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Cyber Acoustics CA-2014USB PC speakers review: Not bad for $15

Monday April 3, 2023. 04:30 PM , from PC World
At a glanceExpert's Rating
ProsClear, largely distortion-free audioGets loudMinimalist footprintConsNo bassControls require effort to useOur VerdictThe Cyber Acoustics CA-2014USB work great as clear, louder versions of laptop speakers—or simply as a set of ultra-affordable, basic speakers for a desktop PC. You can find better rivals for just a few dollars more, but if you’ve got an extremely tight budget, these will do well enough for movies, music, and calls.

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Run a search for computer speakers under $20, and you’ll find plenty of options—but not many will give you much bang for your buck. A rare exception is the Creative Pebble, one of our current top picks for budget PC speakers, but most cheap speakers are unremarkable offerings tied to unknown brands.

Meanwhile, Cyber Acoustics keeps steadily producing extremely affordable, if basic, speakers. You won’t brag about to friends about buying a set, but they perform well for their price. The USB variant of the company’s CA-2014 model continues on in this mold, though depending on your tastes, you may find a couple of its features off-putting.

Note: See our roundup of the best budget computer speakers to learn about competing products, what to look for in budget speakers, and buying recommendations.

Cyber Acoustics CA-2014USB: Specs and audio quality

Priced at $15, the Cyber Acoustics CA-2014USB connects over USB (as you might guess from its name), rather than the 3.5mm aux cable that the original CA-2014 used. It’s your choice whether to use the default USB-C connector, or USB-A via an included dongle.

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Setup is extremely simple. The two speakers are hardwired to one another, so to get started, simply plug the also-hardwired USB cable into your PC. Afterward, you can easily position them discreetly on the sides of a monitor or have them flank your laptop—these speakers take minimal space, measuring just 6.87 (H) x 2.62 (W) x 2.25 (D) inches (174.5 x 66.5 x 57.2 mm).

Once you’re connected, the stereo audio you get is clear and neutral, with clean reproduction of high-frequency sounds like cymbals. You get little bass, though. Like the other Cyber Acoustic product I’ve tested so far, the company’s CA-2890 speaker bar, the CA-2014USB doesn’t produce much in the way of low-end frequencies. If you desire more warmth from your PC speakers, look elsewhere.

Once you’re connected, the stereo audio you get is clear and neutral, with clean reproduction of high-frequency sounds like cymbals.

However, this tuning means that the CA-2014USB provides crisp audio at most volumes—and these speakers can pump out decibels. Cyber Acoustics touts them as having “surprisingly loud sound,” and it’s true—they can blast an astonishing amount of volume. That’s so even if you don’t push all the way to the max (which you should avoid, since the CA-2014USB distorts at the highest part of its range). On our test PC, I got decent sound quality until about the 90 percent mark.

Cyber Acoustics CA-2014USB: Controls

The more divisive aspect of these speakers are the controls, rather than the sound. Unlike the original CA-2014, this USB version replaces the volume knob with a set of buttons. You’ll have to get your hand around the back of the speaker (or even go to two hands) to successfully press the volume buttons. The same maneuver applies when clicking the mute button, too. Each click of the volume buttons move Windows’ volume percentage up or down by 2 percent increments, and you can hold them down for bigger, faster changes.

Should you buy the Cyber Acoustics CA-2014USB?

The CA-2014USB won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but for $15, they work well as clear, louder versions of laptop speakers—or a set of ultra-affordable, basic speakers for a desktop PC. Are there better-sounding rivals? Yes, for another $5, you could get the Creative Pebble instead. But if you’d rather save that money, the CA-2014USB will do a decent job when you watch videos or make calls. Music’s fine, too, but songs just won’t sound as pleasant as they could.

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