Lots of People Listen to Music on Computer Speakers, but That Doesn’t Mean They Prefer Listening That Way

Yesterday, I stumbled on an article on Digital Music News, that website full of whimsy, entitled 55% of Americans Prefer Their Music through Computer Speakers. It discussed a survey published by Strategy Analytics, who said:

Computer speakers now most popular way people listen to music

Consumers seem accepting of relatively low quality sound

It’s interesting how each of these outlets spins this survey in different ways. The first, Digital Music News, says that Americans “prefer” computer speakers. The second, Strategy Analytics, says that consumers are “accepting of relatively low quality sound.”

But the numbers tell a different story.

This survey was done online in “September 2015 on a nationally representative sample of 2,041 US adults who listen to music aged 18-65.” But when you look at the numbers, they don’t add up to 100%; it’s clear that the survey asked people to list all the ways they listen to music.

Computer speaker survey

So, yes, lots of people listen to music on computer speakers; heck, I do sometimes. That doesn’t mean they prefer it. 55% of people listen that way sometimes, and 41% listen on headphones connected to portable devices. That same percentage use standalone radios – which may include car radios, since that type of system isn’t broken out. The survey does not say how many people listen to headphones connected to a computer, which I think is probably a fairly large number. People who want to listen to music at work may often listen like that. Only 12% listen on a stereo system; that number sounds about right, given the many options available today.

Assuming that these numbers mean that people prefer listening on computer speakers (which, by the way, doesn’t break out built-in speakers or better speakers connected to a computer), is simply stupid.

14 thoughts on “Lots of People Listen to Music on Computer Speakers, but That Doesn’t Mean They Prefer Listening That Way

  1. thanks for that piece, Kirk … I’m on the lookout for an add-on device for iPhone sound enhancement … headphones just don’t fit my model, and while the bluetooth devices like the Bose and others are fantastic, they just add another handful(s) of junk to tote around. I’ve seen snap-on devices but never tested any — would really like to know which one does the best job. 🙂

  2. thanks for that piece, Kirk … I’m on the lookout for an add-on device for iPhone sound enhancement … headphones just don’t fit my model, and while the bluetooth devices like the Bose and others are fantastic, they just add another handful(s) of junk to tote around. I’ve seen snap-on devices but never tested any — would really like to know which one does the best job. 🙂

  3. The only thing I don’t have is a bluetooth speaker because I have so many other options. Might eventually get one. I listen through computer speakers only for convenience (or my ears hurt), but with laptops I always pay extra for high quality audio hardware and software. My best sound is either with my Bose headphones or my Bose sound system attached to the entertainment center, neither of which is always available. My least favorite and used method is earbuds – there’s not a pair on the planet that doesn’t cause me pain, the Apple ones (I have every single type) being the worst. I also always have music playing in the car, always via an iPod Classic with cord hookup, cranked up to max. 🙂 This computer speaker stat to me seems dubious. It can’t be most people’s preference and standard laptop audio is better than it used to be but pretty lousy. Great speakers attached to a desktop can be very good, but a lot of us don’t have or want PCs anymore.

    • My computer connects to a real stereo, with real stereo speakers. To be fair, there are lots of very good “computer” speakers, such as studio monitors with built-in amplifiers. The biggest problem with the survey is that it isn’t granular enough.

  4. The only thing I don’t have is a bluetooth speaker because I have so many other options. Might eventually get one. I listen through computer speakers only for convenience (or my ears hurt), but with laptops I always pay extra for high quality audio hardware and software. My best sound is either with my Bose headphones or my Bose sound system attached to the entertainment center, neither of which is always available. My least favorite and used method is earbuds – there’s not a pair on the planet that doesn’t cause me pain, the Apple ones (I have every single type) being the worst. I also always have music playing in the car, always via an iPod Classic with cord hookup, cranked up to max. 🙂 This computer speaker stat to me seems dubious. It can’t be most people’s preference and standard laptop audio is better than it used to be but pretty lousy. Great speakers attached to a desktop can be very good, but a lot of us don’t have or want PCs anymore.

    • My computer connects to a real stereo, with real stereo speakers. To be fair, there are lots of very good “computer” speakers, such as studio monitors with built-in amplifiers. The biggest problem with the survey is that it isn’t granular enough.

  5. My ‘computer speakers’ for music these days are stereos hooked up to appleTVs – one upstairs and one down. The speakers in my display are for computer noises and ad hoc video clips etc.

  6. My ‘computer speakers’ for music these days are stereos hooked up to appleTVs – one upstairs and one down. The speakers in my display are for computer noises and ad hoc video clips etc.

  7. I wish “listening in the car” was broken down as a separate category. And maybe additional surveys for preferred method and a percentage breakdown (like “50% car, 25% speakers, 25% headphones”).

  8. I wish “listening in the car” was broken down as a separate category. And maybe additional surveys for preferred method and a percentage breakdown (like “50% car, 25% speakers, 25% headphones”).

  9. To actually *listen* to music, either a Twelve South BassJump (USB-powered portable solution) or an Audioquest DragonFly USB Preamp (playing through a Bose 2.1 hi-fi system) gets plugged into the MacBook Pro. Or a physical audio CD goes into the Bose, which is in the living room. HK Soundsticks with the clear plastic subwoofer hooke up to a desktop computer aren’t bad in a pinch, either.

  10. To actually *listen* to music, either a Twelve South BassJump (USB-powered portable solution) or an Audioquest DragonFly USB Preamp (playing through a Bose 2.1 hi-fi system) gets plugged into the MacBook Pro. Or a physical audio CD goes into the Bose, which is in the living room. HK Soundsticks with the clear plastic subwoofer hooke up to a desktop computer aren’t bad in a pinch, either.

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