Making noise

From letting you know you've received mail, to the latest gaming phenomenon, sound is crucial to the modern computing experience, as are speakers. Matt Grainger tunes in...
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In terms of audio, there was once a time when the best a PC user could hope for was a selection of beeps emanating from the back of the desktop case. Driving games sounded like a wasp trapped in a jam jar and any attempt at music bore a strong aural resemblance to someone squeezing a series of variable-sized whoopie cushions.

Nearly two decades later, audio support on PC has evolved to accurately reproduce the sound of the human voice and the vast majority of home users are able to play music through their PCs. In fact the growing role of PCs as a media centre for home users has made audio support more important than ever.

Sound support has grown to include more and more channels over the years, with newer sound cards able to support the 7.1 channels required for cinema style surround sound.

"PC audio has transformed since its inception," says Interactive Ideas' marketing executive, Andy Miles. "It went from being a tool of the music industry, to being a necessary part of the growing gaming market. Graphic and sound support have both advanced as a result of the money that was generated by that channel."

Most higher end speakers will require sound cards, and are generally needed for lavish touches like surround sound or for professional projects such as sound or music editing.

Many motherboards today come with onboard sound processing, which reduces the need for a sound card, and its presence means that consumers are just as likely to be looking for a lower-end set of speakers as they are for those at the high-end.

"We plan to continue offering our customers a wide range of speakers from all our vendors, which enables us to be able to satisfy the needs of all types of users," says Miles.

"These range from entry level speakers and media player docking stations through to advanced 5.1 surround speaker sets and high end multimedia speakers with the look, feel and sound of top end Hi-Fi speakers."

Recommendations

Hercules XPS2.1 50 Speakers
MicroP
SRP: £39.99

Designed to be shown off, the Hercules XPS 2.1 50 comprises of a ported wooden subwoofer with bass control and two magnetically shielded wide-band satellites. It is compatible with a broad variety of formats such as PC, Mac, MP3 players, CD and DVD players, televisions and game consoles. RMS is 32 watts, with a peak power of 64 watts.

Hercules XPS 2.0 60
MicroP
SRP: £69.99

Hercules says that the launch of the XPS 2.0 60 Hercules heralded a new era in the design and manufacture of multimedia speakers for people who want to listen to music on their home computers. It also has wooden satellites, multiple connectivity options and precision audio technology normally associated with hi-fi products.

Sweex USB Speaker Set 100 Watt
Centerprise
SRP: £14.99

With a modern design that suits any computer, the Sweex USB Speaker Set 100 Watt enables the user to enjoy perfect sound. Plug and play connectivity allows users to simply connect the speakers via the USB connection and since the speakers draw power via the USB, no wall power point is required. The speaker set includes a built-in stereo amplifier and is magnetically shielded.

Sweex 2.1 Subwoofer System 175 Watt
Centerprise
SRP: £15.99

The Sweex 2.1 Subwoofer System contains an in-built stereo amplifier and can be connected to a number of devices including PCs, CD and MP3 players and game consoles. This magnetically shielded system features a three-inch subwoofer and two 2.5-inch satellites and carries a simply plug and play connection.

Trust SoundForce Vivo 2.1
Interactive Ideas
SRP: £29.99

A stylish 2.1 speaker set that includes a wooden subwoofer with a total RMS power output of 42 Watt. The powerful subwoofer gives a deep and solid bass to boost any music and gaming experience. The set includes an easily accessible wired remote with volume control, power switch and headphone connection and features a convenient extra line-in connection on the remote control for iPod or other portable media player.

Sandberg Panther Sound 2.1 Speaker System
Interactive Ideas
SRP: £27.99

The Sandberg Panther Sound 2.1 is a smart amplified speaker set comprising of a subwoofer and two satellite speakers. The subwoofer gives a strong bass, while the satellite speakers produce pure treble. The set includes a cabled remote control allowing the user to easily adjust the volume. The set uses a normal headphone connector, so it also works with devices other than a computer, such as MP3 players and TVs.

Distributors

Centerprise
01256 378 000

Micro-P
South: 01256 707 070
North: 01282 776 776

Interactive Ideas

0208 805 1000

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