The Best Speaker & Headset Buyer’s Guide – Winter 2021
If you’re looking for “sound” advice on sound, you’ve come to the right place! This guide features a dozen of our favorite models at every price point, divided into four categories: home office, on-the-go, gaming, and home theater. For anyone who wants the best overall listening experience and has sufficient space, we’d suggest a nice set of speakers. For those who want to work and play without disturbing or being disturbed by others, headphones make the most sense. And of course, with music available from so many devices today, a set of wireless speakers or headphones is a necessity!
For Winter 2021, our Speaker and Headset Buyer’s Guide lists our top 10 favorite audio products on the market! Among these are “truly wireless” earbuds for use on the go or around the house, fantastic gaming headsets at every pricepoint, and our favorite noise-canceling model headset. We also list the USB studio microphone we personally use for all our YouTube videos and video conferencing, as well as a wide range of speakers for every user. Seriously, we cover the whole market in just 10 products, and every single one is well under $200, because if you buy for performance rather than prestige, you can actually get a tremendous value in the audio market!
By the way, we need to make something clear: in general, while a wired audio device will be superior to a wireless one at the same price, the comfort and convenience of wireless tech makes it a feature worth paying good money for, and with the massive improvements in wireless audio fidelity we’ve witnessed over the past few years, we have no hesitation recommending wireless gear to everyone!
In the end, no matter how you want to listen to your music, games, and videos, we’re going to help you find the right setup for your needs!
The Basic PC Speakers –
Creative Pebble 2.0$20Because desktop PCs, unlike laptops, don’t have internal speakers, we recommend you pick up Creative’s Pebble kit. Whether it’s music, You Tube videos, TV, or movies, Pebble will sound great.
Note that some folks are a bit confused by the USB aspect of these speakers, thinking that they offer a single connection for power and audio. That's not quite right - the USB is exclusively for power, while a 3.5mm audio cable is still used for sound. We think that's just fine - what it eliminates is the bulky power adapter and the need for a free outlet.
Mini Bluetooth Speaker –
Tribit XSound Go Portable Bluetooth Speaker$37If you’d like to take a dance party everywhere you go, a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker is the answer! Yes, there are a lot of overpriced big-name speakers out there, but in our experience, they just aren’t worth the price. This bargain-priced model from Tribit is an excellent choice!
You can easily use these in wired mode with your PC with a simple 3.5mm analog connection.
The Deluxe PC Speakers –
Logitech Z207 Multi Device Speakers$38Just about everyone listens to something on their PCs, whether it’s music, You Tube videos, TV, or movies. Because desktop PCs, unlike laptops, rarely have internal speakers, your best bet is to buy a great set of speakers that will sound and look great without taking up much space. The goal is to keep it basic and inexpensive here, and that’s what Logitech does with its stylish and cost-effective Z207 kit.
The Z207 has a special trick up its sleeve - it has built-in Bluetooth so you can also stream music to it wirelessly, and it will even auto-switch sources when you stop the music on one source and start it on another!
Bluetooth Sports Headphones –
Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 True Wireless Earbuds$60Anker has been making Bluetooth accessories for a long time, and its Life Dot 2 true wireless earbuds really dominate the market. They offer 8 hours of playtime, 8mm driver for great sound, and a secure fit thanks to the “AirWings” inserts, which hold the earbuds in your ears.
The charging case included with these earbuds provide another 90 hours or so of listening time, which is 4x more than most charging cases!
Noise-Cancelling Headphones –
Cleer Flow$130For the longest time, to get a true pair of noise-cancelling headphones, you had to go with a wired model. Now you have several options and the very best comes from a name you migth not have heard of, but you ought to get to know: Cleer. Founded in 2012, Cleer has been taking on and beating the big names for a while, and its first Bluetooth noise-canceling will blow you away in terms of the quality you get for your money. They get an easy win in a category filled with bland, yestertech products that somehow left audio fidelity on the cutting room floor. The FLOW is top-notch all around, and yes, the noise-cancelling is top notch too!
These are seriously amazing for the price. When they debuted, they cost $250 and were totally worth it.
USB Microphone –
Elgato Wave:3 USB Condenser Microphone$154We list a number of headsets in this guide with built-in mics offering a convenient solution for phone calls, teleconferencing, and online or gaming chat. But for seriously-professional audio quality, i.e. what you want if you’re recording content for a living, you need more than a headset microphone. That’s where a powered USB microphone comes into play, and the best pick is Elgato’s Wave:3. It offers a sophisticated built-in pop filter and “clipguard” to avoid the various audio problems so many other mics suffer from.
This is the mic we use for all our new YouTube videos, and it has never let us down!
The Mainstream Gaming Headset –
Corsair HS35 Stereo$35 The Guru’s Tip
Thanks to the 3.5mm analog connectors, it will work with any PC, and most tablets and smartphones as well!
The Deluxe PC Headset –
Corsair HS70 BT$100 The Guru’s Tip
Thanks to its Bluetooth compatibility, this headset will also work with smartphones, making it the perfect universal solution!
The Deluxe PC Headset –
Corsair Virtuoso Wireless Headset$180 The Guru’s Tip
We've been using our Virtuoso headset daily since it was released, and we wouldn't trade it for anything!
The High-End 2.1 Speaker Set –
Logitech Z625 THX 2.1 Speaker System$146 The Guru’s Tip
Note that a lot of speaker sets have subwoofers that look big, but don't deliver the bass. That's because a big box does nothing if you don't have the watts to back it up!
- The Basic PC Speakers – Creative Pebble 2.0 ($20)
- Mini Bluetooth Speaker – Tribit XSound Go Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($37)
- The Deluxe PC Speakers – Logitech Z207 Multi Device Speakers ($38)
- Bluetooth Sports Headphones – Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 True Wireless Earbuds ($60)
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones – Cleer Flow ($130)
- USB Microphone – Elgato Wave:3 USB Condenser Microphone ($154)