$500 to $700 system recommendation - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 01-07-2013, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

I'm looking to upgrade my desktop audio system, with a budget of $500 to $700.
As a reference, here are some components I'm looking into, and I've read many reviews and comparisons to narrow my choices. However, feel free to suggest other products as you fit necessary!

DAC:
Audinst Hud mx-1 ($179)
Audioengine D1 ($169)

Amp:
Emotiva mini-X a-100 ($179)

Speakers:
Audioengine P4 bamboo ($325)
Peachtree DS4.5 ($300)
NHT SuperZero 2.0 ($198)
Emotiva XRM-4.1 ($159)

If you see a particular combination working well, or if you think there are other options (including foregoing amp and passive speakers for active speakers), please let me know!

Many thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 06:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schung View Post

Hello all,

I'm looking to upgrade my desktop audio system, with a budget of $500 to $700.
As a reference, here are some components I'm looking into, and I've read many reviews and comparisons to narrow my choices. However, feel free to suggest other products as you fit necessary!

DAC:
Audinst Hud mx-1 ($179)
Audioengine D1 ($169)

Amp:
Emotiva mini-X a-100 ($179)

Speakers:
Audioengine P4 bamboo ($325)
Peachtree DS4.5 ($300)
NHT SuperZero 2.0 ($198)
Emotiva XRM-4.1 ($159)

If you see a particular combination working well, or if you think there are other options (including foregoing amp and passive speakers for active speakers), please let me know!

Many thanks in advance.

Here's a system in your price range that will utterly sonically bury every item you've listed above:

One pair of Behringer B-2031A powered speakers.

If the audio interface in your desktop computer has technical problems, the Behringer UCA 202 USB audio interface will cure that.

The DACs listed are overpriced and generally have little or no actual sonic advantage subject to the upgrade I recommended above.

The speakers are tiny and convenient but if you are willing to accept something a little larger, the SQ advantage will be great.

The tiny little amp is cute but again if space isn't a big problem, I'd get a good 5.1 AVR to take advantage of its built in system setup facility and run it as a 2.0 or 2.1 integrated amp.
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post #3 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey Arnyk. Thanks for your input!

Sorry if this is a silly question. Are you suggesting that Behringer B-2031A won't require a DAC? I'm new to this, so a little more explanation could help me greatly biggrin.gif

I was initially looking at passive speakers, but beginning to look more into active speakers. Will I need to add a subwoofer to Behringer B-2031A?

Thanks!

EDIT: Also, what do you think about Airmotiv 5, and Behringer Truth B1030A?
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post #4 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 08:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schung View Post

Hey Arnyk. Thanks for your input!

Sorry if this is a silly question. Are you suggesting that Behringer B-2031A won't require a DAC? I'm new to this, so a little more explanation could help me greatly biggrin.gif

The internal audio interfaces on modern computers can be very good.

They are at least worth a try, before you start glomming on options even if some good options are pretty economical.
Quote:
I was initially looking at passive speakers, but beginning to look more into active speakers. Will I need to add a subwoofer to Behringer B-2031A?

Depends on what your goals are for SPL and bass extension. Compared to your even the better computer speakers, the B 2031A s have subwoofers built in. The B2031A bass driver is approximately 8 inches diameter while your typical computer speaker subwoofer driver is a 5 or 6".
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post #5 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Arnyk, your quick responses are awesome smile.gif

Yeah, I don't think I will require a sub, at the very least not yet.

I'm using Mac Mini (2012), and I see many people adding DAC when using Mac products. Again, since I'm new to this, I'm basing a lot of my decisions on what other people have done, all the while learning the details of each component.

Also, how do you feel about Airmotiv 5 and Audioengine 5+? I've been reading a lot of good things about them.

Thanks!
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post #6 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schung View Post

Arnyk, your quick responses are awesome smile.gif

Yeah, I don't think I will require a sub, at the very least not yet.

I'm using Mac Mini (2012), and I see many people adding DAC when using Mac products. Again, since I'm new to this, I'm basing a lot of my decisions on what other people have done, all the while learning the details of each component.

Also, how do you feel about Airmotiv 5 and Audioengine 5+? I've been reading a lot of good things about them.

I'm intimately familiar with the B2031As.

I'm aware of the Audioengine 5+ speakers based on reputation.

I see the Audioengine 5+ as a miniature, cheaped down B2031A for maybe a little more money. I say cheaped down because if you get a pair of B2031As, each one has its own full electronics package with its own pair of amps.
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post #7 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I see. I'll keep that in mind. The reason why I decided on passive speakers was due to easier upgrades in the future. For that reason, I'm still interested in going with passive speakers, but as you suggested using multi-channel AV receiver instead of getting separate amp / dac, which seem costly. Do you have any suggestions in that path?

Again, many many thanks.


EDIT: How is Onkyo TX-8555 for $150?
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post #8 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by schung View Post

I see. I'll keep that in mind. The reason why I decided on passive speakers was due to easier upgrades in the future. For that reason, I'm still interested in going with passive speakers, but as you suggested using multi-channel AV receiver instead of getting separate amp / dac, which seem costly. Do you have any suggestions in that path?

Again, many many thanks.

Yes, I strongly favor using AVRs as the core of audio systems no matter whether they are stereo or multichannel. If you are going with passive speakers then AVRs are a good way to get a lot of high quality functionality in one package. Trouble is the decent ones start around $250 (unless you find a great close out deal which is often feasible) and are physically large for most people's computer setup. Of course $250 can be less than a DAC and every modern AVR has one along with a good collection of codecs, DSPs and power amps to make it all work.

Look at the AVR subforum for more information. Denon and Onkyo seem to be more favored brands around here.
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post #9 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Taking your advice into account, I'm going back to my original search point, which began with receivers. These two were the ones I seriously considered.

Receviers
Yamaha RX-V373 5.1-Channel AV Receiver ($249)
Onkyo TX-8555 Stereo Receiver

Any thoughts on these, and passive speakers that would work well with them? Just for now, let's take how much space I would need out of the equation.

Thanks!!
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post #10 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schung View Post

Taking your advice into account, I'm going back to my original search point, which began with receivers. These two were the ones I seriously considered.

Receviers
Yamaha RX-V373 5.1-Channel AV Receiver ($249)
Onkyo TX-8555 Stereo Receiver

Any thoughts on these, and passive speakers that would work well with them? Just for now, let's take how much space I would need out of the equation.

The Onkyo TX-8555 is a 2008 model, long obsolete and apparently not being sold as a new product. The replacement 8050 is stereo-only and down on features. There is also an AVS thread listening unresolved issues:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1353726/beware-of-the-onkyo-tx-8050

The RX-V373 is in disfavor with some because they prefer their system optimization to be via Audyssey as opposed to YPAO.

At this point the Denon AVR 1613 seems to have a lot going for it - about $349 from various sources as new, around $280 for refurbs (recommended if money is an issue).

As far as passive speakers go, I like the Infinity Primus series - P163 bookshelves with whatever subwoofer you want to afford starting with the Polk 505 (< $200 at Egghead) and working up through Hsu's finest.
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post #11 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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How is Marantz NR1402 for $320? The reviews seem favorable, but not sure if it's a good deal or not.

Thanks!!
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post #12 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 11:49 AM
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The Marantz 1402 should give you everything you need. It also has Audyssey for room correction although I'm not sure if it will run its setup with only 2 speakers connected. Most AVRs can - a few cannot.

When all else fails - RTFM!

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post #13 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input!

I think I am leaning toward NR1402. I was just wondering if it's worth the price. Also, do you know how it would compare to NR1403? I feel like it would make no difference to me, but if you were to take future upgradeabiliy into account, what would you say?

Thanks!
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post #14 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Also, do you know how it would compare to NR1403?
If memory serves, I think the most significant difference is that the 1403 has more HDMI inputs. Doesn't sound like you're going to be using any of them, though.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #15 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Yea, I think there are couple more differences, but for my use NR1402 should be fine I think.

To sum up what is going on, I've narrowed down to this:
Mac Mini > Marantz NR 1402 > (Infinity Primus series - P163 OR NHT SuperZero 2.0) AND subwoofer

I didn't think of getting a sub at first, so I need to do more research. Can you guys help me pair up a sub to either P163 or SuperZero?

I realize these small speakers may lack lower frequencies, but I'm not looking for a sub that would shake the house. Something modest that would just make the sound "work" together.

Thank you!
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post #16 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schung View Post

Yea, I think there are couple more differences, but for my use NR1402 should be fine I think.

To sum up what is going on, I've narrowed down to this:
Mac Mini > Marantz NR 1402 > (Infinity Primus series - P163 OR NHT SuperZero 2.0) AND subwoofer

I didn't think of getting a sub at first, so I need to do more research. Can you guys help me pair up a sub to either P163 or SuperZero?

I realize these small speakers may lack lower frequencies, but I'm not looking for a sub that would shake the house. Something modest that would just make the sound "work" together.

Thank you!

All I can say is that I have a pair of original SuperZeroes (as well as S1s and 2.5s). The SZs are no way full-range speakers, the S1s are marginal, but the 2.5is are, but with some dynamic range issues that I resolved by adding a large subwoofer.
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post #17 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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So Infinity Primus P163 would do a better job?

How would P163 do with Infinity Primus PS38 8-Inch 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer?
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post #18 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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After little more research, I think I would like to get couple speakers that could function without a sub. I realize there will be limitations, but at this point, I don't think sub is a viable option for me (neighbors, cost, etc.).

With that said, I've found some speakers that will at least touch on upper-bass . Could you guys help me choose one, or at least narrow down the list?

Mac Mini > Marantz NR 1402 > Speakers

Speakers
Peachtree Audio DS4.5 ($300)
Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 350 ($300)
Jamo C603 ($330)
Cambridge Audio S30 ($220)
PSB Image B4 ($330)
Energy RC-10 ($360)

Which do you guys think will do a good job, and cost efficient?
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post #19 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 06:16 PM
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You may also want to look at the pioneer bs22 bookshelf speakers, great reviews and $89.99 at tigerdirect
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post #20 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 06:16 PM
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You may also want to look at the pioneer bs22 bookshelf speakers, great reviews and $89.99 at tigerdirect
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post #21 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 06:20 PM
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If you have room for a pair of tower speakers the Infinity Primus 363 play low enough you won't miss a sub for music. A pair of them from Fry's will come in at $300 shipped - or thereabouts.

When all else fails - RTFM!

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post #22 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
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haha thanks guys. Looks like the list is gonna continue to grow frown.gif

Anyone have any thoughts on speakers on the list already?
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post #23 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 07:20 PM
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There are better values than the RC-10 in Energy speakers for over $300. The Energy Veritas V5.2C which can be used as LCR speakers are on discount for $169 at wwstereo (promo code VER52WW ). Check on the Energy Owners thread if you want to know more.

Meanwhile, lots of love for the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE on the AVS speaker forum.

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Headphone & Portable HE-400 | K612 Pro | HP150 | DX50 | E12
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post #24 of 24 Old 01-08-2013, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Those are interesting options. Never heard of CBM 170-SE before though. It is so tough to narrow down the decision frown.gif
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