Skip to content

3 Compelling Reasons to Avoid Desktop Speakers in 2023

If you‘re looking to upgrade the audio quality from your computer, getting new desktop speakers may seem like an obvious solution. However, there are a few important drawbacks you should consider first before taking the plunge on a new set of desktop speakers this year.

In this expert guide, we‘ll highlight the downsides of desktop speakers to help you make an informed decision about your PC audio setup. You may find there are better options for your needs and space constraints. We‘ll also provide some top-rated recommendations for alternative computer speaker systems across different categories.

The Biggest Drawback: Lack of Desk Space

One major limitation of desktop speakers is the amount of physical space they occupy. Computer desks come in many shapes and sizes, but most average around 4-6 feet wide at most. Factor in a large monitor (or two), keyboard, mousepad, desk lighting, and other accessories, and free surface area disappears quickly.

With sizing of desktop speaker sets very inconsistently across brands, it‘s tough to tell if a particular set will actually fit in your available room until you unpack and setup. Some compact options like the Audioengine A2+ are only 4 inches tall but still deep enough at 5.25 inches to block some work space. Larger models like the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 approach a full foot in height.

Carefully measure the dimensions of your desk area before purchasing speakers to ensure you have enough horizontal and vertical real estate available. This will prevent having to shuffle around your carefully organized workspace or return speakers that simply don‘t fit. For many consumers with limited square footage to spare, the encroachment on work space makes desktop speakers impractical.

Mediocre Sound for the Price

A second key reason to avoid desktop speakers – the audio quality is frankly mediocre on most models, especially given what you‘ll pay. The category has expand substantially in recent years, but it remains dominated by computer peripheral companies like Logitech, Creative Labs, Razer, and Cyber Acoustics instead of audio specialists.

The focus tends to be more on cool aesthetics like oval shapes, pillar-like designs, and RGB lighting rather than engineering remarkable sound. While these speakers can certainly still improve upon the tinny built-in sounds from a laptop or tablet, they leave much to be desired for gamers wanting rich atmospheric audio or audiophiles seeking to immerse in lossless music.

You can certainly find select exceptions that provide impressive fidelity like the Kanto YU6 speakers with a 5.25” glass fiber woofer and 1” silk dome tweeter backed by 50 watts of power. However, being one of the few premium choices means paying a steep price well over $300. Similar performance from bookshelf or tower speakers won‘t run nearly as high.

Getting strong bass output remains an ongoing challenge with desktop speakers unless you opt for a 2.1 system with a large subwoofer under or beside your desk. But this external sub adds to clutter and cost. Ultimately, to get desktop audio that actually sounds as good as the sleek designs suggest means putting serious money down.

Superior Alternatives for Computer Audio

Given the limitations around intrusive space consumption and often cap sound quality in this category, what other options exist? You can achieve better audio setups for PC gaming, video editing, or music through these alternative products.

PC Soundbars

One straight-forward desktop speaker alternative is the horizontally-oriented soundbar. The slim form factor soundbar slide cleanly under your monitor stand delivering full audio in a condensed package.

The Razer Leviathan V2 is an excellent pick providing thunderous 165 watt output across two 2.5” full range drivers and dedicated bass ports. Simply connect over Bluetooth or USB for immersive surround effects on your multimedia.

Other great choices in this gaming-centric category include the ROCCAT Taito and Creative Stage V2 options. Just ensure your selected soundbar model is short enough to fit underneath your display. Models around 2” tall or under 15” wide work best for most desks.

Premium Gaming Headphones

When expanding outward horizontally is not possible, quality headphones moving audio directionally into your ears keep the desk clutter free. While great for music listening too, brands like HyperX Cloud II orAudio-Technica focus headphones on the demanding needs of gamers first with vivid 7.1 surround sound.

Closed-back models like the Philips SHP9500 offer good sound isolation from external noises like keyboard clicks and PC fan hum allowing you to crank game volume fully open. Open-backed headphones such as the Sennheiser HD600 give a more natural soundscape important for competitive online multiplayer titles like Fortnite requiring sound positioning accuracy for survival.

With large over-the-ear designs that are comfortable for long wear times and boom mics for in-game chat, PC gaming headphones make an excellent desktop speaker alternative that even travel well for gaming laptops without sacrificing immersive audio quality.

Wall-Mountable HiFi Speakers

If your computer desk abuts a wall, then shelves or mounts can utilize vertical space instead of overtaking the desktop itself. Compact speakers like the Micca MB42X pair or Polk S15 include keyhole mounts and are lightweight enough for most walls.

Angled designs like the VideoSecu set ensures the audio projects directly towards you instead of against the wall behind. Place them equidistant to your head at ear level for ideal stereo imaging that adds a spaciousness and immediacy the best desktop sets can‘t touch.

Going this route opens the gateway for integrating better home theater grade speakers from respected audio brands like ELAC, Wharfedale, and Q Acoustics in your PC listening room. You get fidelity meeting your expectations instead of compressed dynamics and muted details. Position them closer for desktop use or spread further across the wall as part of a surround system.

In Closing

It‘s easy to default to the familiar desktop speaker concept when planning a computer audio enhancement. However, the constraints around free space and less than spectacular sound quality should give you pause in following this route. Given how central processing power is in driving today‘s entertainment experiences, shortchanging immersive audio fails to do displays with 2K, 4K, or higher resolutions justice.

Luckily quality alternatives like PC soundbars, audiophile headphones, and wall-mounted speakers exist without requiring a massive budget. Any of these improve audio output substantially versus desktop speakers to fully engage with music, games, TV shows and movies from the computer. We hope these recommendations help guide you to a setup matching both your listening taster and workspace layout to create an satisfying computer entertainment hub this year.