A high-end set of 2.1 speakers for music listening - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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This is my first post here. Hopefully I've chosen the correct forum to place this question. I need some help from an audiophile, someone as particular about sound quality as I am.

I bought a set of Swans M12 speakers from parts-express.com. After listening to them for about two weeks I noticed a slight buzzing from the subwoofer (the speaker element itself) so I obtained an RMA and sent those back. They had them for a week, but didn't ship any replacements. After 4 emails from me I finally found out why; they didn't have any more to send out! Apparently, they knowingly took my speakers without having the professionalism or courtesy to tell me I was never going to get anything in return because the M12's had been discontinued (I did get a refund, of course). Terribly inappropriate, to say the least. However, that now presents me with a rather significant quandary; I need something just as good to replace them, which has thus far proven impossible to locate. In the US, anyway.

I used the M12's strictly for music, hooked up primarily to a CD/MP3 player and my laptop. Although they're at the low end of the Swans speaker line they displayed a surprising amount of clarity and detail, with an uncharacteristically sharp sense of imaging. Because of that I've been spoiled and now find myself not satisfied with anything else I've heard.

The space I have is somewhat limited, so I can't purchase anything large. That means no 6.5" subwoofers, or 12" tall satellites. I want a 2.1 system -- as opposed to a 2.0 system -- because I enjoy hearing bass. I'm not a fan of booming or muddy low end though, it has to be clean and clear sound.

Logitech, Altech Lansing, Cyber Acoustics, Klipsch, Creative all make 2.1 systems, and I've auditioned a number of those, but none of them sound as crisp as I'd like. I've seen the Eagles, and they certainly look nice, but I have no idea about their sound. I've also run across Edifier, but few of those are sold in this country it seems. And the ones that are have subwoofer cabinets which are probably too big for the space I have. I've also read far more then one negative post about quality issues, which is an obvious concern.

I know Swans has the M10, but I'm definitely not a fan of it's appearance. That, coupled with the fact the sub is too weak for placement on the floor means the M10 won't work. The M20 certainly looks nice, but I can't find that anyplace. I'm not a Bose fan either -- I personally feel they cost a premium due more to their name then the sound they produce -- so those are out as well. Acoustic Energy used to make the AEGO M, which would have worked, but it appears to be discontinued. Emails sent to AE have gone unanswered.

The thought of active monitors has also crossed my mind -- and I have investigated them rather extensively -- but they're either too large or expensive for my budget. Plus, a lot of them seem to roll off around 50-60Hz, which is a little too high for me.

In essence, the BS from parts-express.com has put me in a very bad position, which is why I'm turning to you folks. I've been lurking for a while now and have seen quite a number of insightful posts, so I'm hoping one of you can point me to something I may have missed. My needs are a follows (in no particular order):

** 2.1 system

** relatively small satellites and subwoofer

** crystal clear sound (monitor-esque, if you will)

** sub has to be capable of being on the floor

** good name brand manufacturer

** less then $250

I did search the forum for old posts, but was unable to find many systems I wasn't already aware of. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. TIA...

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post #2 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 01:28 PM
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thats a tough one Jim. You have a pretty sizable mismatch between your wants and budget. Not crazy but tough. Couple thoughts. First you may need to consider used if the budget/wants are firm. A solid manufacturer like say Energy may work, but over budget for new. Another thought is to start with 2.0 and add a sub later. I personally have doubts about your want list at that price. Keep in mind when you get responses that there are folks with $100K into their systems that are still looking for your want list. Everything is relative. Lets see what folks think up??
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post #3 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 01:50 PM
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250 is a very small budget, especially since it sounds like you're using this with your computer and don't have amplification. With your restraints I'd have to ask if headphones are an option - there's some great ones out there that really dig deep on the bass and remain great into the highs. The Audio Technica ATH-M50s for example.

For speakers, with those sort of restraints I'd consider making them myself/DIY. These things:
http://www.zaphaudio.com/ZBM4.html
and then use a sub and its plate amp to power them. I'd need some time to think of a cheap sub that would go well with what you desire, though.

Otherwise I guess something like the M-Audio AV30s paired with a Velodyne VX-11
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post #4 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 01:54 PM
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Audiophile and less then $250 are at odds...these Behringer active monitors are highly regarded as best bang for the buck...but still more than $250.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Behringer-B2030A...item5d268c4715
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post #5 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses. Based upon the replies it appears as though I may not have properly stated my case, so I'll try and clarify as best as I can (and respond to some key individual points as well).


Keep in mind when you get responses that there are folks with $100K into their systems that are still looking for your want list.

That's actually why I'm here, because this place seems to be jam packed with true audiophiles...


250 is a very small budget, especially since it sounds like you're using this with your computer and don't have amplification.

You are indeed correct; neither the MP3 player nor the laptop provide any amplification, which is why I was looking for a 2.1 system more geared towards that style of environment (as opposed to AV type equipment, where amplification is virtually mandatory).


With your restraints I'd have to ask if headphones are an option

Unfortunately, I'm not always tethered to the computer/MP3 player while listening to music. Often times I'll be in the room doing something else and need to maintain my mobility, so given that headphones aren't going to be a workable solution.


Otherwise I guess something like the M-Audio AV30s paired with a Velodyne VX-11

It's interesting you mention the VX 11; I actually owned one for several years, until the amp got cooked by a power surge from a lightning storm. But at 15"x12"x17" that's physically at least twice as large as the space I have to put it, and would be way overkill when sitting right on top of it.

The M-Audio -- and Behringer Wrager mentions -- are among the active monitors I did look at. Along with NHT, Samson Audio, DynAudio, AudioEngine, Neuman, and countless others. The problem was always one (or more) of the following; too much money, too large or not enough low end.

The only one of those I really have any experience with is the AudioEngine 5. I found that it produced a remarkable amount of spectacular sound from a surprisingly small package. The only drawback was the bottom end; it just felt like the lower octaves were missing. And they were, which should be no surprise given the size of the cabinet and the woofer. But as far as the overall clarity? I was duly impressed.

I very seriously considered piecing something together myself, which consisted of a pair of active satellites and a sub. Problem was the stand-alone sub's were all way too large. Which is why something like the AE Aego M seemed perfect, other then the fact it's been discontinued of course. It was small enough to fit in the space I have, while still providing reasonable sound quality.

Essentially, that's the type of thing I'm looking for. While I'd love to go up the scale a bit more, space and budget prevent me from doing that. If I found something in a similar form factor to the Aego M then I could push the budget some -- because ultimately I would like to have a system that sounds decent -- but the space issue is not really something I can overcome easily.

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post #6 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 06:38 PM
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How about the Gizmo / Waf speakers from Tweak.... Chasehometheater.com? Fits your budget. I don't have either but I just turned my friend on to a Gizmo to use with his Totem's and he loves it.
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post #7 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 07:46 PM
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m-audio makes great studio monitors, but the av30s aren't them. those are desktop speakers. if even those are too large, then what you're asking for is cheap, excellent satellite speakers, an amp, and a sub but not a sub?

like, how small does a sub need to be? an exodus anarchy with some passive radiators tuned to ~35hz might work in a very small box
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post #8 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 07:56 PM
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When I first read "high-end set of 2.1 speakers for music" I was all set to suggest Salk (Songtowers or HT2) and a Rythmik sub

Then I read $250 budget

Does that budget include an amp, or do you already have one (if so, what is it), or is there a separate budget for amp (because even hooked up to a computer, you need an amp)?

If you're looking for as good as you can get for $250 you're probably going to look at used. Have you looked at all on your local craigslist? If so, what options were there we could provide opinions on.

For $50 you can get a Gizmo amp from Chase Home Theater. That leaves $200.

The WAF-1 from Chase or two of these Behringer passives would take $150, leaving $50 for a used sub.

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post #9 of 112 Old 10-19-2010, 08:06 PM
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"less than $250" knocks you out of anything high end unless you are superstar creative... ;-)

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #10 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 10:59 AM
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Good deal on a pair of Energy RC Minis.
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post #11 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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How about the Gizmo / Waf speakers from Tweak

Thanks for the tip. I tried looking into those, but the website is not showing the pic. Both IE and FF had the same problem. I'll try again later -- maybe it's a temporary glitch.



those are desktop speakers

Desktop speakers are not too far off. That's pretty much how they're going to be used -- hooked up to a laptop and portable MP3 player -- so that's the type of setup I've been looking for. Not something like the crap put out by Logitech, Creative, Cyber Acoustics, et al, but something in the desktop-like arena.



what you're asking for is cheap, excellent satellite speakers, an amp, and a sub but not a sub

Nope, not an amp. A powered 2.1 system. That's hard enough to do for a couple of hundred bucks, without including something like an amp into the equation.



like, how small does a sub need to be? an exodus anarchy with some passive radiators tuned to ~35hz might work in a very small box

Very, by home speaker standards anyway. I'll look into the exodus and see what that's all about. Thanks for the lead...



When I first read "high-end set of 2.1 speakers for music" I was all set to suggest Salk (Songtowers or HT2) and a Rythmik sub. Then I read $250 budget.
"less than $250" knocks you out of anything high end unless you are superstar creative...

I suppose it's all quite relative. For this forum perhaps I should have said "low end set of speakers" instead. Essentially what I was trying to avoid was getting a bunch of suggestions for $75 crap that could be purchased from Walmart.

While I'm not looking to create some fabulous setup that will cost thousands of dollars and take up half my computer room I do have a somewhat discriminating ear and would like to hear the actual music, not some over-emphasized mess of sound coming out of bargain-basement plastic speakers.

Perhaps to some that would be considered heresy but with the sheer amount of audio knowledge this place has I'm almost certain to find someone of like mind, who has far more knowledge then I.

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post #12 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:21 PM
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How about the Swan M10 2.1 for $120. This can be hooked up to your laptop or iPod.

* 2.1 channel
* Self-powered
* True 2-way satellites with 20mm soft dome tweeters
* Connects to any portable or line-output music source
* Onboard volume and bass controls
* Includes 1 meter stereo RCA-to-RCA cable
* Includes 1 meter 3.5mm phone plug-to-RCA adapter cable
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post #13 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post


what you're asking for is cheap, excellent satellite speakers, an amp, and a sub but not a sub

Nope, not an amp. A powered 2.1 system. That's hard enough to do for a couple of hundred bucks, without including something like an amp into the equation.

Actually, the Gizmo amp at $50 gives you an amp with a crossover in it with sub out.

With an amp you have a lot more choice for decent (and used) speakers.

In my computer setup I have a Gizmo, a pair of Kef 2001.2 and a Jamo Sub200 (I have since also added a Beresford DAC, but analog out of your computer will work for now).

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post #14 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:29 PM
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I dunno what to tell you about the sub but Audioengines sound good.

Ron
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post #15 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:33 PM
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You could check out this - 2.1

1) http://www.harmankardon.com/EN-GB/Pr...=SOUNDSTICKSII

$114 @ http://www.amazon.com/Harman-SoundSt.../dp/B0001DBEM4


These are a little more expensive but you might consider the sale price but no subwoofer

2) http://www.emptek.com/special_cs100_tube.php

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post #16 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvictorg View Post

You could check out this

http://www.harmankardon.com/EN-GB/Pr...=SOUNDSTICKSII

$114 @ http://www.amazon.com/Harman-SoundSt.../dp/B0001DBEM4



These are a little more expensive but you might consider the sale price

http://www.emptek.com/special_cs100_tube.php

I have the soundsticks - they are good for what they are, but find the extra $$ to get the EMP system, it's rad!

Ron
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post #17 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 12:48 PM
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Could also try Audioengine A2

http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Audi...D1c!1581391502

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post #18 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 01:36 PM
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I definitely agree with the EMP system, it would kick hella ass but it wouldn`t give you low bass which brings you back to needing a sub.

Anyways the anarchy would work nicely in a .75 cu ft box with a pair of Seas Prestige SP18R tuned to 33hz. I didn`t really consider excursion but it did give a nice looking curve
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post #19 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 04:46 PM
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Jim,

You don't give specifics on your size constraints. If you have the space, consider a pair of speaker stands behind your desk. This allows you to use a pair of bookshelf speakers without taking any (or much) of your desktop area. Add a small amplifier on or under the desk, and forgo the subwoofer for now.

Stands can be found fairly cheaply (StudioTech, Sanus, etc.) or built yourself.

Getting speakers off the desk reduces reflections, and having the tweeters close to ear level is also desirable. The speakers should be sealed or front-ported if there is a wall directly behind.

I have two different pairs of bookshelves (Swans and Infinity), both with 6.5" woofers, and find they produce satisfying bass. These are both pretty large in size (and sound!), but with the stands completely behind the desk that isn't a problem. You could have the stands overhang the desktop somewhat if necessary and still not lose much space.

Something like the Infinity Primus P162, if you can find them, and the Audiosource AMP-100 should make you happy.

Parts-Express is a good place to start.
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post #20 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 05:10 PM
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$250 for a 2.1 system with a tiny subwoofer and tiny audiophile quality satellites that can run off a PC sound card. You're out of your mind. This thread is the poster child for oxymorons. Head to Comp USA and pick up a Logitech xB whatever sound system in a box and be done with it. People spend more on an iPod.
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post #21 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrager View Post

Audiophile and less then $250 are at odds...these Behringer active monitors are highly regarded as best bang for the buck...but still more than $250.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Behringer-B2030A...item5d268c4715

I'd suggest the Behringer B3031A for now and add a sub later when funds allow. I don't think you can beat these for $260.

Edit: Sorry, I guess the sale is over so the cost is back to $500/pr.
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post #22 of 112 Old 10-20-2010, 08:04 PM
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You can't get a sub for $250. Buy something like this http://www.amazon.com/M-Audio-Studio.../dp/B0014IEBM0 and add sub when you have more funds available.

Another option - buy used floor standers and an amp (or stereo receiver). With $250 look at things that are 8 - 10 years old.
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post #23 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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How about the Swan M10 2.1 for $120. This can be hooked up to your laptop or iPod.

I did indeed see those, and they would have been fine, but I'm definitely not a fan of their appearance. That, coupled with the fact the sub is too weak for placement on the floor means the M10 won't work. Shame too, because I would definitely buy another set of Swans.



1) http://www.harmankardon.com/EN-GB/Pr...=SOUNDSTICKSII

Ah yes, the Harman Kardon SoundSticks II. I did run across these, and the speakers do seem to be very well liked. HK is a name I would feel comfortable owning as well, but the looks. Yikes! Seems almost like something the Predator would be listening too...



You're out of your mind. This thread is the poster child for oxymorons. Head to Comp USA and pick up a Logitech xB whatever sound system in a box and be done with it.

Quite the contrary; I'm actually very lucid, and not at all into oxymorons. I believe it's been made abundantly clear I have no desire to purchase some cheap Logitech garbage, so this post contributed nothing.



I'd suggest the Behringer B3031A for now and add a sub later when funds allow. I don't think you can beat these for $260.

Now that's a killer deal! Bi-amplified, 8 3/4" woofer, Behringer, all very impressive. But waaaay too big for my need. Pity, because I'm certain those would sound magnificent.



Buy something like this http://www.amazon.com/M-Audio-Studio.../dp/B0014IEBM0 and add sub when you have more funds available.

I have begun putting some thought into this type of solution, and the BX5a was very near the top of my list. You're almost hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't speak very highly of them, which is uncommon. Finding a tiny subwoofer after the fact is going to be a rather significant challenge, but it's hard to argue that the BX5a is not a quality piece and worthy of consideration.

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post #24 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 09:05 AM
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used vandersteen 1c's can be found around 250... no sub but decent bass.
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post #25 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 09:11 AM
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I hope to see this thread to its completion. Jim, I find it difficult to imagine you finding a speaker that delivers on your every requirement but I remain optimistic.

FYI, many high quality large drivers roll off at 70-50Hz. For example, This 10" B&C low frequency driver rolls off at 60Hz. It's difficult to be sensitive, efficient, high quality and small.
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post #26 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 09:27 AM
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How about this Axiom Audio M3 Ti for $160 from Audiogon. I've never heard them before so I am not sure how good they sound but they have good reviews. Does anybody know how they sound?

AV123 X-LS for $150. I have a pair but it's classic, I believe these are Encores which have upgraded crossovers if I'm correct.

AV123 ELT-525 monitor for $180

Pair any of those speakers with the Onix av123 ULW-10 subwoofer for $175.00 and you have a pretty good 2.1 system.
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post #27 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post


I'd suggest the Behringer B3031A for now and add a sub later when funds allow. I don't think you can beat these for $260.

Now that's a killer deal! Bi-amplified, 8 3/4" woofer, Behringer, all very impressive. But waaaay too big for my need. Pity, because I'm certain those would sound magnificent.

Understood. I would have suggested the slightly smaller B3030A(6.5" woofer) but it's $400/pr. The 3031 usually goes for $500/pr but I found that sale so I thought I'd post it. I ordered a pair myself.
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post #28 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

Finding a tiny subwoofer after the fact is going to be a rather significant challenge, but it's hard to argue that the BX5a is not a quality piece and worthy of consideration.

M-Audio has a small matching sub: http://www.amazon.com/M-Audio-240-Wa...r/dp/B002WZ6DU
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post #29 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmryan821 View Post

Understood. I would have suggested the slightly smaller B3030A(6.5" woofer) but it's $400/pr. The 3031 usually goes for $500/pr but I found that sale so I thought I'd post it. I ordered a pair myself.

That's per speaker my friend
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post #30 of 112 Old 10-21-2010, 06:09 PM
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