$200-300 Bookshelf recommendation for Computer Audio - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-27-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently made a thread, but have decided to spend a little more than I originally planned.

I am looking for bookshelfs in the $200-300 range. I have seen many recommendations including the Cambridge Audio S30, Kef iq10, htd level 2 or 3, hsu hb-1, paradigm atom, PSB alpha b1, Mordaunt Short Carnival 2, etc.

I realize there are lots of good choices and the choice is quite personal. However, I won't be able to audition these as no where close to me is likely going to have most or any of them. However, even though they are likely all solid choices with their respective pros and cons, given my specific scenario, which would you recommend (including ones that I did not specifically list). I have a triple monitor setup so the speakers will be placed 4-5 feet apart and probably 2-2.5 feet away from me (obviously nearfield for computer use, so I assume this is the main criteria for narrowing down recommendations). I will use them for music, games, and movies pretty evenly.

Next, is a sub going to be required? I would prefer to keep it down to a 8-10" for size, but if a 12" is going to be vastly superior, please tell me. Not really sure what type of budget I should have here to match the bookshelves, so any place to start would be helpful.

Lastly, hookup. I currently have no soundcard, only onboard via my gigabyte z77x-ud3h which has the VIA VT2021 codec and supports optical out. I also have a cheap lepai 2020 amp and had planned to originally use this with some cheaper bookshelves. Will this be good enough for this price range of speakers and to achieve respectable volume levels for nearfield use (it seemed like plenty when I used it to power some energy rc-10s for my bedroom TV)? Or is it worth looking into a soundcard, dac, amp, receiver, or some combination. Would like to keep costs down, so please keep that in mind. Additionally, I had originally wanted to save space as my triple monitors already take up a good portion of my desk. Add in the speakers and space is getting tight. This is the main reason I initially went with the cheap t amp over a cheap used avr. However, if this is clearly the superior route, please say so. Obviously, I don't want sound quality massively sacrificed if my onboard/lepai can't keep up with the speakers/sub.

Thanks for any input.


EDIT:

Would it just be wiser to simply go with active speakers? I had looked at swans but I guess I just don't know how they will stack up. However, given they are designed specifically for nearfield use, I guess that takes out some of the uncertainty. I really just want to get the most for my money. As for active monitors, I had some BX5a Deluxe monitors but was not blown away with the sound by any means. I don't know if I prefer a warm sounding speaker possibly. How exactly do powered compare to passive speakers? I know monitors are supposed to have a flat response, and I am guessing that is not what I am going for. Also, how would hooking up a sub work to say some of the m200mkii work?

Thanks again.
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-28-2013, 12:46 AM
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I haven't heard all of those speakers so, I can't really recommend one over the other but, it's safe to say that they would all benefit from a sub. However, without some sort of crossover, some will do better than others with the amp you mentioned. Specifically, some bookshelves I've used will gently roll off at low frequencies and some just get muddy/boomy. In the former case, you could use the low pass filter on the sub to integrate things together very easily. In the latter case, you'd need a high pass filter (probably from an AVR) to keep the low frequencies out of the speakers or you may never be able to get the sound to your liking.

Having said that, a cheap AVR is probably what you'd want for that setup if you want to use a sub. Sound card DACs are often poor but, you can generally run an optical out to an AVR and get a good DAC, crossover, EQ, etc. A used AVR would probably work well.
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-28-2013, 11:42 PM
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I was going to recommend some active near-field monitors but you said you didn't like the M-audio monitors you had before. Studio monitors are designed to produce music as accurate as possible with minimal coloration. Personally, I like active studio monitors over just regular passive speakers for computer audio.

You can go bottom-feeding for a Denon AVR-1312 at Accessories4less for $130 which should be enough for 2-channel. If you want Audyssey and a front USB port, the Denon AVR-1612 is $200.

I'd figure out how much desk space you will have for speakers and pick some from your list that will fit on your desk.

If you are close to a Guitar Center, they have a wide selection of both passive and active speakers. They have Adam, Genelec, KRK, Behringer, etc. The best solution for the most accurate sound is Computer ==> DAC ==> Active Studio Monitors

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post #4 of 18 Old 01-29-2013, 08:26 PM
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KRK rokit 5's or 6's there sort of like "main stream monitors" idk they sound good with music, not super analytic. If you have room and $500 for the 8's you wont need a sub.

For passive id say Wharfedale diamond 10.1's? or these http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882325060

A sub is never "required" it depends on what your looking to get from the system

There are good 8" and 10" subs they just cost more than bad ones
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post #5 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 10:00 PM
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One other thing, what kind of music do you listen to, mostly?
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 10:01 PM
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OK, these are setups I have used and they sounded great for the money:
1) grab an 8" Energy Sub Connoisseur C series $150 , a pair of Realistic Minimus 7w (ebay) $75 and a 2 channel receiver such as a Pioneer SX-650 or 750 or Marantz 2200 (150-200) check craigslist and a Tascam 122 US audio interface $100 (make sure your computer has the capability of SPDIF/Toslink or if this will work for you)

Alternatively, skip the sub for now, and use a Studio Monitor speaker such as these:
JBL Control 5 (under $200 with a great titanium tweeter and decent bass - perfect for near field, very accurate, clear and $200!?)
Or yamaha NS 10m studio monitors (150-200);
Or Bowers and wilkins DM601/602 (200-225)
I have used all 3 and the minimus 7w - they are all good I would not go with the 7w without a sub though, I would pay the extra 100-150 for one of these monitors. Personally, stay away from M Audio speakers. And, get a decent older 2chan receiver that will run 2 sets of speakers (and you don't need to spend a grand or more on a receiver, those old Marantz and pioneers - even the cheaper ones, are more than enough for a nice sound). Whatever you have left, get a DAC, if you don't like how it sounds, then save up and get a better DAC, and add a sub. I'd focus on the 2 speakers and the receiver. For 350 tops you can get a GREAT sounding setup.
Good luck.
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post #7 of 18 Old 02-02-2013, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I am currently leaning toward some powered speakers for my computer now such as the swan D1080 IV or M200MKII.

I like the cheaper option which would leave me some monies to add a sub in to the mix. However, connection wise, it appears we are looking at a 3.5mm to rca to connect the 1080 iv. However, how would this work to add in a powered sub? Would a sub that has rca in and out be the only option? 3.5mm to rca in on sub. Then rca out of sub to rca in on speakers? Does this allow the sub to handle the crossover then or does this only work with speaker level inputs or else I might as well split the signal and send it to both individually and not require the sub to have rca out (since this doesn't appear to be common on many subs). Does this sound like a good option and will it work as I have suggested? If so, recommendations for the subwoofer with the correct inputs/outputs? I had been looking at the hsu stf-2, but that seems to not be a viable option anymore.

Finally, considering I am currently only using the onboard VIA VT2021 codec from my ud3h mobo, will this be good enough or should I look at a sound card or dac. A $50 option would be good assuming it will make a noticeable difference.

Thanks.
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-02-2013, 09:29 AM
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For my desktop computer system, I use a pair of Audioengine 2 speakers, which are very good, especially for only $200.

I also have a small subwoofer, which is quite adequate for the levels I listen at, and which only cost around $100.

I have a 3.5 mm stereo cable from the computer to the speakers, and there is an RCA jack on the left speaker which is tied in, so I just need a single RCA cable from there to the sub.

The AC97 audio from my motherboard is 16-bit, so the sound quality is quite good.
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post #9 of 18 Old 02-02-2013, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. Well I am wondering as far as bass management to avoid any possible cancellation or other issues from reproduction by the speakers. Do the line level inputs/outputs on the sub work with the built in crossover, or do the speaker level ones only work with the crossover?

I have looked at the a2, but I definitely want something a little more substantial as a 3" or less woofer isn't going to get it done for me. However, I have considered those for my bedroom where space is extremely limited on my dresser where the TV already takes up the entire width. Do you think the A2s would work for a bedroom TV listening at about 8 feet?
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-02-2013, 10:09 AM
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The A2 are very good speakers, but only go down to around 60 or 70 Hz.

I just set my subwoofer controls to 70 Hz and medium volume, and that works fine. The crossover usually works with either inputs.

You can always tweak the subwoofer controls to get best matching for its location.

They should work fine for the TV setup, but does your TV have analog audio outputs?

If not, you can buy something like the AGPtek D/A converter, which is only about $20 from Amazon.
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post #11 of 18 Old 02-02-2013, 09:55 PM
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I own the Hsu HB-1s and think they're pretty spectacular for HT and music. They extend deeper than they're rated, at least in my room, and do a great job w/2ch music. If everything will be used near field then you could get their Value 1 pkg which has an 8" sub. Should be enough sitting next to you. How big is your room and is this setup ONLY for use near field?
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post #12 of 18 Old 02-03-2013, 04:45 AM
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fwiw,look at the definitive tech's studiomonitor 350's at newegg $180 and a dayton audio dta-100 tri path amp $90 these will give you some nice bass and sound and give you some room on your desk top

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #13 of 18 Old 02-04-2013, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck43 View Post

Well I am currently leaning toward some powered speakers for my computer now such as the swan D1080 IV or M200MKII.

I like the cheaper option which would leave me some monies to add a sub in to the mix. However, connection wise, it appears we are looking at a 3.5mm to rca to connect the 1080 iv. However, how would this work to add in a powered sub? Would a sub that has rca in and out be the only option? 3.5mm to rca in on sub. Then rca out of sub to rca in on speakers? Does this allow the sub to handle the crossover then or does this only work with speaker level inputs or else I might as well split the signal and send it to both individually and not require the sub to have rca out (since this doesn't appear to be common on many subs). Does this sound like a good option and will it work as I have suggested? If so, recommendations for the subwoofer with the correct inputs/outputs? I had been looking at the hsu stf-2, but that seems to not be a viable option anymore.

Finally, considering I am currently only using the onboard VIA VT2021 codec from my ud3h mobo, will this be good enough or should I look at a sound card or dac. A $50 option would be good assuming it will make a noticeable difference.

Thanks.
Yes that is exactly what you want to do, make sure you get a sub with RCA in's and outs and a cross-over

On the dac you should spend your money on the speakers, get a dac later and decide for your self if its worth it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

For my desktop computer system, I use a pair of Audioengine 2 speakers, which are very good, especially for only $200.

I also have a small subwoofer, which is quite adequate for the levels I listen at, and which only cost around $100.

I have a 3.5 mm stereo cable from the computer to the speakers, and there is an RCA jack on the left speaker which is tied in, so I just need a single RCA cable from there to the sub.

The AC97 audio from my motherboard is 16-bit, so the sound quality is quite good.
This is what my friend does but this doesn't use the subs cross over for the speakers, your speakers are trying to play all the bass.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck43 View Post

Thanks for the reply. Well I am wondering as far as bass management to avoid any possible cancellation or other issues from reproduction by the speakers. Do the line level inputs/outputs on the sub work with the built in crossover, or do the speaker level ones only work with the crossover?

I have looked at the a2, but I definitely want something a little more substantial as a 3" or less woofer isn't going to get it done for me. However, I have considered those for my bedroom where space is extremely limited on my dresser where the TV already takes up the entire width. Do you think the A2s would work for a bedroom TV listening at about 8 feet?
Usually if there are RAC in's and outs they utilize the cross-over but you will have to read the description of the particular sub. Look at the KRK rokit 5's and 6's
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 07:52 AM
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I've used the Hsu HB1-Mk2 pair for years as computer speakers. Very revealing, accurate and detailed. Hooked up to a small MiniWatt N3 (one 12AX7 driving a pair of EL84 power tubes) which generates all of 3.5 Watts per side they have really performed well. One very nice aspect of these little gems is they are not beamers in that while there is a sweet spot it is not necessarily better by much than off-axis. One can move around or just use it to fill the room and enjoy.

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post #15 of 18 Old 02-06-2013, 11:23 AM
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ive played with a few desktop options the past few years,

Peachtree/Era D4's
AudioEngine A5s
Klipsch promedia 2.1
totem arro
B&W 685
they all had some pros and cons, but i was never fully satisfied with any of them for near-field listening.

finally found my favorite desktop speaker, the JB3's

I love fullrange speakers in general so i am biased, but these guys are amazing. The midrange is really something special, especially the vocals. I ended up hooking up an old sub for some low and kick and im happy to say ive finally found my perfect desktop set up. Defiantly worth a listen

found them used online for $275 and pair them with a small t-amp $50. done and done.

http://www.stereomojo.com/JohnBlueJB3Speakerreview/JohnBlueJB3Speakerreview.htm
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post #16 of 18 Old 02-06-2013, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctaudio15 View Post

ive played with a few desktop options the past few years,

Peachtree/Era D4's
AudioEngine A5s
Klipsch promedia 2.1
totem arro
B&W 685
they all had some pros and cons, but i was never fully satisfied with any of them for near-field listening.

finally found my favorite desktop speaker, the JB3's

I love fullrange speakers in general so i am biased, but these guys are amazing. The midrange is really something special, especially the vocals. I ended up hooking up an old sub for some low and kick and im happy to say ive finally found my perfect desktop set up. Defiantly worth a listen

found them used online for $275 and pair them with a small t-amp $50. done and done.

http://www.stereomojo.com/JohnBlueJB3Speakerreview/JohnBlueJB3Speakerreview.htm

I use the JB3 also, on my office desktop. They are exceptional. I believe you can still get them for less than $300 shipped from the John Blue site. I ordered from them and had the speakers in 5 days.

http://www.johnblue-audio.com/
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post #17 of 18 Old 02-08-2013, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. Ended up going with a cheaper option. The audioengine a2. Found a 20% coupon and will simply place them on my desk in between the bezels where the 2 monitors meet. Also got the corresponding stands so I can angle them up at me.
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post #18 of 18 Old 03-04-2013, 11:20 AM
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Hey Huck43, hows your experience with the a2's so far? i am thinking of getting those with a DAC also. let me know!
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