The best passive speakers for a PC for use with an amplifier & DAC [vs active computer speakers]

Following on from my previous post covering budget amplifiers for the PC that can drive passive speakers. Let’s look at the various passive speaker options out there.

The beauty of passive speakers is that the range of options is extensive. They cover all price points and physical dimensions. Used speakers are also a viable option too, passive speakers have fewer things to go wrong with them, and speaker technology itself doesn’t move at the same pace as other technology. So used speakers in good condition should perform to a similar level as newer models and offer excellent value for money.

Under £100 Passive Speakers

JBL Control One

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These affordable speakers offer 200W peak power with a frequency response of 80Hz – 20kHz. They are well-reviewed and the go-to option for many people wanting to keep prices as low as possible.

Cambridge Audio Minx Min22

Cambridge Audio Minx MIN 22 Neat & Compact – Satellite…

  • Sound that defies its size – huge sound from a…
  • Wider sound dispersion – No matter where you place…
  • Additional dedicated driver – extra speaker driver…
  • Incredible Versatility – optional wall mount,…

These tiny speakers weigh just 0.75kg with a frequency response of 120Hz-20kHz. The Minx range receives glowing reviews from both users and critics alike. There is also a subwoofer should you wish to upgrade the system to add a bit more depth.

Polk Audio T15

Polk Audio has long been fan favourites for anyone wanting value for money with their audio. The Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers are a little less desktop-friendly than the previous speakers. However, if you can accommodate larger speakers, you will normally be rewarded with superior sound (especially bass) compared to their compact counterparts.

£100 – £200 Passive Speakers

Wharfedale Diamond 9.1

Wharfedale Diamond 9.1

  • Gold plated 4mm banana plug/binding posts,…
  • Twin front-reflex bass ports, ideal on shelves or…
  • Dimensions W x H x D (mm) 194 x 296 x 278
  • Drivers HF: 25mm textile tweeter LF: 130mm Kevlar…

These have been out for many years, they are so good Wharefdale still make them, and they have always been a very popular pair of speakers at a very affordable price. They are quite deep at 278mm.

Q Acoustics 3010i

Q Acoustics 3010i Compact Bookshelf Speakers (Pair)…

  • Compact & versatile design to shelf or stand mount…
  • Low Profile Terminals – recessed cut-out reduces…
  • P2P bracing – helps keep the enclosure extra…
  • Enclosure Type: 2-way reflex, Bass Driver 100 mm…

These have been a popular choice of speakers, both desktops and affordable 5.1 systems. They are quite deep at 252mm, which is about the same as the height. These newer models have a ported design allowing them to achieve an extended low-frequency response.

£200 + Passive Speakers

It is worth noting; once you start spending a bit more on speakers, you probably don’t want to be driving them with a cheap desktop amplifier.

KEF Q150

KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speaker, Satin Black (Pair)

  • The KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speaker is the newest…
  • The Q150 contains an enhanced Uni-Q Driver Array…
  • The Q150 uses a rear-firing port and the internal…
  • Nominal Impedance: 8Ω (min.3.7Ω)

These are about as affordable as you get with Kef, and these were designed as a sort of budget LS50. The LS50 has been regarded as the best bookshelf speakers on the market at their price point for many years, with various newer models launched over the years.

When looking for opinions of these, one Reddit user states “If you need a desktop setup, get these. I can’t think of a better desktop speaker besides the LS50. The coaxial makes these perfect for a desktop.”

And, to make things better, these offer improved bass over the  LS50, so there is less need to pair them with a sub.

Similar to all the other bookshelf speakers, as you move up in price, the physical size is quite large. These are again 278mm deep then 303mm wide.

Elac DBR62

Elac Debut Reference DBR62 Pair of Bookshelf Speakers…

  • Enclosure Type: 2-Way Bass Reflex
  • Frequency Response: 44Hz – 35000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 86db @ 2.83v/1m
  • Max Power Input: 120 Watts

These are quite new speakers but appear to be getting rave reviews from users, and at £499 they are surprisingly affordable (in the world of audio). During my research, the users over at adore these and strongly disagree with the What HiFi review of them. According to that website, these are the best thing you can buy up to around the £1k mark. While they are quite deep, they are front-ported, so a little more forgivable if your desk is against a wall.

Posted by Mighty Gadget Blog: UK Technology News and Reviews

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