Premium Two-Channel PC Speaker Roundup

Objective Benchmarks: Bass And Treble Control

Only the Creative Gigaworks T40 Series II gives the user some real control over frequency response via bass and treble knobs. Here are results showing the ranges that these controls can affect:

You can see how these controls have an effect on the higher and lower frequencies, giving the user some influence on the sound.

The only other speaker in our roundup that offers control over the audio spectrum is M-Audio's Studiophile AV 40s, with a bass boost switch on the back of the right speaker. Here’s the difference that it makes:

You can see how the bass boost switch adds a little pepper to the bass range, which is a nice touch for those who crave a deeper sound from their two-channel speakers.

Finally, we examine what advantage that Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 set offers with its built-in DAC. The following chart doesn’t indicate frequency response, but instead, the difference in frequency response between the kit's built-in DAC and an analog output from either SigmaTel HD integrated audio or Realtek ALC889 high-definition audio. A flat line would mean there’s no difference between USB and analog output, and a curved line would indicate notable differences in the audio spectrum:

Clearly, the built-in DAC has notably different output from the SigmaTel HD codec. But when the Realtek ALC889 high-definition audio codec is used, there’s not even more than a decibel’s difference from 20 Hz to 15 kHz. So, while the MM-1’s USB input can offer some benefits on machines with poor audio hardware, a decent integrated audio codec with analog output will perform as well as the speaker system's integrated DAC.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
78 comments
    Your comment
  • Anonymous
    Has the reviewer heard of Audioengine A2 speakers? They are outstanding 2 channel speakers for $199.
    2
  • Randomacts
    No love for the budget minded folk?
    0
  • Harby
    jdmiHas the reviewer heard of Audioengine A2 speakers? They are outstanding 2 channel speakers for $199.


    Indeed, A2s are really good, though a bit on the weak side with 30 watts. But since you went with B&W you could have tested Audioengine A5s which are insanely awesome and cheaper than B&W's at ~$325.
    3
  • gostumpy
    Large knob that feels quick robust? ;)
    1
  • dEAne
    I like that Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 - but yes theirs a bit lacking to the design.
    0
  • sparky2010
    I'm really happy with my 4 year old creative soundworks 7.1 system... until now it still offers great sound, and having true 7.1 really rocks, especially in FPS... although i'm considering the logitech z5500.. hat sounds amazing and looks even better...
    -1
  • icehot
    Nice review, I bought the Creative Gigaworks T40 Series II about 4 months ago, and have loved them, the sound is superb.
    0
  • titaniumsquirrel
    The AV 40s were the first speakers I've ever owned that failed on me. I don't care how good they sound if reliability is an issue. I'm never purchasing another M-Audio product. Decided to go with a pair of Gigaworks refurbs for a fraction of the price afterward and have been very pleased.
    0
  • hardcore_gamer
    2.0 is way too low.For gamers, a 5.1 is the minimum requirement.
    -4
  • megatron46
    Nice Speakers but i like my Monitor Audio RX8 teamed with Definitive Technology Supercube I sub and Cambridge Audio Azur 840A Amp.......
    0
  • Anonymous
    Too bad the nuberts arent out yet
    0
  • Anonymous
    Well, I'm not a hardcore gamer, but I'm well into music. I tried lots of 'computer' speakers, only to find that none comes close to even sub-par 'hifi' speakers.
    So, I went for a pair of Mackie MR8 - which are pro audio monitors. They're not much more expensive than high-end PC speakers - but it's a totally different world in any respect: sound quality, power, you name it.
    If you're serious about sound, check them - they're discounted everywhere.
    By the way, I'm driving them with a Fucusrite Saffire Pro24 DSP: a killer combination.
    1
  • Alvin Smith
    KRK Systems RP5G2 Rokit G2 Powered Studio Monitor - 5 inch, 75 Watts

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882280001&cm_re=krk-_-82-280-001-_-Product

    Just Better.
    0
  • JohnnyLucky
    My pc is connected to my old audio receiver & speakers through a fiber optic cable. The sound is outstanding.
    2
  • jeverson
    For that kind of money I would rather just get this...

    http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/products/promedia-2-1-overview/

    That way I also get a dedicated sub.
    0
  • Yargnit
    Hopefully we'll see a 5.1+ article soon as well. I have a Logitech z5500 that I use for PC as well as TV and Xbox, and I'd love to see how other surround systems stack up.

    I do find it odd that you'd include a $500 2 speaker setup, yet you don't include any systems in the ~$50 range. It seems like $500 2 speaker systems is a very niche market, my 5.1 system cost less than that, and it can function as a home theater system as well. It would be interesting however to throw a cheap system in there to see if there is a big difference. The $100 and $500 seemed amazingly close.
    3
  • orodreth
    The article should have provided additional parameters around which the selections were determined (unless you sampled only speakers that manufacturers were giving you for free in exchange for the review... though that would be nice to know). Price is probably the number one differentiation that consumers would consider. Then you have physical dimensions, power, inputs/outputs, and perhaps frequency response, which would be the collection of main factors that might categorize purchasing decisions.

    The only two criteria cited were 2.0 configuration and "pc speakers" which would presume that all of the samples had to have their own internal powered amplifier. If you were trying to get a sampling amongst a wide price range, your sample size is too small, though that might also be due to the limited vendor options noted.

    THG, you can be more comprehensive than this. You guys do Video Card reviews by price bracket and you're claiming sound is the big #2 sense used in computer use. You could do 2.0 speakers in two or three price brackets, 2.1 speakers in the same brackets and 5.1 or 7.1 in same brackets. We know you have the intelligence and enthusiasm :)
    1
  • Zoonie
    Harman/Kardon's Soundsticks should've definitely been a part of this roundup :)
    0
  • cyrusfox
    RandomactsNo love for the budget minded folk?


    While a bit of a pain to set up in Windows 7, these are great for the budget lover
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836157008

    LOGISYS Computer SP8000BK 4.1 Speakers for $30 from newegg.

    Or you could go the other route, and just use a receiver and hand select your own speakers. Unfortunately it is hard to find nice used receivers at a decent price.
    0
  • wasupmike
    agree with how good the M-Audio speakers sound... ya, they're a bit pricey... but they're that good sounding - especially good for 'audio professionals'

    so if it's within anyone's budget... they're very worth considering - even over more complex setups (like 2.1)
    0