Most speaker sets designed for computers today use either two or three speakers. Speakers also use a variety of ancillary controls and components, such as cables, volume knobs, and so on. Understanding the options available in speakers can help you to avoid an inappropriate purchase.
All modern sound cards are capable of stereo reproduction, in which sounds are recorded on two channels. A logical form for speakers, therefore, delivers them in pairs, as shown in Figure 11.1. Computer speakers range in size from cubical shapes of roughly 3 inches per side to roughly a foot tall with a footprint of about 6 inches square. As a general rule, the larger the speakers, the better the sound reproduction, but there are exceptions to this rule.
Most computer speakers are standalone units; that is, you position them on your desk independently of other components. Some speakers are designed to be mounted on a vertical surface, such as a computer monitor. These speakers typically come with Velcro fastenings to fasten the speakers to the monitor. Some are designed to mate with a specific monitor, and include appropriate attachment hardware for both the speakers and the monitor. A few go one step further: They're integrated into the monitor. Speakers that come built in to monitors are typically of low quality, unfortunately, and they add to the cost of the monitor. There's no reason you need to use speakers that come built in to a monitor, though. If you like a monitor as a monitor, you can always ignore its built-in speakers if you don't like them.
The traditional design for speakers uses one pair for stereo reproduction.
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