Multimedia Speakers: A Beginner’s Guide
Being a long-time Netizen, I frequently lurk in, around, and under the World Wide Web, visiting forums, blogs, and everywhere else I can go to without being arrested by the cyberpolice. My favorites, of course, are technology-related sites. That said, I’ve seen and encountered a lot of questions from people wanting to know what’s the best product out there, whether it’s a digital camera, multimedia speakers, or flash disks. And I just want to reiterate my frequent opinion on this matter: The best product is what fits your budget and meets your needs.
With regards to multimedia speakers, it amounts to the same thing. You alone can decide what’s best for you, basing on what you need the speakers for and how much you can afford. Multimedia speakers have definitely come a long way. With the development of the Internet, along with games, digital music and video, the computer has evolved from being a mere document-processing machine to a multimedia station. Without the appropriate multimedia speaker system, one cannot begin to fully appreciate the entertainment power and potential of the computer and the Web.
Let’s start with the price. You can buy multimedia speakers for as low as $100 or less, but you can only expect good quality from 2.1 systems. At these prices, 4.1 and 5.1 speaker systems can only offer mediocre sound quality, being budget-oriented. At $150 to $200, expect to get high-quality 2.1 systems and good quality 4.1 and 5.1 systems. From $250 to $300, you can get high-quality 4.1 systems, but try to avoid “brand names” at this time, because it’s entirely possible to get others that match or even surpass the sound quality of well-known brands. Speaker systems at the $350 to $400+ category can deliver excellent sound quality, competing with and even surpassing some home audio products, although this is a relatively new market.
What’s the use? What I mean by this is, what are you going to use them for? Not all multimedia speakers are created equal. You have to learn how to match a speaker system to how you are going to use them. Generally, people would like to use their speakers for a variety of purposes, and the three most common are DVDs, games, and digital music. If you’re mainly going to use them for gaming, get a system with good 3D capabilities, deep bass, and raw volume. It depends on how much money and space you have, though, if you’re buying a 2.1, 4.1, or 5.1 system.
For music, it gets a little more complicated. There is detailed and non-detailed sound. Non-detailed sound includes pop, rap, rock, dance, and alternative music. For these you need speakers with deep bass, raw volume, and what can only be called as an “in your face” delivery. Detailed music includes jazz, blues, classical, and R&B. You’re going to need speakers with good soundstage 3D capabilities, tight bass, and a wide dynamic range.
When you want to use them for DVDs, I can only recommend a good 4.1 system, at least. Anything less than this just won’t give justice to the potential sound quality of the movie. Of course you also need a high-quality soundcard, but you already knew that. Contrary to public opinion, though, you do not need an external AC3 decoder or digital speakers just to get Dolby 5.1 surround sound. A lot of my friends are using analog speakers with 6.1 soundcards, and it plays back the Dolby signals just fine.
Now, there are a lot more to talk about, but just remember these things I’ve mentioned and you’ll do fine with your multimedia speakers shopping. Don’t just take a reviewer’s word for it. Trust no one else but you. Get out there, bring along some music or DVDs that you listen to, and test the speakers’ performance. In the end, it’s your ears, your money, and it’s going to be your speakers. By doing this, you’re ensuring countless hours of pure listening pleasure for yourself.