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Have you ever had anyone ask you ‘What is a computer speaker used for?’.
It’s an odd question if you’ve spent most of your computing time with a pair of Altec Lansing satellites to amp-up your music selection.
However, the question is not entirely strange when coming from someone dependent on their laptop or monitor speaker—and only cares that there is sound.
Simply said, computer speakers are meant to make your computer sound better. That’s all.
Do you care?
If you do, you’re in the right place.
Quick List: Top 6 Computer Speakers Under $50
- Sanyun SW102
- Creative Pebble 2.0
- OontZ Angle 3
- TaoTronics TT-SK018 Mini Soundbar
- Cyber Acoustica CA-3602FFP
- XLEADER SoundAngel A8
What We Looked For In Computer Speakers Less Than $50
Let’s face it. The same question is not always driven by the same intent. Say the query, what are the best speakers for a computer?
This can open to a whole slew of answers.
You might simply be looking for something that will produce your Windows pings flawlessly 99.99% of the time, and you don’t care much about musical performance.
Or you could be an audiophile looking to amp-up your audio experience. If you are into gaming or want to keep things a bit more private you might be interested in our great list of gaming headsets under $100 or alternatively the best gaming earbuds.
The best speakers will have a lot of engineering go into them, which usually translates to more cost. That’s a given.
You might not need that. We’ve therefore looked at finding fair quality within a budget, and sound performance that adapts to most general applications.
Does the music sound good?
Is there clarity and balance for movies and gaming?
What devices does it work with?
Will it kaput if it drops from your desk (when your cat decides to play desktop paw-ball)?
Anything under $50 tends to be built smaller, so we also looked at how portable it is. If you want to see what sort of computer speakers you get for under $100, go and check out that post after reading this one.
Here are our top picks that hopefully, answer these questions.
The Best Computer Speakers Under $50
1. Sanyun SW102
Here’s a little performer that packs a lot of oomph for its size. With their fun blue neon lights, they add a futuristic look to your desk.
✔️ What we like: Tough, little performer with a clear voice
❌ What we don’t like: No off switch for the lights
👌 Standout Features:
- Value for money
- Clear sound
- Long cables for physical placement
- Convenient compact size
You know the saying – good things come in small packages. We’re oddly reminded of the Minions from Despicable Me when we see these (come on, you know those little yellow guys who love bananas). They’re that cute.
Coming in a black oval shape suspended over a metal plate, these speakers are small enough to slide under your monitor or fit comfortably on top of a shelf. They’re so lightweight, you can easily carry them about, and they’re quite solidly built. You shouldn’t have to worry about them fizzling on you any time soon. If you’re the type that doesn’t like earbuds or headphones, but can’t stand your onboard laptop audio, these mini speakers might just be what you need.
For something so small, the sound is surprisingly loud and clear. The bass is expectedly lacking but that’s fine. An equalizer on your device might help push the bass a bit more.
Power is drawn via the USB cable, with the audio signal coming through the 3.5mm plug. Unfortunately, there’s no off switch, so the blue neon lights can’t be switched off unless you unplug the USB. The light is not obtrusive. For most people, they should be OK.
The cables are conveniently long. This allows you to set the speakers quite far apart for optimal sound positioning. There’s an inline volume knob, giving you the option of balancing hardware audio with your software audio.
If you’re getting interference or distortion in the sound, you may need to adjust where you plug the USB as different ports can deliver different amounts of current. These speakers need 1A.
2. Creative Pebble 2.0
Creative Pebble. We just like the name. To some, a pebble is just a small rock. These little, round speakers certainly sound better than a rock, and may we say, look better too?
✔️ What we like: Standout sound in a small, symmetrical package
❌ What we don’t like: We’d have liked it to be entirely USB-driven
👌 Standout Features:
- Pleasing aesthetics
- Great sound quality
- Compact, solid build
- Good price
If you’re looking to add some zen garden aesthetics to your desk, look no farther. The Creative Pebble fits that bill. Who knew something that’s formed like an orange cut at the base could look so eye-catching? But that’s not all there is to the Pebble.
We’ll go to the one little con that sticks out first. The Pebble is USB-powered, but the audio is driven through the 3.5mm plug. So, even though you can power it via any USB port (and need not worry about a wall socket), it’s not 100% USB driven. For someone who’s looking for speakers that get both the audio signal and power from the USB, this is not the one.
After that one mini drawback, there’s nothing much to complain about these minimalistic speakers. The cables are long enough to have them sitting a meter apart. There’s a convenient volume button on one of them.
Our advice is not to maximize the volume on the speakers, as they may start to crackle when pushed too hard. Use the audio source to balance the output. You likely wouldn’t have to maximize anyway, since they’re pretty loud for a small room even at half volume level.
Not only do they have a big voice, but they’re also clear. The sound quality is surprisingly good. The speakers are naturally angled at 45 degrees to deliver sound upwards to your ears, which is a little different than most stereo speakers that are forward-facing.
The bass is expectedly softer, but that’s OK for a speaker this size. There is a 2.1 configuration of the Pebble with a subwoofer if you’re willing to pay a bit more for the bass.
The Creative Pebble computer speakers have simple good looks and great sound quality for a price that doesn’t break the bank.
3. OontZ Angle 3
Looking for something fun, water-resistant (yup, bring them to your poolside or bathtub), and runs on Bluetooth? Say hello to the OontZ Angle 3 from Cambridge SoundWorks.
✔️ What we like: Portable audio in a water-resistant package
❌ What we don’t like: Small power switch that’s hard to see
👌 Standout Features:
- Easy Bluetooth connectivity
- Small, portable size
- Clear sound
There are times when you just need something to bring to the beach to share playlists with your buddies. Or maybe you just can’t go without music when you’re in the shower. The OontZ Angle will be the one to answer your call. These triangular speakers come with an IPX5 rating.
This means it can survive quite a bit of rain or water splashing, without shorting to an ignominious death. Just don’t submerge them, please.
Capable of running up to 14 hours at medium volume, this little Bluetooth speaker packs quite a bit of playtime power. It pairs up easily with your mobile device or laptop. A 3.5mm auxiliary plug is available for non-Bluetooth devices. There’s even a built-in mic for hands-free calls on your phone, though we did find the mic to underperform somewhat.
At any rate, making calls probably wouldn’t be your number one reason to get these speakers.
For the price, we have no complaints about its sound. These speakers probably won’t be loud enough to annoy your neighbors, but they should produce enough volume to fill a small room. The bass is surprisingly noticeable at louder volumes though it’s never going to out-boom your subwoofer.
The passive radiators for the bass face downwards. So, placing it on a solid surface could improve the bass, by letting the deeper frequencies resonate off it. Treble sound clarity is excellent, voice clarity too, for podcasts and movies.
The wedge-shaped design is pleasingly simple, and you can place them lying down or stand them up on one end. Our one little gripe would be the small black power switch, which might be hard for some to notice and handle, especially if you buy this for your grandma.
For its wireless portability and clear sound, these little OontZ are well worth their price.
4. TaoTronics TT-SK018 Mini Soundbar
Speakers come in many shapes and sizes these days. Here’s a look at a nice wired mini soundbar from TaoTronics.
✔️ What we like: Clear sound in an elegant streamlined build
❌ What we don’t like: LED lights that may or may not go off
👌 Standout Features:
- Good sound for the price
- Slim space-saving design
- Convenient volume knob
- Has headphone and mic jacks
The separate left and right speaker configuration is nice, but sometimes you want something simpler to move around. This is especially true if you’re working on a laptop. This TaoTronics mini soundbar might make a good substitute.
The single, streamlined look makes an elegant addition to your desktop. Being a single bar, it’s easy to handle, fits nicely near your laptop, under your PC monitor, or even your smart TV. The form factor is large enough to fit a decent volume knob at the end. This is nicer to use than the press buttons that sometimes come with small speakers.
This soundbar is powered via USB and the audio is driven through a 3.5mm plug. There is a plug for a mic, but you don’t have to use this if you don’t need the mic or if your source device doesn’t have a mic jack. At the back, there is also a convenient headphone/mic input.
If your speakers hiss a little when you plug in the USB, you can try to shift to a different port to eliminate the interference.
The blue LED lighting will turn on as you power up the speakers. However, there’s no power switch and they won’t necessarily turn off when you power down your PC unless you unplug the USB. This likely has to do with the BIOS setting for your USB devices. It’s a small inconvenience if you don’t want the lights to be on all the time.
The sound quality is crisp and clear with a fair amount of bass. They’ll work great for your movies or games, though you will lose some surround effect, which is something that the 2.0 separate speaker setup can emulate a little better with physical positioning.
Elegant streamlined looks, a comfortable volume knob, and good sound quality for under $50.
We think this TaoTronics computer soundbar is a bargain.
5. Cyber Acoustica CA-3602FFP
When looking for something under $50, you may not be thinking of a 2.1 stereo setup. You don’t need a subwoofer. These Cyber Acoustica could change your mind.
✔️ What we like: Warm sound with a convenient control hub
❌ What we don’t like: Satellite speakers are tipping-prone
👌 Standout Features:
- Good price for 2.1 system
- Volume and bass control
- Nice, warm tone
- Good bass from the subwoofer
If you’d like to get a bit of surround sound on the cheap, these speakers might be for you. The satellite speaker cables can split up to 11 feet for some positional adjustment. The subwoofer is meant to sit on the floor to produce a bassy punch and comes with a 6-foot cable.
The sound quality of the speakers is fairly clean and accurate. The mids and highs are warm and clear. The bass is strong, especially with correct positioning of the subwoofer.
We like that the bass gain is adjustable, to prevent annoying your neighbors with those low-frequency vibrations. Don’t say we didn’t warn you if your teen likes them too much for that very reason.
The control hub is a convenient feature, with the volume and bass control, power switch, and also houses the 3.5mm jack for headphones. It’s a nice round design that swivels on the top for volume adjustment.
Build quality is decent for the price, though the satellite speakers could be a little more stable. They’re relatively tall, sitting at an angle. All it would take is a curious paw or naughty youthful hands to tip them over.
So, if you do get these, you may want to put them near a wall where they won’t easily fly off your desk.
For a 2.1 speaker system at this price point, the Cyber Acoustica CA-3602FFP is value for money.
They’re a good upgrade for your monitor or TV speakers, loud enough to fill a medium-sized room.
6. XLEADER SoundAngel A8
Here’s something different. A little disc with touch screen control that connects via Bluetooth, the SoundAngel jumps into the speaker market with mini panache.
✔️ What we like: Super portable with a futuristic touch
❌ What we don’t like: Nothing really pops out at us
👌 Standout Features:
- Budget price
- Extremely portable
- Crystal clear sound
- Touch controls
Before we start delving into this little disc, let’s note that it is not an audiophile device. It’s not going to give you a wide soundstage or surround. Now that we’ve got that part done…
What it does give you? Portability. Small, light, with a solid aluminum build, the SoundAngel was designed to be thrown into your bag (preferably within its neat waterproof carry case) and brought wherever you require speaker-enhancement.
That could be your office meeting for a presentation or a little get-together with friends at the beach, or you just want to listen to music in your kitchen.
Connectable via any Bluetooth-capable device, the SoundAngel pairs up easily and can run over 12 hours at medium volume. Charging up is easy via a supplied micro USB cable. You can even use your mobile micro USB charger on this. Even if you don’t have Bluetooth, you can still get music via a 3.5mm auxiliary plug.
The sound is crystal clear and loud for something so small. Use a solid surface to have the sound bounce off the bottom and get more resonance, or even have the speaker face up. If you’d like some extra fun, get a second SoundAngel and pair them via TWS for a richer stereo experience (for the curious, TWS stands for True Wireless Stereo).
These speakers are undeniably attractive. There are 4 colors, so you’re not lacking options to mix and match. They look sleek and have these little blue lights when turned on. The touch controls are responsive and intuitive. It’s really hard to find something to complain about for its size and price.
If you’re on the search for something simple and portable with a clean, clear sound, the SoundAngel is a good bet. They make a great gift too.
What To Consider When Choosing Computer Speakers
How do I choose computer speakers?
If all you’ve ever had were the default pair that came bundled with your PC, then this might be your question when that pair finally die (and yes, they will die eventually, good or bad). Here are some tips to help you navigate that daunting world of subwoofers and satellites if you don’t want to believe everything the sales guy says.
Going Wired or Wireless
Here’s a fun question: are you going to do some serious gaming with these speakers? If yes, go wired. Bluetooth connections, even with software enhancement to improve latency, still have a habit of creating desync between audio and visuals. But if you’re just listening to music, then the wireless option is fine.
Now, to expand on that—you can still get wired speakers that have Bluetooth connectivity. This means you can play music off your phone and move the speakers about (to your living room for a party, for example). Think about the usage, then decide.
How Will They Hook-up
This is a pretty important factor. Will you be connecting with a 3.5mm plug? USB? Bluetooth? The best option would be something that covers most of these connections. Wired options will usually give you the best sound quality because of minimal interference in the signal, but Bluetooth devices do seem to be getting better these days.
Do They Sound Good
Sound quality is listener dependent. You could be told that they’re the best budget computer speakers, or they’re audiophile computer speakers. This doesn’t mean much if you don’t like the sounds they produce. If you can test before buying, do so.
Just because something looks sleek or comes from a reputable manufacturer, doesn’t mean it’ll sound great to you. There are a lot of things that can improve how speakers sound, like audio drivers, equalizers, a dedicated sound card… but the speakers should sound good to you at the default setting.
Form Factor (What Do They Look Like)
Do you want something minimalist because you don’t have much desk space? Do you know where you’re going to place that subwoofer (and does it have shielding) to prevent interference with your other electronics?
This question may not seem important until you actually want to position them in your workspace. Do you need them to be portable and can fit into your bag? Do you want them to look good beside your furniture? There are some elegant builds out there that can enhance the look of a room.
2.0, 2.1, 5.1?
Ever seen these numbers and felt completely puzzled? These digits are related to form factor and define speaker configurations.
2.0 is for 2 stereo speakers.
2.1 is for 2 stereo speakers with a subwoofer.
5.1 is for 5 surround speakers with a subwoofer.
These are the configurations you’ll likely see. For pure PC/laptop usage, the 2.0 and 2.1 setups are probably fine. Surround sound is great, but you’ll have think of how you’ll position the speakers around you, and then you’re back to that wired/wireless question.
Controls Controls Controls
This may not be obvious but having a dedicated volume and bass control (and maybe treble too) on your speakers is very helpful. Most speakers will at least have a volume knob but maybe nothing else.
Balancing between the manual controls on your speakers and your software helps minimize loss of sound definition. Having a bass knob will allow you to lower the bass and still play loudly without creating heavy vibrations in your room (or create angry neighbors).
How Much Are You Spending
What are the best cheap computer speakers? Most of us will likely ask this question.
Honestly, if you don’t plan to spend much, you’re probably better off getting something with a 2.0 or 2.1 configuration or even a decent soundbar under $100. Good 5.1 surround setups come at a cost. A pair of solid stereo speakers will still give you a pleasant listening experience compared to something that’s fancy but not so well made.
Test them. Make sure they do what you want them to and don’t get caught up in hype (and all the bells and whistles you might not need). Get the speakers to speak for themselves!
Options Galore Under $50
With components getting cheaper each day, consumer electronics have opened up to a variety of formats to meet all sorts of needs. Below $50, the speaker range tends to fall into the 2.0 stereo setup or the smaller, portable form factors. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You buy speakers for what you need them to do. Cheaper prices allow you to experiment a little more, and you might be surprised by what you find. Go ahead. Take the plunge.