If your office job went remote and you’ve become accustomed to working from home during the pandemic, you’ve probably spent a lot of time working from your new desktop. It’s a huge change for most people and while millions of people have already begun the process of returning to the office – a lot of people have decided that they prefer the new normal. The end of the daily commute has saved people time and money, which partially explains the surge in hi-fi sales in certain categories. People are listening to a lot more music. It’s proven to be a healthy mental distraction from the stress of the pandemic.
So what are the best desktop computer speakers? We have some thoughts on that if your budget tops out at $300 and want something that will not take up a huge amount of space on the desktop. We recently added the Audioengine A2+ speakers to our Apple M1-powered Apple iMac desktop computer system and while the newly designed speakers built into the iMac are a huge improvement over the previous generation, the A2+ are definitely superior.
If you spend a lot of time listening to music via headphones, it would make a lot of sense to consider a portable Dongle DAC that will fit inside a jacket pocket or laptop bag, but also double as your desktop amplifier/DAC as well. There are high-end desktop headphone amplifiers/DACs like the AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt and Helm Bolt which are small enough to fit in your pocket.
Invest in stands. Your listening height at your desk is not the same as your favorite chair in the living room.
A desktop computer speakers system creates a near field listening situation; your listening position is much closer to the loudspeaker which will minimize the impact of the sound reflecting off surfaces like your desk, computer monitor, ceiling, and walls beside and behind you.
Audioengine is one of our favorite manufacturers of affordable desktop computer loudspeakers because they offer great sound quality and the right mix of connectivity options. They also have a slightly warmer tonal balance which we find preferable in an active loudspeaker used on a desktop.
The Audioengine A2+ speakers sound much larger than they look; their 2.75” aramid fiber woofer and ¾” silk dome tweeter driven by an internal 60-watt amplifier (30 watts per channel) can more than keep up with the music when pushed, but don’t expect them to work miracles.
Audioengine includes an internal 16-bit/48kHz DAC, and while that certainly suffices for MP3s and CD Red Book, the addition of an external 24-bit/96kHz or even 32-bit/384kHz and DSD DAC makes them perform even better. Better resolution, tighter bass, and improved transparency.
The Helm Audio Bolt DAC has flown beneath the radar because of more popular options from AudioQuest, but it’s the real deal and very affordable. Headphone enthusiasts have begun to figure out what we’ve known for months; the Bolt DAC is one of the best Dongle DACs on the market.
- Audioengine A2+ Loudspeakers – $269.00/pr
- Audioengine DS1M Loudspeaker Stands – $39.00/pr
- Helm Audio Bolt USB/DAC – $99.99 or AudioQuest Cobalt Dragonfly – $299.99
- AudioQuest Evergreen 3.5mm to RCA Cable – $59.99
The affordable desktop audio system. Total price: $468 or $668
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