(Pocket-lint) - If you're not a fan of gaming headsets and want to fill your room with the sounds of gunfire, engine roars and more then you've come to the right place.
We've been testing out a few different PC speakers in various shapes and sizes to compile this useful guide to the best ones to buy to enhance your gaming experience.
Some of these speakers are multi-source capable and they all deliver excellent sound and fantastic quality that will make an awesome addition to your desk.
- How to build and upgrade your own extreme gaming PC
- How to upgrade your gaming area with lighting, seating, sound upgrades and more
Creative SoundblasterX Katana soundbar
- Dolby Digital Decoding for Digital 5.1/7.1 virtual surround sound
- BlasterX Acoustic Engine
- 24-bit high-resolution DAC with 5-driver system
- 49 programmable edge-to-edge LED lighting
- Multiple connection options and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity
- Headphone and microphone inputs for late-night gaming
If you're looking for a speaker upgrade for your gaming area, but don't have much room or don't want to fill up your desk with hefty speakers, then a soundbar might be the way to go. But a soundbar doesn't have to be a compromise, because good things do come in small packages. That is certainly true of Creative's SoundblasterX Katana.
This is a stylish looking, slimline soundbar that packs some serious presence. It's also all-singing, all-dancing in a number of different ways.
The first thing that strikes about the Katana is its design. As you'd expect from a soundbar of this calibre, it's small and neat enough to fit under or just in front of your gaming monitor. It also sits on two angled feet, meaning the audio is fired diagonally upwards towards your earholes. This design also makes the most of the edge-to-edge LED underlighting which adds a satisfying glow to your desk while you play (though you can turn that off if you find it distracting). It's topped off by a brushed aluminium panel that houses the upward-firing midbass drivers and the easy access controls. From those controls, you can also change source, turn on Bluetooth and switch between BlasterX Experience soundscapes.
The Katana is multi-device capable. On PC, you can simply plug it in directly to your machine via USB, but there are also aux, optical and USB inputs. Meaning you can connect all sorts of devices. Plug in a Dobly Digital source via an optical lead and you can get Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Connect your phone via Bluetooth to stream Spotify with ease. Plug in a USB thumb drive loaded with your own playlist and you can listen to that too. You can even plug in a 3.5mm microphone and headset when you want a quieter gaming session. It's also compatible with PS4 via USB as well.
This soundbar works with Creative's Soundblaster Connect software which gives you access to customisation options to tweak the audio, EQ settings, lighting, Dolby Dynamic Range Control and more.
The result is a brilliant, multi-talented soundbar that's fantastic for gaming, watching films or listening to music. It's rich-sounding, vibrant and has an excellent range too. The accompanying subwoofer gives you a nice dose of bass without upsetting the neighbours and the RGB lighting makes the Katana a real eye-pleaser too.
In the end, the SoundblasterX Katana is a real joy to have around and well worth every penny.
Harman Kardon SoundSticks
- 44Hz - 20kHz frequency response
- 6-inch down-firing subwoofer
- 4-full range transducers per satellite
- 20W RMS Satellite output, 10W RMS per channel subwoofer output
- Harman True Stream wireless technology Bluetooth connection
- 3.5mm stereo connection
- Easy touch controls
If you're after something unusual that makes your desk stand out from the norm, while delivering some spiffing sound, then look no further than the Harman Kardon SoundSticks. These are the third iteration of some awesome looking computer speakers that really look the part.
At a glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that these speakers are made of glass, but rather they're a well-constructed plastic. The setup is made up of two satellites and a beautifully crafted subwoofer. Each of which has some hefty rubber feet to reduce vibration and ensure the sound remains sublime.
This 2.1 system connects to your PC via a simple 3.5mm connection and delivers an impressive, loud and rich sound that we thoroughly enjoyed.
Another highlight is the dual-connectively with Harman True Stream wireless technology providing an easy Bluetooth connection from other devices. This means you can, for example, easily connect your phone to the speakers at the same time and get audio from both as well. Playing Spotify or YouTube on your phone, while gaming on your PC is a breeze.
The SoundSticks boast easy touch volume controls on one of the satellites and a bass adjustment wheel on the back of the subwoofer too.
These are some seriously snazzy speaker, both in terms of sound and looks too. Yes, you don't get any virtual surround sound here, but that doesn't mean the SoundSticks aren't worth the money. Fantastic audio, convenient controls and great looks too round off an epic package we'd heartily recommend.
Razer Nommo Pro
- THX Certified full range 2.1 gaming speakers
- Dolby Virtual Surround Sound technology
- 35 - 20,000hz frequency response
- Downward firing sub-woofer
- Razer Chroma compatible
- Multiple connections including USB, 3.5mm, optical and Bluetooth 4.2
If you're looking for some heavy-duty upgrades to your gaming sound system then this might well be it. The Razer Nommo Pro speakers feature a 2.1 setup with a multitude of connections including USB, 3.5mm, optical and Bluetooth 4.2, meaning they're great not only for PC gaming, but also for doing other things like streaming music from your phone.
These are huge, heavy-duty speakers from Razer that don't mess about. They offer a hefty sound that's bound to annoy the neighbours and certainly add a joyful audio experience to your gaming sessions.
A really cool black finish seems to absorb surrounding light like a black hole. A large tweeter juts out at the top of each speaker and appears threatening at a first glance. These speakers ooze a high-quality design and they ought to too at this price.
The bass is intense. You need a good solid desk for the speakers to avoid sound being ruined by vibrations and that speaks to just how loud and powerful they are.
Loud doesn't always equal good quality sound, but the Razer Nommo Pro speakers aren't a slouch in that area either. These are THX certified with Dolby Audio capabilities too. There are various settings available with Dolby Audio to switch between movies, music and gaming. A customisable equaliser is available within the software too, giving you the option to customise the sound to your personal preference.
As you might expect the Razer Nommo Pro speakers also feature RGB lighting capabilities. The base of the stands of each speaker has a subtle lighting ring which can be tweaked within the Razer Synapse software. You can choose from a number of quick or advanced effects or sync the lighting with Razer Chroma.
A convenient control dongle sits on the desk and that allows you to plug in an AUX connection or headphones - should you not want to use the speakers, for example at night. This control module also allows you to switch modes - USB, optical, analogue and Bluetooth with the press of a button.
Pairing with a Bluetooth device takes a matter of seconds, so it's easy to play audio from a variety of sources.
All-in-all, these speakers are a joy to use and a brilliant addition to your gaming setup. A brilliant and stylish design backed by a rich, crisp and bassy sound - what more could you want? Just be sure to warn your neighbours about the upgrade.
Logitech G560 Lightsync speakers
- 240 Watts Peak/120 Watts RMS
- DTS:X Ultra surround sound capable
- USB, 3.5mm and Bluetooth compatibility
- Headphone jack included on speakers
- Lightsync, audio visualiser and game compatibility
- 16.8 million colour RGB lighting
If all this lighting is getting you excited, then you might enjoy the idea of sound and lighting syncing too. Logitech has recently released a new set of speakers that do just that. These Logitech G560 Lightsync speakers are part of a sound system that's compatible with the company's Lightsync Technology meaning these speakers not only offer RGB lighting options but also tie up with other Logitech products.
These small but powerful speakers include two RGB lighting zones each controllable from the software in a variety of different ways. You can set these speakers with various lighting effects including colour cycle, breathing and fixed colours, as well as syncing with your mouse, keyboard and headset. The real highlights though are in the advanced settings.
Here you can use the audio visualiser system to set the speakers to respond to in-game sounds - flashing colours across your walls as gunfire bursts or music kicks in or lighting up your room to help immerse you in the game.
Similarly, the screen sampler mode allows you to set each lighting zone to respond to specific areas of your gaming monitor. Meaning the colours of the speakers change depending on what's on the screen. This causes the lights to adjust as you move about in-game and colours to change with gaming environment - throwing you deep into the gaming world.
Game developers have also been given the power to customise this experience further by coding games to sync with the lighting dynamically and intelligently. This is more powerful than the screen sampling mode as it's built directly into the game, but the list of current compatible games and apps is fairly short:
- Battlefield 1
- Civilization VI
- Counter-Strike: GO
- Dota 2
- Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Killing Floor 2
- Tom Clancy’s: The Division
- Total War: Warhammer II
As well as offering immersive lighting options, these speakers are also surprisingly capable. They include two tiny satellite speakers and a large subwoofer that deliver some serious punch.
With a maximum peak output of 240 watts, DTS:X Ultra surround sound options and a number of equaliser settings, we found these speakers offered a fantastic gaming experience and worked well for music and movies too. They support a USB connection to your PC, but will also work with a 3.5mm jack and offer Bluetooth connectivity as well, so there are a variety of connection options depending on your needs.
The design makes these speakers capable of lighting a good portion of your gaming area including both the desk and surrounding walls. We were impressed with how bright these speakers can get and how well the immersion works when playing games too. The variety of settings make these speakers highly flexible and it's nice to be able to combine sound and lighting in one single, capable package.