When I was setting up my new office, one of the highest priority items for me was a high quality set of desktop computer speakers.
After a lot of listening to different systems, I eventually chose the Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System.
Click the link to find out why.
As photographers and film makers, we spend a lot of time sitting at our desks staring at a screen. When you’re pulling an all nighter to get a job done for a client, it is really nice to have some music playing to help pass the time.
But having a set of high quality set of desktop computer speakers is more than a luxury for film makers and photographers who also work with video – if you are working with video you need an audio system that produces authentic sound to monitor audio in the tracks you are working with.
The Best Computer Speakers for a Home Office
My office is a relatively small room, tucked away into a corner of the basement. A proper receiver and surround sound audio system would be my first choice for audio quality, but even a compact system would be overkill for the size of my room.
My next though was to look at some of the compact iPod speaker docks. Many of them have very high quality sound and they are fairly compact. The problem is that they are single speaker units, so on a desktop they would have to go to one side of the monitor or the other. That would not be ideal for monitoring stereo audio tracks, and its also a little awkward listening to music coming from one side when you are looking straight ahead.
So that left me with computer speakers. I wanted a 2.1 set of full range computer speakers that are relatively compact and would sit on my desktop.
Unfortunately, most computer speakers are built in a 3.1 configuration. The two desktop speakers are compact, but not full range – so they need a subwoofer to augment the base range – which typically sits under your desk.
I really did not want a subwoofer under my desk that would be in the way. I also find that most 3.1 computer speaker systems are tailored towards gamers,so the base is way too heavy and they do not reproduce authentic audio.
The other thing that I really hate about most other manufacturer’s computer speaker systems is that they have all turned them into funky pyramids, or spheres, or funny disks or pretty much anything besides a traditional speaker shape. I don’t need a piece of tacky faux modern art sitting on my desk – so I ruled several of those systems out on aesthetics alone.
Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System Audio Quality
With my selection criteria in place, I went to listen to as many 2.1 full range desktop computer speaker systems as possible.
If you have ever been shopping for an audio system, you will notice that the first thing the sales person does when they are demonstrating a product is turn the sound up LOUD. This is exactly the opposite of what you should do to evaluate an audio system. Almost all audio systems sound good loud. The real question is how they sound at a regular listening volume – at and below the level of a normal conversation. If you listen carefully to an audio system at low volume – that is where you will hear the hiss and hum from low quality systems.
The Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System sounds great. It is more than powerful enough to fill my small office with rich full sound – in fact, it would probably sound just as good in a much larger room. The audio is authentic, if a touch heavy on the base.
The Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System definitely sounds better versus the more economical Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speaker System – which in itself sounds better than pretty much all other 2.1 computer speaker systems.
Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System Aesthetics
Like I said, I personally don’t like all of the weird shapes that other speaker manufacturers are building their computer speaker systems into.
The Bose Companion 20 speakers are just a standard gray box with a metal silver grill on the front. They also have a slight lean backwards. They are a little larger than I would have liked – but that is the trade-off – if you want a full range 2.1 speaker system, the speakers have to by physically larger than the desktop speakers of 3.1 and 5.1 systems that only produce the top end and rely on the subwoofer for the base.
Overall, they are well built and are fairly unobtrusive on my desktop.
Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System Usability
The speakers need to be plugged in, so there is the standard wall plug, transformer and 12 volt power cable that goes to one of the speakers. They are also connected to your computer by a standard stereo mini-jack. The left speaker is connected to the right speaker with a wire that carries both audio and power, and there is also a wire that connects the desktop control puck to one of the speakers.
The desktop control puck has stereo mini-jack ports for both headphones out and microphone in.
Having a headphone jack right on your desktop is especially handy if you are doing voiceover work and need to monitor your audio with headphones while you speak.
The Bose Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System is the best sounding computer speaker system that I could find. The speakers are nice and ordinary looking and fit in quite nicely on my desktop. With a retail price of around $225 (B&H) they cost about double of most of the other desktop computer speaker systems out there – but in this case, I think you really get what you pay for.
What do you think is the best home office computer speaker system?
If you have found another home office computer speaker system that you really like, please leave a comment and let us know.
Or, if you have a Bose system, let us know what you think of it.