Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
Computer speakers may seem like an innocuous piece of technology. However, take a few minutes to consider how your speakers contribute to your computing experience. Whether it's listening to music, watching videos or movies online or mixing sound files, a high-quality monitor may be the heart of any media you consume, but the speakers are the lungs. Therefore, purchasing the best computer speakers possible is of paramount importance to achieving the highest quality multimedia experience possible.
Enter the Sony External PC Speakers SRS-A3/BLK, winner of our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award for computer speakers. These speakers are not only compact, sleek and portable, but they also produce excellent sound and consist of high-quality components. This type of quality product is exactly what we've come to expect from a company such as Sony.
The left unit of the Sony External PC Speakers is where you find all the controls for this speaker system. The power switch and volume rocker live on the side panel of this speaker. Sony kept these speakers quite simple. Nothing fancy, no touch sensors or large knobs. In this case simpler and smaller is better.
The frequency response of the Sony External PC Speakers is slightly narrower than most of the other speakers on our side-by-side comparison chart. At 100Hz–20kHz these computer speakers hit all the high notes and tones that the human ear is capable of hearing.
However, the low end bottoms out at 100Hz. Other speakers on our lineup drop as low as 10Hz. This means you miss out on some of the bass tones that some sound files are capable of producing. However, when you're dealing with numbers this low, it becomes somewhat of an academic argument. Few users will notice (or, frankly, care about) the missing bass tones on the vast majority of music and other sound media they consume.
The sensitivity of the Sony External PC Speakers weighs in at 80dB. This is a good spec, which isn't surprising because every other computer speaker on our lineup has the exact same sensitivity. The fact that the sensitivity is identical across all these devices shows that the speaker industry has nearly perfected this feature. Everybody knows the best way to do it. It would be a stretch to say that this is a boon to this particular product. However, if the sensitivity had been off by even a small margin, it would have been enough to knock the Sony External PC Speakers down a few slots on our comparison chart.
Digging a little deeper into the technical specifications of these computer speakers, the impedance of is 3.2 ohms. In simple terms, impedance is how much electricity these speakers can resist without affecting the performance of the unit. The average impedance for the computer speaker category is 4.42 ohms. The specification of these speakers falls within the normal range. It's not a great specification, but it ought to not worry anyone who is considering purchasing these computer speakers.
For many people, the amount of power a device draws is a major consideration when choosing what to buy. Whether you're concerned about the environment or just your power bill, the Sony External PC Speakers will have almost no impact on either. That's because the total output power of these computer speakers is a mere 5 watts. This is half the power drawn by the other two award-winning products on our lineup. In fact, there is only one product we reviewed that uses less power than the Sony External PC Speakers.
If you put both these speakers on a scale, the needle would hardly move. Together, the speakers weigh a paltry 1.4 pounds. Additionally, they stand less than a foot tall. These dimensions are similar throughout this category. We keep computer speakers' small stature in mind when we rate sound quality. We were pleasantly surprised by the exceptional sound produced by the Sony External PC Speakers.
Connect these speakers to any computer (or other media device) and you'll find that they replicate all the notes, tones and pitches of your digital sounds with remarkable clarity and precision. Despite having only two speakers, the bass sounds rich and resonant. You will also hear the more dulcet musical details when playing classical music.
Furthermore, the design of the speakers actually angles the sound to point it toward your head. Sony rightly assumes that these speakers will most likely sit on a desk, more or less at mid chest level. Most speakers point their drivers straight ahead. The only problem with that most humans have their ears on the side of their heads. Rarely will you find someone who can listen to music with their chest, but if you do, those people are few and far between. The fact that Sony External PC Speakers angle upward means that the sound pulses toward your face, leading to a more direct audio experience.
Another category where minimalism reigns supreme is in the connection kingdom. The Sony External PC Speakers connect to your computer or other media device via a simple 3.5mm TRS connector. Every computer, iPod, Walkman and personal audio player constructed since the beginning of time has a female port for this connection method. If one doesn't, you have no business owning it in the first place.
In all seriousness, the near universality of this connection method is hard to understate. The Sony External PC Speakers essentially act as over-sized headphones in this regard. Furthermore, as long as you have a place to connect the power source, these speakers can go anywhere. If you feel like throwing a small party, all you need is an iPod and these speakers – and party guests, of course, but those are sold separately.
On the front panel of the Sony External PC Speakers, you'll find a headphone jack with the very same 3.5mm TRS port that these speakers use to connect to other devices. Having a female TRS headphone port on the front allows you to connect a pair of headphone or earbuds to the speakers themselves. This eliminates the need to connect your headphones directly to your computer. The speakers are probably already occupying that port anyway.
Sony didn't become a powerhouse in the technology industry by providing poor customer service. The company offers multiple options to help you with the Sony External PC Speakers, should you need it. You can call customer service; Sony's representatives have a reputation for kindness and excellence. The company also offers live chat help and other online resources if you have a problem with any of its products.
When all is said and done, the Sony External PC Speakers SRS-A3/BLK are at the top of their class. They're not perfect; their frequency response is a bit shallow on the bass end. The speakers' design, size and price more than compensate for that, however. They're simple to connect and provide excellent sound quality. We have no reservation in recommending this product as the best in the computer speaker category.
These speakers are compact, portable and powerful, with great sound.
The frequency range is narrower than other products, but not by much.
As usual, Sony produces an excellent product at a low price point.