from Amazon reviewers, though most of them seem to prize the low cost and simplicity of the system over the sound quality. If those are your priorities, then these speakers probably won’t let you down, particularly if you’re looking to increase the volume output of your mobile device. However, you can get all that plus rich, immersive audio with some of the other budget computer speakers we’ve tested.
CREATIVE INSPIRE T12
$49 from go.pcworld.com/ct12
Creative Labs has been synonymous with great-sounding PC speakers for years, so I generally expect excellent audio even from the company’s lower-end products. The Inspire T12 speaker system did not disappoint, delivering warm stereo sound at a great price compared to other budget PC speakers we’ve tested.
Done in matte-black plastic with a glossy black front panel, the speakers are aesthetically kissin’ cousins to Creative’s higher-end T20 series. Each 7.09-by-2.80-by3.86-inch speaker features a tweeter on the front and a woofer that takes up the entire backside. In lieu of a subwoofer, the T12 uses Creative’s Bassflex technology to extend the low frequency.
Setting the T12 up is a cinch. The left speaker has an attached cable that plugs into the right speaker to tie them together. Also on the back of the right speaker is the power port, and an audio input jack you connect to your PC’S headphone port using a supplied 3.5mm cord. On the front is a volume knob that doubles as the power switch, a headphone jack for private listening, and an auxiliary-in jack for lining in your smartphone or other MP3 player.
The T12 have impressive sound for desktop speakers at this price. The high end was crisp without ever getting tinny, and the Bassflex tech gives the bottom end a pleasing punch. The speakers also pack a volume wallop that belies their small size. Cranked all the way, they easily fill a modestsized room with sound, though the audio tends to muddy at that level, too. I found the halfway point on the volume knob to be the sweet spot for desk-bound listening,