Best desktop speakers to buy in 2016


If you're someone who stores the majority of their music collection on a computer, but doesn't have a fully-fledged hi-fi system to play it through, you'll be all too aware of the poor sound quality the computer produces. Luckily, there are several desktop speakers out there to combat this problem, and we've rounded up the best to help you decide which one is right for you.

A number of brands are represented. For some, desktop speakers are their forte, for others it's their first foray into the world of desktop audio.

Best desktop speakers under £200

Pure Jongo S3

Tested at £170

Five stars

Pure's Jongo range of multi-room speakers are a serious contender to Sonos. But the S3 can be used as a desktop speaker too. For true stereo sound you will need to buy two separate speakers - which takes the price to more than £300 - but do so and you've got a fantastic upgrade to your computer sound.

Not only do they look great, coming in several different colours, but they also have a wealth of features. Connectivity is either via Bluetooth or the Pure Connect app; this allows you to control multi-room functions if you decide to opt for a full system with other Jongo speakers. You'll also find a 10-hour battery life and 3.5mm input jack for connecting other devices.

The Jongo S3 also sounds great. It produces a sound that belies its size, it's solid and impressive and delivers a well-balanced presentation.

As a standalone unit, the S3 is a worthwhile upgrade to your computer; if you can stretch to a second speaker, you won't regret it.

MORE: Read our full Pure Jongo S3 review

Bose Companion 20

Tested at £200

Four stars

They're a little older than some other pairs on this list, but there's no denying the Bose Companion 20s are a great pair of desktop speakers. Designed to be placed next to a computer, they look a lot more luxurious than their price would suggest.

Sound is open and spacious, with plenty of detail thrown in for good measure. The volume can be turned up to room-filling levels without compromising quality, which is nice. Bass can get a little overwhelming at times, but not enough to put you off.

MORE: Read our full Bose Companion 20 review

Available from £170

Best desktop speakers £250

Audio Pro Addon T8

Tested at £250

Four stars

Audio Pro has once again produced a fantastic-looking product. At just 16cm tall they're definitely on the small side, but coupled with Swedish minimalist design we have no problems setting them on our desk.

Surprisingly, their small stature is able to produce a large and confident sound. They're an exciting pair too; timing is spot on and there's oodles of detail.

Connection can be achieved in one of three ways: aptX Bluetooth; RCA or 3.5mm jack and a subwoofer output has been included too, to give you a little extra oomph should you so desire.

Strong competition saw them miss out on a fifth star, but even so, the T8s are a wonderful pair of desktop speakers.

MORE: Read our full Audio Pro Addon T8 review

Available from £199

Monitor Audio Airstream WS100

Tested at £250

Five stars

The Airstream WS100s are Monitor Audio's first attempt at wireless desktop audio, and it seems to have nailed it. Coming in the form of small cubes, the WS100s are a solid pair. A hinged, magnetic base allows you to angle them upwards or foward.

In an interesting shift, connection to the speakers isn't via Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay. Instead, Monitor Audio has opted for SKAA wireless transmission, which requires you to plug a USB transmitter into your Mac or PC.

Performance, like the build, is solid. Bass levels are good and not overpowering, while edges of notes are well-defined.

If you're short on space but want to get in on the wireless desktop action, the Monitor Audio Airstream WS100s could be for you.

MORE: Read our full Monitor Audio Airstream WS100 review

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Best desktop speakers £300

Focal XS Book Wireless

Tested at £300

Four stars

The XS Book Wireless are, as their name suggests, a wireless version of the original Focal XS Book. As a result, the majority of the build has remained the same: aluminium dome tweeters and polyglass mid/bass drivers.

Do bear in mind these are quite tall speakers, so we recommend having a look at them in the dealers first, as they could be too big for some desks.

Through a wired connection, the XS Book Wireless produce a great sense of scale and can comfortably fill a room with detailed and well-placed sound. Bass can be a little disappointing at times though. Wireless playback does result in a slight loss in quality - a feature of most wireless speakers - but a similar soundstage is produced.

If you have the space, and are looking for a pair of speakers with a unique look, the Focals are worth an audition.

MORE: Read our full Focal XS Book Wireless review

Available from £299

Ruark Audio MR1

Tested at £300, Best desktop speaker, Awards 2014

Five stars

The MR1s won the Award for Best Desktop Speaker in 2013 and yet again in 2014, there's simply no stopping them.

They're a good size, although some may find them a little too big. Nevertheless most people should be able to find a suitable home for them.

It's the performance where the MR1s truly shine though. There's warmth and texture to songs and a whole load of detail that many other pairs on this list can't quite match. They remain in control no matter what's thrown at them and bass levels are near enough spot on, provided they're placed near a wall.

Ruark has fitted an attenuation switch, which allows other devices such as TVs or CD players to be connected too.

There's simply no faulting the MR1s. They sound great, look great, and for an extra £50 can go completely wireless thanks to a battery pack.

MORE: Read our full Ruark Audio MR1 review

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Best desktop speakers £350

Q Acoustics Q-BT3

Tested at £350

Five stars

The Q-BT3s aren't solely for desktop audio use, but they perform so well in such a role that we've included them in this list.

The right speaker houses two, 50W per channel power amplifiers, a DAC, an aptX Bluetooth receiver and the connecting socketry: a pair of phono sockets; 3.5mm mini-jack, an optical digital input and speaker binding posts for connecting to the left speaker. A subwoofer output is also provided.

Audio performance is exemplary. Stereo imaging is precise, treble is bright and the midrange is clean. Fortunately, sound characteristics are the same no matter what your source, whether it be wired or wireless.

The Q-BT3s are are great for entertaining, simply pair a Bluetooth device, turn the volume up and enjoy crystal-clear sound.

MORE: Read our full Q Acoustics Q-BT3 review

Best desktop speakers £400

B&W MM-1

Tested at £400

Four stars

The MM-1s are getting a bit old now, winning an Award back in 2011, but they remain a great pair of premium desktop speakers.

Design is typical B&W: minimal, with no obtrusive dials or swtiches. All controls are concealed on the central metal band. The only inputs on offer are 3.5mm and USB. No wireless here.

Audio performance is superb. Individual instruments are separated with ease and they deliver all the detail you could want when the music demands it.

Our main niggle is the price. Other pairs on this list offer a similar audio experience, with the added benefit of wireless connectivity, for less money. Nevertheless the B&W MM-1s are still a fantastic pair of desktop speakers.

MORE: Read our full B&W MM-1 review

Available from £299

Best desktop speakers over £500

Sony SRS-X9

Tested at £600

Five stars

You may think, given its design, the SRS-X9 isn't suitable to be a desktop speaker. But with a variety of connections, including aptX Bluetooth and AirPlay, we feel it could be a great solution to your computer audio needs.

Other inputs include line-in and USB, as well as an ethernet for connecting to a router to allow for DLNA streaming; 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution audio is also supported.

The SRS-X9 produces solid, room-filling sound, despite its relatively small size. Tweeters have been placed on top to help disperse sound and in practice it works wonders. Overall sound is well balanced, with good warmth, texture and weight.

The Sony SRS-X9, like the Q-BT3s, can be used in a number of different ways, making it a truly flexibile product.

MORE: Read our full Sony SRS-X9 review

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Eclipse TD-M1

Tested at £1000

Four stars

At £1000 the TD-M1s are easily one of the most expensive pairs of desktop speakers we've ever tested.

The design is unique to Eclipse with an oval enclosure playing host to a single, 8cm driver. They're able to produce a sound that has plenty of detail, texture and definition. Timing is another strength of the TD-M1s too, as is stereo imaging when positioned well.

Treble can get a little harsh at times, though.

If they were a little cheaper they would've received a fifth star, so we recommend auditioning them first, before buying.

MORE: Read our full Eclipse TD-M1 review

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