Monoprice DT-3BT desktop speakers: All you really need for under $100

Monoprice DT-3BT speakers front and back views.

The front and rear view of the left (primary) speaker. 

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

No one enjoys listening to music or watching movies on crappy speakers. But, most of us also don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy passive speakers, an amplifier, a pre-amp, and whatever else you need to create a system even the snootiest audiophile would give a nod of approval. 

This leaves us in the middle, seeking good, affordable sound that’s impressive enough to provide awesome background music for a party, immersive enough for a great movie night, and versatile enough to power quiet Zoom calls. Monoprice’s DT-3BT speakers fit into the sweet spot perfectly. And they even have Bluetooth!

Building an audio system can be frustrating. Incompatible parts, components that don’t complement each other’s sound profile, and the bevy of required hook ups may drive you bananas. For the average user, a solid pair of powered speakers is the better answer. They include a built-in amplifier within one of the speakers, as well as all of the inputs, outputs, and controls one needs.

Also: The best stereo speakers: Build the perfect stereo system

Monoprice’s DT-BT3 desk speakers require only a power plug and either a Bluetooth connection or an analog audio connection via RCA, 3.5mm aux (front), or 1/4-inch balanced stereo pair cables. This last option is rather unusual in audio equipment this budget-friendly, but a nice extra for those that can make use of the rarer input. 

Once setup, all you need to worry about is pairing these speakers to your Bluetooth device, plugging in your wired devices, and controlling the volume. The speakers will play both a wired audio source and Bluetooth source at once, making controlling them as simple as muting your phone or PC to allow the other to play through. 

This simple yet versatile setup suits these speakers perfectly. It’s flexible enough to provide exceptional sound for your laptop, desktop, game console, TV, or smartphone, without requiring more than volume tweaks when switching between wired and Bluetooth sources. It’s all very plug-and-play. 

Monoprice DT-3BT speaker accessories.

The speakers include everything you could need except for the rather uncommon 1/4-inch stereo pair cables some higher-end systems might support, even a set of anti-slip feet (far right) .

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Speaking of that exceptional sound, the included 50 watts of output are far clearer and more impressive than I would expect at this price point. The stereo imaging of the pair is outstanding, providing accurate left/mid/right separation, and producing believable sound sources between the three locations for a very enjoyable soundstage. 

The bass is as good as anything I’ve heard at this price point, especially without a discrete subwoofer. The highs are also crisp and sharp without being painful. Will these completely replace the quality of four-figure setups employing all of the various, individual components I mentioned above? No. But for 95% (maybe even 99%) of users, these are absolutely more than they’ll really need. 

Best of all, they perform as well as they do while still being relatively compact. Each unit is about 6 in x 5.5 in x 8 in. There are smaller desk speakers, but most of those sound much worse or require a separate subwoofer. 

Also: The 5 best wireless headphones

The rear of the secondary speaker in the Monoprice DT-3BT speaker pair.

Nearly all of the connections are handled by the primary (left) speaker, leaving just a pair of speaker wire connectors for the secondary (right) below its rear-firing sound port.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Everyone I let do a blind listening test of the DT-3BT speakers guessed a price point of $150 or higher, sometimes much higher. Still, there are a few noticeably cut corners. The covering material feels more like contact paper than anything, and the included speaker wire that carries sound to the secondary speaker is quite thin and stiff. 

But, the most important thing about these speakers — their sound — punches well above its weight class. I’d highly recommend considering them over similarly-priced soundbars and would encourage anyone who is not happy with their default sound equipment to give them a try.

Also: The 5 best cheap soundbars


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