Any computer owner can benefit from a good set of powered computer speakers, whether for listening to music, watching videos, playing games, or producing audio content. In all our years of conducting brand-concealed listening tests, the Pioneer DJ DM-50D-BT computer speakers have been the best we’ve heard in the $200 price range. Plus, this pair is easy to set up and control, and it should fit well on most desktops. But we also have recommendations for smaller computer-speaker pairs, as well as some larger professional monitors for audio production.
Pioneer DJ DM-50D-BT
The DM-50D-BT system has two sound modes that make it good for music listening and audio production. It features built-in Bluetooth and signal-sensing inputs to connect a smart speaker.
The Pioneer DJ DM-50D-BT is our favorite pair of computer speakers because it sounds great and should fit well on most desktops, measuring 11 by 7 by 10 inches. The system has two sound modes: The Production mode, as its name suggests, is better for audio production, and the DJ mode is better for movies and bass-heavy music. During our tests, in either mode the reproduction of voices and acoustic instruments sounded clearer through the DM-50D-BT than it did through other systems in this price range. The DM-50D-BT has three types of analog audio inputs (including balanced connectors) on the back, as well as a volume/power knob and a headphone jack, both of which are located on the front of one of the speakers for easy access. The DM-50D-BT pair has Bluetooth built in, and it offers signal-sensing inputs, which turn the system on automatically when they detect an incoming audio signal; this feature makes the DM-50D-BT system work like a smart speaker if you connect an Amazon Echo Dot. The DM-50D-BT is available in a black or white finish. If you don’t need built-in Bluetooth, you can get the DM-50D, which performs just as well and costs a bit less.
PreSonus Eris E3.5 BT
The Eris E3.5 BT pair offers excellent sound, a small footprint, and conveniently placed controls and inputs, but it lacks deep bass.
If you want computer speakers that are smaller or less expensive than our top pick, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 BT set is a great choice. After we fine-tuned the bass and treble controls, the speakers’ sound quality approached that of the Pioneer DJ DM-50D-BT set. The difference is that this set’s rear port “chuffs” on loud, deep bass notes, so it isn’t a great choice for hip-hop, EDM, or R&B music. The Eris E3.5 BT pair, which includes Bluetooth, offers a volume control, a headphone jack, and an auxiliary input jack on the front, plus ¼-inch and RCA analog audio inputs on the back.
JBL Professional 305P MkII
This professional studio monitor offers clean sound with useful controls to fine-tune the results, but it’s not as easy to use as our other picks.
For anyone who is serious about audio production but needs to keep their costs down and their setup small, the JBL Professional 305P MkII is a great choice. It’s only a little larger than each Pioneer DJ DM-50D-BT speaker, but it sounds clearer than any of the smaller, lower-priced powered speakers we’ve tried. Its bass and treble tuning switches allow you to fine-tune the sound for different types of installations. The downsides are that the 305P MkII is a little too large for many desks; it lacks conveniences such as front-panel controls, Bluetooth, and a headphone jack; it has ¼-inch and XLR audio jacks instead of RCA jacks, so it’ll probably require adapters for hookup to a computer; and it costs more.
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX
The ProMedia 2.1 system comes with a subwoofer to improve bass response in movies and video games, and it has a clean, simple design.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $135.
If you watch a lot of movies or play cinematic video games at your desk, you might prefer a computer speaker system that includes a subwoofer to reproduce deep bass notes. Of all the 2.1-channel systems we tested, the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX had the best sound quality, about as full and balanced as that of the Pioneer DJ DM-50D-BT but with deeper bass response. Dialogue and acoustic instruments sounded clear and crisp, and the subwoofer effectively filled in the low end. The speakers have a small footprint and convenient front-panel controls, but connection options are limited, and there’s no Bluetooth support.