I have a good windows laptop that I take with me everywhere I go. Everything is great except for one thing – the internal speakers are not very good. The sound is OK but at full volume, it was pretty hard to hear the music or whatever it was I was trying to listen to. I knew that I could improve this situation with USB speakers.
Laptops are getting smaller all of the time which means the speakers inside them are smaller too. With really compact speakers in a laptop, they are never going to deliver the sound quality that I wanted.
Laptop speakers do not have enough power to provide the frequency and volume that most people are looking for. As a result, the sound quality is never up to much. I put up with this poor sound quality for a long time and then one day I just decided that enough was enough.
I knew that there were some good USB speakers around so I decided to do my homework and find out more about them before I spent any money. I did end up buying some great USB speakers as a result of my research and in this article, I will share with you what I found out.
What you need to know about USB Speakers
Really good USB speakers can provide you with an excellent quality sound all through a connection to a USB port on your computer. The most common type of USB speaker are the “all digital” variety. These have a single USB cable which you just plug into a free USB port on your laptop or desktop.
This is good news as you can get great sound without the need for wires traipsing everywhere. I don’t know about you but I hate a lot of wires hanging out of my computer everywhere. Some USB speakers have batteries inside that recharge when you connect them to the USB port so you don’t require an AC charger either.
There are also analog USB speakers around. This might seem a bit crazy but they work by using the USB port for power only and they have an audio cable for the sound. You can use these USB speakers with a Windows or Mac laptop or desktop and they will work with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as well.
You will be surprised just how small some of these USB speakers are. Don’t let that fool you because they produce a really great sound. They provide more volume and the frequency response is much better. But because of their small size it is easy to carry them around with you. They will easily fit into a laptop case for example.
So what kinds of USB speakers are available? Well, first off there is the single USB travel speaker where you get a mono, single speaker driver that will vastly improve the audio sound from your device when you are traveling around. These tend to be small and lightweight and you can place these speakers easily in the palm of your hand.
If you want stereo speakers there is a lot of choices. One of the most popular purchases is a single unit that includes both of the speakers. This makes them a lot more convenient to carry around with you and they have very good sound performance.
If you want two separate stereo USB speakers then there is a lot of choices here too. Here you will get two separate speakers and when you place them apart you will definitely notice a better stereo separation which provides a higher quality and more enjoyable sound.
You can get a complete USB speaker system for your desktop computer as well. This is a 3 piece unit comprising of two stereo speakers and a central subwoofer unit. The sound quality is usually really excellent with these as they produce improved mid-range and high-end frequencies.
Different USB Speaker Features
I have already mentioned that there are analog USB speakers available that derive their power from the USB port but have a separate analog cable that you need to plug into the analog port of your computer for the sound.
I have tested a couple of these and the sound quality is good but I wouldn’t say it was better than pure digital USB speakers that just use a single USB cable for power and audio. Because I don’t like extra wires I would always go for this type of USB speaker.
With some USB speakers you will find external controls which enable you to adjust the volume and mute the sound completely instead of having to do this from the computer. Often you will see a 3.5 mm input jack which you can use with a cable to connect to any kind of device for analog sound.
There are many different styles of USB speakers available as well. If the style is really important to you then you can really let your imagination run free here. You can find USB speaker soundbars and some of the most interestingly styled speakers.
The Benefits of using USB Speakers
If you are going to use a USB speaker setup with a laptop, the first thing that you will notice is the increase in volume and the improvement in sound quality. Any USB speaker is going to provide you with a much richer sound with an improved frequency response range over your internal laptop speakers.
When you plug in your USB speakers to a free USB port it is very unlikely that you will need to provide any driver files to make them work. The most modern Windows and Mac operating systems will automatically recognize the speakers and you can use them immediately.
Although the maximum output of most USB speakers is going to be around 2.5 watts you will be pleasantly surprised at just how loud they can be. Also, you will love the sound quality that these USB speakers produce for you. If you are used to internal laptop speakers the upgrade in sound will blow you away!
If you have a modern computer with USB 3.0 ports then you can get a new type of USB speaker setup which has even more power and will produce in the region of 4.5 watts output. These sound even better than the USB 2.0 variety.
If you are willing to invest in one of the larger USB speaker systems, such as the 3 piece for a desktop computer, then you will experience an improved lower base frequency range which really sounds great. If bass is your thing then you really need to look into this kind of USB speaker system.
The power requirements of USB speakers are usually very low so even if your computer has the old type USB 1.1 ports on it you will still be able to find a compatible speaker system that will greatly improve the sound quality.
There are also USB speaker systems to work specifically with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. If your device has the type C USB 3.1 ports then all you need is an adapter to use the speakers. It is unusual to find USB speakers that do not use the conventional “A” type USB plug.
I hope that I have persuaded you that upgrading from those tiny laptop speakers which have hardly any power to a USB speaker system is a good thing to do. Even at the low end, you can pick up USB speakers that will provide much better sound for around $10 or even less.
If you want top-level sound then you will need to be prepared to pay more for this. For the true sound connoisseurs out there you can spend hundreds of dollars on a full-blown PC speaker system.