Budget floorstanding speakers to a computer (help?) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm completely lost and I come to you to admit my ignorance and beg education. I've just setup my home office (finally) and decided this is the perfect time to try and upgrade from the awful logitech computer speakers that I currently use. I started looking up speakers and got myself lost almost immediately.

Is it correct that I would just need:

* Two speakers (of course!)
* Stereo amplifier.

I was having trouble working out if I would need a subwoofer with two floorstanding speakers. I'm going to be using this for music and gaming, but I'm more concerned about the quality of music than gaming. I'm assuming I can just plug from the amp straight into my soundcard and get something that works. I believe I have the normal array of inputs including optical in.

With that in mind I was (at first) trying to come up with something around the $500 mark. I've since let that creep up to $750 for a realistic price to get two decent speakers and an amp. Can anyone suggest a decent setup for around this price?

My wife of course would prefer that I spend about $300 but I'm fairly sure that's an impossible target, even with just bookshelves instead of floorstanding speakers.

(I don't care about surround sound in any way, just to clarify why I was looking at a stereo amp only.)
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post #2 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:21 PM
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What you need is what I did with mine:

- Amphony M200 class d micro amplifier: $69
- stereo mini to RCA stereo cable for PC to amp $5
- any speaker cables $15

Then for the speakers you can get a truly awesome one like a PSB or the Arx A3 or whatever efficient $700 towers you prefer. That amp is as big as a playing card deck (totally disappear behind the desk) but packs 40W/ch so it'll drive anything near field LOUD and being class d it's hella transparent sounding.
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post #3 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:28 PM
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One thing about floorstanding speakers: they might be harder to position for optimal listening when you are seated at a desk. If it's a small office, bookshelves with a sub might work out better all the way around.

What kind of output do you have on your computer? HDMI? Optical? Analog only (if so, what sound card)?

And would you ever be interested in upgrading to more of a surround system? If so or you want to use HDMI, go for a 5.1 receiver. The Denon 1612 is a great value at the moment. Here is a review. If not and you have optical out, the Onkyo TX-8050 has optical and coxial digital inputs.

For a small office setup, the Outlaw Audio M8 is a nice 8" sub, and can be had on B-stock for $225 shipped. Here is a review. If you want a larger sub, you might look at the Lava 10", although the M8 has a flatter frequency response.

There are certainly cheaper options than these, but I think you get worthwhile better quality starting at these price points for sub and receiver.

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post #4 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:36 PM
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^ He doesn't need a HT 5.1 system as it's for music and gaming only. Why waste the budget on speakers and overdone receiver he won't use? Put them all in the speakers!
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post #5 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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In the room this is going in I'll definitely never upgrade to 5.1, I'll save that for upstairs!

BIC Acoustech PL-89: been thinking of these, that combined with the amp listed earlier would do perfect. I'd have about $200 left for the amp, with that in mind is the Amphony M200 still an OK choice?

(And if not those speakers then some arx a3's are my second choice.)

Assuming this makes sense I'll bite the bullet and order!

(OR, a wild card choice - there's some KEF IQ9's for sale for $550 in the ads here. Shipping would hammer me a bit but it might still be a great deal.)
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post #6 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:48 PM
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Forget BIC with ear bleeding horns (though it'll get loud). With that budget you can get an Arx 3 that has drivers commonly found in much more expensive speakers. What other towers use planar ribbon tweeter and plays louder than similarly sized towers due to the XBL2 woofers? Or if you prefer common brands then something from PSB or KEF. Both are efficient and accurate (in their price range). And trust me that small Amphony amp packs quite a kick but cleaner sounding than most audiophile amps. Heck I'm using it to run my $2600 inefficient Usher Be-718 and it still plays loud in my overly huge room
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post #7 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

One thing about floorstanding speakers: they might be harder to position for optimal listening when you are seated at a desk. If it's a small office, bookshelves with a sub might work out better all the way around.

What kind of output do you have on your computer? HDMI? Optical? Analog only (if so, what sound card)?

This brings up an actual question that I had never considered. What is the optimal listening position for floorstanding speakers? That could be an actual issue. With bookshelves I can at least mount them on the wall wherever allows optimal listening while at the desk.

As far as output it's just motherboard sound (realtek junk) so I'm fairly sure I only have Optical S/PDIF/headphone socket. I can always pick up a soundcard, I was just relying on onboard. I definitely don't have any HDMI.

I'll look at all your bookshelf speakers as well, never hurts to consider options!
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post #8 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:57 PM
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^ With bookshelves you'd still have to put them in stands for getting the best sound. Putting them on the desk would add lots of reflections. Issue with placement to the back wall isn't due to size but rather whether it has the bass port on the rear or front. If you must put them against the wall then you want to get something front ported. Simple as that...

HDMI? It's only used for 5.1. Otherwise digital coax is as perfect for transferring digital signal. But if you use the Amphony then it's standard analog out to the amp.
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post #9 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 12:57 PM
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An amplifier might not be enough. I would reccomebd getting a small Yamaha stereo AVR such as the RX-397. It can be had for around $300. Bookshelfs in my opinion would be easier to place and drive so you might not need the AVR because when the power output goes up, the distortion increases. Bookshelf speakers draw less power so you should just invest in a high quality amp.
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post #10 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Veda View Post

^ With bookshelves you'd still have to put them in stands for getting the best sound. Putting them on the desk would add lots of reflections. Issue with placement to the back wall isn't due to size but rather whether it has the bass port on the rear or front. If you must put them against the wall then you want to get something front ported. Simple as that...

HDMI? It's only used for 5.1. Otherwise digital coax is as perfect for transferring digital signal. But if you use the Amphony then it's standard analog out to the amp.

In terms of bookshelves can anyone make suggestions of what I should be looking at?

So far I'm seeing I need:

2x stands
2x bookshelves
1x amp
1x sub

I'm still trying to put this all together in the context of about $750 for the lot!

Edit: I should mention that while my desk is against a wall it doesn't have to be. I could move it into the center of the room for all it matters, it's a room dedicated to just the computer for working in, so if moving it a foot or two away from the wall makes a difference I'll happily do it.
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post #11 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echen1024 View Post

An amplifier might not be enough. I would reccomebd getting a small Yamaha stereo AVR such as the RX-397. It can be had for around $300. Bookshelfs in my opinion would be easier to place and drive so you might not need the AVR because when the power output goes up, the distortion increases. Bookshelf speakers draw less power so you should just invest in a high quality amp.

The RX-397 is only 50W/Ch and costs $300. The Amphony is 40W. +10W by cutting the budget $230? Even if he gets a receiver that has like 100W, what quality bookshelves + sub can he get $450? I bet nothing that matches $680 towers...
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post #12 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apenney View Post

Edit: I should mention that while my desk is against a wall it doesn't have to be. I could move it into the center of the room for all it matters, it's a room dedicated to just the computer for working in, so if moving it a foot or two away from the wall makes a difference I'll happily do it.

You're not getting it. The speaker position depends on whether it has the bass port at the rear or the front. If it's the front then you can put your bookshelves or towers closer to the wall. My suggestion is to move your desk 2 feet away from the wall and have your speakers 1 foot away from the wall toed in to your chair. That should give the best sound for your particular case.
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post #13 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apenney View Post

This brings up an actual question that I had never considered. What is the optimal listening position for floorstanding speakers? That could be an actual issue. With bookshelves I can at least mount them on the wall wherever allows optimal listening while at the desk.

As far as output it's just motherboard sound (realtek junk) so I'm fairly sure I only have Optical S/PDIF/headphone socket. I can always pick up a soundcard, I was just relying on onboard. I definitely don't have any HDMI.

I'll look at all your bookshelf speakers as well, never hurts to consider options!

Optimally, you want to be place yourself in a triangular position with the speakers, with the speakers toed in toward you. This is described more for HT setup, but you'll get the idea. So if you have planned to sit at a desk with the towers out on either side, that's going to be hard to accomplish. If you want to wall mount speakers, you should look for ones that are not rear ported.

If you have optical out, then you can run pure digital to your receiver and use it's DAC. If you have standard motherboard audio, usually the analog out is not very good. If you must go cheaper on a receiver, watch for deals on the low end model Yamaha, Onkyo, and Pioneer at Amazon and Newegg. One of them will (already does) have a deal below $200 on a AV receiver that has optical inputs. For example, the Pioneer VSX-821 is $159.99 at Newegg with promo code EMCNFHF239 through tomorrow (subscribe to their mailing list to get all their specials). It'll have as much or more power than that MA Model 200 amplifier, which, by the way, would limit what subs you can buy to hook up with speakers. Keep in mind if you go with an AV receiver, you always have the option of getting a graphics card later on that has HDMI out, and getting more speakers for at least 4.1; lot of people like that for FPS gaming because you can hear the direction of sounds even better.

Finally, if you listen to rock, classical, or jazz, you might be very satisfied with a pair of bookshelves that go down to around 50hz; a sub would round out the lower bass a little, but it's not as critical. On the other hand, if you like hip hop, trance, funky house, or other times of electronic music and dance genres and want good bass, then bookshelves with a good sub could be better than towers for getting that low bass.

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post #14 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Optimally, you want to be place yourself in a triangular position with the speakers, with the speakers toed in toward you. This is described more for HT setup, but you'll get the idea. So if you have planned to sit at a desk with the towers out on either side, that's going to be hard to accomplish. If you want to wall mount speakers, you should look for ones that are not rear ported.

If you have optical out, then you can run pure digital to your receiver and use it's DAC. If you have standard motherboard audio, usually the analog out is not very good. If you must go cheaper on a receiver, watch for deals on the low end model Yamaha, Onkyo, and Pioneer at Amazon and Newegg. One of them will (already does) have a deal below $200 on a AV receiver that has optical inputs. For example, the Pioneer VSX-821 is $159.99 at Newegg with promo code EMCNFHF239 through tomorrow (subscribe to their mailing list to get all their specials). It'll have as much or more power than that MA Model 200 amplifier, which, by the way, would limit what subs you can buy to hook up with speakers. Keep in mind if you go with an AV receiver, you always have the option of getting a graphics card later on that has HDMI out, and getting more speakers for at least 4.1; lot of people like that for FPS gaming because you can hear the direction of sounds even better.

Finally, if you listen to rock, classical, or jazz, you might be very satisfied with a pair of bookshelves that go down to around 50hz; a sub would round out the lower bass a little, but it's not as critical. On the other hand, if you like hip hop, trance, funky house, or other times of electronic music and dance genres and want good bass, then bookshelves with a good sub could be better than towers for getting that low bass.

OH! I had no idea my graphics card could output audio. I have a 6950 so it definitely has HDMI out: "Integrated HD audio controller". That makes a difference, I had no idea cards could output audio - shows what I know about this stuff! (I was always a bit of a headphone fanatic before, less to pay attention to, just need an amp and a device to plug it into).

OK, so I'm weighing my options but so far I've got from your posts:

M8 sub - ~$225
Pioneer receiver: $180
Klipsch Synergy B-20: $280 (or something else, I'm still looking at these and trying to find something good with front porting bass).

I also need to find some shelves rather than wall mounting, but that should easily fit into the budget.

This is a pretty nice setup. The only benefit to the floodstanders is that in the future I can move them upstairs into my enormous bedroom where they might shine better.
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post #15 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apenney View Post

In terms of bookshelves can anyone make suggestions of what I should be looking at?

So far I'm seeing I need:

2x stands
2x bookshelves
1x amp
1x sub

I'm still trying to put this all together in the context of about $750 for the lot!

Edit: I should mention that while my desk is against a wall it doesn't have to be. I could move it into the center of the room for all it matters, it's a room dedicated to just the computer for working in, so if moving it a foot or two away from the wall makes a difference I'll happily do it.

If you can position speakers out from the wall a good 8 or 10 inches, you can use rear ported speakers.

Once again, depending on what kind of music you like, you might get the bookshelves and receiver, and skip the sub for now. See it as a treat for yourself six months or a year from now (or suggest it to the wife as a present).

Here are some speakers to consider:

Energy RC-10
HSU HB-1 MK2
Mordaunt Short Carnival 2
Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE Mini Tower
Ascent Acoustics CBM-170 SE
Kef IQ30

Update: Many people find the Klipsch horn tweeters a little harsh and fatiguing. Might not a be a good choice for near field use.

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post #16 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by apenney View Post

OH! I had no idea my graphics card could output audio. I have a 6950 so it definitely has HDMI out: "Integrated HD audio controller". That makes a difference, I had no idea cards could output audio - shows what I know about this stuff! (I was always a bit of a headphone fanatic before, less to pay attention to, just need an amp and a device to plug it into).

Then the receiver is definitely worth it so a year down the road you could convince the wife to let you get some small satellite speakers for the rear for gaming

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post #17 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Then the receiver is definitely worth it so a year down the road you could convince the wife to let you get some small satellite speakers for the rear for gaming

So far I'm leaning towards the iq30's and the receiver and just saving the subwoofer for a few months down the line! I think I'd be very happy with this setup, considering I normally turn the subwoofer down really low on my existing setup. I doubt I'd be missing anything special in the meantime! Not that I don't sometimes love some solid bass but I often tend to listen to a bunch of indie music that's all treble and not bass.

Edit: And to save replying to multiple people I just want to thank you and Veda, both of you have been incredibly helpful and saved me from bad decisions.
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post #18 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:47 PM
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I recently went through a similar upgrade process - I moved from Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 computer speakers to a much bigger (still budget) 2.1 setup consisting of
  • Pioneer BS21 bookshelf speakers for L/R ($50)
  • BIC F12 subwoofer ($190)
  • Denon AVR 1712 ($310)

I considered multichannel AVRs, stereo integrateds, and even separates (DAC,preamp,amp). Separates blew my budget up and the best stereo integrated I could find with a sub-out (Harman Kardon 3490) put me over my budget of around $500.

The HK3490 is known for having a nice amp section and should be worth considering, especially if you are going with a 2.0 setup with floorstanding speakers.

I ended up going a different route and found the Denon AVR 1712 on sale. The amp section is not as powerful as the 3490, but it has decent room correction software and HDMI in/out.
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post #19 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:48 PM
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That'll Kef/Pioneer combination will be light years beyond your Logitech setup

When (if) you decide to get the sub, ask on the AVS subwoofer forum for recommendations. There may be a better deal that suits your needs at that time.

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post #20 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

That'll Kef/Pioneer combination will be light years beyond your Logitech setup

When (if) you decide to get the sub, ask on the AVS subwoofer forum for recommendations. There may be a better deal that suits your needs at that time.

The naughty truth is I'll probably breakdown and get the M8 and just try hard not to think about the cost. If I don't think about it then it's no problem... right?
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post #21 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 02:18 PM
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The naughty truth is I'll probably breakdown and get the M8 and just try hard not to think about the cost. If I don't think about it then it's no problem... right?

I'm divorced. So yeah. That thinking works for me (lol).

Or you could wait until later this summer. A couple times a year, Outlaw puts the M8 on sale. Last summer it was new, $212 shipped. This past Black Friday, it was $175 shipped. Maybe your wife is the type that would appreciate if you wait on spending on the sub for a few months? Or is she better when you just get all the price shock done at once?

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post #22 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm divorced. So yeah. That thinking works for me (lol).

Or you could wait until later this summer. A couple times a year, Outlaw puts the M8 on sale. Last summer it was new, $212 shipped. This past Black Friday, it was $175 shipped. Maybe your wife is the type that would appreciate if you wait on spending on the sub for a few months? Or is she better when you just get all the price shock done at once?

Well, when she demands a $400 stroller in a few months time I won't have any leg to stand on when it comes to an argument so she'll probably be happy! I ended up ordering it and just getting the entire thing out of the way up front.
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post #23 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 02:35 PM
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Cool! Come back and let us know how it sounds. Plus so other people researching on the forum can see how you like your choice

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post #24 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Cool! Come back and let us know how it sounds. Plus so other people researching on the forum can see how you like your choice

I will definitely update! It's all coming from different places (I think there's 4 different orders including cable from monoprice) so it might not be until late next week but I'll give a nice before/after review.

(I should make my wife A/B it but that might be a little too easy!)
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post #25 of 25 Old 04-28-2012, 07:55 PM
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The iQ is good but if you're going bookshelves then you should give the Ascend CBM-170 a try. It's among the most accurate pair of bookshelves in the market right now. Super flat freq response!
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