Know your needs and limitations
When buying a multimedia speaker system, necessity should be the foremost buying consideration. Do you need a four-speaker setup for your top-of-the-line 3D sound card? Do you want a 5.1 Dolby Digital system so that you can setup a mini-home theater? Or, are you so cramped for space that you can only house a two-speaker system?
While four speaker systems seem to be an ideal setup, actually finding a place for the rear satellites can be a challenge. Since most systems do not ship with decent (if any) rear speaker stands, rear speaker placement is something to consider when purchasing a system. The prospect of shelling out another $50 for rear speaker stands probably isn't very attractive to most buyers.
3D sound is a major concern for gamers looking to upgrade to a new speaker system. With today's advanced four speaker 3D sound output, there is a tremendous benefit to upgrading to a four-speaker system. The experience of 3D sound positioning is ultimately more satisfying with four speakers than with headphones, which are traditionally hailed as the top choice for gamers. Gaming with a high-end loudspeaker setup is a natural match. After all, there's nothing quite like feeling a rocket shot in your gut thanks to a hearty subwoofer.
The siren spec song
Unlike most computer components, checking a speaker system's specifications often isn't useful. In fact, manufacturers often use the specification sheet to embellish their products. While a systems' wattage output is important, it is too often misleading or improperly measured. A high wattage output doesn't guarantee high quality sound. In fact, the only factor the wattage accurately represents is the volume potential of a speaker system.
Checking the frequency range of a speaker system is equally useless. Very few speaker systems can actually reproduce the 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz spectrum at a constant volume throughout the complete range that is so frequently advertised. More so, almost no sonic information in music and games is found at those extreme frequencies. Thus the frequency range of a system also gives little indication of its audio quality.