Q: A few years ago, I contacted you about upgrading my stereo system. Everything you recommended is working great, and I am very happy, so now I am contacting you for desktop computer speaker suggestions. My budget is $100 to $300. Do you have any specific recommendations?
A: If you want something very small, consider the HiVi Swan H2 from the Audio Insider. The H2 would be your simplest and most compact choice, with each speaker holding a single full-range driver in an attractive aluminum shell. At $99 a pair (currently reduced from $199), they are an enticing value, as well. You can see them at the Audio Insider tab at chanemusiccinema.com.
The best computer speakers tend to be small powered bookshelf speakers. At only $99, the Edifier R1280T (edifier.com) rates as a top buy for its versatility and sound quality. It has dual audio inputs, so you can use it with two components (for example, a CD player or turntable as well as a computer). A version with Bluetooth, the R1280DB, is available for $129. If you choose Edifier and plan on using your speakers with a phone or tablet, the R1280DB is the model I recommend.
The $249 Kanto Yu (kantoaudio.com) is my top recommendation under $300. These powered desktop speakers have an input for a computer (or other component) as well as built-in Bluetooth and a multifunction remote control. Like the Edifier R1280T, they resemble smallish bookshelf speakers. The Yu excels with all types of music, and purchasers will be rewarded with accurate, enticing sound from a product that has been embraced by music lovers and audio enthusiasts. There is a connection for an external powered subwoofer, but unless the room is very large you won't need one. Far more than a computer speaker, the Yu also makes a great foundation for a dorm room or office system when paired with a CD player or turntable.
My favorite computer speaker system is the Definitive Technology Incline. They were discontinued a few years ago, but occasionally they pop up on eBay for between $200 and $300. The Incline combines the small footprint of a computer speaker with the solid, full sound of a much bigger box speaker. The Inclines are dipole speakers that radiate from both front and back to create a spacious, enveloping sound field of the highest quality, and you can connect them via USB to take advantage of their internal digital-to-analog converter, which takes the sound up another few notches.
No Bluetooth issue
Q: Last week you recommended using a phone or tablet to transmit a SiriusXM signal to a Bluetooth receiver connected to a stereo. Isn't audio quality lost when you use a Bluetooth connection instead of Wi-Fi?
A: That would be the case for high-resolution streaming services, but SiriusXM radio is heavily compressed and within the ability of Bluetooth to transmit and play it without loss.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.