For the last eight years, my speakers of choice have been the same compact Logitech Z213 2.1 speaker system that currently retails at $50/£55. That must mean I don't care that much about sound, right? Wrong. Like many people in either publishing or creative work, I listen to audio for the majority of every day, be it streaming music to help me focus, podcasts or radio, or watching movies and TV in the evenings.
I've been obsessed with electronic music in particular since I was an impressionable teenager, where repeat viewings of VHS recordings of The Prodigy's 'No Good (Start The Dance)' or The Chemical Brothers' 'Life Is Sweet' off the telly in the '90s set me up for a life of pursuing everything electronica for decades since. And it's particularly through that (not to make light of my love for other genres, from psychedelic grunge rock to spiky girlboss pop) where I've developed strong opinions when it comes to speakers and headphones.
You've got to have good, solid, deep bass. If that's missing, what's even the point? And you have to have a good range to the sound too. Can't miss those rich synths, hi-hats and room-filling beats if you want to properly get into a groove. And so my go-to for filling said room is the dinky little Logitech Z213? Surely that makes no sense.
Hear me out.
Whether it's been roaming through the perilous worlds of The Witcher, racing around meticulously recreated real-world tracks in Project Cars, having Jóhann Jóhannsson's searing Arrival score help me focus through the last two hours of the workday, or feeling immersed in the bone-crunching gore of the latest season of The Boys while something rather more family-friendly is playing on the TV downstairs, my dinky little Logitech speakers have more than done the job.
So if I really love good sound so much, why don't I go for a set of the KEF LS50 Meta? After all, they are beautiful bookshelf speakers with rich, deep sound utilising new Metamaterial technology, so handing over the £1,000 or so they cost is surely worth it for the orgasmic experience of listening to them. Or if I'm rather more budget-conscious but still want something that shows off my audiophile credentials to anyone unfortunate enough to start a conversation about Orbital's acid-house immortality with me, why haven't I put down £499 for the classic and classy Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 yet?
With wires that inexplicably get tangled while just sitting there, an ungainly subwoofer box I'm still trying to find the right home for in my desk setup and a design that was clearly, let's be diplomatic and say, 'of secondary importance' to its makers, my Logitech Z213s have kept me happy since May 2015, when I bundled them in on the cheap as part of a new gaming PC setup because I'd run out of budget for all the other things in it. Whenever I turn on the computer, I have to quickly switch them off and on again to get them to deliver sound to me, and I love them.
I've eyed up my fair share of Sonos soundbars and five-speaker Bose surround-sound systems in the years since, of course, but then I look at the discombobulating price tags for these flashy flagship products and think to myself 'are they really that much better than what I've got already?' Each time, after some in-store evaluation, the answer is 'not by enough to justify the impact on my bank account'.
A big part of my job is testing laptops, and one of my first go-to stops is checking the sound. I can't work in silence. These laptops range from budget notebooks to $3,000+ gaming behemoths, with all the differences that come with that. But one thing unites all of them, as well as every built-in monitor speaker I've ever used: they all, every single one, bar none, get absolutely pummelled by the 7 almighty watts (times two) of my trusty old Logitechs when it comes to sound performance.
I've edited work-related videos, amateur short films, school projects for my son and more using these cheap speakers, and can't imagine what I would have gained by spending four figures on something designed to within an inch of its life that I don't get already for the 50 quid I spent almost a decade ago now.
Longevity is also worth so much in the cost-of-living crisis we all find ourselves in, and I can attest that apart from looking a little dustier than they did in 2015, the Z213s have lost none of their oomph since the day of purchase.
Yes, I admit that for fine detail I do turn to my headphones, but that's something I'd do anyway even if I had a flashy soundbar that I had to sell my firstborn to afford. Currently I'm using the 1More Sonoflows I reviewed a short while back, and in another budget-conscious stroke of good fortune, those are a pair of active noise-cancelling sub-£100 lids that perform like headphones three times their budget.
But for everything else, gaming with my boy, video-conferencing, chair-dancing like no one's watching (except the cat, judgingly), my ugly, cheap little Logitech speakers, with the wonderful and needlessly bulky subwoofer box will be my audio device of choice. Until one of those endlessly tangled wires finally rips, that is.