One of the most noticeable upgrades you can make to your sim racing setup is purchasing a great set of speakers. However, with so many different types of speakers available, it can be difficult to know what the best speakers are for your sim racing setup.
The 5 best speakers for sim racing are:
Every individual will have different requirements and budgets when it comes to purchasing a speaker system. In this article we will discuss what to look out for in sim racing speakers, how to set your speakers up, and whether they will do a better job than a pair of headphones.
What To Look For In Sim Racing Speakers
Number Of Speakers
The first decision to make when purchasing a speaker setup is the number of speakers that you wish to have. This will make a difference to the immersion of the sound in-game, with the main choices being a two-speaker stereo setup, a 5+ speaker surround sound setup, or a single-unit soundbar (although some come with an additional subwoofer).
Stereo speaker setups feature two individual speakers that distribute sound out of both left and right channels. This will produce sound reminiscent of how you would hear it in real life. For example, if a car was approaching you from your left side, you would hear its engine through the left speaker, and if it crossed over to your right side, the sound would pan accordingly.
There are two choices for stereo setups: 2.0 and 2.1. The difference between the two is that 2.1 setups come with a subwoofer, offering stronger bass sounds. This will add to the quality and realism of the sound being produced but will also come at a higher price.
If two speakers aren’t quite enough for you, but you don’t want to use a full surround sound setup, then you may need to think about upgrading to a 3.0 speaker system, which will consist of an extra speaker placed in between the two left/right speakers.
There are more setup choices for surround sound setups, and they will produce the most immersive sound possible for sim racing with a speaker setup. 5.1 surround sound systems consist of three speakers and a subwoofer placed in front of you, as well as two speakers behind you, to the left and right.
Using a system like this will enable you to hear both the direction and proximity of any cars coming up behind you, allowing you to perform the defensive maneuvers required to keep them at bay. Surround sound setups won’t be as easy to install as stereo setups, and will cost you more, but they offer great immersion.
You can also go for 6.1 and 7.1 setups if you wish to stretch the budget even further, which will involve placing speakers directly to your left and right as well as behind you and in front of you. However, not all games will have sound that is configured to work with these setups, meaning they may feel slightly pointless within your sim racing rig depending on your chosen game and platform.
A soundbar is a wide, all-in-one speaker system, designed to save as much space as possible. As they are a contained unit, you won’t have to worry about fitting in multiple speakers at different angles. Instead, all you’ll need is a bit of room underneath your monitor or TV directly facing you. Ideally, you’ll want to be seated in line with the center of the soundbar to get the best results.
Soundbars exist within a wide variety of price ranges, with more expensive options featuring built-in or external subwoofers, and some even have the ability to produce virtual surround sound, although it won’t be to the same standard as having multiple speakers.
Soundbars offer a versatile audio experience, with higher-end options offering a space saving alternative to stereo and surround sound speakers in terms of their high-resolution sound output.
PC Sound Cards
The sound card in your PC will be a major factor when upgrading to a good speaker setup. The sound card is responsible for converting the digital sound of the game into sound that actually comes out of your speakers. Low quality sound cards will compromise what you hear, deeming the quality of your speaker system irrelevant. Thankfully, sound cards in most PCs can be upgraded and replaced easily.
There are multiple different types of sound cards, with some being internal, and others connecting through USB ports. Surround sound systems will likely require an external USB connected card or AV system, while stereo systems and soundbars will be able to function through internal soundcards.
Features such as power and connectivity are vital when choosing your new set of sim racing speakers. The more watts your speaker has, the louder it will be. 40 W will be more than enough to provide you with loud enough sound for sim racing in a small sized room, whereas larger rooms will require a higher wattage, around 100 W or over.
Connectivity is another huge factor to consider when purchasing your new speakers. Most speakers will connect with 3.5 mm RCA audio cables. It is possible to use Bluetooth speakers for sim racing, although they are vulnerable to slight audio delays, meaning that wired connections are usually the most reliable.
Having external speakers will naturally take up more space than using headphones or the speakers that are built into your monitor. When looking for speakers it is important to determine whether they’ll fit into your setup, especially if you decide to go for a surround sound setup. Also be sure to check whether you will be able to mount them at the correct height and angle.
If you want to add an external subwoofer into a 2.0 setup in order to hear and feel sounds at a low frequency, then you’ll need to make sure you have an adequate amount of space to do so, as they can be quite bulky.
Prices for speakers vary quite dramatically depending on the setup type and sound quality you wish to go for, with 5.1/7.1 setups generally costing more than a standard stereo setup. If you just want to replace your monitor’s built-in speakers, you’ll be able to find a decent setup for under $50.
However, if you’re serious about sound quality, you may want to look towards higher, $150-$250 price ranges, as you will then have access to speaker setups with subwoofers that will produce clear and accurate sound in both the low frequencies as well as the mid and high frequencies. If budget is no issue, then you can easily spend upwards of $350 on a speaker system.
With more expensive speaker setups, you will experience a lot less distortion and sound clipping due to better build quality and internal components. This will ensure that no sound disturbances can get in the way of an authentic, immersive experience.
KEY POINTS• There are multiple speaker setups to choose from, depending on your budget and your needs
• Surround sound systems are the most immersive, but also the most expensive
• Sound quality is important for sim racing
• It may be better to get a more expensive single-speaker setup than a cheaper surround sound system
The 5 Best Speakers For Sim Racing
1. Logitech Z906
Speaker Type: Surround Sound | Peak Power: 1000 W | Audio Channel: 5.1 | Connectivity: Aux
Logitech tend to put a lot of emphasis on their subwoofers and the bass sounds that they can produce, and the Z906 is no exception. The subwoofer in this setup is chunky and sizeable, and will blow your socks off if cranked up to the max! Also in the box is a control console, so you can manage all the speakers from one source, rather than tampering with each part individually.
This surround sound setup packs a punch for the price, offering 1000W of peak power. It's fairly easy to set up, and it's ideal for sim racers that want to boost their level of audio immersion.
With handy screw mounting attached to the back of each speaker, you’ll have no trouble mounting them to either a wall or a sim racing rig. The back of the subwoofer is stacked with multiple input options, including 6 direct PC sound card ports. There are also two RCA stereo ports if you wanted to use the system in a 2.1 setup.
The satellite speakers that come with the set are decent, but they don’t have the same depth of sound that you’d get from a more expensive product. This is partly due to their size, as they are smaller than a lot of surround sound satellite speakers. For a surround sound system costing a modest sum of around $350, the Z906 is a great purchase, and will deliver you great immersion when sim racing.
- Strong subwoofer
- Everything you need is included in the box
- Lots of connectivity ports on the subwoofer
- Lack of sound depth from the satellite speakers
- No mounting stands
2. Logitech Z333
Speaker Type: Stereo | Peak Power: 80 W | Audio Channel: 2.1 | Connectivity: Aux
The Logitech Z333 stereo speakers are excellent value for money, costing around $70. For your money you will get two satellite speakers which allow you freedom of placement, as well as a subwoofer which will offer you a rich bass sound. It has an attached volume knob with a headphone jack so you can easily switch between headphones and speakers.
These speakers offer a fairly budget friendly option for those that need an easy-to-use audio setup for their sim racing rig. They offer clear, detailed sound, and they come with a decent subwoofer too.
The sound quality is detailed and clear, although not at the standard of more expensive speakers, which is forgivable considering the price. It also doesn’t distort at high volumes. The volumes that this speaker system can reach are high enough to comfortably fill a room, and the bass from the subwoofer is strong enough to annoy any neighbor, so you will be guaranteed an immersive experience!
The speaker system comes with a handy remote control which will allow you to use the speaker system for music and movies as well as sim racing.
- Fairly cheap
- Clear, detailed sound quality
- Powerful subwoofer
- Limited connectivity
3. Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2
Speaker Type: Soundbar | Power: 252 W | Audio Channel: 2.1 / Virtual 5.1 | Connectivity: Aux / Bluetooth / HDMI ARC / USB-C
This compact, sleek soundbar (plus subwoofer) by Creative is perfect for those who want great quality sound without the hassle of positioning lots of speakers. This soundbar will fit effortlessly into most setups, all while keeping the number of cables down to a minimum. With 68% more power than its predecessor, the Katana V2 will allow you to crank up the volume and really feel the roar of your car’s engine.
This is the ideal audio setup for sim racers that don't have too much space. The soundbar produces incredibly immersive sound, and the included subwoofer just takes things up a notch.
It also features virtual 5.1 playback, which will recreate the expansiveness of a 5.1 speaker setup. While this won’t be as effective as having 5 speakers dotted around you, it is perfect if you want a surround sound effect without over-cluttering your setup.
The Katana V2 is also a great looking speaker, with customizable RGB lighting on its underside, so you can blend the speaker into any setting. This is an incredibly immersive product, available for around $350. It’s not cheap, but it is a versatile speaker, and can be connected to TVs and monitors, for sim racing on both console and PC.
- Virtual 5.1 surround sound
- High volume levels
- Lots of connectivity options
- Quite expensive
4. Razer Nommo
Speaker Type: Stereo | Peak Power: 56 W | Audio Channel: 2.0 | Connectivity: Aux
The Razer Nommo is a high-quality 2.0 stereo speaker setup, available for around $120. Considering the lack of subwoofer, the speakers can deal with low frequency sound surprisingly well, so you’ll still be able to experience the rumbling of your car’s engine. They aren’t necessarily cheap, but they offer the best 2.0 speaker experience on the market.
These small but effective sim racing speakers are ideal for those that want great sound quality in a minimalistic form factor. They're highly adjustable, and they will look great in any sim racing setup.
The sharp, CCTV camera-esque design of these speakers means that they will fit nicely into most setups and will be an easy on the eye addition to any sim racing rig. They won’t clutter the setup with lots of wires, making them a space-effective choice. If you want to spend more on your speaker setup, there is a 2.1 version of the Nommo available for around $500, which is a large hike in price.
The speakers are easy to use, with bass and volume knobs on the right-side speaker. You can also adjust the angle of the speakers themselves, in order to match them up perfectly to your ear level. They are a great mid-range choice and perform above their price point.
- Nice design
- Adjustable speaker angles
- Clear sound quality
- No subwoofer for the cheaper model
- Limited connectivity
5. Creative Pebble V3
Speaker Type: Stereo | Peak Power: 16 W | Audio Channel: 2.0 | Connectivity: Aux / Bluetooth / USB-C
If you’re in the market for a cheap set of stereo speakers, then the Pebble V3s are ideal. Costing around $35, they offer a decent entry-level sound, which will no doubt be an improvement on most in-built monitor speakers. Their compact and minimal design means they won’t take up too much space in a setup either.
They are built for convenience and can be connected via USB-C, Bluetooth and AUX, which makes them versatile and useable for a multitude of setups. Being a 2.0 system, they don’t have a subwoofer, so you won’t hear the same level of bass and low frequency sound like you would with 2.1 systems. However, for their size and shape, these speakers are surprisingly loud.
There is a ‘clear dialogue’ setting which will be ideal for those who play dirt and rally games, as the co-driver won’t be drowned out by the sound of the car. The speakers have a 45° tilt, so you won’t have to put them on top of a stack of books for the sound to be at ear level. Overall, the Pebble V3s are a great choice if you’re looking for an easy-to-use speaker at a low price.
- Pretty cheap
- Convenient design
- Easy to set up
- Not great sound at low frequencies
- Not the most powerful
How To Set Up Your Sim Racing Speakers
Getting your soundbar setup will be a straightforward process. You’ll need to make sure the center of the soundbar is aligned with the center of your seating position in order to get the best stereo effect. Even if it is just slightly off center, you’ll be at risk of not getting an accurate portrayal of the sound being generated through the left and right channels.
When placing stereo speakers, you need to make sure that you have the left speaker to your left side and the right speaker to your right. This will be important to avoid any confusion when racing. The speakers should be placed so they form an equilateral triangle (equal distances) between themselves and the center of your seating position in front of the screen.
For best results, it’s advised that you have the speakers at ear level, which can be difficult without purpose-built stands. Some speakers will be adjustable, meaning you can set them to be pointing at the perfect angle. You may not get this right straight away, but with a little trial and error you’ll soon work it out.
Setting up a subwoofer won’t take as much precision, as they produce sounds to such low frequencies that the human ear won’t be able to distinguish where the sound is coming from. Placing the subwoofer to the side of your TV or monitor will produce great results, but it’s purely down to you and the way your setup is configured.
Surround Sound Speakers
Setting up surround sound is a little more difficult as there are more speakers to position. In both 5.1 and 7.1 setups, you’ll need to have two of the satellite speakers in the same equilateral triangle position as you would have with a stereo setup, as well as one speaker placed directly in the center of the other two speakers.
The most difficult part of preparing surround sound setups is positioning the rear speakers. You’ll once again have to create a triangle between the speakers and the center of your seating position. This time, the rear speakers should be at a wider angle, placed slightly above ear level if possible. This will generate a wider surround sound.
If you’re using a 7.1 speaker setup, then you’ll need to place the rear speakers at roughly the same angle as the front two. This will make space for the extra two speakers that will be placed directly in line with your left and right side. You should place the subwoofer to the side of your monitor or TV.
The best part about having multiple satellite speakers is that you have the freedom to experiment with their placement, so you can keep modifying where you put them in order to achieve the perfect sound setup for you.
Note: Setting up your sim racing speakers will require a different process depending on the setup you have chosen. Soundbars are the easiest to setup as they are a single unit speaker, while surround sound speaker systems are a little trickier, due to the number of speakers that you need to get into position.
Surround Sound For Sim Racing
If you have the space and budget for it, surround sound can offer you an unrivalled, immersive sound experience. As well as being able to hear the roar of engines and the skids of rubber on tarmac as though you’re in the car, surround sound can benefit your performance too.
It will give you a much greater perception of where your rivals are in comparison to you, as you’ll be able to hear the direction that they are coming from, as well as how far away they are. Stereo speakers will do an adequate job in panning audio from side to side, but they just won’t give you the same level of audio depth perception as a surround sound setup.
Compatibility Is Key
One major point of concern for sim racers who want to experience surround sound is whether their favorite sim racing titles are compatible with 5.1 or 7.1 speaker systems. Both iRacing and Project Cars 2 support surround sound, although Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2 are yet to fully implement surround sound usage into their games.
The Logitech Z906 is undoubtedly the most accessible surround sound speaker setup for sim racing, offering an easy to set up experience at a low cost in comparison to most surround sound setups.
Are Speakers Or Headphones Better For Sim Racing?
Speakers aren’t necessarily better than headphones for sim racing, as it largely depends on what you prefer using. Both headphones and speakers occupy their rightful space within sim racing, and whether one is better than the other often comes down to convenience and your budget.
For convenience, headphones are clear winners in this debate. Setting them up is easier, as they usually only require plugging in to be ready to use. If you are using wireless headphones, then the process is also simple thanks to most PCs being Bluetooth compatible.
Not all speaker systems are difficult to prepare for use, although you will have to put more effort in to positioning and repositioning them for best results. This is likely to be a one-time thing if you have a dedicated sim racing space, although if you don’t, you’ll have to spend a little time rejigging your setup from time to time.
Surround sound systems take a lot of trial and error to get them in the right positions and at the correct angles, even if they do offer you a more immersive experience. They also take up a lot more space than headphones, for obvious reasons, which make them very difficult to implement into a setup for those with limited room.
Headphones and speakers can both offer an immersive sound experience. Headphones and stereo systems are similar in the fact that they both operate with two audio channels. With headphones being a lot closer to the ear, you will be able to pick up on some of the finer audio details with a lot more ease.
Speaker audio may feel more realistic, as the sound won’t be plugged directly into your ears and will travel through the air like it would in real life. The greatest immersion levels will be felt through surround sound speakers. Headphones won’t be able to match the realism of having sound coming at you from all angles, so for immersion, surround sound speakers take the top prize.
You can pick up a cheap pair of headphones and a cheap set of speakers for around the same price. The main differential between the two in terms of price is that the ceiling for speaker prices is a lot higher. You’ll have to pay a lot more if you want the very best surround sound speaker setup than if you were to opt for a high-end set of headphones.
This is testament to the sort of quality that you can achieve with high-end speaker setups, as you’ll be able to feel the sound as well as hear it. It’s also just down to the fact that you get more ‘stuff’ with a speaker setup than with a pair of headphones. If you are looking to save money but get the best possible sound, then headphones are more likely the option you’d want to go for.
The type of room that you race in is a large factor in the debate. If you live in shared accommodation or have thin walls, then headphones are a useful option to have, unless you have very accommodating neighbors. You can shut yourself away completely with headphones, without having to worry about being inconsiderate.
The acoustics of a room also have a big part to play, with low ceilings allowing more sound to bounce off them, making for a more immersive sound. Those in large rooms with high ceilings may favor headphones, as speaker sound can often get lost in wide spaces.
KEY POINTS• Speakers and headphones both have their advantages and disadvantages for sim racing
• Speakers, especially surround sound systems, are usually more immersive
• Headphones are more convenient and often cheaper too
The best sim racing speakers are the Logitech Z906, as they provide a great balance between price and performance. Whether you plan on opting for the humble simplicity of a soundbar, or the lavish extravagance of a full 7.1 surround sound setup, you’ll be sure to hear instant improvements to your default monitor/TV speakers.
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