Having grown tired of the harsh and muddled sound of 2.1 systems and giving up space to accommodate them, I decided to "down grade" to a pure 2 channel setup with a smaller footprint. I initially considered an amp like the NuForce Icon to power a set of Paradigm Atoms, both of which I'm fairly familiar with, but I didn't want to go down that rabbit hole for my computer. I just wanted something that sounded good without having to get lavish.
After a bunch of research, I was surprised to find out how little there is in terms of quality powered monitors for computer audio these days. I would have thought that high end makers would have adopted the new format by now, but apparently I'm mistaken. Thankfully, I stumbled across Audioengine's A2. It truly is an audiophile's computer speaker system. I won't get into the technical specs, but these little speakers sing. They're small enough to be comparable to desktop satellites and can extend low enough to offer full range near field playback. They won't provide thunderous bass, but they will lay out a nice little soundstage for you and play back music clearly, accurately, and with life. It's a true testament to the build quality of these monitors...sturdy (and classy) cabinetry, well designed drivers, and a pesky class AB internal amp. I'm glad someone stepped up to the plate for this market. My favorite thing about these speakers is that I can have both my Mac Mini and Windows 7 gaming box connected at the same time...1 via silver RCA cables, and the other via a silver 3.5 mm cable.
There have been a couple of recent entries into this market, most notably from B&W, but at 2.5 the price, I'd be hard pressed to say they're going to be much better than these A2s.
I'm thoroughly impressed by these little monitors. They're the most musical computer speakers I've ever listened to. The only thing I would have emphasize, is that these speakers are for near field listening. They're not going to fill up a large room with heart pounding bass. Their drivers just can't physically reproduce that kind of music, and anyone who expects them to, needs to have more realistic expectations.