Last Updated on July 13, 2016 by Dave Farquhar
Micro Center sells a pair of $5 USB-powered speakers. You’re either going to read the next sentence or you aren’t.
Still with me? Great. Let’s talk about them.
Pros: They cost $5. They plug into a USB port so you don’t have to use a separate power adapter. They don’t take up much space on your desk.
Cons: They aren’t stereo–both channels come out of both speakers. Even if they were stereo, they would still sound like they cost $5. And some or all of the pros might be cons too, depending on your situation.
Setting the speakers up is what you would expect it to be: plug them into an available USB port, ideally in the back next to your keyboard and mouse, then plug the 3.5mm stereo minijack into the green connector on your sound card. Turn on the speakers, turn up the volume, and listen to something.
Sound-wise, they’re somewhere between my grandmother’s cheap AM radio she had in the early 1980s and the cheap 13-inch Admiral TV my dad had in the basement throughout the 1980s. The sound is audible, but it’s tinny and punchless. Don’t fire up your favorite album of all time on these and expect to enjoy it, unless perhaps your favorite music originally aired on AM radio.
The volume knob is a little wonky, in that when you turn it on, you have to turn it up at least 1/4 of the way before you hear anything. You’ll probably end up using your computer’s audio controls to fine-tune the volume level.
There’s not much else to say about them. They work and they’re convenient, especially because it’s usually easier to find an open USB port than an open electrical outlet. In an office setting, they’re probably all you need, because all they’ll be doing is playing mail notifications and whatever annual training your company makes you do. They may be all you need in some other settings too. Sometimes you don’t need an expensive set of speakers. I think they’re OK speakers for $4.99, but I’m sure glad I didn’t pay much more than that for them. Then again, if you don’t need something USB-powered, I’m sure you could find a better-sounding set of speakers at the nearest thrift store for less than $5.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.
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