Monoprice DT-3BT Desktop Speakers: Everything You Really Need for Under $100

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

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Nobody likes 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 preamp and whatever else you need to build a system, even the most snooty audiophile would nod in agreement.

That keeps us in the middle and we’re looking for good, affordable sound that’s impressive enough to provide fantastic background music for a party, immersive enough for a great movie night, and versatile enough to enable quiet Zoom calls. Monoprice DT-3BT speakers fit perfectly in the sweet spot. And they even have Bluetooth!

Building an audio system can be frustrating. Incompatible parts, components that don’t complement each other’s sonic profiles, and the multitude of connectors required can all throw you into a frenzy. For the average user, a solid pair of powered speakers is the better answer. This includes a built-in amplifier in one of the speakers, as well as all the inputs, outputs and controls you need.

Likewise: The Best Stereo Speakers: Build the perfect stereo system

Monoprice’s DT-BT3 tabletop 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″ balanced stereo pair cables. This last option is rather uncommon for such budget audio gear, but is a nice touch for those who can take advantage of the rarer input.

Once set up, all you have to worry about is pairing these speakers with your Bluetooth device, connecting your wired devices, and controlling the volume. The speakers play both a wired audio source and a Bluetooth source simultaneously, making control as simple as muting your phone or PC to let the other play through.

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

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

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Speaking of exceptional sound, the included 50 watts of power is far clearer and more immersive than I would expect at this price point. The pair’s stereo imaging is superb, offering accurate left/mid/right separation and producing believable sound sources between the three positions for a very pleasing 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-digit setups with all the different individual components mentioned above? no But for 95% (maybe even 99%) of users, these are absolutely more than they really need.

Best of all, they work as well as they do while still being relatively compact. Each unit is approximately 6 inches x 5.5 inches x 8 inches. There are smaller tabletop speakers, but most of them sound much worse or require a separate subwoofer.

Likewise: The 5 best wireless headphones

Almost all connections are handled by the primary (left) speaker, leaving just a pair of speaker wire connectors for the secondary (right) speaker beneath its rear-facing soundport.

Michael Gariffo/ZDNET

Everyone I had blind-listened to the DT-3BT speakers estimated it to be $150 or more, sometimes much more. Still, there are a few noticeably cut corners. The masking material feels more like contact paper than anything else, and the included speaker cable, which carries sound to the secondary speaker, is fairly thin and stiff.

But the most important thing about these speakers – their sound – clearly outperforms their weight class. I’d strongly recommend considering them over similarly priced soundbars and would encourage anyone not satisfied with their standard sound gear to try them out.

Likewise: The 5 best cheap soundbars

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