Advice on a 2.1 Desktop Set-up - AVS Forum
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I know very little about audio so please bear with me. I've been saving up some money recently (college student) and I've been wanting to upgrade my desk's stereo setup for a while now. I currently have a pair of Bose 301 Series IV speakers, powered by some old Panasonic bookshelf receiver that's probably at least 10 years old, hooked up to my computer.

I'm looking to purchase an amp/receiver, a subwoofer, and most likely some new speakers. The setup will be primarily used for music. I listen to very bass-heavy electronic music like dubstep (the real sub-bassy variety), DnB, and garage. I will be doing some bedroom DJing as well with Traktor and a mixer until I can save up for some Technics. I'll also be using this setup to watch TV/movies, but I'm only really concerned with musical performance.

So I've been reading this forum a bit and here's the list I've come up with that fits my budget.

1) Dayton DTA-100a Amplifier ($89) or Audiosource AMP100 ($99). Leaning towards the Dayton because of the footprint.

2) Energy S10.3 Subwoofer ($249) or Polk PSW505 ($229). Both are similarly priced, not really sure which to go with. How much better off am I with one of these as opposed to something like the Polk PSW10 for $99?

3) Not really sure about speakers. It's not an immediate concern as I can probably live with the Boses that I have for a while. Audioengine P4 ($179) are well reviewed and are probably around the price I'd like to spend, not sure though.

Will this get me a nice sounding system with the kind of bass perfomance I'm looking for? Which components would I be better off with? Anything I'm missing? Would I be better off with some nice active monitors? The room is about 10x11x8 by the way.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:41 PM
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Most definetly look towards an entry level pair of studio monitors. The amplifeir sections are very robust and the active crossovers fair much better on the drivers performance over their passive counterparts. Most include pretty solid bass management as well......VERY important for speakers placed on a desktop. I'd strongly suggest these for the price....

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Mackie-M...78-i1743038.gc

You're simply not going to beat this level of performance for $170


As for subwoofers, the area is more black and white......quality bass costs money. There's no secret budget-bass machine. That being said, pre-owned is a great option. Here's and example of a pretty great deal. Browse the classifieds for local pickups in your area to avoid costly shipping. That'll allow you to audition the sub as well.

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....adigm-DSP-3100
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:52 PM
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It sounds like you are looking for small, but it would be much better to buy a used surround receiver off your local Craigslist that has a sub line out with bass management. That way, you can use the built in crossover that has both a low and high pass filter. Otherwise, with the setup you are selecting, you'll have to set the low pass on the subwoofer around the -3db low frequency point for your speakers because a sub doesn't typically have a high pass filter. Plus, if your computer has optical out, you can run digital into the receiver. This will provide better sound unless you have an excellent add on soundcard in your computer. If you are in a city, you should be able to find a surround receiver with bass management for $100 or less.

As for speakers, well, you don't have to limit yourself to Audioengine just because they make multimedia speakers. I use Energy RC-10s which have a very nice sound. Just be sure to avoid speakers that people describe as fatiguing, harsh, or overly bright if you plan on sitting near them (e.g. be careful of Klipsch bookshelves).

Finally, I don't think the Energy S10.3 will work for what you are currently planning. Without a receiver with a separate sub line out, you'll have to run the speaker out from the Dayton or Audiosource to the sub, and then use the speaker out on the subwoofer to go to the full range speakers. Check the manuals. I'm pretty sure that Polk does have that capability, but not the Energy.

BTW: The Polk PSW505 is $179 shipped (promo code EMCJJJJ36) this weekend only at Newegg. Might want to jump on it while it's on sale. It's a great sub at that price.

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:15 PM - Thread Starter
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cel4145

So you're saying that essentially I should look for a home theater receiver that has a sub line out instead of an amplifier? I'm afraid I don't know what high pass/low pass is. I understand that if I use an amplifier that doesn't have a sub out I have to connect the speakers to the sub, does it have a negative effect on sound quality?

Also, using a 2 year old MacBook Pro, so no optical.

mayhem13

So a pair of monitors will generally give me better sound than a 2.1 at my price range? Are you able to add a sub, or will that not really be necessary?
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Old 11-12-2011, 04:31 AM
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Yes, IMO a well designed pair of studio monitors will perform better in the nearfield as you intend and will avoid the purchase of an amplifier receiver. And yes, you could/should add a subwoofer. Use the amplifier savings on a higher quality subwoofer.
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Old 11-12-2011, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, I will start looking at some monitors as well then. Someone told me I shouldn't get studio monitors if I wasn't going to be producing music. What are they on about?
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Would this amplifier be better? http://www.daytonaudio.com/index.php...amplifier.html Can I run the speakers off of it and run the sub off of the line out?
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflagrms13 View Post

Okay, I will start looking at some monitors as well then. Someone told me I shouldn't get studio monitors if I wasn't going to be producing music. What are they on about?

Do not listen to statements like this. If you are close enough to speakers (less than 5 feet) monitors are the ONLY option. They are designed to work that way.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:23 AM
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Check out this article >> http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20099395-47/top-10-great-sounding-speakers-from-$30-to-$400/

Then I would recommend this Audiosource amp over the Dayton, I have 5 of them that have been in use for years and they are really solid and an excellent buy for the price. You might find a better deal on them at Amazon. >> http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=302-601

Dayton Speakers >> http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=300-652

I just got these Pioneers 2 weeks ago and they are a sweet deal! >> http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=250-708

Also Monoprice is selling two subs that are really gaining ground as the best bang for the buck. >> http://www.monoprice.com/products/su...09&cp_id=10906
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Old 11-13-2011, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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So for monitors, with a budget of around $300, what would be best for bass music? KRK Rokit 5's, M-Audio BX-5a's, or Mackie MR5's? M-Audio BX-8's are the same price as well.
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Old 11-13-2011, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflagrms13 View Post


Also, using a 2 year old MacBook Pro, so no optical.

it has optical output - hidden in the headphone jack

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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Old 11-13-2011, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflagrms13 View Post

So for monitors, with a budget of around $300, what would be best for bass music? KRK Rokit 5's, M-Audio BX-5a's, or Mackie MR5's? M-Audio BX-8's are the same price as well.

I had the M-Audio BX-5a deluxe. They were good for the price. Very good imaging. Not much low end though, as expected with small budget monitors.

I noticed that after playing them loud for a few hours, the amps would start to overheat and start cutting in and out. I am not sure how loud you intend to play them but that is what I experienced.

I did end up buying the matching M-audio subwoofer but it was pretty bad. It was underported and would produce a lot of port noise at moderate to high volume levels.

I ended up selling it all in the end for a true satellite, subwoofer, and amp combo....Much, much happier now.
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Old 11-13-2011, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflagrms13 View Post

So for monitors, with a budget of around $300, what would be best for bass music? KRK Rokit 5's, M-Audio BX-5a's, or Mackie MR5's? M-Audio BX-8's are the same price as well.

None of monitors or other small speakers can produce bass below 70-80 Hz. You need a sub for that. For speakers themselves go to store like Guitar Center and listen. The problem with sub is that a good one alone easily exceeds TWO your budgets for speakers.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I mean, I get that I'm not going to get the best sound for my budget, I'm just trying to make the most of what I can afford.

I think I may just end up getting some KRK Rokit 5's, although I'm a little worried about the directionality people say they have (don't want my music to sound bad if I happen not to be sitting at my computer while listening. I might drop the extra $50 for Rokit 6's which seem to have less of an issue and would likely give me better bass until I can find a sub.

Sort of unrelated, but can someone answer me for my curiosities' sake. Would I be able to run the sub out of the line out on this amp http://www.daytonaudio.com/index.php...amplifier.html as well as the speakers? Or is that not how that works and you need something with a sub line out? Also why is running this sub http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290130 off an amp such as the one in my first post and then speakers off of the sub's speaker out a bad idea? I don't know what low/high pass filters and crossovers are, so a simplified version would be helpful. Thanks.
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:43 PM
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Not sure why you're reffering to an amplifier......with powered studio monitors and subwoofer you don't need one.

A speaker having high directivity (directionality?) is a good thing. There's tons of opinions bout lots of things that most no nothing on the subject but since people are willing to listen......

The least reflected sound into the space, the better.

Most monitors have some type of bass management for proper integration to a subwoofer. Look for a sub that has stereo line ins and outs. Run the analog outs from your PC to the sub and then a set of analog RCAs from the sub to the monitors.....done.

Oh..BTW. If you really want to improve things significantly, look for a USB Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) instead of your PC's on-board sound. It's probobly the single best improvement you'll make.
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Won't a high level of directionality mean that if I'm not in the nearfield of the monitors it won't sound as good? Say if I'm standing at the opposite corner of the room from my desk.

And about the other thing, its been a question I've had since I started researching all this and I'd like to have it answered just for my personal knowledge if nothing else. I know I don't need an amp for powered monitors.
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflagrms13 View Post

Won't a high level of directionality mean that if I'm not in the nearfield of the monitors it won't sound as good? Say if I'm standing at the opposite corner of the room from my desk.

And about the other thing, its been a question I've had since I started researching all this and I'd like to have it answered just for my personal knowledge if nothing else. I know I don't need an amp for powered monitors.

Speaker will sound different if you are close or far from it. For near field placement is less of an issue. But not so if you are at 10 or more feet. You need to decide what is more important for you. There are options to accomodate both listening positions, but they are likely outside of you price range.
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, thanks. I'm going to go audition some monitors when I get some free time.

If someone can answer this I'd really appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackflagrms13 View Post

Sort of unrelated, but can someone answer me for my curiosities' sake. Would I be able to run the sub out of the line out on this amp http://www.daytonaudio.com/index.php...amplifier.html as well as the speakers? Or is that not how that works and you need something with a sub line out? Also why is running this sub http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290130 off an amp such as the one in my first post and then speakers off of the sub's speaker out a bad idea? I don't know what low/high pass filters and crossovers are, so a simplified version would be helpful. Thanks.

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Old 11-14-2011, 08:13 PM
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here's a quick read on why you shouldn't worry about what your speakers sound like outside of your sweet spot...unless you stand in the corner of your room quite often

http://www.psaudio.com/ps/tips/avoid...ge-sweet-spot/
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay so I went to Guitar Center and auditioned some monitors, and am pretty much set on getting some KRK RP6's. However I wanted flexibility with inputs as well as the convenience of having a remote (or even just a volume control that's not located on the back of the speaker ) so I was thinking of either the Harman Kardon HK 3490 or Yamaha R-S700 stereo receiver with KRK R6's, the passive version of the RP6. I'm sort of undecided about the receivers, the HK seems to be the better unit and has digital inputs, but I prefer the Yamaha's design.

That's sort of moot now though as I've only just realized that the R6's are $150/speaker (not $150/pair as I had originally thought) which would put me at ~$700 for the receiver+speakers. I don't know if I can justify that expense when I can get RP6's off Amazon for ~$170/speaker. The problem with powered monitors is lack of flexibility. I found this http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/MON800.aspx which seems to be the only cheap product that will allow me to have multiple inputs as well as control the volume easily, I'm not wild about its appearance though. Does anyone know if there are other affordable solutions that look a little cleaner?
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Old 12-05-2011, 03:27 PM
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My apologies. I thought your source was a PC of some sorts and didn't see the need for multiple inputs and volume management. If this is the case, then your budget is truly shot to hell all the way round. The HK units you mentioned are fantastic and with all of the clearance pricing floating around make for an exceptional value.

I'm not one for buy it now, and replace later mentality. Best to 'build' a 2.0 system that will serve you well for many years. BTW at my desktop, i have ONE source that serves all of my needs and that's a well configured PC. Maybe you can explore that as an option for you as well.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
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My main source is in fact my laptop, hooked up to a TV as an second monitor, that I use for music/movies/tv. The TV that it's hooked up to has cable, and while I currently use the TV's speakers, I figure if I'm spending all this money I should want to use the setup with the TV also. Also when I'm spinning I'd like to have the option of going all analog from vinyl through to the speakers without going through the DAC/soundcard.

So will that little Behringer piece do all that I need? Anyone know of other options? Otherwise I might just have to take the plunge and get the HK. I can always use my Bose's for a little while longer while I save for the R6's.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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So if anyone is wondering, I ended up getting a pair of the powered RP6's, got a great deal on them, $250/pair shipped. I'm going to be purchasing a Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 DAC to use as a preamp/dac/headphone amp. I think I did quite well for myself for under $500.

I'm still looking for a subwoofer around $300-400. Would the KRK 10S be my best choice? I read a review of the RP6/10S combo on Audioholics and the reviewer was less than impressed by the 10S. What would be other subs worth looking for in that range that have line-level inputs and preferably balanced outs?
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:24 AM
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Check out the X-Ref 10 for a better sub. Here's a review: http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/s...ofers/x-ref-10.

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Old 12-15-2011, 12:48 AM
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If it were me, I'd pick up a pair of AudioEngine A5s or A5+ and add an Outlaw Audio M8 subwoofer to them. Connect your source to the A5s and you'll be thumpin' away.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20...?tag=mncol;txt
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
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If it were me, I'd pick up a pair of AudioEngine A5s or A5+ and add an Outlaw Audio M8 subwoofer to them. Connect your source to the A5s and you'll be thumpin' away.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20...?tag=mncol;txt

The Outlaw would be hard to beat for an 8" sub in its price range, especially since it's on holiday special for $175.

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Old 12-15-2011, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
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The Outlaw would be hard to beat for an 8" sub in its price range, especially since it's on holiday special for $175.

Is it?? Thanks, I didn't even realize. I may need to pick up another!

I came from an SVS PB13 Ultra, which I sold prior to moving into my apartment (out of fear of angering the neighbors). I really hated not having SOMETHING for the .1 channel effects, so I took a chance on this little guy - and it is very little, especially compared to the SVS.

I'll never forget the look on my lady friend's face when we first fired it up. I was shocked how potent this thing was. It's far more than what I needed, even though I figured it wouldn't be much better than the PDR-8 (paradigm) sub I owned years ago. This thing KILLS the paradigm. I just don't think anyone knows about it, so I'm trying to get the word out a bit. For a budget sub, this thing rocks.

Stick an Auralex subdude under it, and you'll have plenty of nice, tight bass without any boom.
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