Thursday, February 2

For years, PC speakers were relegated to ostracism. Now they are living a second youth


There was a time when one I hardly conceived to enjoy the PC without a pair of speakers that normally flanked our monitors. They were not usually very advanced, but they were always there, accompanying us while we played, worked or watched a movie.

The thing faded with the absolute rise of headphones that dominate the gamer market and are also widely used by youtubers or twitchers, but attention, because PC speakers are far from dead. There is an important part of the community that prefers them, and in recent years we have seen how the models have matured like a beast thanks to features almost worthy of the audiophile world in some cases.

PC speakers are no longer recognized by their mother

If you are a few years old, surely you remember fondly that time when you actually the normal thing was to have a horrible and nondescript PC case, a tube monitor that took up a lot of space on the table and, of course, a couple of speakers – if we didn’t connect the PC to the mini system – which were often very cheap and of poor quality. Type these:

Speakers

Ah, those volume controls. Those grids that got dirty after two days. Those carcasses that soon yellowed. What times.

Many monitors did not have built-in speakers, so having speakers was normal. Much more than using headphones, at least during the 90s and a good part of the 2000s. At some point the trend was reversed: the speakers weren’t cool anymore (so much)and more and more users preferred to build computers in which to use headphones.

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This trend was reinforced with the rise of the gaming world: RGB lights, cases with tempered glass and other elements ended up contributing to the birth of a unique phenomenon: suddenly we no longer hid the boxes under the table. We wanted to show our PCs, whose construction also became almost a craft.

Along the way we lost a bit of the speakers, which no longer worked. Headphones became a common complement for gamersbut also from youtubers, twitchers or podcasters who used them frequently and often appeared (and appear) with them in their broadcasts.

The growing use of laptops also invited the use of headphones both wired and wireless. The latter have ended up making a huge dent in the market after decisions like the one made by many manufacturers to eradicate the minijack from many of their smartphone models.

We complained about the absence of the minijack and it was no big deal

Has that made us stop using PC speakers? not much less. There is still a strong representation of these peripherals in communities such as Battlestations on Reddit, and there it is common to find fantastic assemblies and ‘setups’ in which the speakers continue to accompany the rest of the elements.

There are several debates that both there and in other forums try to elucidate whether it is better to use speakers or headphones on the PC. This user explained how for him both for music and for movies the best thing was the speakers for that ability to respect the sound stage much more —except if it bothers others or seeks privacy—, and even in games he also preferred them unless they were multiplayer, among other things because they provide more depth and immersion.

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It is true that many headphone manufacturers offer technologies that seek precisely to seek that sensation of surround sound – tell Creative and its “holographic sound” – but in the search for true 3D, 360, holophonic audio or whatever you want to call it, a multi-channel speaker system will better solve that situation than the emulation systems used in headphones.

Others prefer headphones for various reasons in addition to those already mentioned: the sound quality is usually remarkable with a not too high investment, they provide privacy and avoid inconvenience to those around us, They do not take up much space and are easy to carry anywhere..

For gamers, things make even more sense if they use the microphone, but it is true that this section changes when you need to record quality sound and go to a good microphone. That, of course, if you don’t get tired of wearing them for hourssomething that is also an important factor in which other users affect.

The truth is that the evolution of the world of speakers has also been positive: there are still very affordable models that basically allow you to get by, but since there are many monitors that include their own speakersthe manufacturers that offer these peripherals try to give their PC speakers a twist.

Thus, Creative is one of the references along with others such as Edifier —I myself bought their Studio R1280T model in 2018 and they seem to be a success— or of course the models from Logitech, Audioengine, Harman Kardon, Klipsch or Bose. All of them offer interesting and solvent proposalsbut here, as in everything that surrounds the world of audio, the sky is the limit, and we can spend real millions if we want a more exclusive PC speaker system.

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