4 Types of Dorm-Room Sound Systems


Heading back to school and need a new sound system for your dorm room? Whether you are in a tiny single room or you are sharing space with five other people, B&H has many high-quality systems for a variety of situations and budgets.

Portable systems

If you are in the market for a high-quality sound system with Bluetooth that can be tossed into a backpack, check out the IK Multimedia iLoud. It’s a studio-quality, time-aligned two-way speaker system with precision custom neodymium loudspeakers, tuned bass-reflex, non-resonant enclosure, and DSP processing. iLoud offers ultra-accurate frequency response, exceptional bass response and stereo imaging, and a 40W amplifier. It’s not only twice as loud as any other system of the same size, but offers exceptional quality for any genre of music. What’s more, the unit includes a ¼" input for guitar and mic that features a built-in iRig circuit and offers real-time sound processing of your favorite mobile apps.

IK Multimedia iLoud Portable Personal Studio Monitor

If you are an outdoor person and are looking for a sound system able to withstand the elements, the IP67-rated Sony SRS-XB31 might be a great option, providing resistance to mud, snow, shock, and water. The unit offers a wide frequency range (20 Hz to 20 kHz), thanks to the two 1.89" drivers. Sony also included some fancy DSP that helps spread the party by syncing up to 100 speakers together.

Sony SRS-XB31 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Another notable option is the JBL Flip 4, which features dual 40mm drivers and dual external passive radiators, allowing it to achieve a frequency response of 70 Hz to 20 Khz. The durable fabric material and ruggedized rubber housing carries an IPX7 rating, allowing the unit to be used in all types of weather without worry.

JBL Flip 4 Wireless Portable Stereo Speaker

Desktop systems

Desktop systems comprise a more traditional sound system and offer excellent sound in a compact form. Most offer AM/FM radios, CD player, and Bluetooth connectivity. The Bose® Wave SoundTouch™ Music System IV is an Internet-connected device that can stream audio from Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Internet radio stations, and your own library, over Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection. Additional connections offered include Bluetooth and a 3.5mm auxiliary jack for other audio players. A built-in CD player and AM/FM tuner allow you to listen to your mom or dad’s CDs or your favorite radio stations. The system features the Bose waveguide technology, which automatically performs audio adjustments. The unit ships with a credit-card-sized infrared remote control with six programmable presets. The front panel features a large display and dual alarm clocks with snooze, so you can make it to class on time.

Bose® Wave SoundTouch™ Music System IV

For students on a budget, the Onkyo CS-265 Colibrino Hi-Fi Bluetooth Mini System would come in handy. The unit offers an integrated CD player that is compatible with CD-R and CD-RW disks in addition to conventional CDs. An AM/FM tuner allows you to dial into your favorite radio station, giving you the ability to save 30 presets. USB connectivity is on hand for connecting iOS devices and USB flash drives, though you can also stream music over Bluetooth. The system comes with a remote so you can laze on your bunk bed while you listen to music.

Onkyo CS-265 Colibrino CD Hi-Fi Bluetooth Mini System

Studio monitors

If you are an audio enthusiast or a student of the recording arts or music, you may wish to go with a professional studio monitor setup. The main difference is accuracy. Most consumer desktop systems sound great, but may hype the sound, which won’t help you to record or mix music. If you are after an accurate depiction of the sound you are listening to, check out the latest iLoud MTM from IK Multimedia, which is a high-resolution compact studio monitor that’s getting rave reviews. The small desktop speaker features dual 3.5" woofers and a single 1" silk dome tweeter enclosed in a back chamber. The unit provides a flat 40 Hz to 24 kHz with a 103-dB max SPL and a coherent phase response within +/-15 degrees from 200 Hz to 24 kHz. The iLoud MTM ships with an ARC calibration microphone, which automatically adjusts itself for the perfect response in any environment.

IK Multimedia iLoud MTM - High Resolution Compact Studio Monitor

Another notable option are the Focal Alpha 80, which offer excellent sound reproduction with a frequency response of 35 Hz to 22 kHz. These monitors are plenty loud and offer a wide sweet spot, which allows for the sound to spread evenly throughout the room. The Alpha 80s are optimized for a similar tonal balance at low and high volumes, so you can monitor your mix in the middle of the night without bothering your roommates or neighbors.

Focal Alpha 80 Active 2-Way 8" Near Field Professional Monitoring Speaker

For the budget-minded audio expert, the Fluid Audio FX8 utilize a dual concentric design with an 8" woofer and 1.2" silk-dome tweeter that combine to provide a frequency response of 35 Hz to 22 kHz. The coaxial drivers deliver a phase-coherent signal with an accurate off-axis response, resulting in superb imaging and sonic clarity.

Fluid Audio FX8 - 130W 8" Two-Way Coaxial Active Studio Reference Monitors

PA systems

For your larger dorm rooms, shared common areas, or band rehearsal spaces, a proper PA system might be what you are after. (Certain to drive your RA crazy!) If you and some friends are looking to band together to buy a truly professional PA—something that’ll last you beyond your college years—check out the QSC KW152 full-range speaker and the QSC KW181 subwoofer. The KW152 houses a 15" woofer and 1.75" compression tweeter to deliver crisp, natural audio with a wide frequency response. Extensive internal DSP includes Intrinsic Correction, DEEP, and GuardRail technologies for terrific sonic clarity and component protection for reliable operation. The KW181 subwoofer houses an 18" woofer to deliver deep, thumping bass with frequencies as low as 37 Hz (-10 dB). An efficient Class-D amplifier provides an output power of 1000W for strong audio with low distortion.

QSC KW152 1000W 15" Active 2-Way Loudspeaker

If, however, you’re looking for something powerful for a medium-sized room, yet budget conscious, the Fender Passport CONFERENCE is a classic choice—you’ll often see them in rehearsal rooms, coffee houses, and at other quad-based sonic happenings. With an included five-channel mixer, 175W of Class-D power, and an eminently portable design, it’s no wonder they’re so collegially ubiquitous. We offer a variety of configurations at B&H, including a basic PA system, a package with stands and cases, and a whole System Kit with microphones, cables, and stands included. If you like the form factor of the Passport, but want more power behind the system, you can check out the EVENT and VENUE series Passports, as well.

Fender Passport CONFERENCE Kit with Speaker Stands, Gator Cases Case, and Carry Bag

Do you have any recommendations for or questions about good dorm-room hi-fi options? Please share them, below, in the Comments section.