FOGEY 5 Computer Speakers

Mar 16, 2011 No Comments by

The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

Harman Kardon Soundsticks II & III

Undeniably pretty – they are part of the permanent collection at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – these also make a decent noise.  The Harman/Kardon brand is part of a group that also includes JBL speakers so they should know what they’re doing.  Some computer speakers run off the juice from a USB port but these need mains power (thus making them ‘active’).  The tiltable sticks sit on a rubber doughnut base and house four one-inch drivers delivering 10 watts of sound power.  The 20-watt sub-woofer (that pumps out the bass) glows blue (II) or white (III) when on and is ideal for trapping wayward insect life.  Soundsticks II debuted in 2004 and the III version in late 2010.  The newer Sticks are more powerful.  Because they are active you can plug their 3.5mm jack into any device with the requisite hole – such as an iPod – and annoy the neighbours.

Around £110-£140.  More info here.  Buy Harman/Kardon Soundsticks II or Harman/Kardon Soundsticks III



Altec Lansing VS 2620

These speakers are very basic – with a mere 5 watts of meaty sound muscle – and make the Fogey 5 on the basis that they are relatively popular with consumers.  There’s no sub-woofer, so don’t expect them to send you into raptures of sonic ecstasy.  Given that all integral laptop speakers are useless (and don’t let anyone tell you differently) they will improve the existing tinny racket.  Just not that much.  A secondary input jack means an MP3 player can be connected while the speakers are still plugged in to your computer.

Around £20.  More info here.  Buy Altec Lansing VS2620 2.0 Speakers

Creative Gigaworks T3

“An 80watt 2.1 system that not only looks great, but sounds brilliant too,” says Tech Radar who bemoaned the fact that, until recently, computer gamers weren’t that well-served by keenly-priced high fidelity PC speakers.  It’s easy for Fogies to ignore gaming but it happens, apparently, a lot and everywhere.  The upshot, though, is that a system capable of rendering the deep rumbling boom of exploding ordnance and the splat of mashed flesh will also highlight the aural nuances of opera, thrash metal and noodly jazz with equal aplomb.  One of the reasons for the T3s punching well above their weight is that the sub-woofer houses three separate 6.5-inch drivers whereas most only have one.

Around £160.  More info here.  Buy Creative Gigaworks T3


Bowers and Wilkins MM-1

B&W have raised their populist game in recent years with the Zeppelin iPod dock and its ‘mini’ cousin.  Now they’re looking for desktop domination with the MM-1 system.  Each speaker is ‘two-way’ meaning it houses two drivers; one to handle low, bass frequencies and another to cope with higher treble.  Like archetypal stereo speakers, in other words.  So you may wonder why they cost the thick end of £400.  Well, not only do the speakers each house two drivers, the right-hand speaker is also home to four 18-watt Class D amplifiers, two of which power the left speaker. thought that, “…the MM-1 produces deep, punchy bass for a 2.0 speaker system and it offers very detailed, well-balanced sound.”  They also pointed out that such detailed sound reproduction will highlight the quality of the source, so “If you put garbage in, it will sound like garbage coming out.”  In other words if your music library hasn’t been recorded using a ‘lossless’ audio codec such as Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) or Apple Lossless it may sound like shit through the MM-1s. And they sound very good up close – at distances of 3ft or so – which, seeing as they’re desktop PC speakers is just as well, really.

More info here.  Buy B&W MM-1


Razer Mako

These matt black jelly-mould affairs were launched in early 2008 but don’t let such relative old-age deter you.  They have been certified by THX, whose logo you might have seen at the beginning of a cinema presentation, meaning some clever people who might once have broken bread with George Lucas (the Star Wars bloke) had a hand in their development.  Think of THX as audio-nerd quality assurance.  The subwoofer and each satellite are weighty little buggers and because the sound they chuck out is omni-directional it should be sweet wherever you’re sitting.  Two caveats: don’t put the sub on a soft surface such as carpet (it’ll sound crap) and the remote is nasty.  And caveat #3 is they’re somewhat scarce.  Hens’ dentures scarce.

Around £250. More info here.  Buy Razer Mako