The range of human hearing is 20Hz to 20KHz - any speakers that cannot reproduce this entire spectrum are depriving you of your listening experience. Ironically, most speakers that people listen to their CD-quality audio on are of the very cheap persuasion. This leads them to believe things like Xing-encoded and soundcard sampled MP3s sound good. Here's how you can tell you have cheap speakers:

Your speaker system does not employ separate tweeter and woofer (some high-end speakers have a woofer, midrange and tweeter) drivers in its enclosure, and instead has a single "full range" driver.

The speakers should come with a spec sheet. Look at the frequency responce - if it doesn't cover nearly 20Hz to 20KHz, they're cheap.

Another way to tell they're cheap is by the wattage rating. Don't be fooled by manufacturers that call their speakers "model 250w", that does not mean they can handle 250watts of power, it means they named the model to mislead customers. Also look for the true RMS rating, not MAX power ratings. In the case of amplified speakers, be sure to look at the OUTPUT power, not the amount of wattage the system draws from the 120v wall socket.

The easiest way to tell your speakers are cheap: you've spent more on a combo meal at a fast food joint than you did for your speakers.

If you can't afford good speakers but still want a full listening experience, buy a good set of headphones instead. Radio Shack Titanium Pro 35's are very good and they're frequently on sale.

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