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Best desktop computer speakers 2021: upgrade your home office audio

Best desktop computer speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best desktop computer speakers you can buy in 2021.

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

Some can connect over Bluetooth so you needn't worry about unsightly cables trailing all over your desk space; others you'll need to connect to a source via more traditional (i.e wired) means.

Think a single-box Bluetooth speaker might do the trick instead? We've plenty of options for you there, too.

Best desktop computer speakers 2021

1. Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2

The Mk2s are great desktop computer speakers for the money.

SPECIFICATIONS

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 multi-What Hi-Fi?-Award winners and deservedly top this list.

You can connect over Bluetooth, optical or 3.5mm - easily and qucikly - and hi-res audio is supported all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz. The step up in performance from the original MR1 model is impressive, making the 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 computer speakers 2021

(Image credit: KEF)

2. KEF LSX

A splendid, rhythmic all-in-one desktop hi-fi system.

SPECIFICATIONS

Driver: 11.5cm Uni-Q mid/bass with integrated 19mm aluminium dome tweeter | Features: Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX codec, Hi-res audio support | Dimensions: 24 x 15.5 x 18 cm (H x W x D)

Reasons to Buy

Class-leading insight
Extensive connectivity
Neat, colourful design

Reasons to Avoid

Some app snags

Despite their dinky proportions, these active bookshelf speakers wowed us with their accomplished, expressive and full-bodied sound. There’s much more to them than just sonic supremacy, though, as they double as a wireless all-in-one system capable of handling hi-res files up to 24-bit/192KHz. 

They might look like they've been zapped with a shrink ray when compared to the LS50 Wireless speakers, their older sibling, but they're no less impressive and ideal for a desktop or computer-based system. Blessed with Uni-Q drivers, 200W Class-D amplification and a choice of stylish colours that would put Farrow & Ball to shame, these come top of KEF's class.

Read the full review: KEF LSX

Best desktop computer speakers 2021

3. Steljes Audio NS3

Versatile, affordable and an affable listen, these are solid desktop computer speakers.

SPECIFICATIONS

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. They may not be the most transparent offerings out there, but they're neat and well-appointed wireless speakers with solid bass.

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 computer speakers 2021

4. Acoustic Energy AE1 Active

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

SPECIFICATIONS

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

While the more insightful KEF LSX would be our first choice at this price, it’s still difficult to think of an amplifier/passive speakers combo that could better these Acoustic Energy active speakers for the same money.

These 2018 What Hi-Fi? Award winners do everything with a flourish. They're relatively basic in terms of set-up and function – connect them to your source via either their RCA or balanced XLR inputs and you’re ready to go. There’s no Bluetooth, but you can always affordably attach a separate module (such as the iFi Zen Blue) post-purchase.

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 computer speakers 2021

5. Dynaudio Xeo 10

Pricey desktop computer speakers, but well worth the money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Power: 130W | Inputs: RCA, 3.5mm, optical digital | Bluetooth: Yes | Finishes: 2

Reasons to Buy

Clear, detailed and agile sound
Large-scaled and spacious delivery
Versatility, excellent features

Reasons to Avoid

Don’t physically feel like premium speakers

When you bear in mind the Xeo 10s are successors to the 2017 Award-winning Xeo 2, their success is hardly surprising. They may be expensive – perhaps even pricier than your computer – but those who're serious about sound quality won't be disappointed. 

They're hugely entertaining and insightful, and for small speakers (each about the size of a thick hardback book) they sure belt out a large and spacious soundstage.

Their both wireless (Bluetooth) and wired (line-level, optical and 3.5mm) connectivity options seal their five-star fate, too.

Read the full review: Dynaudio Xeo 10

Best desktop computer speakers 2021

6. Dynaudio Excite X14a

Clear, precise and exciting active speakers that can really sing.

SPECIFICATIONS

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

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  • Sander
    Hi Thanks for the article.
    I was wondering why the abscence of usb input is not mentioned for the KEF LSX but "no usb input" is mentioned for the Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 as a reason to aviod? Why the difference?

    CHeers
    Sander
    Reply
  • mikebabcock
    You should really add Edifier's line of powered bookshelf speakers to this list. I have two sets of their speakers, one for my kitchen and another on my computer desk, and while a little bigger than traditional 'computer' speakers, they provide much better power and range with a convenient remote as well.
    cf. https://www.edifier.com/ca/en/speakers/studio-1280t-2.0-powered-bookshelf
    Reply
  • northlondon
    mikebabcock said:
    You should really add Edifier's line of powered bookshelf speakers to this list. I have two sets of their speakers, one for my kitchen and another on my computer desk, and while a little bigger than traditional 'computer' speakers, they provide much better power and range with a convenient remote as well.
    cf. https://www.edifier.com/ca/en/speakers/studio-1280t-2.0-powered-bookshelf

    Agreed. They are also happier at moderate volumes than the premium units I auditioned (not so well at high though) which suits me fine for desktop speakers. Mine are now paired with a Zen Blue DAC and they sound well beyond the (literal) sum of their parts, to my ear.
    Reply
  • mikebabcock
    northlondon said:
    Agreed. are also happier at moderate volumes than the premium units I auditioned (not so well at high though) which suits me fine for desktop speakers. Mine are now paired with a Zen Blue DAC and they sound well beyond the (literal) sum of their parts, to my ear.
    I simply plugged mine into the TOSLink connector on my PC although I was tempted to get the m-Audio USB unit instead. No analog noise here.
    Reply