Best 2.1 computer audio set-up - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 10-15-2011, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
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I gather that using a digital output (usb/spdif) to speakers with built-in DAC/amp/power is best.
Can anyone recommend nice digital-input speakers? AudioEngine A-5 and Swan M200MkIII are popular but don't have digital inputs.
Plus they are kind of big for a desktop. Maybe this could be another DIY.
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post #2 of 38 Old 10-15-2011, 01:55 PM
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I used toslink from the computer to an AVR. I then was able to use any conventional (passive) speaker.

YID DIY
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post #3 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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That is an option. I was wanting to keep it simple but i will look around for a compact reciever. Thanks looneybomber.
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post #4 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by borf View Post

I gather that using a digital output (usb/spdif) to speakers with built-in DAC/amp/power is best.

Too general a question and the gathered answer even more so.

This 'assumes' that the DACs (digital to analog converters) that are inside the speakers are of any quality and also assumes that the amplifiers used in the monitors is equally of any value. Lot's of 'stuff' made into a failry inexpensive speaker box. The laws of profitability speak volumes here.

What is it you're trying to accomplish?
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post #5 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Basically looking to upgrade my 7yr-old 2.1 PC set-up. To nail it down better:
decent 2.1 minimalist set-up (fewer wires)
bass fits behind/under desk
satellites smaller than a cinder block
decent soundstage (something i miss now)
flat response/minimal noise & distortion of course
mp3/audio cd, electonica/rock
DIY project?
price negotiable
I say 2.1 because I've not seen desktop satelites (no matter how expensive) with decent bass but i'm not and audio pro. The old Dell 2.1's have been good by me but since the new PC rejects the soundblaster live card they came with, i'm left with "so-so" on-board audio (imo). I figure why not upgrade to something nicer considering most listening happens at the PC. thanks.
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post #6 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 12:21 PM
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there are lots of these solutions.

they are called "studio monitors".

genelec has some, e.g.: http://www.genelecusa.com/products/d...ducts/8240a-2/

i'm sure that lots of other companies have them too. genelecs tend to be on the pricey side, but you didn't specify a price range.

here is another one: http://www.jblpro.com/catalog/genera...x?PId=28&MId=5

these are pro-audio tools, so the brands are often different than you may have heard about for consumer products.

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #7 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 12:44 PM
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For just casual music listening on the computer, I don't see the need for an extremely high end DAC. Those built-in to quality monitors or AVR's should suffice. That is unless you're a member on hdtracks.com

YID DIY
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post #8 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 02:08 PM
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for a computer rig, there is another option too.

Behringer UCA222 or UCA202.

converts usb audio signal to rca for $25-30.

that opens up the door to using just about any powered monitor that you wish.

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #9 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

there are lots of these solutions.

they are called "studio monitors".

genelec has some, e.g.: http://www.genelecusa.com/products/d...ducts/8240a-2/

i'm sure that lots of other companies have them too. genelecs tend to be on the pricey side, but you didn't specify a price range.

That's close. They are just a bit big for the desktop and pricey (looking at $1k max). I should have mentioned the need for a separate sub. I think it would free up desk space without a bass penalty. A sub could also house the amp/power/receiver (like the Dell's) for a compact set-up. Those are my thoughts on an optimal PC set up anyway. Will look at those sites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneybomber View Post

For just casual music listening on the computer, I don't see the need for an extremely high end DAC. Those built-in to quality monitors or AVR's should suffice. That is unless you're a member on hdtracks.com

Yes, 192kbps or 320kbps mp3 is probably good enough. At the same time i admit to not having heard 4000kbps on a capable system.
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post #10 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 03:00 PM
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+1 pn the studio monitors and the external USB Dac....gets the RF noise from the PC OUT of the signal chain. I agree, no need for an amplifier or receiver cluttering things up and adding wire spaghetti. Powered monitors are the way to go......ESPECIALLY in the near field and for a flat response as your reply indicates.

Here's a GREAT monitor at an excellent price
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Mackie-M...78-i1743038.gc

As to bass extension from a monitor....LAST thing you want is bass response from a monitor sitting on a desktop.....too many relefections and gain due to boundaries ( the desk/walls/etc). Put the bass where it belongs.....under the desk with a subwoofer and the larger driver much better suited to producing bass, NOT 5-6" woofers! If you wanna DIY, DIY the sub. It's an easy introduction. No need for anything to big. An 8" woofer would do fine. Given your selection of monitors (?) and USB Dac (?) let us know how much you have left for a subwoofer project and i'd be glad to help. I don't suggest DIYing a set of desktop speakers/monitors as in that price category DIY just doesn't hold up too well against the commercial offerings BUT DIY subs are almost always a significant money saver.
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post #11 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm guessing XLR monitors don't require the external USB DAC since XLR is digital? (i only know XLR from my digital camera). To hook these up to the PC wold it be as simple as getting a usb-to-XLR cable?
So, if i get this right, a DYI could be something like this:

finding passive satellites and separate sub (RCA inputs)
find a digital input reciever/amp to put in the sub
connect PC to sub with USB-to-XLR? cable
connect speakers to sub with RCA
plug sub into wall

Also need a crossover somewhere in there i guess. Is this anywhere close?
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post #12 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 04:40 PM
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XLR is a balanced ANALOG audio connection.....not digital. Most active(powered) monitors have RCA,XLR or TRS connections....all analog. You'll need to either feed them an analog signal from the PC (NOT RECOMMENDED!) or use some kind of external digital to analog converter. USB is currently the most popular external medium as it's shown to carry the least amount of interference from components within the PC.
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post #13 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok thanks. I was looking for digital input speakers (or subwoofer amp) but its clear these are hard to come by. Something like the Harman Kardon Soundsticks will probably not cut it this time around. Adding a USB DAC sounds like the way to go.
P.S. can you point to any DYI subwoofer projects like you mentioned? Still unsure how the whole thing would work.
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post #14 of 38 Old 10-16-2011, 08:13 PM
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Great find on those Mackies!

My first DIY project. A dual, dual opposed setup

www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1345494
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post #15 of 38 Old 10-17-2011, 05:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiophile34 View Post

Great find on those Mackies!

Over at musicians friend, last day they're $175 pr.
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post #16 of 38 Old 10-17-2011, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by borf View Post

P.S. can you point to any DYI subwoofer projects like you mentioned? Still unsure how the whole thing would work.

What's your budget and how much space (LxWxH) do you have to work with?
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post #17 of 38 Old 10-17-2011, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by borf View Post

P.S. can you point to any DYI subwoofer projects like you mentioned? Still unsure how the whole thing would work.

What's your budget and how much space (LxWxH) do you have to work with?
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post #18 of 38 Old 10-17-2011, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
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13" under-desk height
smaller satellites than these A5's (7x8x10)
Really hate to constrain this to space limitations but its a corner desk i built and don't really want to chop it up too much.
LTD02's post led to these genelics but the sub is 3/4" too high. arrgh.
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post #19 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayhem13 View Post

+1 pn the studio monitors and the external USB Dac....gets the RF noise from the PC OUT of the signal chain. I agree, no need for an amplifier or receiver cluttering things up and adding wire spaghetti. Powered monitors are the way to go......ESPECIALLY in the near field and for a flat response as your reply indicates.

Here's a GREAT monitor at an excellent price
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Mackie-M...78-i1743038.gc

As to bass extension from a monitor....LAST thing you want is bass response from a monitor sitting on a desktop.....too many relefections and gain due to boundaries ( the desk/walls/etc). Put the bass where it belongs.....under the desk with a subwoofer and the larger driver much better suited to producing bass, NOT 5-6" woofers! If you wanna DIY, DIY the sub. It's an easy introduction. No need for anything to big. An 8" woofer would do fine. Given your selection of monitors (?) and USB Dac (?) let us know how much you have left for a subwoofer project and i'd be glad to help. I don't suggest DIYing a set of desktop speakers/monitors as in that price category DIY just doesn't hold up too well against the commercial offerings BUT DIY subs are almost always a significant money saver.


I have had these on my desk for 2 months now. They replaced my Harman soundsticks. They are outstanding near field monitors. Much bigger soundstage than the Harman's provided.

I don't have a separate sub yet. Don't miss it yet either.
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post #20 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 09:11 AM
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Bad photo of my office set up.
LL
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post #21 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 09:59 AM
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I got bored over the weekend and decided to put up a shelf and get all the toys out again. I picked up a pair of the Behringer B2031P monitors and for the $240 I am very satisfied.

Center top is a small form factor Yamaha receiver:
LL

Regards,
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post #22 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Nice, but a separate sub would be better for myself. These are the smallest from Genelec and will fit but i'm unsure how the external digital-to-analog thing works. Do you need a separate pre-amp with digital signals (since they are just data) and do you need to worry about impedance (line-level) matching with digital signals? Will volume control still be available in Windows...sorry but covering these audio terms and options gets a bit confusing.



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post #23 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 01:48 PM
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I use one of these:

http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/duet2.php

I have my MacBook Pro connected via USB to the Duet, then use the XLR cables from the Duet to my Mackies.

The Duet has built in DAC's, volume control, headphone jack and allows me to play any file from my Mac up to 24/192.

The sound is pristine.
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post #24 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 06:58 PM
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Yeah!!! Apogee, really sleek'n slick...
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post #25 of 38 Old 10-18-2011, 11:43 PM
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Space = Bass borf
I'm sure the Genelec is good for it's size, but it's small so don't get too excited

Regards,
Dan
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post #26 of 38 Old 10-19-2011, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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True but its a step up from the 5" now. Ok looks like I have been pointed in the right direction but have more reasearch to do. I appreciate the enthusiasm and input!
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post #27 of 38 Old 10-21-2011, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayhem13 View Post

+1 pn the studio monitors and the external USB Dac....gets the RF noise from the PC OUT of the signal chain. I agree, no need for an amplifier or receiver cluttering things up and adding wire spaghetti. Powered monitors are the way to go......ESPECIALLY in the near field and for a flat response as your reply indicates.

Here's a GREAT monitor at an excellent price
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Mackie-M...78-i1743038.gc

As to bass extension from a monitor....LAST thing you want is bass response from a monitor sitting on a desktop.....too many relefections and gain due to boundaries ( the desk/walls/etc). Put the bass where it belongs.....under the desk with a subwoofer and the larger driver much better suited to producing bass, NOT 5-6" woofers! If you wanna DIY, DIY the sub. It's an easy introduction. No need for anything to big. An 8" woofer would do fine. Given your selection of monitors (?) and USB Dac (?) let us know how much you have left for a subwoofer project and i'd be glad to help. I don't suggest DIYing a set of desktop speakers/monitors as in that price category DIY just doesn't hold up too well against the commercial offerings BUT DIY subs are almost always a significant money saver.

I wld rather have bass reflections off the desk
Than wimpy monitors with small drivers and high tuned ports. And trying to make up for it with a sub that is crossed too high, been there done that. My current setup is Event asp8 monitors (8 inch woofer) and a rythmik 15. This is the first setup that has left me wanting for nothing. I realize its larger than what u wanted but I'm so happy with it I wanted to sahre. The genelecs mentioned are greatt too. If u spend a lot of time at or near your computer, don't skimp on the size and quality, you willl be glad down the road.
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post #28 of 38 Old 10-21-2011, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitaminbass View Post

I wld rather have bass reflections off the desk
Than wimpy monitors with small drivers and high tuned ports. And trying to make up for it with a sub that is crossed too high, been there done that. My current setup is Event asp8 monitors (8 inch woofer) and a rythmik 15. This is the first setup that has left me wanting for nothing. I realize its larger than what u wanted but I'm so happy with it I wanted to sahre. The genelecs mentioned are greatt too. If u spend a lot of time at or near your computer, don't skimp on the size and quality, you willl be glad down the road.

Yes, Yes, Yes......8" monitors are WONDERFULL for nearfield listening at the desktop......yes.,,,and certainly a 15" sub just cuts the mustard for PC audio. I'd even go so far as to install a Bass Shaker in my desk chair.
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post #29 of 38 Old 10-21-2011, 11:24 PM
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So just a question, if you are just going to run sound from a USB DAC to the monitors, would there be a point in investing in a sound card? I am in a similar predicament as borf and was wondering if there would be any reason to get a sound card.
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post #30 of 38 Old 10-23-2011, 05:05 AM
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What is your computer?

Most modern desktops have pretty good sound cards already. With notebooks/laptops it's more hit and miss.
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