A Buyers Guide to Choosing Speakers

The speaker you choose has more of an influence on the sound quality produced than any other element of your audio system, so it’s important to make sure you make the right decision when you choose yours.

These days, more and more people are investing in portable speakers but still want to achieve the best possible sound quality, whilst many more are investing in PC speakers as they begin to watch more TV and listen to music through their computers.

Take a look a tour guide to home speakers, portable speakers and computer speakers to learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Choosing home speakers

There are lots of different types of home speakers to choose from, including:

  • Floorstanding
  • Bookshelf
  • Satellite
  • In wall
  • On wall

Each has their benefits and drawbacks but, as with most things if you are willing to pay a reasonable price then the quality of the sound you get should not be greatly affected by the type of speaker you choose.

Having said that larger speakers can have a tendency to cause ‘reverb’ whereas the sound produced by some smaller speakers can be less rich.

However, satellite speakers are small but work in conjunction with a subwoofer, so they produce a great sound quality but take up much less space.

Satellite or wireless speakers are extremely useful if you want to listen to music or audio around your home as they will work in any room without being connected to the device you’re listening to.

Speakers and their components

When choosing a speaker it must be matched with the receiver or amplifier that has the correct amount of power to work best. Usually the range of power needed will be specified by the speaker manufacturer so it’s advisable to follow their guidelines when purchasing an amplifier.

Speaker construction

The material that your speaker is made from can make a big difference to the sound quality. most commonly speakers are made from MDF, but they can also be made from solid wood, fibre glass, metal or carbon fibre. Many cabinets are internally braced to make them more sturdy and some can be stuffed with wadding to help dampen any resonance caused.

Speaker power

Many people mistakenly believe that the higher the wattage of your speaker the louder and better the sound will be, but this isn’t necessarily the case. However, it’s more important to understand the speaker’s impedance and sensitivity.

If your speaker has high sensitivity it will provide a greater volume. Look for a sensitivity of 90dB or more for the best effect.

Impedance represents how hard it is for the amplifier to process the sound coming through the speaker.

Choosing Portable speakers

When looking for portable speakers there are many things that need to be considered, not least how easy the speakers are to move around. However, it’s also important to ensure the speakers you choose produce the best possible sound quality.

When deciding on which portable speakers to buy, you can use the following criteria:

  1. Features: Consider the different features of the portable speakers you’re consider, such as the Frequency response, output power and sensitivity. You should be able to find these specifications on any speakers and directly compare them.
  2. Portability: If you want your speakers to be portable then they need to be easy to store and carry around so look for a compact design that can fit in a bag, backpack or laptop case.
  3. Ease of use: Look for a simple design that makes your speakers easy to use. With portable speakers it’s best not to have too many complex controls.

Choosing PC Speakers

When looking for PC speakers there are a number of features that need to be taken into consideration. The following table illustrates the different configurations you can choose:

  1. 2.0/2.1: This type of two speaker system is adequate for basic PC listening and works well in small environments
  2. 4.1: This system combines four speakers in front and back pairs which is ideal for gaming and movie audio
  3. 5.1: A five speaker system is perfect for gaming and the extra speaker can improve sound quality when watching movies
  4. 6.1: This system is usually intended for home cinema systems but if you have a large monitor and use your PC for movies and music regularly then you can create home theatre sound quality

Some of the other features that need to be considered when purchasing PC speakers include the power, controls, headphone jacks and remote controls.


If your speakers are fed by an underpowered amplifier you won’t be able to produce as high or good a level of sound as you would with an adequate amp, so make sure the amp you have matches the speaker you choose. For an average 2.1 speaker configuration you need at least 15 Watts of power.


The speakers you choose could be controlled through your desktop or through buttons on one of the front speakers.

Headphone jack

The headphone jack should be located by the controls and should completely mute the sound from the speakers when you put it in. the majority of PC’s and other electronic devices can be used with any regular headphones.

Remote control

If you want to be able to control your speakers as you move around you can purchase a wireless remote control.

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Driver Configuration

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