Are you tired of looking around for the best audio but disappointed with what all smartphones, earphones and Bluetooth speakers have to offer? Is the sound quality you get just lacking that something extra? Well, its time you upgrade to a true 2.1 channel speaker.
As the name suggests, 2.1 channel speakers have three components- two satellite speakers (left and right channel) and a dedicated subwoofer for that low end. This separation allows the speakers to produce a much fuller sounding audio plus it sounds loud as well. But all this 2.1 channel sounds too complicated to set up and use? Of course not.
2.1 channel speakers are simple to use, require almost no setup and even have Bluetooth and aux in to work with your smartphone and laptop easily. Plus the speakers we have today, are active speakers which means they work directly with your phone or laptop without the need for any external sound amplifier.
Buying a 2.1 channel speaker or in fact, any audio product can be really confusing partly because audio is very subjective to a users taste. Next, you have a lot of over-aggressive marketing when it comes to audio- THX, Dolby, Surround Sound, HD, Hi-Res. All you need to know is understand the sound that you want and personally have a listen to an audio product to see if it matches you. If you still need to look around for some specifications and features consult our buying guide at the end.
To find the best 2.1 channel speakers for you we read through suggestions from India's top audiophiles on "The Indian Audiophile Forum", we then read through suggestions from some of the biggest technology websites in the world like TechRadar, PCMag, Whathifi?
Best 2.1 speakers India
The Harman Soundsticks III is picked as the first due to its frankly art-piece like design, excellent audio quality, especially with an amazing subwoofer performance and did we mention the design?. It's also priced really well for a speaker that looks like it's from another galaxy.
Rarely has there been a speaker that is as good to the ears as it is a treat for your eyes. The Soundsticks III was designed by Apple’s Chief Designer Sir Jony Ive almost 20 years ago. It is also a permanent exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), now this is really strange as the basic definition of art is something that is not functional but the Soundsticks are brilliant, even at audio.
But it's not just about looks with the Soundsticks, they sound brilliant as well. As the name suggests this is a 2.1 channel speaker meaning you have two speakers and one subwoofer. You have eight full-range 1-inch transducers (four in each speaker) and one large six-inch downward firing subwoofer. They are all linked together with transparent wires as well so it looks discrete.
PCmag simply called the audio quality as stellar with generous, well-defined low-end. With the bass set at its halfway point, they found the Knife's "Silent Shout" did not distort even at maximum volume. That statement is not something to be taken lightly as Silent Shout can humble most mid-range subwoofers.
Cnet used the Soundsticks III in different scenarios of music, gameplay and movie watching and found that they were powerful enough in all three making it a very versatile speaker. However, we are pretty confident it will look completely out of place if paired with a gaming PC decked with RGB lights, something the people from the Victorian era would call "Blasphemous!!!"
There are some niggles as well, the lack of any wireless connectivity (there is a version that does have Bluetooth have it but with too many connection issues), you get standard 3.5mm connectivity but the cables are hardwired so use them carefully. Then there is the way you control the volume and bass which isn't the greatest in term of usability as the controls are placed on the unit itself which can be difficult to reach. Also, the volume controls are super sensitive capacitive touch ones that give no feedback or indication.
The Harman Kardon Soundsticks III is for people who do not want a discreet audio solution but one that they can display openly. Great looks aside the audio quality will also blow you with its loud and clear sound and good quality bass. This makes it great for Movies and Music alike.
Given the extra effort, it takes to make a transparent speaker system, the Harman Kardon Soundsticks III cost nearly Rs.17,000 but they are absolutely worth the price as they are far superior to Bluetooth speakers and the dedicated subwoofer means you get sound quality unlike anything in this price. Then there is the design of the speakers themselves that looks at home even on the planet Krypton.
Gorgeous, futuristic design
Loud sound with deep lows
Great audio quality
Decent price for the sound and design
Has a bass and volume controller
Lacks remote control
The bass control knob is on the subunit
Only 1-year warranty
Where to buy it?
Best 2.1 speakers India
The Logitech Z625 isn’t as good looking as the SoundSticks and when it comes to sound its tuned more towards the crowd-pleasing “Loud and Bassy” signature, unlike the more flatter sounding Soundsticks. That is a reason why it comes second but its ahead of the Swans because it offers a lot more connectivity options which are genuinely useful to the user.
The Z625 is an upgraded version (some extra connectivity options) of the hugely popular Z623. The Z625 has the same arrangement and specifications of the speakers and subwoofer as the Z623. It, however, comes with an optical out along with the legacy RCA and Aux-in.
The lack of Bluetooth will be missed but Logitech does make a Bluetooth adapter for their speakers which can be bought separately. You get a dedicated volume and bass level control knob on one of the speakers along with an aux input to connect your earphone for quiet listening.
The Logitech Z625 sounds amazing and it's not us whos saying it but Digit who found the bass was superb which they said produce window rattling lows. But the great thing was the control in the bass which according to them did not muddy the dialogues in movies. By now you know that this speaker is for Bassheads.
Digit too found that it lacked a little in the highs, this was similar to what TechRadar found in the Z623 which they said needed to be a little brighter (needed more treble). Jim from Jimsreviewroom (Youtube channel) felt the speaker was perfect for movies due to its great stereo separation and reproducing the explosions and other effects faithfully. He felt the same about using them for gaming with the Subwoofer performing superbly.
The Logitech Z265 offers a lot of connectivity and powerful bass and sub-bass which makes it ideal to be used with movies, music as well as for games.
Despite costing half of the HK Soundsticks, the Logitech Z625 is a great 2.1 speaker system and even comes with a 2-year warranty. Their bass-heavy sound and a lot of connectors make them a great speaker system for movies and gaming alike.
Excellent great bass
Lots of inputs (Aux, RCA, Optical)
Great for movies and games
Has a dedicated volume and bass knob at the front
Not for Audiophiles
Lacks in the treble region
Lacks remote control
Where to buy it?
Best 2.1 speakers India (Budget Audiophile)
The Swans M10 is known for two things, great audio and low price. But its poor connectivity and hard wired cables is the reason why it was third on our list.
The M10 looks pretty basic with its cubed design but in white, it looks fantastic with the sparkly effect giving it the much-needed touch of premium. Connectivity options on the M10 are pretty spare with no USB. SD card slot or Bluetooth the only connectivity option is the RCA cable, but you do get a cable that has an aux in available so you can link it to your laptop or smartphone.
The subwoofer unit is where the volume knob is placed (front) while the power cable, RCA connector and bass control knobs are at the back.
In terms of specifications, you get two satellites which have a tweeter and a 3-inch woofer while the main unit has the 5-inch subwoofer that pumps out lows from 42 Hz-5000 Hz. This gives it a good sound quality with enough clarity according to NDTV Gadgets. They found the sound signature to be flat which can please most audiophiles. It's pretty loud too for its size and price.
Talking about bass, it has enough bass for most users but it definitely maynot be enough for bass heads.
The Swans M10 then is for users who want that amazing flat sound which doesn’t boost the low end and sounds really clear on a budget. This makes the M10 great for music and most movies.
With a price tag of around Rs.7000, the Swans M10 has a nice design, good sound quality and makes for a great 2.1 speakers for your computer.
Looks quite good for the price
Good, flat sound
Can get pretty loud
Priced really well
Bass and Volume control
No Bluetooth or USB connectivity
No 3.5mm port
Hard wired cables
Best 2.1 speakers India (Budget)
The Creative SBS A-120 is a 2.1 channel speaker system with a ported subwoofer for just Rs.1599. So being affordable it is not as loud or as good as our other best picks but its still a good budget speaker for your computer.
There's not much to speak in terms of design, as it's pretty simple. The thing to note is that you get a mouse like remote to adjust the volume, but there is no bass boost adjuster.
For connectivity, you get an aux in and a stereo port. It doesn't support Bluetooth, but we do not mean to nitpick about it.
Most users found the speaker to be loud, clear and full of bass, especially for the price. However, once you are in the upper thresholds of the volume you can hear a lot of audio crackling. Some people suggested you keep the volume between 40-60% volume and keep the source volume high to compensate for the crackling.
Note: When researching about the Creative speaker we found many people complain that the speaker goes into standby even if you have music playing. This is not exactly an issue as Creative puts it, rather compliance with ErP regulations. Under this, the speaker goes into power saving if it detects low power (low volume) from the source. To prevent this from happening you can turn up the volume on the source.
The Creative SBS A-120 2.1 with it's loud and bassy sound makes for a great budget speaker, especially for your computer.
For its price of only Rs.1599, the Creative SBS A-120 2.1 is a wonderful speaker that is loud, clear and has a lot of bass (for its size), in short, it is one of the best budget 2.1 channel speaker.
Clear and Loud audio
Detachable volume control cable
Crackling at high volumes
No bass controller
Weird external remote
Buying Guide to the best 2.1 speaker
When it comes to audio there are a lot of aspects you can look at but the main aspect is sound.
Knowing what type of music you prefer is important as some songs need a lot of bass like Hip-Hop or Pop etc. While more classical music benefits from a flat sound. This is called as the sound signature. While most of the speakers are tuned for bass, you can find a few that are tuned for a flatter balanced sound (like the Harman and Swan).
But while you are at it make sure you pick a speaker with a bass control so you can always boost the bass according to your wish and needs depending on the genre of music you listen to. Also try to look for additionally connectivity like USB, Bluetooth or even a remote to control the volume or bass. While not all of this will improve your music experience it can surely help to make things easier.
Finally, we would like to tell you not to be swayed about certifications and labels that promise HD audio or Hi-Fi this and that, check out our section on THX below to know more.
“Tomlinson Holman’s experiment” or THX is a sound certification service created at the request of George Lucas who wanted all theatres to reproduce sound just like the sound engineer intended it to. This was right before the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi movie. But over the years THX split into an independent company and then has changed hands many times, from being owned by Creative and recently by Razer.
THX now is a certification for audio as well as video with many Audio-Video companies undergoing training from THX to understand how to correctly calibrate audio and video. This is actually quite effective as THX calibrators can actually bring visible change into displays as you see when we had a THX certified calibrator calibrate our Led TVs. Click here to know more.
But the THX logo that adorns the Logitech speaker that we featured isn't really a symbol of quality. The THX logo doesn't mean the 2.1 speakers will give you 5.1 channel theatre experience at home, this is because THX doesn't really apply any changes to the way the sound is like what Dolby and DTS do.
THX is merely a certification program to check if the audio products meet the THX requirements which if noaudiophile.com is to be believed looks at just a speaker's ability to play 85dB with 20dB peaks or loudness in layman's terms. What's really strange is if an audio product does meet the THX certification, it cannot display the THX logo until the manufacturer actually pays THX a license fee.
So do not pay much weight to the THX certification on such audio products, have a listen and pick them only if they are good. Also, there are a lot of great audio products that do not have THX certification but still recreate the great sound.
Think of THX in the same way as Hi-Res audio certification while Hi-Res is no certification of better audio quality but merely approval of the devices ability to produce higher frequency sounds.
Have some more questions about speakers? Check our FAQ section below.
- Does it support USB?
No, these speakers do not support USB
- Does it support Bluetooth?
No, none of these speakers have Bluetooth but you can add an external Bluetooth adapter to them
- Is there support for AptX?
No Bluetooth, so no Aptx or LDAC support
- Is it portable? Does it work on a battery?
With three seperate units, these speakers are not exactly meant to be carried around. Also, they need to be plugged in to work.
- Are the satellite speakers wireless?
No, the satellites are connected via a cable
- Is there a bass controller?
Except for the Creative speaker, all the others have a bass controller
- Is there a remote controller?
No, the speakers do not have a remote controller
- Is an external amplifier mandatory?
Not at all, these are active speakers that have a built-in amplifier
- Is there built-in FM Radio?
- How to identify which satellite is left or right?
The satellites are labelled
If you are in the market for a 2.1 channel speaker that you can proudly display in front of your big screen that can also playback loud and clear tunes then the Harman Soundstick III is a great pick for you.
The Logitech Z265 sounds great and comes with a lot of connectivity options and make for a superb pick in the sub Rs.10,000 segment. It's not as good as the Harman but then again is half the price.
The Swans M10 is more of an underdog, it's been around for years, but has for long been a favourite of audiophiles due to its sound and low price and you know what? it’s still is relevant in 2019. The only gripe? The limited connectivity options on it.
If however, you need to experience the 2.1 channel sound without spending a lot then the Creative SBS A-120 2.1 will surprise you with the quality of the sound and loudness despite being incredibly affordable.
Have any of the picks we suggested? Comment down below about your experience with the product or the brand service. Still, have a doubt regarding 2.1 speakers? or about any feature related to them? Write down your question below so we can help you with the same.
Finally, do not forget to check out our other articles and share them with your families and friends.