The State of PC Speakers
Let's face it, PC speakers have stagnated. Ever since the pre-Creative Labs Cambridge Soundworks developed the original MicroWorks, PC speakers have steadily improved in sound quality. The major PC speaker makers seem to have reached a plateau, while experiments by home audio makers dabbling in PC speakers have been less than successful, with the exception of Klipsch.
Let's get something straight here: When I talk about PC speakers, I don't mean connecting your PC to an A/V receiver to drive massive tower speakers. While that can certainly work, be loud, and even offer pristine music playback, it isn't well-suited for the PC. Most PC audio—especially game audio—is designed to work in the near field. That means that the listener sits fairly close to the speakers.
Creative Labs, Logitech, Klipsch, and others have made some fairly decent PC speakers. My personal favorite is the Creative Gigaworks 7.1, but that's more a matter of taste. I tend to like my speakers reserved and detailed.
Last year, I bought a set of Paradigm Studio 20s for my office audio system. The clarity and detail offered by the Studio 20s was unlike anything I've heard in their price range for a long time. The net result was an eventual disenchantment with the Gigaworks satellite speakers—particularly the center channel, which was no more than a satellite turned on its side. On the other hand, the Studio 20s are large bookshelf speakers, and would be poor choices for PC speakers. Again, my ideal would be speakers that work well in the near field. Continued...