The Best Speakers for a Dorm

College kids all use their computers for their stereo system, and the computer is usually a laptop.  Add an iPod, portable CD or MP3 player and iTunes or other music-sharing software and you have the typical student's music sources.  One more thing is needed to make for fulfilling sound, and that is loudspeakers.  With research and not a little listening, I've determined the optimum performance per dollar price point.  The results are probably better than what you have on your home stereo or home theater system, unless you've spent several thousands for audiophile gear.

How Bi-amplified Speakers Work

"Bi-amplification" is simple enough: use a separate amplifier for the woofer (the loudspeaker for bass sounds) and for the tweeter (the speaker higher pitched sounds.) The crossover network that separates the frequencies can be of lower cost and better quality, and the amplifiers can be smaller and less expensive.  By designing the speakers with the amplifiers built in, the amp's frequency response can be tailored to the speaker.  The result is better performance from more economical components.  The advantages of this design over traditional stereo components are tremendous, and engineers longed to make speaker systems this way.  Some were made, notably by Phillips. Though they performed well, they were expensive, and they met market resistance.  A traditional system came with the electronics in on box, or set of boxes, and the speakers in another.  The bi-amped speakers were too different and didn't sell well, even though they were superior.  The market wasn't ready.

Enter the computer.  To add speakers, you had to add an amplifier too.  It made sense to put them in one box. Add a subwoofer for decent bass.  Suddenly the bi-amped speaker system as a product made market sense.  With the proliferation of stand-alone music sources, CD, MP3, iPod and others, the computer speaker system wasn't just for computers anymore. 

I listened to many computer speaker systems before choosing the Logitech X-230.  Other speakers in this price range have boomy, one note bass.   Logitech have taken advantage of the integrated amplifier loudspeaker format to properly equalize the bass.  The midrange was clear, with natural sounding voices, and the highs were crystal clear without distortion.  If there is a flaw in the sound, it is that it is slightly over-bright, but certainly not more than many well-known - and more expensive - component systems.  If this is a flaw, it is easily remedied by using the graphic equalizer function built in to most computer music software, decreasing the response slightly at the high end, about 1 to 2 dB at 10 to 12 kHz.   I would surmise the designers built in this response intentionally, because the mass audience that listens to popular music prefer this sound.  Other computer speakers, including more expensive ones from companies well known in audio and consumer electronics had so much treble and midrange distortion as to be unusable for serious listening, or even for extended recreational listening.

If you are one-tenth as pleased with these speakers as I am, you will be very happy with them.  

 Reviewed by RK

 

LOGITECH X-230

$39.99     List $49.99   You Save $10.00

This is the best value in self-powered speaker compatible with a computer, CD player, iPod or other personal music device.  You could even use it for your home stereo or home theater system.  BEST BUY   LOGITECH X-230 Speaker System

LOGITECH Z-4

$79.99

For $40 more than the X-230, you get a bit deeper bass and a wired remote control.    LOGITECH Z-4I Computer Speaker System 970186

LOGITECH Z-5500

$229.99

If your budget allows, this is a THX-certified gaming and home theater system.  Such certification is not given lightly.   It features a large, 10" long-throw subwoofer driver with flared bass port; with digital equalization, this speaker system actively adjusts frequency response in real time for clean and accurate sound reproduction. LOGITECH Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speaker System 970115 0403

   

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