product comes with a higher price tag, so we also expect more. However, after reviewing the other candidates we conclude that only this product gives the gamer what she needs. The Z906
- is THX certified
- offers DTS encoding
- offers Dolby Digital encoding (what gamers need most)
- up to 500 Watts of volume for bombastic battles
- deep subwoofer bass (though some reviewers suggest not as good as its predecessor)
- comes with one subwoofer, 5 satellite speakers
- several digital and analog inputs
- 2 years warranty
- detailed surround sound through onboard 5.1 digital decoding
The Logitech Z906 computer speaker reviews are the most positive of all our reviews here (4.4 of 5 stars, 7 of 112 reviews negative with only 1 star).
Most of the complaints on Amazon are from 2011, when Logitech introduced the system, and are about quality issues starting to use the product. One negative reviewer reminds Logitech that the Z906 does not offer Dolby Digital yet for his TV audio.
Two of the Amazon Logitech Z906 reviewers criticize that its predecessor had an even better subwoofer bass sound. On the other hand, positive reviewers claim the exact opposite, that the Z906 is as good and even better than its predecessor. Sound quality is very subjective and hard to measure, but most of the 112 reviews on amazon are clearly excited about the Z906 (75 of the 112 reviews give all possible 5 stars for the Z906) and rave about its qualities, so from our computer speaker reviews for PC gamers the Z906 is the best and only option.