When you think of laptop speakers, you might wonder if they’re any different than the desktop variety.
The truth is, any speaker that works with a desktop PC is almost 100% guaranteed to work with a laptop.
After all, a laptop is just a portable PC.
So, should there be a distinction between speakers for the two?
Yes, and… no.
Yes, if your laptop moves a lot and you want the speakers to tag along. No, if your laptop is staying put like a desktop.
So, which speaker is best for a laptop?
Quick List: Top 8 Laptop Speakers
- AYL Mini Speaker
- Cyber Acoustics CA-2988 Portable Speakers
- Altec Lansing IMW257 Mini H2O Speakers
- Creative Inspire T12 Speakers
- Avantree Torpedo Plus Bluetooth Mini Soundbar
- DOSS SoundBox Pro+
- Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speakers – Most Expensive
- Logitech S150 USB Speakers – Cheapest
What To Look For In Laptop Speakers
So here’s a noob question.
Can you hook up speakers to a laptop?
Of course, you can. As long as your laptop has a 3.5mm jack, USB port, or Bluetooth (and they usually have a combination of these), it can hook up to a speaker system.
But why would you want to, if your laptop already has speakers?
There are 2 main reasons for this. Your internal laptop speakers either died or they suck. Either way, you want something that can output decent sound.
Sound quality is a matter of preference, it’s hard to box. But we can all agree that any speaker needs clarity. If it’s not clear, it’s not doing its job. Because we’re looking at laptops specifically, we’re gearing more towards speakers that are small and portable, don’t have complex wiring and have a simple powering solution.
We’re assuming that you’ll want to move them around.
What are the best portable laptop speakers?
What are the best USB speakers for laptops?
These are some of the questions we considered when making our picks.
Hopefully, in turn, our selection can provide you some direction as you navigate the vast, varied world of speakers.
The 8 Best Laptop Speakers In 2020
1. AYL Mini Speaker Review
At first glance, this little speaker looks a bit like a Pokemon ball. You wouldn’t think they’re speakers, which makes the unconventional form of the AYL Mini Speaker quite interesting.
✔️ What we like: A thoughtfully designed, portable, collapsible mini-speaker
❌ What we don’t like: The LED power indicator is a little too bright?
- Collapsible portability
- Link several for more sound
- Innovative design
- Crisp, loud sound
This AYL Mini Speaker is already small. Yet the designers decided to make it collapsible as well, increasing portability, like those cups you bring during an ultra-marathon. Apart from its function as a speaker, the design just makes it interesting.
You can link several to each other like a daisy-chain to generate more sound. It would be akin to having a minion choir instead of just one minion singing ‘banana’ (forgive the Despicable Me reference).
As for sound, this mini speaker is infinitely less squeaky (and less giggly) than a minion. That collapsible accordion part? That’s a bass resonator. It allows more air to move through the speaker, which gives it a rounder tone.
The bass doesn’t go anywhere near a subwoofer, but for something so small, there is bass. You can hear the difference in sound quality when it’s collapsed compared to when expanded.
The overall sound is clear with a defined crispness, and it’s amazing how loud these AYLs can get. Considering its size, AYL managed to fit in a volume control dial along with the power switch, USB charger port, and a headphone input around the base.
We like how the 3.5mm audio cable can tuck in neatly at the bottom of the speaker.
The volume control dial is a nice addition. There’s even an LED power indicator—a very bright one—so you’ll know if the speakers are on. It’s so bright it can be distracting in darker environs.
The battery lasts for hours at medium volume. You won’t have to worry about it running out of juice any time soon. And when it does, just plug in the supplied USB cable to a nearby port on your laptop or even power bank.
A lot of thought went into the design of this mini speaker to make it compact and portable. With good sound production for its size, and a nice price tag, hard to find anything wrong with the AYL Mini Speaker.
Just throw it into its carry pouch and bring it everywhere.
2. Cyber Acoustics CA-2988 Portable Speakers Review
There are many forms of portable speakers out there. The CA-2988 comes as a pair that can be magnetically clamped to each other for easy packing.
✔️ What we like: Convenient portability for work on-the-go
❌ What we don’t like: No volume or power controls
- Clamps magnetically for travel
- Loud, crisp sound
- USB powered
- Budget price
Cyber Acoustics is better known for its larger desktop speakers and headphone series. These portable speakers are an interesting offering among the 2.0 and 2.1 speaker systems.
Built about the size of a dollar bill, the CA-2988 comes as a pair of flat speakers that use their connector plugs as a stand. This lets the speakers sit at an angle to the listener, much like a photo frame.
These speakers don’t have a battery. They’re powered via USB, so there’s no need to worry about a wall socket. Just plug the USB into your laptop to turn it on. There’s no power switch, though.
Some users have noted that the speakers will continue to draw power even if you’re not using them. This can add to the drain on your laptop battery.
Audio is received via a 3.5mm jack, so you still need to plug that in to get sound. The speaker cords can separate up to about 3 feet, so there’s not much distance to position them apart.
As far as sound goes, they’re loud enough for use in a classroom or training session. They feel like they’re built for this purpose, and not necessarily for enjoying music or movies. Sound quality is concise and clear, though lacking richness in tone.
There are no volume controls but you can do so from your laptop or whichever device you have them hooked into. Users have commented on a static hum when they’re plugged in, which can be countered by increasing the volume.
This is not an audiophile pick. Probably not even for someone who just wants to enjoy a rich music or gaming session. But, if you’re a road warrior who often has to present, or needs something simple to enhance sounds from your laptop, this just might do the trick.
Compact, easy to use, and small enough to fit in your pocket, the Cyber Acoustics CA-2988 is a budget upgrade to your laptop speakers.
3. Altec Lansing IMW257 Mini H2O Speakers Review
Altec Lansing has come a long way since their desktop speakers systems with the usual stereo pair flanking the boxy subwoofer. Their designs are much more rugged these days, as these floating mini speakers show.
✔️ What we like: Tough, compact design with clear sound and can float
❌ What we don’t like: Crackles at high volumes
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Light and compact
- Clear sound
Did we say floating? Yes, the Mini H2O is designed to float. This is one of those speakers meant to survive tough environments. It has an IP67 rating, which means it is not only waterproof but also dustproof. And can we say it again—it floats.
But why would you want a laptop speaker that floats? It’s not like you’ll be bringing your laptop outdoors, right? No? You might. What about those camping weekends by the lake (cue speaker falls into lake), or family get-together near the pool (cue speaker falls into pool), or that expedition into the desert…ok, maybe not that. Maybe an expedition into the dusty old storage shed then. It’s dustproof, remember?
Besides, this thing is Bluetooth wireless. It doesn’t just hook to your laptop, it’ll talk to your phone, tablet, pretty much anything that transmits Bluetooth audio. If your device has no Bluetooth, you can still use the auxiliary line-in to connect. It’s even got a mic for you to make hands-free calls.
The controls are simple. There is a power button and volume button. Charging is via a USB port. The battery can last fairly long. You’ll prune up in the pool long before your Mini H2O has devoured a large fraction of its power.
The Mini H2O is loud, but not enough to cater to a crowd. It’s good if you just want something to listen to in your personal space or a small room. Sound quality is very good, clear tones, and a tiny bit of bass. At maxed volumes it does crackle a little, which is not surprising for speakers this size.
There are plenty of color options to suit your mood and style. It’s lightweight and has a handy loop used to hook it to your backpack when you’re out in the woods. At a low price, the Mini H2O comes as a tough, portable speaker meant to survive not only the office and home but the harsh outdoors too.
Go ahead. Bring it for a float in your backyard inflatable pool.
4. Creative Inspire T12 Speakers Review
Creative has quite a wide range of computer speakers. This is one of their smaller 2.0 speaker systems with bass technology incorporated.
✔️ What we like: Great looks with crisp sound quality
❌ What we don’t like: Some distortion over high volume
- Great sound output
- Good build quality
- Additional aux input
- Nice looks
Let’s talk about looks and size first. Glossy black with an exposed speaker cone, the Inspire T12 is reminiscent of its bigger brother, the Gigaworks T20. The exposed cone could present some dust-accumulation issues, but otherwise the speakers have a nice, sleek look. Build quality is good and feels durable.
The Inspire T12 is small among its family of 2.0 speakers, but certainly not the smallest in the market. It wouldn’t fall into the uber-portable group. However, it would still be easy to move around the house.
As the speaker-to-speaker cables are not hardwired, you have the option to just port around the primary speaker if bringing the pair is too much of a hassle. You’d still need to be near a wall socket, as these speakers need to be plugged in.
The supplied cables are somewhat on the short side. No issue if you’re using a laptop. If you’re on a PC, you could have a length problem if your CPU sits on the left side.
There’s a volume knob on the front, as well as a 3.5mm headphone input and an alternate aux input. The secondary audio input is a nice extra, for when you don’t want to keep on unplugging from your laptop.
Sound quality is excellent. Clear and crisp trebles, with fairly decent bass. Very nice for general music listening with no problems pushing the mellow notes from jazz or classical pieces. Hip hop might be a problem as the bass is underwhelming for this genre. There is bass, just not on the thumpy side.
For small speakers, the T12 does generate a large amount of volume. Enough to fill a small living room, but not enough to get your neighbors banging on your door. There is some distortion over high volumes, as the speakers may be pushing itself a little too hard.
At its price, this is a good offering from Creative to get you some awesome audio from your laptop without sacrificing lots of space.
5. Avantree Torpedo Plus Bluetooth Mini Soundbar Review
More mini soundbars have been making their way into the audio market these days. The Torpedo Plus from Avantree is one that manages to hold its own.
✔️ What we like: Truly low latency with a separate aptX transmitter
❌ What we don’t like: Nothing that stood out
- Low latency with aptX transmitter
- Quality build
- Crystal clear sound
- Good looking
The common issue with any Bluetooth speaker is latency. If you’re just listening to music, that’s no big deal. But it really kills the fun watching a movie when the actors’ lips move and what they’re saying comes a half-second later.
Not to say that latency will always be a problem. The Torpedo Plus supports aptX Low Latency. So if latency is an issue, it’s a good idea to invest in a low latency transmitter (like the Avantree’s Audikast).
This will eliminate any delays when working with the Torpedo Plus, especially if you’re using them as TV speakers. If you’re on a laptop, you can just easily avoid latency by plugging in the 3.5mm cable.
Having Bluetooth does make it convenient to connect with many devices, like your mobile or tablet. The Torpedo Plus is lightweight enough to port around. The build is solid with a quality feel, and it has a nice sleek look that sits well on any surface. It’s also small enough to fit in a laptop case for travel.
Controls are simple. There’s a power switch at the back, a mode, and volume buttons nestled into the triangle corners. The 3 modes add interest to this soundbar. There’s fairly strong bass in Bass mode that would suit music playback.
Don’t worry, the bass won’t shake your walls. The 3D Surround mode adds some depth to movie and game sounds and the Balanced mode produces crystal clear voices. This is not audiophile quality, but it should meet the demands of the rest of us mortals.
A fully charged battery can last between 4 to 6 hours, depending on the volume level. That’s pretty fair usage time. It’s charged via a USB and you can use it while it’s charging.
The Torpedo Plus is not loud enough to fill a large room. But it’s a great little soundbar to enhance the sounds of your laptop or have it near you to hear your TV (instead of blasting the TV volume).
With excellent audio, portability, and elegant looks at a decent price, this soundbar is one that’s hard to complain about.
6. DOSS SoundBox Pro+ Review
DOSS has an array of soundboxes to choose from. The SoundBox Pro+ is a little heftier than its smaller siblings and comes with party lights to amp up your nights.
✔️ What we like: Pretty lights pulsing around a warm tone output
❌ What we don’t like: Extra bass is not really ‘extra’
- Loud and clear audio
- IPX5 water-resistant
- Beat-driven lights
- Decent battery life
Want a little soundbox that flashes like a mini strobe-light to your beats? The DOSS SoundBox Pro+ has its groove on. Small enough to be carried about with the sound and lighting capacity to annoy a grumpy parent, this might just be the thing to make your teen’s day.
Parental jokes aside, the SoundBox Pro+ does have a very loud voice. Enough to fill a large room. It was obviously designed to be a party item and is no match for these fantastic party speakers. But never fear, it will still sit nicely next to your laptop for your next conference presentation. You might want to turn off the strobe-like LEDs though.
Connecting primarily through Bluetooth, the SoundBox Pro+ pairs up easily and can be turned into a stereo setup via TWS with a second SoundBox. You can also hardwire it via an auxiliary input located at the back, for non-Bluetooth devices. This would be advisable if you want to do some serious high FPS gaming on your laptop and avoid latency issues.
Audio quality is impressively clear with warmth to its tones. There’s no detectable distortion when played at higher volumes. The bass is strong for a speaker this size when the bass button is on. You may want to do this when playing music to get a nice definition of the output audio.
The SoundBox is well-built with quality materials. It’s a little heavier than it looks and has a rubberized coating which is probably related to its IPX5 water resistance rating. No worries about someone spilling their drinks on it during a gathering. There’s an SD card slot at the back, along with the USB charging port and aux input which is covered by a flap.
Power, volume, and track controls are simple and intuitive, located on the top. The battery can last over 10 hours without the lighting and at mid-volume, which is very good for a portable speaker.
With several color options and good sound quality at an agreeable price, the DOSS SoundBox Pro+ is another portable speaker that could be the one to keep your laptop company.
7. Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speakers Review
Bose is a familiar name in the audio industry, with speakers ranging from mid-price to super expensive. The Companion 20 is one of their not-so-cheap speakers for laptop and desktop use.
✔️ What we like: Beautifully clear and balanced sound
❌ What we don’t like: No controls for bass or treble at this price tag
- Exceptional sound quality
- Good looks
- Neat control pod
- Easy setup
One thing you have to agree about Bose speakers—they’re pretty. They always look good and these Companion 20 are certainly no exception. The smooth, sleek brushed metal finish and simple lines give it a tasteful, elegant vibe that would look good next to any laptop or desktop PC.
The addition of the control pod adds a dimension of functionality to the speakers. From there, you can adjust the volume with the rotational disc and mute by tapping the top part. There’s also a headphone input and an auxiliary input.
This is convenient for playing from other devices without having to unplug the main audio line-in. We would have liked to see some bass or treble controls as well, but unfortunately that’s just a wish.
Sound quality is what would be expected of a Bose product. Crystal clear trebles and strong bass from small speakers. Voices and instruments are distinct. Sounds will likely get better with time as the drivers are broken-in.
Whatever tech they put into these speakers to justify the price tag is definitely working. If you’re not into the booming, chest-pounding low frequencies, the bass from these speakers would probably be more than enough.
Because the sound reproduction is so good, the quality of your source audio will show. Low bitrate tracks will reveal their missing bits, and high-quality mixes are going to display a richness that is absent on lower-end speakers. Therefore, make a point to play good stuff on these speaker or you’ll think they’re lousy.
One point that seems to come up often is a static buzzing from the speakers. This could be due to the balancing of volume between the speakers and the audio source (your laptop, for example).
The recommendation is to set the source volume at 75%, then adjust the volume with the control pod. If there’s still static, reduce the source volume further.
The Bose Companion 20 is not a cheap speaker.
But for the excellent balance of sound coming from a minimalist size, and the fine quality of its build, it’s worth the dollars that decorate its price tag.
8. Logitech S150 USB Speakers Review
Logitech is well-known for its computer peripherals. The S150 USB Speakers is a simple plug and play option that avoids the hassles of too many cables.
✔️ What we like: Audio and power from a single USB connection
❌ What we don’t like: Volume is a little soft
- USB audio and power
- Easy setup
- Clear sound
- Volume and mute buttons
Many speakers out there that are marketed as ‘USB speakers’ actually mean that they are USB-powered, but often draw their audio through a separate 3.5mm line-in cable.
This is where the S150 is different. It’s truly a USB speaker—drawing both power and audio through a single USB connection. This makes it invaluably simple to use. It’s a great way to quickly circumvent poor internal laptop audio. But it also has its drawbacks.
Anything that is USB powered has limitations on loudness. The louder the speaker, the more power it needs. A USB port can only deliver so much juice. But for the convenience of only having to worry about ONE contact point to your laptop, the S150 wins.
Volume may be an issue as these speakers can only go so loud. Don’t expect them to fill a room, but they would work well in most personal spaces.
Sound quality is acceptable for its price. They won’t make your music sound better but they are clear, and sometimes that’s all you need. A tip from some users to improve sound quality would be to look at the Windows “properties” for this playback device and adjust the properties in the “enhancements” tab.
There are similarly small, budget speakers out there that may perform better. But if you’re looking for a no-hassle option to improve your laptop audio, the S150 with its single USB connection, low price, and simple looks could fall onto your radar.
The S150 USB speakers have been around for quite a while, so there must be something about it that keeps it in demand.
Choosing Your Laptop Speakers
What are good computer speakers? Anything that connects properly and outputs your audio clearly and correctly can be considered good. But let’s break down that question and look at it from different angles, so you can decide your priorities.
Portability and Size
When thinking of speakers for laptops, you usually want something portable. Sure, your laptop can hook up with your 2.1 speaker system, but you can’t lug that subwoofer everywhere. We’re certain it would protest quite strongly too.
But never fear, several options can be ported around. There’s the little clip-on laptop speaker that will park on the edge of your display. There are mini-speakers with unique portability features like being collapsible. How about a small soundbox or the longer soundbar? And of course, light, compact 2.0 stereo speakers are also just as handy.
Connectivity (Bluetooth, USB, Aux)
This addresses how your speakers will receive audio. The most common form is the wired auxiliary 3.5mm plug. A less common wired option is to getting audio through a USB port. Then there’s the Bluetooth option for going wireless.
You also need to be aware that sometimes speakers that can receive audio via Bluetooth may still be wired to its power source and each other. Many speakers support both the wired 3.5mm plug and Bluetooth to receive audio, which is convenient.
Speakers are typically powered from a wall socket or USB port. Are USB speakers good? It depends on what you want to use them for. Remember that a USB port has limitations to how much power it can deliver.
For small, portable speakers, this isn’t a problem. But the larger, louder speakers would want to draw from a wall socket. A bigger voice usually means more power needed. Of course, being able to power up from a USB port makes a speaker more portable.
Do you want loud laptop speakers? Most internal laptop speakers are too small, delivering a sound that may be clear, but feeling contained and squeaky, with limited volume. External speakers tend to be much louder, with more expansive sound quality.
Sometimes you’re just looking speakers that will deliver clear, loud sound during a presentation. Other times, you may want something that will sound good when playing music and movies. We think finding speakers that deliver a balance of this is a good option.
Size Does Not Equate Price
How much do you want to spend? Size does not equate to price. Small, quality speakers with premium sound can cost quite a bit. Blame that on the funky engineering that goes into it.
But you don’t have to make a hole in your pocket to get decent speakers. Often, the more extras go into the speakers, the more it will cost. Just think about whether you need those extras or not.
The Portability of Laptops…
Laptops were meant to be portable.
They usually have internal speakers as the idea is to avoid packing additional equipment when you move around.
However, laptops have found more uses these days than just portability. Which is where the external laptop speakers come in, as there’s a need to fill.
You want better sound than what your tiny internal speakers can generate.
Fortunately, there’s a world of options for you to pick from, whether you’re a minimalist road warrior or just want to work from the comfort of your sofa.
Have fun finding the perfect speaker-companion for your laptop.
- 8 Best 2.1 Computer Speakers (Under $50 to Over $250)
- 7 Best PC Soundbars (Under $40 to Over $300)
- 8 Best Laptop Speakers (Under $20 to Over $200)
- 8 Best Computer Speakers Under $100 (Great Bang For Buck)
- 6 Best Computer Speakers Under $50 (Quality & Affordability)
“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.”