Recommendations for quality, value-priced computer speakers?

I'm looking for a simple, value priced set of good quality computer speakers. Preferably under $50, ideally under $30. Not USB powered.

I've got a 15 year old set of Creative I-Trigue 2200s. I love them and they sound great, but they lose signal and crackle out when I turn the volume down too low. I've got a set of Logitech Z200s for my kids and they are just awful - noisy, buzzy, mediocre sound.

I went with reference speakers last time and while they're large I'll never go back to computer speakers from Logitech, Creative, etc.

I'm lame in that I basically go to the Wirecutter and buy whatever their budget pick is.

Crackling and signal loss sounds like a potentiometer problem. I googled your specific model a bit and found this link where someone describes the same issue, and fixes it with a little disassembly and cleaning. Worth a shot - maybe you can bring your speakers back to life.

Definitely look into fixing those, that might just be a loose wire or maybe a bad pot. Could be a $10 repair.

If you do buy something new: Logitech speakers are absolute sh*t. Never ever ever buy them. They are so awful. I've owned exactly one set, and I was horrified. (Z-680s, if I remember correctly.)

Thin_J did a review of a bunch of speakers a few years ago when he was looking. He'll probably see this thread, and might chime in. I think he ended up picking some studio monitors he got at something like a Guitar Center.

In general, don't buy anything that says it's for computers, because it will almost always suck. What you want are speakers aimed for the hi-fi crowd.

They don't make them anymore, but years ago I had a set of Klipsch Promedia 5.1s, which I characterized as acceptable. They weren't great at anything, but they didn't suck at anything, either, which is no small feat in computer speakers. They still make the Promedia 2.1s, and I assume that they'll still be acceptable.

Going a little upscale to an actual 5.1 setup with a receiver can sound fantastic. That's how I'm doing it here. Very happy with that solution.

Anyone notice he's looking to spend <$50? I'd say if you're happy with the ones that are dying, either get em fixed or just buy them again. The only other advice I'd give you is if you want something a little bit fancier, look for something that has 2-way speakers, which will deliver better on the high frequencies. Creative also makes a couple pairs of 2-way speakers for <$50, one with bluetooth and one without.

Long time lurker, but I thought I'd jump in for once... as I'm a fan of cheap audio that actually sounds good. First and foremost, I agree with everyone who said avoid "computer" speakers like the plague.

For the money, it's hard to compete with a 2-channel class D amplifier paired with a pair of 2-way bookshelf speakers. It's truly amazing how good a modern digital amp can sound, primarily due to the engineering that companies like Texas Instruments or STMicro put into their amp ICs.

Two popular examples that fit this category:
- Lepai LP-2020Ti ($25)
- SMSL SA-36A ($50)

For the speakers themselves, your absolute cheapest option outside of the thrift shop(*) is something from Parts Express. Your budget picks:
- Dayton Audio B652 ($30!)
- Dayton Audio B652-AIR ($50)
- Dayton Audio MK402 (~$70+, apparently replaced by the MK402x?)
- (I also really like Micca's MB42X, but we're getting a bit out of budget now...)

To make this really work for you, Parts Express actually puts the super basics in a bundle for $50: Dayton Audio B652 plus Lepai LP-2020TI . This is a silly amount of good sound for the price.

The neat thing about this setup is that the components will always be useful and upgradeable. After my own upgrade, I'm now using my extra MK402s + a slightly beefier SMSL amp for my living room TV... and it sounds better than all but the most overpriced sound bars.

And if you do come into a few extra dollars for your computer setup, I'd put it toward the speakers first. You won't need tons of power on a desk, but you'll notice the clarity from a better crossover. For example, the MIcca MB42Xs would sound great with the cheap LP-2020TI.

Hope you find something you love!

(*) Still your best bet in this price range.

Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate it.

I'm no where close to being an audiophile. My hearing isn't great. I'm mostly deaf in the high registers. I have a lot of trouble separating sounds. Dialog often gets lost in a mushy mess of sounds and I pretty much watch all TV and play all games with subtitles turned on. But, I think that because of the weakness in my hearing, I really value crisp, clear sound and I can be quite picky about it.

I'm temped to go with the Lepai/Dayton Audio choice, in part because it is the kind of over-engineered and faintly absurd sort of solution that really appeals to me. And, I'll see about rehabbing my old Creative desktop speakers and using them to replace the terrible Logitechs.

I'll back up Snyrk here and agree that Parts Express is a great source for the very best in bargain budget audio.

A couple of those Dayton bookshelf units and a separate amp will be no contest better than the garbage Logitech and the like try to shovel out in the same price bracket, and as he also said, leave you with more options in the future.

If you blow a woofer on one of the Daytons someday, you can just replace the woofer. Or buy a new pair of bookshelf speakers without needing an amp, because you already have one. It's just a better choice from every angle than whatever integrated amp junk the PC peripheral companies are trying to trick people into buying.

All my shopping from years ago is largely useless now, at least directly, as there are newer better studio monitor options that have taken the place of basically everything I cross shopped, *but* the basics still apply. IMO if you can swing the price studio monitors are generally excellent, and tend to be tuned more for near-field listening than bookshelves or other passive speakers.

But they will cost more, and the difference will likely not be hugely meaningful for a majority of people.

Thinking about replacing my 20 year old logitech z5500 but they still sound good to me. Just checked on ebay and it appears to be selling for overly high amount, maybe it is still a good speaker setup even without the modern stuff.

snyrk wrote:

To make this really work for you, Parts Express actually puts the super basics in a bundle for $50: Dayton Audio B652 plus Lepai LP-2020TI . This is a silly amount of good sound for the price.

Just got up to look at my parts, and this is almost exactly what I have (only difference is a 2020A+). Same situation a couple of years ago when I couldn't find any computer speakers worth the money anymore. I've been very happy with it.

Didn't even need the speaker wire I ordered because they Daytons come with their own. Checking the product pages on that site, looks like they still do. In fact, I think those Cnet reviews linked off the product page is the reason I went with them! : D

I've recently lost both of the red spring clips on the back of my ancient Klipsch ProMedia sub/speaker set (more than 10 years old now), and figured it was time to replace them with something a bit more modern.

A couple of years ago, the Klipsch control module was freaking out (static when you'd try to adjust the volume, left channel cutting out periodically). I tried replacing them with a moderately priced Logitech set and it was just... awful sounding. I'm nowhere NEAR any kind of audiophile, but even I could tell that the sound was tinny and weirdly balanced. The quality just wasn't there. It sounded so different than the Klipsch model that I ended up putting those back on and dealing with the weird static until I was able to replace the control module.

The aforementioned Dayton Audio B652 plus Lepai LP-2020TI bundle seems like a decent deal. I'm guessing the bass and sound quality on those bookshelves will be as good or better than the thing I had been using previously? Hopefully I have room on my desk for those speakers!

If your Klipsch pair was the 2.1's with the subwoofer, the bass on the Daytons will not match it.

That said, you can fit a sub that will match the Klipsch sub in with the bundle you linked and still have saved money left vs just replacing the Klipsch set.

Again, all assuming the 2.1 setup here.

Thin_J wrote:

If your Klipsch pair was the 2.1's with the subwoofer, the bass on the Daytons will not match it.

That said, you can fit a sub that will match the Klipsch sub in with the bundle you linked and still have saved money left vs just replacing the Klipsch set.

Again, all assuming the 2.1 setup here.

It is indeed the 2.1 setup. Any recommendations for a modest sub to fill it out?

Tyrian wrote:

It is indeed the 2.1 setup. Any recommendations for a modest sub to fill it out?

I think all the budget recommends are going to be more Dayton stuff. Their subwoofers are about as good as it gets in the budget price range.

That said, pay attention to the physical measurements and make sure you have space for whatever you go with if you pick one of them.

They tend to be bigger relative to the woofer size than competing models from JBL or Sony or Polk or whoever.

But they also tend to do more for the money.

If space is a concern, I think they have a weird low profile one they designed to go underneath a couch. Maybe worth a look.

*Late late late edit, also pay attention to what options they have on the back to hook them up. Not all of them fit in easily with something like the Lepai setup. You may need a little more speaker cable, depending on what you already have now.

Got the $50 Dayton/Lepai bundle! Impressions are very positive, but anyone going this route should let the speakers break in for 20 minutes or so before seriously evaluating the sound.

When I first powered up the system, I had the impression that there was kind of an unpleasant hiss on the higher notes. After just a few minutes though, it softened out considerably. Or maybe I just got used to it.

I did a little bit of a/b testing with my old speakers and realized that they were much noisier than I had thought. Overall, the sound is much bigger than my old speakers and seems a lot more clear and precise.

I also ordered the $50 bundle, should be here Friday (just in time for Borderlands 3?). I'll set those up and see if they'll do the job for me as-is. If not, I'll see what can be done to upgrade over time.

Initially, I was pretty freaked out about the high frequency hiss in the speakers. But, it went away entirely as the speakers broke in.

When I bought the bundle, the speakers had these weird "air motion transformer" tweeters. I think the hiss had something to do with these things. It looks like the current bundle may have more conventional tweeters in the speakers.

Anyway, they sound great now. I'm really impressed.