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Are PC speakers bad?
HTS
post Jun 11 2008, 21:27
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Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.
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AndrewCottrell
post Jun 11 2008, 22:04
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 20:27) *
Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.

The main things are size, amplification and price. PC speakers tend to be small, use internal amplification (active) and are usually cheap. Those attributes all tend to trade off against sound quality. I wouldn't want to make a sweeping generalization about 'weakness' as these trade offs are desired by the people who buy them.

Back in the days of CRT monitors, PC speakers had to be shielded. I assume they still are. I don't know if that involves a trade off against quality, but I assume it increases the price slightly.

I imagine that the even the expensive PC speakers are trading off size and amplification against sound quality. Their quality should be proportional to their price as compared to active speakers of the same size (although there will be an effective surcharge if the brand is popular).

Bookshelf speakers will generally be larger, have a higher sensitivity, and use external amplification. They may or may not be shielded (so check before you put them near CRTs). I would expect that, at the same price point, the bookshelf speakers would sound better, but of course you'd need an external amplifier.

Funny story: At my work place I have a pair of Dell PC speakers -- they sound terrible. I expect they would cost about $20 new. At home I have a pair of Celestion 5 bookshelf speakers -- they sound great. I purchased them off eBay for $20. (Actually I'm in England and use British pounds, but I've translated into US dollars as I assume you are American)

This post has been edited by AndrewCottrell: Jun 11 2008, 22:17
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HTS
post Jun 11 2008, 22:12
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QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:04) *
QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 20:27) *

Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.

The main things are size, amplification and price. PC speakers tend to be small, use internal amplification (active) and are usually cheap. Those attributes all tend to trade off against sound quality. I wouldn't want to make a sweeping generalization about 'weakness' as these trade offs are desired by the people who buy them.

Back in the days of CRT monitors, PC speakers had to be shielded. I assume they still are. I don't know if that involves a trade off against quality, but I assume it increases the price slightly.

I imagine that the even the expensive PC speakers are trading off size and amplification against sound quality. Their quality should be proportional to their price as compared to active speakers of the same size (although there will be an effective surcharge if the brand is popular).

Bookshelf would generally be bigger, have a higher sensitivity, and use external amplification. They may or may not be shielded (so check before you put them near CRTs). I would expect that, at the same price point, the bookshelf speakers would sound better, but of course you'd need an external amplifier.

At my work place I have a pair of Dell PC speakers -- they sound terrible. I expect they would cost about $20 new. At home I have a pair of Celestion 5 bookshelf speakers -- they sound great. I purchased them off eBay for $20. (Actually I'm in England and use British pounds, but I've translated into US dollars as I assume you are American)

Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.
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AndrewCottrell
post Jun 11 2008, 22:30
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 21:12) *
Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.

Sorry, I don't have any experience with studio monitors. I've heard that they have a very flat response, and that the active ones are designed for near-field listening with no reflections. That could be a problem if your computer desk is against a wall or near a corner.

I don't mean to be presumptuous but if you are considering purchasing a pair of speakers for use with your computer then I suggest that you find a way to listen to some different types and at different price points. Your ears should be the final judge (not our opinions and hearsay).

This post has been edited by AndrewCottrell: Jun 11 2008, 22:32
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pawelq
post Jun 12 2008, 01:31
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QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:30) *
Sorry, I don't have any experience with studio monitors. I've heard that they have a very flat response, and that the active ones are designed for near-field listening with no reflections. That could be a problem if your computer desk is against a wall or near a corner.


Actually, decent active monitors would have several EQ settings to adjust the response to spekaer placement, including by a wall and in a corner.

Studio monitors are designed to be flat, so being small (I am talking nearfield monitors here) the cannot reproduce deep bass. Computer speakers cannot do this as well, but they will pretend by emphasing the upper bass a lot. Which of course against studio monitors principle of flat response and no coloration.

Studio monitors also tend to be heavy and sturdy. Thick cabinet walls reduce coloration, and amplifiers and drivers are designed to work continously at relatively high power levels. They cannot be tiny, amplifiers need radiators, etc. Computer speakers have often thin, plastic cabinet walls prone to color sound.

Studio monitors typically have separate mono amplifiers in each speaker, and, as a consequence, separate volume controls for each speakers. Often the volume controls are on the rear panel, or are non-existent at all. Compuert speakers have typically a stereo amplifier in one speaker with a single volume control, and will send amplified signal to the second speaker. Typically, studio monitors have an AC power cord per speaker, with transformer located inside. Computer speakers are typically powered from an external transformer.

Very often studio monitors are bi-amplified: i.e., each speaker has two amplifiers, one for woofer, one for tweeter. I don't think you can find this solution in computer speakers often.

Studio monitors typically accept balanced line-level audio connection via XLR and/or TRS connector, plus additionally unbalanced connection via RCA (or TRS using TS plug). There are connectors on the speakers, cables have to be purchased separately. Computer speaker accept unbalanced line-level audio, typically via mini-jack cable which is permanently attached to the speaker that has the amplifier inside.

Studio monitors are tuned to be flat, accurate and revealing - this presentation mode may be fatiguing to some. But since my first contact with a studio monitor (passive Tannoy Reveal 6) I am in love with this detailed, mercilessly accurate and unbelievably transparent way of presentation.

I listed a number of differences, but at some point the two worlds tend to converge. Small Edirol monitors are typically regarded as low quality and rather approaching the level of computer speakers. Cheap M-Audio monitors, especially the new AV series is also close to being high-quality computer speakers. Even Adam Audio released a small monitor A5 which can be purchased in two or three different colors, and volume can be controlled from one speaker - an obvious attempt to get to the computer speaker market. But it will be the top of this market, a pair of Adam A5 costs ~$700...


QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 19:07) *
So I'm saying, there are also expensive PC speakers, the most expensive can go up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system. There are also cheap "hifi" systems around too, like these


Wow, 5.1 for less that 100 bucks - how crappy this must be. Even if "expensive" PC speakers cost up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system, unexpensive decent studio monitors would be around ~300 a PAIR. More advanced may cost like $1000-$5000 per pair, or even more, if you look into midfield or main monitors.

The bottom line is that even though one of the design principles (being active) is commonly shared between studio monitors and computer speakers, there is a lot of differences.

This post has been edited by pawelq: Jun 12 2008, 01:40


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Posts in this topic
- HTS   Are PC speakers bad?   Jun 11 2008, 21:27
- - Lyx   The target audience matters. Klipsch doesn't h...   Jun 11 2008, 21:55
|- - HTS   QUOTE (Lyx @ Jun 11 2008, 16:55) The targ...   Jun 11 2008, 21:56
|- - Lyx   As i said already, the main problem isn't pric...   Jun 11 2008, 21:58
- - Roseval   A speaker is a box you connect to an amp A PC spea...   Jun 11 2008, 22:03
- - AndrewCottrell   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 20:27) Do PC sp...   Jun 11 2008, 22:04
|- - HTS   QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:0...   Jun 11 2008, 22:12
|- - AndrewCottrell   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 21:12) Are stud...   Jun 11 2008, 22:30
||- - HTS   QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:3...   Jun 12 2008, 00:07
|||- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 17:07) So I...   Jun 12 2008, 01:44
||- - pawelq   QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:3...   Jun 12 2008, 01:31
|- - BassBinDevil   [/quote] Are studio monitors any good? They are al...   Jun 12 2008, 11:27
|- - HTS   [quote name='BassBinDevil' date='Jun 1...   Jun 13 2008, 03:11
- - Jebus   Genelecs are a good example... a very common power...   Jun 12 2008, 00:03
- - JJZolx   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 14:27) Do PC sp...   Jun 12 2008, 02:02
- - wilbur   If you're just a little inclined toward diy yo...   Jun 12 2008, 02:06
|- - n3tfury   QUOTE (wilbur @ Jun 11 2008, 18:06) If yo...   Jun 13 2008, 19:21
- - shadowking   Generally, i found that Pc speakers produce either...   Jun 12 2008, 02:10
- - HTS   But with bookshelf speakers, I don't have ampl...   Jun 12 2008, 02:18
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 19:18) The newe...   Jun 13 2008, 03:47
- - WmAx   Nearly all computer speakers are very poor, due to...   Jun 12 2008, 17:01
- - HTS   How much does a HIFI system need to cost for it to...   Jun 13 2008, 16:34
|- - AndrewCottrell   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 13 2008, 15:34) How much...   Jun 13 2008, 21:30
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 13 2008, 09:34) How much...   Jun 13 2008, 22:14
- - n3tfury   great $150 systems? please elaborate.   Jun 14 2008, 01:40
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (n3tfury @ Jun 13 2008, 18:40) grea...   Jun 14 2008, 01:57
|- - n3tfury   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Jun 13 2008, 17:57...   Jun 14 2008, 03:26
- - HTS   If the Bass is muddy and notes hard to distinguish...   Jun 14 2008, 19:28
- - kornchild2002   Well, if you don't have any EQ enabled and a f...   Jun 14 2008, 21:29


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