The relationship between computer monitors and speakers is an interesting one. While we often think of them as separate devices, some monitors actually contain built-in speakers, blurring the lines between the two. This article will take an in-depth look at whether computer monitors have speakers, the pros and cons of built-in audio, how to hook up external speakers, and everything else you need to know about the audio capabilities of your display.
After reading, you’ll have a solid understanding of monitors and sound so you can optimize your desktop setup. Let’s dive in!
- Some monitors have built-in speakers, while others lack internal audio
- Built-in speakers offer convenience but usually can’t match the quality of dedicated external speakers
- It’s easy to connect external speakers, headphones, or soundbars to monitors for better audio performance
- Monitors with HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB-C can transmit sound from the PC to external speakers
- Consider your priorities for audio quality, minimal clutter, and versatility when choosing displays
Computer monitors are video displays that show the visual output from a computer. They come in many sizes and forms, from basic 19” screens to curved ultra-wide monitors exceeding 40”. Most connect to PCs using video cables like HDMI or DisplayPort.
Speakers, on the other hand, are audio output devices that let you hear sound from a computer, phone, television, or other source. They come in all shapes and configurations, from small smartphone speakers to surround sound home theater setups.
So how do these two technologies intersect? Do those displays on your desk also function as speakers? Or will you need dedicated external speakers for sound? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about monitors and audio.
We’ll start with the basics and explain how some monitors integrate speakers while others don’t. Then, we’ll compare the pros and cons of built-in audio against adding external speakers. We’ll also provide tips for connecting standalone speakers to your display.
Finally, we’ll summarize key conclusions so you can make informed decisions when purchasing monitors and setting up your workspace. Let’s get started!
Do Computer Monitors Have Speakers?
The short answer is…it depends! Some computer monitors have built-in speakers, while others rely solely on external speakers for audio.
Monitors With Integrated Speakers
Many monitors, especially more advanced and expensive models aimed at home entertainment or creative professionals, contain integrated speakers. This allows you to enjoy audio directly from the display without hooking up external speakers.
For example, a 27” Dell UltraSharp monitor marketed at media creators might contain bottom or side-firing stereo speakers. A large curved gaming monitor from Samsung likely has basic integrated speakers so gamers can hear game audio without any added peripherals.
Monitors with built-in speakers will have an audio-out port, usually a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can play sound through headphones or powered speakers if desired. Overall, built-in audio provides simplicity, though external speakers often deliver superior quality.
Monitors Without Speakers
On the other hand, many monitors lack any integrated audio capabilities. This includes most basic office displays or monitors focused solely on image quality. Without built-in speakers, these displays must connect to external speakers to hear sound from your PC.
For example, an entry-level 22” Asus screen aimed at office tasks probably won’t have any speakers built-in. A high-end 4K monitor meant for color-accurate visual work also eschews audio to concentrate purely on image quality.
These monitors still have audio inputs, usually HDMI or DisplayPort, so they can receive and transmit sound signals to external speakers when connected to a PC. But with no speakers inside, they can’t generate any audio on their own.
Checking for Built-In Audio
How can you tell if a specific monitor has integrated speakers? Here are a few easy ways to check:
- Inspect the panel – Built-in speakers are usually visibly apparent on the monitor. Look for speaker grills on the bottom, sides, or back.
- Read product details – Monitor specs will highlight integrated speakers if present. The product description should mention audio capabilities.
- Look for an audio-out port – Monitors with speakers generally include a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones. This port is absent on displays lacking speakers.
- Check ports – HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C allow audio transmission. If a monitor only has VGA input, it probably lacks speakers.
Using these methods, you can quickly assess if a monitor will provide integrated audio or if you’ll need to supply external speakers. With that covered, let’s compare the pros and cons of built-in displays and dedicated speaker systems.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Built-in Speakers
Should you seek out a monitor with integrated audio or rely on standalone speakers? There are compelling benefits to both approaches. Let’s break down the key pros and cons so you can weigh your options.
Benefits of Built-In Monitor Speakers
Monitors with internal speakers provide some clear advantages:
- Simplicity – Get sound and visuals from one device. No need for extra cables or speaker setup.
- Clutter-free – Avoid speaker wires snaking across your desk. Keep your workspace clean.
- Portability – Integrated audio travels with the monitor. Easy to move and rearrange.
- Cost – No need to buy separate speakers. Usually built-in speakers carry little to no added expense.
- Compact footprint – Speakers take up no added space. Ideal for small desks.
For many basic needs, like office work or web browsing, built-in monitor audio may well suffice. The addition of an inexpensive soundbar can further boost quality. Overall, integrated speakers provide a fuss-free audio option.
Downsides of Built-In Monitor Speakers
However, relying solely on internal monitor speakers does come with some limitations:
- Mediocre sound quality – Built-in speakers often can’t match large external speakers for fidelity and volume.
- Limited bass – Small speakers struggle to produce full, rich low frequencies. Music and movies suffer.
- Narrow sweet spot – You need to sit directly in front of the monitor to get the best sound.
- Can’t separate – Speakers stay fixed to the display. You can’t space them apart for better stereo imaging.
- No surround sound – Limited to basic two-channel stereo at best. Lacks true surround sound.
For critical listening needs like music production and video editing, most built-in monitor audio falls short. External speakers tend to provide superior audio reproduction.
External Speakers: The Better Audio Choice?
Adding separate premium speakers can maximize your audio quality:
- Larger woofers – Bigger cabinets and drivers allow fuller bass and volume.
- Wider sweet spot – Freestanding speakers can be arranged to disperse audio widely throughout a room.
- Surround sound – Add speakers throughout a space for true surround sound.
- Position flexibility – Place speakers at ear level or wherever they sound best.
- Upgrade potential – Start with a basic 2.0 system and expand to 5.1 surround sound over time.
- Use with TV – External speakers can switch between desktop PC and television.
Dedicated speaker systems require more investment and desk space but unlock significantly better sound for music, gaming, and movies. They let you customize an audio setup tailored to your needs.
How to Connect External Speakers to a Monitor
If built-in monitor audio falls short, adding desktop speakers or a sound system is easy. There are two main ways to hook up external speakers to displays:
1. Connect Speakers to Monitor Audio Out Port
Nearly all monitors with integrated speakers include an audio-out port, usually a 3.5mm headphone jack or RCA outputs. This makes it simple to connect external speakers.
To hook up powered bookshelf speakers or multimedia monitors, just use a 3.5mm audio cable and plug into the monitor’s headphone jack. The monitor will automatically mute its built-in speakers and route audio through your external setup.
Some monitors, especially higher-end displays aimed at entertainment, offer RCA outputs instead of a 3.5mm jack. In that case, use RCA cables to connect passive speakers through an AV receiver or stereo amplifier.
This approach lets you bypass the monitor’s weaker integrated audio and tap into more powerful external speakers. Audio quality improves significantly over most built-in offerings.
2. Connect Speakers Directly to PC or Video Source
Rather than piping PC audio through the monitor’s outputs, you can also connect speakers directly to the computer or video source.
For example, hook up a surround sound system or headphones to the audio jacks on the back of a desktop PC. Or, connect a soundbar to a media streamer’s HDMI ARC or optical output.
This approach allows the pure digital or analog signal to travel directly from the source to the speakers or receiver. Bypassing the monitor further optimizes fidelity.
For the best control over audio, it’s preferable to connect speakers directly to the PC or media player. Doing so taps into the full capabilities of high-end speaker setups.
Types of External Speakers
What kinds of speakers can you hook up to a monitor? Here are some top options:
- Powered bookshelf speakers – Compact speakers with built-in amps offer great sound quality for the price
- Studio monitors – Nearfield monitors excel for music production and audio editing
- PC speakers – Multimedia speaker systems designed for desktop use
- Soundbars – Slim, easy way to add enhanced sound to monitors
- Surround speaker systems – Speaker packages, often with a subwoofer, provide surround sound
Monitor speakers should match the use case. Choose affordable powered bookshelf speakers for basic music listening. Or, go for a 5.1 home theater system to create an immersive cinematic experience.
With the right speakers hooked up via either method, you can transform the audio capabilities of monitors lacking sufficient integrated sound.
Do You Need a Monitor with Speakers?
After breaking down the pros, cons, and speaker connectivity options, should you seek out a monitor with integrated audio? Or forget built-in sound and add external speakers? Here are some key factors to consider:
- Usage – Casual PC use can rely on built-in sound. Music/video pros need external speakers.
- Desk space – External speakers take up room. Built-in audio saves space.
- Audio quality needs – Integrated speakers suffice for basic needs. External is better for premium sound.
- Budget – Built-in is cheaper. Quality external speakers are an added investment.
- Aesthetics – Internal audio prevents clutter. External allows personalized setups.
For typical home office scenarios, a monitor’s integrated speakers often provides sufficient quality without any added complexity. Opt for a monitor with solid built-in sound.
Serious music listeners, gamers, and home theater fans will want the superior fidelity of standalone speakers. Focus on image quality when choosing a monitor and connect powerful external audio gear.
For mixed media duties like streaming video and music, economical powered bookshelf speakers can pair with monitors lacking decent built-in audio. This offers a nice compromise of quality and simplicity.
Consider how you plan to use the monitor and prioritize convenience, quality, budget, and aesthetics. Determine whether built-in or external audio aligns better with your needs. With some thoughtful analysis, you can create an ideal desktop display and speaker setup!
The relationship between monitors and speakers continues to evolve as displays adopt integrated audio. While built-in sound provides plenty of convenience for casual users, external speakers still reign supreme for discerning listeners.
Hopefully this guide provided you with a comprehensive look at the audio capabilities of modern monitors. Here are some key tips worth remembering:
- Inspect monitors closely to see if they have internal speaker grills and 3.5mm audio-out ports
- Built-in audio offers simplicity but external speakers excel in fidelity and customization
- Connect powered bookshelf speakers or surround systems to a monitor’s audio output
- For best quality, hook up external speakers directly to the PC or media source
- Consider use cases, budget, space, and aesthetics when choosing displays and audio
Optimizing your computer’s visuals and audio can really improve your experience. With the right monitor and speaker setup, you can enjoy stunning video displays and excellent sound quality. Just be sure to analyze your needs and environment.
Hopefully this guide provided ideas and techniques to help craft your ideal desktop arrangement! Let us know if you have any other questions.
Computer Monitor and Speaker FAQs
Q: Do all computer monitors have built-in speakers?
A: No, not all computer monitors have built-in speakers.
Q: How can I tell if my computer monitor has built-in speakers?
A: Check the specifications of your computer monitor or look for speaker grills on the monitor.
Q: What are the advantages of having built-in speakers on a computer monitor?
A: Built-in speakers can save space and reduce clutter on your desk.
Q: What are the disadvantages of having built-in speakers on a computer monitor?
A: Built-in speakers may not provide the best sound quality and may not be loud enough for some users.
Q: Can I connect external speakers to my computer monitor?
A: Yes, you can connect external speakers to your computer monitor.
Q: What types of external speakers can I connect to my computer monitor?
A: You can connect a variety of external speakers to your computer monitor, including studio monitors, bookshelf speakers, and soundbars.
Q: How do I connect external speakers to my computer monitor?
A: You can connect external speakers to your computer monitor using an audio cable or Bluetooth.
Q: What are studio monitors?
A: Studio monitors are speakers that are designed for professional audio production applications, such as recording studios.
Q: Can I use studio monitors as computer speakers?
A: Yes, you can use studio monitors as computer speakers, but they may be more expensive than traditional computer speakers.