If you’d ever thought of getting computer speakers or even went near a shop that sells them, you’d likely see this ubiquitous number somewhere.
Some would assume it’s a product series like 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and wouldn’t bother much with it.
But in the speaker world, those numbers have a very specific meaning.
If you’re reading this, then you probably already know it.
Let’s just plow on for clarity’s sake and demystify the 2.1 speaker system and find you the best 2.1 speakers for your computer needs.
Quick List: 8 Best 2.1 Computer Speakers
- Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX Certified Computer Speakers
- Cyber Acoustics CA-SP34BT 2.1 Bluetooth Speakers
- Logitech Z625 THX 2.1 Speakers
- Edifier M3200 2.1 Speakers
- Creative Pebble Plus 2.1 Speakers – Cheapest
- Harman Kardon SoundSticks Bluetooth Speakers
- Edifier S350DB 2.1 Bookshelf Speakers – Most Expensive
- iLive 2.1 Bluetooth Speakers
Looking At 2.1 Computer Speakers
What is a 2.1 speaker system?
In speaker-talk, 2.1 stands for 2 regular speakers (usually stereo) and a subwoofer.
Likewise, 2.0 is just 2 regular speakers.
5.1 is 5 regular speakers and a subwoofer, and so on.
What makes the subwoofer different than a regular speaker?
The subwoofer is designed to handle the lower frequencies—the bass part. Regular speakers can only produce them to a limited extent.
Imagine having to output the entire audible sound range with one speaker. It’s like asking someone to sing from bass to tenor, all the way to soprano. That’s a lot of strain. Along comes the subwoofer to produce the deep bass frequencies, relieving regular speakers to handle the mid and higher ranges. This gives you a much better sound quality.
The best subwoofers can handle low frequencies down to the ones you can’t hear but feel. This is what gives you that thump in music. With a subwoofer, the regular speakers need to have airiness and clarity to balance it all out. You’re lucky if your regular speakers come with tweeters, the opposite of subwoofers. They’re the sopranos.
For the ultimate 2.1 computer speakers, we wanted balance and clarity. They need to take on not only music but other audio apps like movies, gaming, and online calls.
The Best 2.1 Computer Speakers
1. Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX Certified Computer Speakers
Not many computer speakers get to brag a THX certification. The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 is one of the few.
✔️ What we like: Clean, clear sound with strong bass
❌ What we don’t like: No power button. Really.
- Crisp sound quality
- Additional aux input
THX is an industry-standard that you’ll usually see for cinema audio. If you get speakers that have THX-certified stamped on it, you have every right to expect pure performance out of it.
The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 computer speakers certainly live up to sound quality expectations. The speakers produce clean, crisp audio with powerful, vibrating bass. You won’t have trouble filling a room with sound. The highs and mids are distinct but don’t hurt your ears, and are well balanced with the bass. The bass does distort at max volumes so it would be best not to push that too hard.
In any case, there are control knobs to adjust both bass and volume so you can find the optimum balance for your system. There’s strangely no power button, which is surprising for speakers of this price. And inconvenient, to be honest.
Like most good speakers, the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 does require a burn-in period. Just keep playing them until the drivers loosen up to give you that warmth of tone. You also have to be aware that good audio is dependent on having a good input source. Don’t blame the speakers if you’re running low-quality audio (please… don’t play music with only 96kpbs on these). It will sound pretty awful.
There is a headphone jack and 3.5mm auxiliary jack. This is convenient to plug in a secondary audio source, like your MP3 player or mobile phone. The supplied cables are quite long, so you won’t have too much trouble positioning the speakers.
Touching on positioning, the subwoofer has the port facing forwards and speaker cone on the side. You might want to ensure there’s space where those two elements are facing. Don’t squeeze your subwoofer in between two objects.
The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 is an excellent set of speakers, worthy of your best audio beats and high-end movie formats. Unless the price tag makes you uncomfortable, you can’t go too far wrong with these.
2. Cyber Acoustics CA-SP34BT 2.1 Bluetooth Speakers
Here’s a bit of a party animal joining the lists. The Cyber Acoustics CA-SP34BT comes wireless and with some flashy LED lights to brighten your rig.
✔️ What we like: Easy Bluetooth pairing with clean sounds
❌ What we don’t like: Controls are on the subwoofer
- Party lights
- Clear audio output
- Good build quality
Need some LED lighting to match your gaming rig?
These Cyber Acoustics CA-SP34BT have just those lights, and enough color options to cycle through that there has to be one that suits you. Placed around the rims of the speaker cones, the LEDs produce 5 rings that look pretty neat in even in a lit environment. You do have to cycle through the colors to get to the “no lights” option, which can be annoying if you want them off.
But lights aside, do the CA-SP34BT perform? For their budget price point, these speakers sound incredibly clean with a bit of a thumpy kick from the subwoofer. The bass is not earth-shattering but it’s certainly more than what regular stereo speakers can produce.
Which brings us to the one major grouse. The controls—power, treble, bass, volume, LED color selection, input selection (either Bluetooth or line-in), and even the headphone jack—are all on the subwoofer. Arguably, it’s a small subwoofer so it can sit on your desk to be reachable. But normally, you’d want the subwoofer on the floor.
The power switch is also located at the back. It would have been nice to have it together with the other knobs which are at the side, or in front. It would have been nicer to have a separate control pod altogether.
The speakers don’t recall the last setting you had them on, which can be a minor issue. The source reverts to Bluetooth even if you were using line-in, the colors come back on even if you had them off. However, build quality is good and Bluetooth pairing is a breeze. Note that Bluetooth is for audio input only. The speakers are still wired to each other.
These CA-SP35BT performs well for their price range. If you can live with controls that are on the subwoofer, there’s no reason why these can’t liven up your computer setup with some good sounds and funky lighting.
3. Logitech Z625 THX 2.1 Speakers
Logitech is one of those names that will invariably pop up when computer speakers are mentioned. And for good reason. They make plenty of them, and these Z625 speakers are among those with the THX-certified mark.
✔️ What we like: Great sound quality for gaming and movies
❌ What we don’t like: Speakers are oddly shaped and look clunky
- Awesome sound
- Multiple input options
Being THX-certified is not just a ‘thing’. It means speakers have to go through some rigorous testing to ensure they meet THX sound standards. What you can expect from that is some excellent speaker performance.
And the Z625 do excel. Sound output is incredibly clear, good trebles, and powerful, thumpy bass. It’s strong enough that you might need to lower it to keep it from drowning out the upper registers. The volume from these speakers is commendably loud. You won’t have to up it much to get them blaring. Even at high volume, there’s no distortion.
To be honest, movies and gaming are where the Z625 shines. Voices are clear and sound effects distinct. The soundstage is wide enough for good positional accuracy in gaming. This is probably where the THX mark makes its most impact.
There are 3 input options on the subwoofer that you can use simultaneously—an optical input, RCA, and 3.5mm jack. This is very convenient if you’re hooking the speakers up to multiple devices.
Additionally, there’s an auxiliary input on the right speaker, which acts as the control center. On the right speaker, you also get the power, volume, and bass controls, as well as the headphone jack.
The build quality of the Z625 is solid and hefty. They’re heavier than they look. We do think they have a rather clunky design. The satellite speakers could have been more aesthetically pleasing, but that’s just us.
Looks aside, if you want a good set of speakers for your movie nights or gaming sessions, the Logitech Z625 should be one to consider. With a price tag under $200 and THX certification, these speakers perform admirably well within their range.
4. Edifier M3200 2.1 Speakers
Edifier has some rather stylish speaker designs dispersed among the usual rectangular bookshelf format. The M3200 hourglass is one of those that draw the eye the moment you see them.
✔️ What we like: Appealing, stylish design with excellent sound quality
❌ What we don’t like: Power and bass controls are on the subwoofer
- Crisp sound output
- Great looks
- Convenient control pod
Admit it, whether you find that hourglass shape exceptionally beautiful or plain weird, the Edifier M3200 speakers are eye-catching. Whatever your thoughts, that form isn’t just for aesthetics. That shorter top part houses a tweeter, and the bottom part has the mid-range speakers. Combined with the subwoofer, you’re getting 5 speakers for your money.
But do 5 speakers equate to good sound? In this case, yes. The M3200 outputs crisp, clear highs and rather accurate, heavy lows. Depending on what you’re playing, the mids can get a little drowned, but you can tweak that with an equalizer. Overall, even without the aid of an equalizer, the sound output is good.
If the bass feels too overwhelming, it can be adjusted by the control knob at the back of the subwoofer. The power switch is located there too, along with the primary and secondary input for devices. This could be inconvenient if your subwoofer is on the floor, but well, you can’t have everything. It would have been nice for the power and subwoofer bass to be adjustable from the control pod.
And yes, there’s a nice, metal control pod. This mainly houses the volume control which is a rotating disc, a headphone input, and auxiliary input for another device. So you have 3 simultaneous input options—2 on the subwoofer and 1 on the control pod. This is convenient. They’re all 3.5mm jacks but you can find adapters for devices that don’t use those connectors.
The build of these speakers is quite solid. Be warned that the material is a glossy plastic, which is pretty, but likes to draw dust. So you won’t be able to hide the less-than-avid dusting of your room.
With a unique, clean design that is appealing, good sound quality, and a nice price tag, the Edifier M3200 looks to be one that’s worth taking home.
5. Creative Pebble Plus 2.1 Speakers
We’ve seen the Creative Pebbles 2.0 with their zen garden rock design. This one goes a step farther with the addition of a little subwoofer.
✔️ What we like: Little speakers with a bit of woofer power
❌ What we don’t like: No bass control for the subwoofer
- Attractive design
- Clean, clear sound
A 2.1 speaker system that’s USB-powered? Really?
The USB-powered part comes as a surprise as this system does have a subwoofer. Is it a strong subwoofer (because we all know USB ports have power limitations)? Not much, but it does add a little thumpy bass to your music, and sounds good at close distances. Which is what these speakers are designed for—near field listening. Not to vibrate your windows from 10 feet away.
For something this small, the audio output has pleasant clarity, even on very low volumes. There is some distortion at high volumes, which is expected. More complex music does sound a little muddled, but for slow easy pieces, these Pebbles perform admirably well.
If you want more bass, you can plug that USB into a 5V 2A power adapter and switch the subwoofer to “high gain” mode. This will increase the overall volume capability and ramps up the bass. Note that the USB adapter is not included in this package. There is no bass control though, which is a bummer. Having the ability to adjust it since there’s a subwoofer would have been a plus.
The volume controls are on the satellite speakers, which is convenient. There is no headphone jack or auxiliary input, and the cables are rather short and hardwired into the speakers. So it’s hard to replace or extend.
Despite its shortcomings, the Pebble Plus is a good-looking piece of audio equipment, with pleasant aesthetics and clean sounds. If you’re looking for something simply powered and priced under $50, the Pebble Plus is something to look out for to upgrade your internal PC or laptop speakers.
6. Harman Kardon SoundSticks 2.1 Bluetooth Speakers
Here’s a 2.1 speaker system that doesn’t even look like speakers on the first impression. With a predecessor that has a permanent spot in New York city’s Museum of Modern Art, the Harman Kardon SoundSticks are very hard to ignore.
✔️ What we like: Beautiful, unique design
❌ What we don’t like: Open Bluetooth that anyone can connect to
- Great sound
- Gorgeous design
- Touch controls
Bored of the usual solid black speaker enclosures? Want something that can be a talk-piece even when it’s not making sounds? You don’t have to go further than the Harman Kardon Soundsticks. The version we’re looking at here comes with Bluetooth connectivity.
Let’s air out the Bluetooth issues first. It’s got all to do with connectivity, which is great on its own. No problem pairing with your Bluetooth-totting devices. The problem is the SoundSticks will connect to anybody within an estimated 60ft range if it’s powered up and you’re not paired to it.
That means your neighbor can accidentally pair with it and shock you with your SoundSticks suddenly coming alive when they’re supposed to quiet. Recipe for a heart attack. The solution is to switch them off.
Other than that Bluetooth issue, these speakers are pretty awesome. A total of 8 full-range drivers in the satellite speakers output crisp, clear sound. The subwoofer doesn’t overwhelm and has a bass control knob on it. And they’re loud. No volume issues.
The angle of the satellite speakers can be adjusted, which is a nice plus. On the right speaker, the touch controls for volume and mute are located. The combination of touch controls plus that unique transparent look just gives the entire setup a very futuristic feel. Was kind of expecting the speakers to light up, but unfortunately, they don’t.
The build quality is beautiful, using high-quality plastic that looks like glass. One thing to note—the subwoofer’s port is facing up, so it will have a habit of collecting dust more than usual. There’s also no headphone jack, so that’s a small minus.
These are classy speaker, undoubtedly. If you can live with the Bluetooth issue and no headphone jack, the SoundSticks are worth your dollars. There’s also a non-Bluetooth version if you don’t want to endure the potential hassle of accidental neighbor-pairing.
7. Edifier S350DB 2.1 Bookshelf Speakers – Most Expensive
Edifier has some very interesting speaker options. Their range goes from sleek, modern looks to old-school dressing. The S350DB is one of the latter.
✔️ What we like: Gorgeous old school looks with awesome sound
❌ What we don’t like: Round remote not intuitive for aiming remote signals
- Crystal clear sound
- Beautiful looks
- Multiple input options
There’s just something nostalgic about that black front and wooden enclosure. Classy, elegant, the Edifier S350DB flaunts an old-school style but packed with modern functionality.
The bookshelf speakers have titanium dome tweeters that produce a crystalline high to balance the strong bass thump of the 8-inch subwoofer. Titanium’s a rigid but light metal that works exceptionally well to vibrate the high frequencies of a tweeter, producing the accuracy these speakers display.
The mid-ranges come in clear and the subwoofer’s bass is smooth with no distortion. Volume can go quite loud, enough to fill a room. The sound output of the S350DB more than matches its price.
The variety of input options available is another nice thing about these Edifiers. It takes the usual Aux, RCA, optical, coaxial, and Bluetooth. That’s a lot of options, and the display panel on the right bookshelf speaker will show which input is currently active.
These speakers do seem to be a lot about control, which is good. The main power button is on the subwoofer, along with all the physical input jacks. The right bookshelf speakers carry the knobs for bass, treble, and volume/input. The volume doubles as an input selector, which you activate by pushing it in.
The remote control that has playback buttons, volume, power, and input selections as well. The only small inconvenience is that it’s round. When you want to send a command, you have to turn it around to get the remote signal transmitter to aim properly.
The Edifier S350DB is a great multifunctional speaker that works well for music, movies, and gaming. If you’re willing to shell out the necessary dollars, you can’t really miss with these classy-looking speakers.
8. iLive IHB23B 2.1 Bluetooth Speakers
The iLive IHB23B is a simple 2.1 Bluetooth speaker setup that costs under $50. Need some wireless simplicity?
✔️ What we like: Good sound quality
❌ What we don’t like: LED lights that can’t be turned off
- Clear sound output
- Bass and treble controls
- Budget price
Wireless convenience is something that’s growing every day. There are lots of Bluetooth speakers out there. However, finding a 2.1 speaker system that supports Bluetooth, costs less than $50, and sounds good is not so easy.
Fortunately, the iLive IHB23B does have all of that.
We’ll start by saying that these are not audiophile speakers by any means. The subwoofer will not shake your walls. But constructed with wooden enclosures to be durable, the subwoofer gives out a good thump and the sound output from the satellite speakers is clear.
The volume won’t fill a garage, but works very well for a small room and certainly no problem if you’re sitting at your PC. There is a little distortion at high volumes, so you probably shouldn’t max them out.
Bass and treble control knobs are on the subwoofer, along with the volume knob. This may not be so convenient if you place the subwoofer on the floor (which you’ll probably want to, to help with bass emphasis), as the knobs are on the side. The power and audio input selection (either Bluetooth or line-in) is also on the subwoofer. These buttons are on the top, which is a good placement.
The cables are a little short, so depending on how far you set your satellite speakers, they could go into a stretch from the subwoofer (both satellites plug into the subwoofer). This can be remedied with extensions, but that’s an extra hassle that could have been resolved with just longer cables.
Bluetooth pairing is easy. Unfortunately, the speakers don’t remember which audio input was last used, so that can be a minor annoyance. There are also some neat blue LED lights on them. The lights can’t be turned off though, so again, that might be an annoyance for some.
There are small minuses with the iLive IHB23B. But for their price point, they produce good audio quality, a subwoofer to add a little thump, and easy Bluetooth pairing. If you want something simple at a budget price, these can be the ones to consider.
Finding Your Perfect 2.1 Computer Speakers
If you’re already set on getting a 2.1 system, then you’ve narrowed down your computer speaker search to one category. There are still other factors to take into consideration. Here’s the lowdown on the most pertinent ones.
That Price Tag
Computer speakers with a subwoofer tend to cost a little more than 2.0 speakers, to get that additional bass box. But not always, and subwoofers aren’t made equal. There may be 2.0 speakers out there with good bass engineering that can sound better than some 2.1 systems. We say, some. In general, the ability to produce the deep thrumming bass of a subwoofer is hard to generate with just 2 regular speakers.
Wired or Not
How do I connect 2.1 speakers to my PC?
This is a pretty important question to consider. Often, wireless 2.1 computer speakers are not 100% wireless. Meaning, they could take a Bluetooth audio signal (like from your laptop or mobile), but would still be physically wired to each other. There are 2.1 systems that are fully wireless, but they also tend to cost a bit more.
For a wired system, you may want to look at cable length, especially for the subwoofer. The subwoofer is usually positioned on the floor. You’d need to see if the cable length allows for its position in your setup.
Here’s another important one. With a subwoofer, systems will usually draw power from a wall socket. Subs need power to produce those loud, deep bass sounds. There are smaller 2.1 systems that are fully powered via USB.
Don’t expect these to shake the walls of your home, but they’re likely adequate for personal space. However, if you’re looking to make your windows vibrate, it’s advisable to go for something that plugs into the wall.
Sweet Sultry Sounds
Sound. No matter how good the price, if the sound doesn’t please your ears, don’t get them. That may be a bit of a challenge if you’re buying online. If you can hear a sample output live, that’s the best determiner.
What are the best computer speakers for music? The answer depends on what type of music you listen to. If you’re into hip hop or rock, you’ll want to look at the speakers that generate a rich, heart-pounding bass.
This works for most pop genres too. For jazz and classical, the sweeter, airier trebles with a mellower bass work well. Ultimately, this all depends on how your ears interpret the sound.
The best computer speakers with bass will usually be able to cover most audio applications, be it music or movies, or just a chat with your buddies over Skype.
A Ported Sub or Not
This one falls into a minor consideration and dependent on taste. Subwoofers come in the ported or sealed variety. Ported means they have a ‘hole’ that allows for extra airflow into it, creating a loud and booming type of bass.
This type of bass is well-suited to the heavy thumps of hip hop and R&B. They’re also more energy-efficient. Most subwoofers for multimedia systems fall into this category.
Sealed subwoofers have no extra ‘hole’, just the speaker cone. The bass produced tends to be tighter and more accurate. This kind of bass is often well-suited to the softer classical and jazz pieces. These subwoofers are likelier to be found on higher-end systems. What’s your subwoofer preference?
Ah yes, looks. Does it matter what they look like?
Do you care if your speakers look like the wrong end of a cookie jar and flash lurid neon lights like a seedy disco?
All right, that may be exaggerating a bit. If you like neon lights that pulsate to beats, go for it. There’s something fun about flashing lights. If you like the sleek, smooth metallic look, go for that. We like the sexy look too.
The most important thing is that they function in the way that you want them to.
Taking Home Subwoofers
2.1 computer speakers are a popular setup for computers that want a little more sound range.
For all that 2.0 speakers can do, there’s just something that a subwoofer adds that can’t quite be replicated by just 2 speakers.
Be it for just pure music pleasure, movie binging, or gaming weekends, the 2.1 speaker system has a nice balance that gives some extra bass but doesn’t reach the complexity of a full surround setup.
Full surround would be too much for a computer anyway. We hope we’ve given you some ideas of what’s available, and what to look for.
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“Nasa is an amateur game enthusiast with an addiction to cinema soundtracks. She can be found warring on a mobile MMORTS as often as immersing in a PC RPG. She admits to dungeon crawling to the beats of Linkin Park or the sweeping sounds of Hans Zimmer.”