Matt Black vs Computer Speakers
I often get asked the question, what are the best speakers for my laptop. My first response usually starts with, is this for in your car use? The reason behind that is if it is for use in your car, look for an audio input on your stereo. This is usually a standard 3.5mm input that lets you connect external devices to be heard through your stereo speakers. With the growth of I pods, this is coming to be more common in car audio systems. All it takes is cable that has a 3.5mm jack on each end (Usually about 10 bucks via Walmart, Radioshak..etc). Connect one to your headphone jack on your laptop, and the other to the input on the car stereo. Change your input selection to the audio in jack. Then all audio played through your computer will be heard through your stereo speakers.
If you are just looking for external computer speakers then there are several things to consider. Standard speakers on a laptop are usually less than optimal. Due to power and size restraints, a lot of people purchase external speakers to help with laptop sound. You’ll find 2.1-channel speakers starting around $20. But these won’t be the most powerful speakers available. You’ll need to spend more to get better ones. You want powered speakers. These plug into a wall outlet. Or, purchase a pair that connects to your computer via USB. Both sound and power will be delivered over the USB connection. You’ll want to pay attention to watts when buying speakers. The more watts, the more powerful the speakers and remember a speaker system is labeled with its ENTIRE wattage. Dig a little deeper into the specs. You’ll see the watts for each speaker, or channel. Now, you may be perfectly fine with a 9-watt system. Or, you may need something much more powerful. It just depends on how you will use the speakers. Maybe you just want to listen to music while you surf the Web. Or, you could just use them to hear feedback from your computer. You don’t need particularly powerful speakers for these tasks. But you might want to use your computer to watch movies. You could also want to use your computer as a stereo. In either case, opt for more powerful speakers. I don’t recommend buying speakers online. That is, unless you know exactly the model you want. Rather, head to an electronics store. Test the speakers out individually so you will know what wattage you may be looking for, then shop for that wattage of speaker. After all, personal preference comes into play when buying speakers. You might also consider surround sound speakers. You’ll find 5.1-, 6.1- and 7.1-channel systems. But your computer must support surround sound. This probably won’t be the case with a laptop. Check with the manufacturer and if your computer doesn’t support surround sound, you can always add a sound card. This can attach to your computer via a USB port. Or, look at ones that fit into a PC Card or Express Card slot.
How about wireless speakers? You’ll find wireless options that use Bluetooth. That’s a wireless networking standard. It is most commonly used for cellular headsets. But it can do much more. You can stream music in stereo over a Bluetooth connection. Both the source and the speakers or headphones must support the A2DP profile (don’t worry about understand A2DP technology unless you are really serious about wireless connections) Implementing Bluetooth speakers shouldn’t be terribly difficult. However, your laptop may not have built-in Bluetooth or the built-in Bluetooth may not support A2DP. In either case, you can purchase a Bluetooth dongle (about 20 bucks). Bluetooth speakers or headphones will support A2DP. A2DP will work with stereo speakers. There are also 2.1-channel Bluetooth speakers. But you won’t find Bluetooth surround sound speakers. You’ll need a wired connection for surround sound.
Now you can also use a media hub. You would attach it to your stereo or home theater. It also connects to your network to stream music and other content. There are wired and wireless media hubs. They’re great for listening to music or watching videos. But they won’t work for playing system sounds, but maybe something fun to play with!