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Kraigmo's avatar

Why do all higher end computer speakers now have massively-high quality subwoofers and massively low-quality normal speakers? Why is the trend to ignore treble and focus 100% on bass?

Asked by Kraigmo (8181points) May 22nd, 2011

I used to have a pair of Boston BA 265 computer speakers that had excellent sound. After more than a decade, they’ve broken. When I went to Best Buy, Walmart, and Office Depot… I noticed that there are no more high quality computer speakers pairs being sold. If you want high quality, you are forced to buy a set of triple-speakers that includes a giant subwoofer and two crappy tiny regular (treble) speakers.

It’s as if the whole world suddenly decided that treble doesn’t matter and everything depends on bass.

Where can i get a good pair of computer speakers… a pair of them where no stupid subwoofer is required?

I want high quality sound, and the price range should be $25 to $85. Like my old Boston BA 265 speakers… which no longer exist.

And preferably a pair where the 2nd speaker is manually detachable from the 1st speaker… allowing for realistic placement.

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15 Answers

gasman's avatar

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence taste for sound quality of the American public.” —HL Mencken

mazingerz88's avatar

The mass of the bass sound gives the psychological impression the speaker is better sounding since it fills more space than if the treble is favored which gives more of a harsh sound with limited space projection.

I’m one of those who prefers bass favoring speaker that is why I have Bose for my laptop. For my parents I bought them the JBL Duet Aluminum computer speakers which is within your budget. I’m not satisfied with its bass sound but when watching movies in my Dad’s laptop, I like to hear the perfectly crisp dialogue brought out by its great treble sound. Hope this helps.

jerv's avatar

One thing to bear in mind is that a lot of movies and video games have sounds that cannot be one without a decent subwoofer. Explosions that punch you in the chest, earthquake or thunder rumbles that shake the room, etcetera. Unless your pair of speakers was at least as big as your head, there is no way it had decent sound reproduction in that range (under 100Hz) with any sort of power. It may sound decent to you, but it would probably make me go, “Meh.”.

That said, I agree that it is hard to find a decent set of speakers. I need a set that can go from sphincter-loosening lows to dog-whistle highs and everything in between, and almost every system I’ve seen that even comes close to putting out sound I find decent has a powered subwoofer, and each satellite has two speakers in each satellite; a tiny tweeter and a mid-sized mid-range. The only decent sounding speakers I’ve seen that lacked a separate subwoofer were at my uncle’s stereo shop, and had three speakers per cabinet (each cabinet being the size of the trash can in my kitchen), but I don’t think you are up for paying $700 per speaker plus another $1,200 for the head unit, nor dealing with speakers that big.

I have a nice set of Altec-Lansings that have excellent treble, but they also have a floor-shaking subwoofer and no mid-range to speak of. My solution was to run Y-cable from my PC’s Line Out, using the Altec-Lansings for the high and low, and another set with decent mids and not much else for a total of five speakers.

But that is probably not a solution for you either, so let us start with this clarifying question; what do you consider “excellent sound”?

@mazingerz88 Not to my ears. I need the full range from 15Hz-17KHz with even response (no “dead spots”) or I don’t call it “good”. In that, I may be (and probably am) fussier than @Kraigmo

mazingerz88's avatar

@jerv Oh I truly understand. I would have set something up like the way you prefer it since I have friends I admire whose eardrums are quite “sophisticated”. But I fail in following them since I’m just too lazy and ignorant to take the time and effort to set it up and also ambivalent about spending.

jerv's avatar

@mazingerz88 I am also not big on spending, which is why I used speakers that cost dozens of dollars instead of hundreds.

mazingerz88's avatar

@jerv Well see that’s the thing. I have a friend who knows how to get great sounding speakers also without spending too much. It’s always a delight listening to him explain even if he knows I don’t catch most of it but once we start watching a movie, I always end up more appreciative of the sound he set-up. I would not be able to scrutinize and analyze on my own.

_zen_'s avatar

I think you’ve asked a great question – and @jerv has answered it. When you mass produce something, you have to go with what you project the majority will want to buy. The trend, and it’s more than that because of sound effects in movies and games, is for more bass. This isn’t new.

I personally find too much bass annoying – I’m at that age. But you can find a good pair of speakers, with the sub turned down low, at a reasonable price.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Kraigmo Don’t go to a mass marketer for speakers, go to a AV boutique shop. There are several high quality speakers that are NOT “boom-boxes” or sub-woofers only. I have a friend that keeps reminding people around him, “Just because Walmart has an item, doesn’t mean you want to buy IT”.

john65pennington's avatar

Could it be that someone in manufacturing is trying to save our hearing?

Or could Bose technology now be included in pc speakers?

dabbler's avatar

Cambridge SoundWorks has great speaker systems that are inexpensive but high quality for the price.

jerv's avatar

@john65pennington I don’t think that’s it. I have yet to see a set of speakers in @Kraigmo‘s stated price range that can get loud enough to cause permanent damage to anything but themselves. You have to pay for that sort of power, and you have to pay even more for Bose.

@dabbler I had a nice set of Cambridge Soundworks speakers for years. They were a decent value; alright sound for under $30. However, they were a three-piece set, so I don’t think @Kraigmo would approve.

GladysMensch's avatar

Best Buy, Walmart, and Office Depot. That’s like going to Denny’s for steak.

dabbler's avatar

@jerv I see, I thought @Kraigmo was looking for some massively high-quality left-right speakers to go with a massively high-quality subwoofer. ‘cause I agree with your comment someplace above that a subwoofer is really necessary in that size speaker system to put out lots of kinds of sounds properly. A three piece with well-designed left-right can get a lot accomplished.

dabbler's avatar

Ran across these today : Audyssey

jerv's avatar

@dabbler Small problem; $200 :(

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