Looking for 2.1 Speaker Recommendations - iMac -> optical to Receiver -> Speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 02:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all,

I've had my home entertainment and office combined in my living room for the last year, but am moving into a condo where my office will now be separate from home theater. I've been running two Polk Monitor70's for fronts, CS2 for center, and two Monitor30's for rears, with a PSW505 subwoofer. I purchased them during Newegg's after Christmas sale, so I spent a total of $637 for the 5.1 system.

I'm thinking that I'll put that setup downstairs with the home theater, and get another craigslist receiver and a 2.1 setup for music in my office. Honestly, I'm going to be pushing it with the wife spending money on MORE speakers, since she already considers the 5.1 I got last year overkill. I love good audio, but I'm no audiophile, considering the current setup sounds great to my untrained ears.

My main usage for these on my iMac is music. I work from home during the day in an otherwise empty house.

I had considered some more Monitor30's when they go on sale again ($79/pair is what I bought them at) with a PSW505 at $179, which seems to be the current going rate. That said, I don't need that much bass power, so I considered getting something like the $99 PSW10 to spend a little more on nicer bookshelf speakers.

So I suppose I'd set my max budget for bookshelf speakers at $200 for the pair. If I spend more than the $79 for the M30's, I'd like there to be a very definite difference that even an untrained ear can appreciate.

I have the latest HK Soundsticks, but they sound a bit harsh to my ears, and the bass is really lacking below a certain point. Good midbass, but no umph at all.

Thoughts? Thank you!

Edit: Also open to suggestions of a better subwoofer. For example, if for the same money there's a better option, I could put the current PSW505 on this 2.1 system and put the new one with the 5.1 setup.
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post #2 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 05:31 AM
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No personal experience with this sub but I do see it getting suggested a lot for the ~$100 price. http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-629

If you can stretch your budget a bit the Definitive Technology Studio Monitors are on sale at Newegg for $280. They are reputed to be good.
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post #3 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MarsianMan View Post

No personal experience with this sub but I do see it getting suggested a lot for the ~$100 price. http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-629
If you can stretch your budget a bit the Definitive Technology Studio Monitors are on sale at Newegg for $280. They are reputed to be good.

Which Studio Monitors are you referring to? I see the 350's for $179 for the pair, and the 450's for $199 each. From what I've read I'd definitely prefer the 450's, but are they worth more than twice the money?
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post #4 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 08:38 AM
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I am using the Audioengine 2 speakers with my computer, and they sound great. I use a $90 Sony 12-inch subwoofer, which is good for the limited power I need out of it in this application. The Audioengine 2 have great sound and are super-compact, with built-in amplifiers.

You may want to check out the Stereophile review on the Audioengine 2 speakers; very informative.

The PSW-10 would probably be fine with them also.

I have a $20K 2.1 system for serious listening, but this is just fine for music while working online or whatever.
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post #5 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 08:48 AM
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I've never been able to hear the 450s, but I own the 350s and can say that they sound great. If you ever decide you want to move them downstairs and add more speakers, it's easier to get a matching center (though you have to go used either way). Before I recently added a center, I was running the 350s in a 2.1 with the same psw505 sub. The system sounds great, and I have the crossover at 80Hz. The speakers have excellent imaging too.
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post #6 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahheck01 View Post

Which Studio Monitors are you referring to? I see the 350's for $179 for the pair, and the 450's for $199 each. From what I've read I'd definitely prefer the 450's, but are they worth more than twice the money?

I was referring to the 450s but the sale is gone. According to Camelegg that was the lowest seen on Newegg but lots of sales on it in the last couple months so it might come back.
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post #7 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MarsianMan View Post

I was referring to the 450s but the sale is gone. According to Camelegg that was the lowest seen on Newegg but lots of sales on it in the last couple months so it might come back.

So assuming I waited for the next $280 for 450's deal (probably after Christmas), is there any better bang for the buck than that out there?

Also, rather than getting a full receiver, is there a relatively inexpensive amplifier that could take optical audio out from my iMac and power these bookshelf speakers?
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post #8 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 05:27 PM
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I've owned the auduoengine2 and currently own the dt sm450s. No comparison! I think what commysman is suggesting is that you could go receiver-less with powered speakers if your music is mostly pc based! However, the av-Rec plus sm450 will produce a much fuller, richer sound!

Set up #1: EMP e5ti, e5Ci, and SLS Q line Audio surrounds, EMP 10i10i sub
Set up #2: Def Tech SM450, CLR2002, SLS Qline surrounds and Klipsch 12wD sub
Set up #3: JBL130, JBL120C and Klipsch synergy sub
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post #9 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

I've owned the auduoengine2 and currently own the dt sm450s. No comparison! I think what commysman is suggesting is that you could go receiver-less with powered speakers if your music is mostly pc based! However, the av-Rec plus sm450 will produce a much fuller, richer sound!

Assuming $180 for the 350's and $280 for the 450's, would you say the 450's are worth 55% more money?
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post #10 of 23 Old 12-18-2012, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ahheck01 View Post

Assuming $180 for the 350's and $280 for the 450's, would you say the 450's are worth 55% more money?

Definitely the SM450's. You might even find that you don't need a bass module with these. Keep in mind that these are not powered, so you will need at least a GOOD stereo amp that can do 200 watts x 2 at 8 Ohms. The Audioengine a5 would be a decent choice for powered monitors but they aren't going to be as good as the SM450 with 400 watt amp. Another choice in powered speakers is the Emotiva Pro Airmotiv 6. I have auditioned these and they are very good powered speakers BUT they are $580 a pair. The Airmotiv 5 are a bit cheaper ( $400 ) but have a smaller 5.25" transducer and smaller ribbon tweeter. RMS is 210 watts for Airmotiv 6 and 100 watts for Airmotiv 5. I still think the SM450 plus amp combo will edge out even the Emotiva because of the passive bass radiator in the SM450.

Any of these options are going to be better than the SoundSticks because those are a single-driver design like Bose. My friend has these and there are definitely holes in the audio spectrum ( mid range ) that make them sound harsh. If I had room in my computer room for the SM450 and an amp, I would have done that a long time ago. I've had a pair of Acoustic Research Powered Partner 570 monitors since the 1980's that I've been using for PC speakers. Sold the first pair in the mid-90's to a friend that was dying to have them and bought a 2nd pair in 1994 which I'm still using.

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post #11 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 02:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of diversity of recommendations? I suppose that makes things easy, though no one else would suggest there's a better pair of speakers than the SM450's for $280?
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post #12 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahheck01 View Post

I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of diversity of recommendations? I suppose that makes things easy, though no one else would suggest there's a better pair of speakers than the SM450's for $280?

The lack of diversity is probably because it is based on a great deal. If you don't get the deal then the recommendation is not that helpful. I wonder what your backup choice should be?
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post #13 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 07:03 AM
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Many other speakers in the "not so expensive" price range. Polk M30s, Infinity Primus p153/163, etc...all decent speakers for the buck, but all with limitations (compromises in design due to price).

Set up #1: EMP e5ti, e5Ci, and SLS Q line Audio surrounds, EMP 10i10i sub
Set up #2: Def Tech SM450, CLR2002, SLS Qline surrounds and Klipsch 12wD sub
Set up #3: JBL130, JBL120C and Klipsch synergy sub
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post #14 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahheck01 View Post

I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of diversity of recommendations? I suppose that makes things easy, though no one else would suggest there's a better pair of speakers than the SM450's for $280?

It depends on choice preference/taste - another nice option, and pricing
is good because of no middle man or heavy marketing >
HTD Level Three
http://www.htd.com/Products/level-three-speakers

Now as far as good budget friendly speakers, and a clear choice for me
over the likes of Polk, and with good bass (not mushy and boomy) >

Cambridge Audio S30
http://www.amazon.com/Cambridge-Audio-Speakers-Dark-Pair/dp/B004NDN9NK/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1355934111&sr=1-1&keywords=cambridge+audio+s30

HTD Level Two
http://www.htd.com/Products/level-two-speakers/Level-TWO-Bookshelf-Speakers

Pioneer BS22
http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-SP-BS22-LR-Designed-Bookshelf-Loudspeakers/dp/B008NCD2LG
Also, on sale at TigerDirect for $89

__________________________________________
Who and Where - is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #15 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahheck01 View Post

I guess I'm a bit surprised at the lack of diversity of recommendations? I suppose that makes things easy, though no one else would suggest there's a better pair of speakers than the SM450's for $280?

I think most of us are assuming you are looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers that will work well in a 2-channel setting rather than part of a multi-channel setup. If you like the sound of your Polk speakers, you could go with the larger Monitor 40 II or Monitor 45B and couple that with a somewhat smaller Polk sub unless you want another PSW505. I think we are saying that you can't beat the DefTech SM450's for $280 in a 2-channel setup. I doubt you'll need any additional subwoofer with those but giving them a good amount of power is essential. Stereo amps that output anything close to what the SM450's need aren't cheap. The Sony Stereo receivers run $400 to $900 but are tailored for HD Radio. A pair of Outlaw monoblocks will run you $700 or an Emotiva XPA-200 will be around $450. That is why I mentioned the Emotiva powered monitors. You can get a serious set of powered monitors for $580 from Emotiva or go with the Audioengine a5 powered monitors.

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post #16 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I think most of us are assuming you are looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers that will work well in a 2-channel setting rather than part of a multi-channel setup. If you like the sound of your Polk speakers, you could go with the larger Monitor 40 II or Monitor 45B and couple that with a somewhat smaller Polk sub unless you want another PSW505. I think we are saying that you can't beat the DefTech SM450's for $280 in a 2-channel setup. I doubt you'll need any additional subwoofer with those but giving them a good amount of power is essential. Stereo amps that output anything close to what the SM450's need aren't cheap. The Sony Stereo receivers run $400 to $900 but are tailored for HD Radio. A pair of Outlaw monoblocks will run you $700 or an Emotiva XPA-200 will be around $450. That is why I mentioned the Emotiva powered monitors. You can get a serious set of powered monitors for $580 from Emotiva or go with the Audioengine a5 powered monitors.
I have a Yamaha receiver that does 100watts per 6.1 channels. Would that be sufficient to drive the SM450's?

Also, even if these do go back on sale, how do they compare to the Polk Monitor70's for $10 more? I currently have the Polk M70's for my HT setup, and they're really impressive. Would these be more bang for the buck than the StudioMonitors?
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post #17 of 23 Old 12-19-2012, 05:28 PM
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I have a Yamaha receiver that does 100watts per 6.1 channels. Would that be sufficient to drive the SM450's?
Also, even if these do go back on sale, how do they compare to the Polk Monitor70's for $10 more? I currently have the Polk M70's for my HT setup, and they're really impressive. Would these be more bang for the buck than the StudioMonitors?

The Yamaha should be good enough especially if you are just going to use it as a stereo receiver. You'll get the 100 watts or a bit more when using just two of the 6 amp blades. Didn't realize the SM450's were back up to their regular price, which is strange because these are no longer being made. Newegg has a reputation for jacking up the prices on stuff that sells well. They will discount for a short time and then the price goes up as stock is depleted. I think they have an automated inventory control system in place that does that automatically.

If you aren't limited to bookshelf speakers, then, by all means, get another set of Polk Monitor 70's.

I'm thinking of trying the Emotiva Airmotiv 5's for my computer desk. They are at $399 now and I have 50 EmoBucks from the last EmoFest I have to use before 12/31.

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post #18 of 23 Old 12-21-2012, 07:19 AM
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Sm450s are back in sale for $280 at Newegg
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post #19 of 23 Old 12-21-2012, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Sm450s are back in sale for $280 at Newegg

Wow, so which will produce better sound,

Two SM450's for $280
Two Monitor70's for $300
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post #20 of 23 Old 12-21-2012, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ahheck01 View Post

Wow, so which will produce better sound,
Two SM450's for $280
Two Monitor70's for $300

I think " better " is subjective. The SM450's are just that, monitor speakers. They will probably produce better sound but won't move nearly as much air as the Polks with FOUR 6.5" drivers. I think it comes down to whether you want bookshelf or towers. Tower speaker always have the advantage because they aren't restricted by size. I have the SM55's. They sound good for their size but I'm thinking the Monitor 70's will give you a " bigger " sound.

Looks like I'm not going to get my Emotiva Airmotiv 5's until the 24th, so I won't be able to comment on those until then. I was hoping FedEx would have Saturday delivery.

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post #21 of 23 Old 12-21-2012, 05:25 PM
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If you're looking to save some $, I just saw NEW Mordaunt Short Carnival 1's on sale at A4L - http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/MORDCARN1CAL/MORDAUNT-SHORT-Carnival-1-Bookshelf-Speaker-Calvados-Pair/1.html. Some folks had recommended these when I was looking for extra bookshelves, and this seems like a good price. I ended up with, and love, Cambridge Audio S30s, but if the Carnival 1's were this price when I was looking, I'd probably have bought these.
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post #22 of 23 Old 01-03-2013, 05:32 AM
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For 2.1 system speakers, you can consider Logitech Speaker Z623
200 watts of room-filling power
Quick-access RCA and 3.5mm inputs for up to three audio devices
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post #23 of 23 Old 01-03-2013, 05:34 AM
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There are some info for the pc speakers, if interested, check out the details
http://bestpcspeakers.org/best-computer-speakers/
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