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Best Gaming Speakers - 2017 Reviews - Armchair Empire

Best Gaming Speakers – 2017 Reviews

Best Budget

Cyber Acoustics CA 3602

Editor's Choice

Logitech Z906

Best Mid-Range

Logitech Z623

Jonas Armchair Empire Editor

A solid set of speakers is one of the easiest ways to really up your gaming experience. There are plenty of games out there where you can actually get a pretty big competitive advantage with high quality speakers - you can hear enemy footsteps and know exactly which side they're on, and how far away they are, for example. Speakers enhance just about everything else too, from movies and TV shows to music and more. Once you invest in a nicer pair of speakers, there's no going back. Let us help you find the best gaming speakers out there today!


6 Best Gaming Speakers Of 2017

z906 speakers

1. Logitech Z906

This audio system is a beast, offering satellite speakers that could act as stand alone units, individual speaker volume control options, 3D surround sound stereo and much, much more.


z623

2. Logitech Z623

Probably the best 2.1 system out there. Crisp highs, lows, and mids, paired with some of the best volume potential you'll ever see on a 2.1 setup. The omnidirectional subwoofer is phenomenal and makes these speakers feel more like a 5.1 setup.


klipsch 2.1

3. Klipsch Promedia 2.1

These speakers look a bit old fashioned, but don't let that fool you. These have been one of the most popular 2.1 sound setups over the past several years thanks to their incredible audio fidelity, solid construction, and fantastic volume control.


leviathan speakers

4. Razer Leviathan

Didn't expect Razer to pop up on a "best speakers" list? Neither did we! This is honestly the best gaming soundbar out there, and comes with the benefit of Razer tuning everything specifically to gamers. Built in bluetooth is a welcome addition to this powerful little setup.


sw-g2.1

5. Genius SW-G2.1 2000

This 45 watt 2.1 system from Genius is undeniably powerful and well-suited for gaming. The aesthetic may be the biggest potential drawback - you'll either love it or think it's tacky-looking. 


ca-3602

6. Cyber Acoustics CA 3602

This budget 2.1 system option features a slick "open-air" design on the satellite speakers, and produces a surprisingly crisp and loud sound for its size and price tag. You won't be disappointed with these at all - the perfect option for giving your PC setup a little audio upgrade!


Gaming Speaker Buying Guide (2017)

Introduction


The perfect sound system can significantly enhance the experience of gaming, take your excitement to the next level. Games that support newer audio technologies and surround sound need a good gaming speaker. Every single sound must be audible including the background score. Just as a gaming keyboard and mouse combination can greatly enhance your chances in a competitive environment, a good gaming speaker can give you a distinctive edge over your opponents.

Budget is a concern, but with several options today, you can find a decent gaming speaker at the lowest prices. For those building a beast without any cost constraints, gaming speakers with next-gen technology are already available that also double up as multimedia speakers.

We have reviewed the best gaming speakers in several price ranges. From $30 to over $300, all these speakers are great for gaming though the overall audio quality will differ including non-gaming performance.

Gaming Speakers

Some gamers argue that a gaming speaker has better surround sound quality, but we believe that a gaming speaker is just a finely tuned regular speaker at its core. Unlike everyday use speakers that have a significant volume gain and look good, a gaming speaker should have deep bass, clear trebles and sufficient volume to fill a small room. Honestly, there isn’t that much difference between standard speakers and gaming speakers, not at least in the sub-$100 range.

Speaker Specs

Forget all the advertisements, gimmicks and reviews you read. At the end of the day, the numbers printed on a speaker’s box or its back are all that matters. Frequency response, the power of the satellites and subwoofer are all key numbers. The most commonly heard number though has nothing to do with specific outputs and rather suggests the arrangement.

A 2.1 surround sound setup includes two satellite speakers with a subwoofer. The number after the decimal point can only be 1 or 0. If a speaker solution has a subwoofer, it will always have the 0.1 present in its description. As for the number before the decimal point, it suggests the number of satellite speakers used.

Gaming speakers come either as 2.1 or 5.1 setups. Two satellite speakers with ample power are what most gamers need unless you play on a console and a large television. For console gaming, 5.1 settings are suitable as you are often farther away from the screen.

You also have to consider whether you PC or console supports advanced surround sound setup. If your device cannot send audio over five channels, then 2.1 and 5.1 speaker setup will both feel the same. If budget truly isn’t a concern for you, there are 7.1 gaming speakers with a sound bar for the middle that deliver unmatched quality and directional precision.

Sound Bars

A new age solution, specifically for PC and laptop gamers is the sound bar. Companies now make gaming sound bars that are a compact and yet powerful gaming solution. A sound bar is a bar with multiple speakers packed inside it that mimic surround sound using proprietary technology.

The best sound bars can come close to 5.1 surround sound however they still need the support of a standalone subwoofer. Nowadays, you can find a wireless sound bar and a powered subwoofer for the best in portability and performance. Take the sound bar along when traveling and connect the subwoofer when you are gaming at home.

We don’t particularly suggest buying a sound bar at present though since they are expensive and aren’t exactly a true 5.1 surround sound solution. Yes, they are great but only when it comes to PC gaming. Console gamers will not have the same experience as you have to sit close to the sound bar to experience the virtual surround sound.

Room Size

Something few buyers ever properly consider when picking a good gaming speaker is the environment. The argument that more the power better is a speaker does not hold good if you do not take the room size into account. Remember, surround sound works using multiple speakers that bounce off sound waves in a closed space.

2.1 speaker in a small room offer greater clarity than the outdoors, but large Public announcement speakers work well only outdoors or in an auditorium environment. Try fitting big PA grade speakers in a confined space, and you get a lot of static, echo and subpar sound quality.

What does all this mean? Every speaker setup has a minimum range and separation. The latter signifies how far apart speakers must be kept to prevent static build up. At proper separation, sound waves travel far and wide without merging until they bounce off the walls. 2.1 speakers usually have a smaller separation requirement as they have just two speakers. However, 4.1 or even 5.1 speakers need more space between each speaker to produce each audio channel correctly.

Hence, if you have a small room, we suggest buying a 2.1 channel surround sound speaker with ample power. 2.1 speakers work well for PC gamers too who won’t be more than 50 inches away from the monitor. Those who prefer console gaming on television, a more robust 4.1 or 5.1 surround sound solution is suitable for competitive gaming.

Sound bars on their own are okay for up close gaming on a laptop or monitor. For console gaming add a compatible subwoofer into the mix but only if the sound bar is powerful enough.

Why Not Headphones?

Why should you even bother with a gaming speaker when you can find an excellent gaming headphone for less price? Headphones are great in that they isolate you from the outside world. Good quality headphones use multiple drivers to provide directional awareness but can be taxing on your ears with prolonged use. Let’s look at how headphones and speakers differ in the sound stage they produce.

A headphone operates with smaller drivers that are closer together whereas a speaker setup uses larger drivers positioned farther away, which helps with better imaging. Because the drivers on a headphone are just a few inches away from your ear, the sound waves do not travel far before they reach your ears. Good imaging is possible by positioning drivers just the right distance apart and angled appropriately. That is why in cars, depending on the speaker setup and power of each driver, you use different angles and locations.

On the flipside, gaming headphones come with built-in mics that eliminate cross-talk and interference. Even with good gaming speakers, there will always be some amount of interference with a mic. We believe gaming speakers are good for First Person Shooters, Solo campaign mode and even for general purpose gaming. But for multiplayer games, where you need to interact with fellow gamers, headphones are the way to go.

Imagine playing Battlefield 4 on a gaming headphone. Sounds great but you miss out on the expansive sound stage, wide 360-degree battlefield experience. With a decent pair of speakers though, the entire battlefield comes into life. You can close your eyes and imagine every single bullet flying across the horizon, knife slashes and tanks closing in from all sides. The surrealism is just unbelievable on a good pair of gaming speakers. Yes, a 2.1 gaming speaker is more than sufficient for most gaming needs.

We believe you should invest into a good gaming headphone if you do not have one. Just, do not underestimate the need of a good gaming speaker. You need both – a gaming speaker and gaming headset.

A good gaming headphone is perfect for multiplayer games and competitions that need you to travel. A gaming speaker, on the other hand, sits in your home just for your gaming pleasure.

Gaming Features

Speakers are not exclusively designed for gamers. However, almost all speakers can be used as a dedicated gaming speaker. We have reviewed speakers that start at just $30 and compared them to speakers costing over $300. In all our reviews, we understood that a decent everyday speaker works well if it is clear, loud and built well.

Unlike keyboards or mice that have specific needs when gaming, which differ from everyday use, a speaker does not change much when used in games. However, gaming speakers can refine the experience by introducing a spatial separation between each effect. You hear footsteps in the distance, can gauge the distance to an opponent or friendly, understand the elevation and calculate an approximate position without any visual confirmation.

Some 3D speakers mimic a complete world by differentiating between left, right, back and front channels using just a sound bar. Though such speakers are underpowered for a large setup, they are ideal for PC gamers. We feel sound bars are a perfect compromise between massive 5.1 surround setups and a gaming headphone. You get the benefits of both without the disadvantages.

Finally, gaming speakers tend to have a mic line input for your microphone to counter the static usually witnessed when using a headphone mic. If you need to spend money on a gaming speaker, then this is the one feature you should get. Some speakers offer Headphone jacks and AUX inputs. It depends on what you need.

Beyond Gaming

Do you intend to just game with your speakers? We believe everyone can benefit from a quality speaker solution – gamers and non-gamers alike. Excellent speakers reproduce music just as well as headphone monitors. In fact, some companies take the pain to get their products THX certified. Others continue to offer decades old designs because of the customer feedback they get. The fact is, speakers have been around much before gaming even became a mainstay of our society.

If you plan on getting a quality speaker and intend to use it for gaming alongside other stuff, we advise investing in a good sound card that can handle 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. Often, people purchase a high-quality speaker or headphone and feel cheated by the quality without realizing it is the sound card that is at fault. High powered speakers need a lot of input power for their drivers. The built-in sound card of a motherboard usually isn’t capable enough to drive such speakers. If you are a PC user, get a dedicated sound card. Console users can go for an amplifier instead.

Price

If you notice the speakers we reviewed, they aren’t all expensive. In fact, there are a few affordable models that have a good sound stage and do well with games. How we perceive sound differs from person to person. An expensive $300 plus speaker might sound phenomenal to us, but it might not cater to your ear. Likewise, a cheap $30 speaker will sound differently to each.

Pricing in gaming speakers is subjective to the materials used, driver size, frequency response, wattage, certification and a lot of other tertiary factors. What should matter most to you is whether you find a speaker suitable for your gaming requirements.

Wrap Up

We understand speakers are a personal choice, but for gamers, there are specific needs that a speaker must fulfill. However, remember that if your environment contains just hard surfaces, even the best speakers in the world will not sound as good as they should. Notice how theaters use carpets, drapes and sound specific wall padding. The room you intend to use a gaming speaker in should have curtains, carpets, furniture. There should be sufficient items in the room that break up the natural hard surfaces of your home. That is basic science and can go a long way in improving your aural experience.

Secondly, it is always good to invest in a sound card or amplifier. An external amp will help provide sufficient power to your speakers but also filter out disturbances and other unnecessary background static otherwise always present in audio channels.

Gaming these days is more than just superior sound quality. Soundstage and imaging are your priorities. Getting a realistic representation of your game is what you should aim for, and hopefully, our top rated speakers will help you decide on the perfect set of gaming speakers.