With so many parts and components (read: money) that goes into making a sim racing rig, it’s often easy to overlook the sound aspect.
One item that’s often forgotten by sim racers is the speakers. However, just like any other constituent that adds to the realism factor of sim racing, a good set of speakers can increase your immersion level in simulation games and, therefore, your performance when playing.
Gaming sound systems for sim racing
While it’s true that many people will opt for headphones which offer noise-cancelling qualities, there’s nothing quite like a great set of speakers to set the mood while you’re tearing it up around a race track, and an extra level of engagement between you and the car.
Be it the sound of engine revs, screeching tyres, or your co-drivers pace notes, a good quality sound system will give you the overall feeling that you’re driving a real car.
In this guide, I’m going to take a look at the best gaming speakers for sim racing. This list is based on my personal opinion and research, and I do not hold any bias to any particular brand. For each of the products we’ll be looking at, I’ve gone through quality, durability, price, and some bonus features.
I’ve included options for every type of consumer so if you’re looking for an entry-level option or the best product money can buy, we’ll have the product for you in this list of speakers.
Improve the sound in your racing sim
While a good set of speakers is essential to the sound quality you’ll receive, making sure you have your in-game sound setting and configurations set up correctly is equally important.
Also, it’s probably wise to note that games like iRacing, Asseto Corsa, R Factor 2, or just about any other racing title, sound best with surround sound turned on. Even on a 2.1 system (stereo), try running the sim in surround sound. You can typically select this from the game’s sound settings menu.
For PC users, make sure your soundcard is the default sound device in the Control Panel and set your Windows volume to about 75%. Over that can cause distortion when many sounds layer, so this will give you more headroom. Use your speakers to control the volume. If you still don’t have enough volume get an external amp.
Run a BIOS setup for your soundcard software to ensure all speakers volumes are the same and have no phase issues. Also make sure your soundcard is set to the correct array (2.1, 5.1, 7.1 etc.) and that the number of audio channels is 6 or 8 (standard for gaming).
It’s also wise to turn off all soundcard DSP auto volume and reverb compression.
In racing games, a lot of cockpit sounds are stereo and duplicated to the rear speakers for a pseudo surround sound experience. If these in-car sounds drown out your mono (positional) external sounds you can toggle/fade/balance between stereo and mono sounds. If the external cars or curbs are too loud, try doing the opposite and play around until you get the balance between interior and exterior sounds just right.
Here are some great sound systems for your sim racing PC
So, let’s check out some of the best sound systems you can buy in 2020 that’ll take your gameplay up an octave.
I’ve gone to the effort of putting the products in order of price, so if you’re looking for the crème de la crème in terms of sound, you can scroll straight to the bottom. Otherwise, check out each of my recommendations to see which one will fit your needs best.
Creative Pebble Plus 2.0
If you’re out for a (very) budget-friendly set of speakers that won’t overwhelm you with features and choices, the Creative Pebble Plus 2.0 speakers stand apart from the competition with their big sound.
Despite their compact size, with a total power output of 8 watts, these speakers can pump out crisper audio than some of their competitors using two or three times the amount of power.
I’d also highly recommend these speakers for their space-saving qualities as they’re small enough to fit on almost any desk surface and they’re easily the most portable system on my list.
Redragon GS500 Stentor
My second recommendation is the compact Redragon GS500 Stentor speaker system featuring a 2.0 channel stereo and a red backlight. These speakers come with an advanced sound drive that will boost sound quality without causing distortion.
Redragon makes its GS500 in a compact size to fit in tight desktop spaces and delivers plug and play features by providing one USB port, a 3.5-millimetre jack, and mic cables so that you can connect to online races with ease.
Logitech Z313 2.1
Next up is the Logitech Z313 2.1, one of Logitech’s entry-level models.
Though they are slightly smaller in features that the Z906 5.1 I’ve covered below, they’re still a fantastic choice for any sim racer and come bundled with a dedicated subwoofer to effectively handle low-end noises and prevent distortion for a pristine sound experience.
Cyber Acoustics CA-3810 2.1
This 2.1 sound solution from Cyber Acoustics will undoubtedly meet the demands of any sim racing game. The speakers feature 2-inch satellite speakers and a 5.25-inch subwoofer and deliver phenomenal sound quality for a fraction of the price you’d pay for other brands that use the same level of tech as these speakers.
You can even plug in multiple devices and control volume or bass levels with the handy control pod. For this setup to work to its optimal performance, you should place the subwoofer on your desk, or at least raised from floor level to get the best sound.
Creative T100 2.0
My second choice from Creative, the T100 2.0 might not be much to look at, but don’t let that deceive you. Their restrained and straightforward design keep their physical presence and footprint to a minimum, and they let the quality of their sound do all the talking.
The two speakers have simple but effective on-board controls, and the handy remote comes with enough presets and options for you to find the right settings for your preferences. The Creative T100 will connect via Bluetooth, optical cable, and regular audio jack, so while their plain looks main not impress, their connectivity and performance more than compensate for that, and let’s face it, are you really going to be looking at your speakers while you’re racing?
Bose Companion 2 Series III
When it comes to the most trusted names in audio, Bose has proven to be one of the strongest contenders for decades. The Bose Companion 2 Series III is a minimalist speaker system that is just what you need to elevate your sound experience.
They bring out earth-shattering bass and sound great even at high volumes. These speakers are also easy to connect with any console or PC and feature an easy to access aux port when it’s time to switch to headphones.
Razer Nommo Chroma 2.0
For those of you who are looking for something a bit more eye-catching, the Razer Nommo Chroma 2.0 come with RGB lighting effects, a modern yet retro design, and of course great sound.
These speakers are another great choice if your biggest concern is physical space. While they may be small, the sound is still mighty, and they come with integrated mounting stands so you can place them alongside your monitor or hook them up to your rig in the most compact gaming setups.
Razer Leviathan Dolby 5.1
The Razer Leviathan Dolby 5.1 comes with a powerful surround sound bar and bundled subwoofer that’s hard to beat at this price. If you’re a console or PC gamer who likes bass-heavy sounds, and you would like the option of wireless connectivity, this will be an excellent choice for you.
At just 20 inches long, the Leviathan is much smaller than your average sound bar, making it great for use on desks and in front of monitors. There’s the option to connect with a standard 3.5-millimetre audio jack, plus there’s a Bluetooth component, making it more versatile and means one less cable to deal with.
AudioEngine HD3 Wireless Speakers 2.0
While there are another more affordable wireless options on my list, none of them can boast the lightning speed of wireless sound delivery offered by the AudioEngine HD3 speakers.
With only 30 milliseconds of latency when using the wireless connection, the delay of sound transfer is practically negligible, which makes these an ideal choice for sim racers when split seconds can make all the difference to your results and performance.
When you combine this ultra-quick sound transfer with top-notch sound quality, plus a timeless design that will look the part for years to come, investing in these speakers is a wise choice in my opinion.
Logitech Z906 5.1
If you’re looking for the best immersion, then Logitech’s Z906 5.1 surround audio system is a monster of a setup with powerful yet crystal clear sound that’ll give you the impression you’re genuinely involved in the game.
As well as being a delight for all you audiophiles out there, the system also features multitudes of inputs letting you connect up to six different devices at the same time.
It’s attractive and intuitive control box, and remote, give you the power to choose what’s playing and control settings quickly, and this speaker system has even been THX certified, so you know it’s the real deal.
Just before you run off and buy a new set of speakers, it’s worth a mention that many sim racers also choose to include something called a tactile transducer to their rig. Also known as a ‘bass shaker,’ this is a device which is made on the principle that low bass frequencies can be felt as well as heard:
They can be compared with an ordinary loudspeaker, just that the diaphragm is missing. Instead, another object is used as a diaphragm. A shaker transmits low-frequency vibrations into various surfaces so that they can be felt through your racing seat, much like when you drive a real car. This is called tactile sound. Tactile transducers may augment or in some cases substitute for a subwoofer. One benefit of tactile transducers is they produce little or no noise if properly installed, as compared with a subwoofer speaker enclosure.
They’ll need a separate audio amplifier to run – so something like 4x Dayton or Aurasound bass shakers (diagram above) should provide quite an experience! Try the links on this amazon page for speaker wire, an amplifier and a sound card recommendation.
AuraSound AST-2B-4 Pro
If you would like to add a bass shaker to your rig, the AuraSound AST-2B-4 Pro will give the added feelings and vibrations to your rig that will help to add an extra layer of realism.
Depending on your rig setup, you can bolt the bass shaker directly under your seat, or you can connect it with a dedicated bass shaker plate that is guaranteed to hold it in place and reduce any rattle. Bass shaker plates can usually be picked up for around $40-$60, although some higher-end parts made from premium metals may cost over $100.
The SRS ShakeKit is a vibrating “cushion” seat that is fully wired up and ready to plug in and play. It looks like a really good idea; ultimately you use your bum in a real life track car to sense movement / grip levels and so on. This is something that really isn’t commonly understood by sim only racers.
The unit is supplied with an integrated ShakeBox (Sound Card and Amplifiers). It has 4 transducers / bass shakers (4x 25W-16 Dayton Pucks) installed at the perfect positions to make you feel vibrations like you are in a real race car.
There’s ample tuning advice and support on this link.