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Best desktop speakers 2020: budget and premium

Best desktop speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best desktop speakers you can buy in 2020.

If you want music to sound good in your office or in a spare room, a pair of neat desktop speakers to flank your PC or sit on your shelf could well be the answer. They'll blast out your Spotify playlists or YouTube videos much more capably than your laptop's built-in speakers, and won't take up much room in the process.

Some can connect over Bluetooth too so you needn't worry about unsightly cables trailing all over your desk space.

Below we've rounded up the best desktop speakers money can buy, from cheap and cheerful pairs to pricier options. There are a mix of active and wireless stereo pairs, all of which deliver solid (and in some cases outstanding) sound quality.

Best desktop speakers 2020

1. Steljes Audio NS3

Versatile, affordable and an affable listen, these are solid desktop speakers for those on a budget.


Power: 45W x 2 | Streaming: Bluetooth | USB charging: Yes | Colours: 7

Reasons to Buy

Sleek design
Good connectivity
Powerful bass

Reasons to Avoid

Could be more cohesive
Need a bit more detail

For a desktop solution, the NS3 speakers certainly play their part well. They’re capable enough to work as your everyday speakers, and will look suitably stylish while doing it.

If you’re looking for an entry-level way to get your workplace audio sounding better, these speakers are worth considering.

Read the full review: Steljes Audio NS3

Best desktop speakers 2020

2. Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2

The Mk2s boast a wonderfully musical sound, plus stellar build quality and discreet good looks. 2018 Award-winners.


Streaming: Bluetooth aptX | Digital input: Optical | Analogue input: 3.5mm | USB input: No

Reasons to Buy

Stunningly musical sound
Subtle dynamics
Stylish, compact design

Reasons to Avoid

No USB input

Gorgeous looks, streamlined design and features, sound quality that’s been improved in every way – the Ruark MR1 Mk2s are deservedly near the top of our favourites list.

The step up in performance from the original model is impressive, making the Ruark MR1 Mk2s even more appealing than before. Quite simply, these are superb speakers of their type.

Read the full review: Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2

Best desktop speakers 2020

3. Acoustic Energy AE1 Active

Get high-end performance without the need for a stack of high-end electronics.


Power: 50W x 2 | Inputs: RCA, balanced XLR | Finishes: 3

Reasons to Buy

Clear, balanced and detailed
Rhythmically exciting 
Flexible with placement

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

It’s difficult to think of an amplifier/passive speakers combo that could better these Acoustic Energy active speakers at the price.

These 2018 What Hi-Fi? Award winners do everything with a flourish. You'd need to invest in a more expensive pair of components to offer a marked improvement on these Acoustic Energy active speakers - and you owe it to yourself to track down a pair to discover that for yourself.

Read the full review: Acoustic Energy AE1 Active

Best desktop speakers 2020

4. Dynaudio Excite X14a

Clear, precise and exciting active speakers that will make your desktop the envy of the office.


Power: 50W x2 | Inputs: RCA, balanced XLR | Finishes: 3

Reasons to Buy

Tight, agile bass
Insightful vocals
Compact and neatly finished

Reasons to Avoid

Need more attack

The Excite family wear rosewood and walnut veneers or satin white or satin black finishes, and the X14as are almost dead ringers for their passive X14 relatives. Which means they look the business.

Sonically the Dynaudio X14a active speakers could do with more outright attack and energy, but there’s no doubting they do a lot of things very well. If you’re looking for clean, precise and transparent active speakers, give these a whirl.

Read the full review: Dynaudio Excite X14a