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Audiophiles may like 80's retro hugeass speakers, but for regular home use you don't need to spend a lot of money. Micca is a good brand that has some quality speakers for around $80 for a pair.

Logitech make some pretty good speakers too. Logitech Z623 speakers + subwoofer are very good quality-wise, and if you want surround sound, there's Logitech Z-906 which consists of 5 speakers plus subwoofer. Both reasonably affordable.

2.1 Speakers

2.1 is the best way to go when you're listening to music. Music is rarely more than stereo. 2.1 means that there is 1 left speaker, 1 right speaker, and a sub woofer. The left and right options can either be powered, or passive speakers. Passive speakers require an Amplifier to make them work, whereas a powered speaker will plug into a wall socket for power and doesn't require an amp. Good stereo speakers will be passive. But powered 2 channel speakers are still better than the shitty desktop speakers most people use.

5.1 Speakers

5.1 is kind of like 2.1, except there are 5 speakers and a sub woofer. This is also called "Surround Sound". In addition to 2.1's Right, and Left channels, this also adds a "center" channel, and 2 "surrounds". This type of setup is commonly used in home theater setups. Normally the speakers in "surround sound" setups are lower quality, because people don't want to buy 5 expensive speakers and a sub woofer.

7.1 Speakers

7.1 is yet another home theater setup. It adds two speakers to the 5.1 setup. 7.1 splits the surround channels into 2 "surrounds" and 2 "rears".

/g/uides and Infographs