best powered monitor speakers under $300?? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 82 Old 06-26-2013, 05:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys,
I was in the mkt for a new 2.1 cpu speaker system like the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 but after getting a lot of feedback on here I've decided to buy a nice pair of self powered speakers & maybe add a sub down the road instead.

im looking at the:

Audioengine 5+
$330

Emotiva
Airmotiv 4
$300

whats a better pair or any other recommendations??

thanks everyone!!
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post #2 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 02:58 PM
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good choices, powered "monitor" speakers and a powered subwoofer are the way to go. I'm using Behringer MS16 speakers (smaller for space limitations) with a desktop computer and am very satisfied with the results. So much better than the typical "made for computer" consumer speaker units.
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post #3 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks im pretty new to all of this stuff but ive gotten a lot of good advice & feedback from these forums. are their any other self powered monitors i should checkout? i like the audioengine 5+ cause their also prewired to hookup a sub.
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post #4 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 03:32 PM
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I have been messing around with this t-amp:

http://www.amazon.com/Topping-TP30-Digital-Amplifier-USB-DAC/dp/B005D7SKWK/

Using something like that hooked up to your PC will open your world to non-powered bookshelf speakers.

Or something like this that has more power(which isn't really needed for a desktop/PC system), but not the built-in DAC:

http://www.amazon.com/Dayton-Audio-DTA-100a-Class-T-Amplifier/dp/B004JK8BDK/

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post #5 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 03:34 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks but i dont want all of the extra wires. im all about the simplicity.
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post #6 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp3 View Post

thanks but i dont want all of the extra wires. im all about the simplicity.
I actually think it would be less wires....or the same.

Looks pretty clean on my daughter's setup:


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post #7 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
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that does look like a pretty clean setup.
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post #8 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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cschang,
whats the advantage to using that setup as apposed to just buying powered monitors? i was going to order the audioengine 5+ which are self powered but the also make a passive version of the speaker.
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post #9 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp3 View Post

cschang,
whats the advantage to using that setup as apposed to just buying powered monitors? i was going to order the audioengine 5+ which are self powered but the also make a passive version of the speaker.
Two possible advantages:

1. By using a separate amp, you have more speakers to choose from. You don't have to get a powered speaker.

2. With this particular model, the Topping TP30, it has a DAC, so it is a USB connection to the amp. This could be an advantage. This model also has an analog input as well.

These t-amps come from different manufacturers, different models, and some with remotes as well.

If I had room on my desk, it is what I would do.

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post #10 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 08:25 PM
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I own the A5 and i think they sound quite good. I also like how many inputs hey have as well as the fact that they have an out for use with a sub. The audio engines seem to have pretty decent amps in them keeping fairly cool even under constant use. I like music at around 75-80db, measured without the sub and not only does the amp not get too warm to the touch but they dont seem to miss a beat. They are quite forgiving with poor recordings which is pretty good for computer speakers. The highs are not bright all imo and the bass and mid-bass capabilities are quite respectable.
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post #11 of 82 Old 07-01-2013, 11:13 PM
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I agree with Curtis, with a small amplifier your options in that price range are much more attractive. That said, there are several excellent powered speakers to choose from but you'd have to increase your budget a bit.

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post #12 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 04:28 AM
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The Cambridge audio s30 would be an excellent choice if you get an external amp.

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 #13 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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ok cool thanks guys. if i choose to buy a small amp & speakers instead of a pair of powered monitors what is a good name brand amp to buy?
i would like one that has a subwoofer output if available & built in DAC

if not maybe the powered audioengine 5+ with the sub output is the better choice for me?
and also what is a DAC converter good for why cant i just plug rt into my 3.5mm audio out on my MacMini
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post #14 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

Two possible advantages:

1. By using a separate amp, you have more speakers to choose from. You don't have to get a powered speaker.

2. With this particular model, the Topping TP30, it has a DAC, so it is a USB connection to the amp. This could be an advantage. This model also has an analog input as well.

These t-amps come from different manufacturers, different models, and some with remotes as well.

If I had room on my desk, it is what I would do.

Agreed.

I recently bought an Indeed TA2021 (comparable to the Topping TP21, but no headphone output) just to try it out. Love it so much, I ordered another. These are replacing Harman Kardon receivers in desktop setups where the extra power of the HKs is not needed. They get plenty loud enough and are much, much, much smaller smile.gif

Another advantage of the digital t-amps is that they are over 80% efficient. Less heat output and less energy usage than the analog amps that are in my HKs and many powered monitors.

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post #15 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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cel4145,
hows the build quality on the Topping amps? & does a DAC really make a difference?
So if i go with a Topping TP30 whats a good pair of speakers to match it with
around $200-$225?

does the Topping come with the cable to connect from amp to CPU's USB??
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post #16 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp3 View Post

ok cool thanks guys. if i choose to buy a small amp & speakers instead of a pair of powered monitors what is a good name brand amp to buy?
i would like one that has a subwoofer output if available & built in DAC

From the research that I did before buying my Indeed amp, Indeed and Topping are good. People that had heard the Dayton Audio DTA-100a and the Toppings or Indeeds with the TA2021 t-amp chips seemed to prefer the sound of the Toppings or Indeeds (for whatever that's worth).

I would suggest getting a TA2021 over the TA2020 t-amp. They have a little more power.

However, you don't have to get a subwoofer output on the amp. The Dayton SUB1000 has speaker level inputs and outputs. So you would run the speaker outputs from the amp to the sub, and then from the sub to the speakers.
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if not maybe the powered audioengine 5+ with the sub output is the better choice for me?
and also what is a DAC converter good for why cant i just plug rt into my 3.5mm audio out on my MacMini

You can. Although quite often the built in DAC and rest of the analog audio path on many computers that produces that output isn't that great for plugging up powered monitors or an amp.

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post #17 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp3 View Post

cel4145,
hows the build quality on the Topping amps? & does a DAC really make a difference?
So if i go with a Topping TP30 whats a good pair of speakers to match it with
around $200-$225?

does the Topping come with the cable to connect from amp to CPU's USB??
The Topping seems pretty well built to me. I don't know how it compares to cel's Indeed.

My Topping did come with the USB cable....and the analog cable as well.

I think I am going to try the Indeed next, or the comparable Topping, it is less expensive, has more power, but it is not a DAC.

BTW...I knew about t-amps before, but some communication with cel got me to try one, and I had an Amazon gift card. smile.gif

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post #18 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

I think I am going to try the Indeed next, or the comparable Topping, it is less expensive, has more power, but it is not a DAC.

For the heck of it, I just turned on some pink noise with my CBM-170 SEs and got out the SPL meter. From about 2.5" to 3" away (in my sitting position), I got it turned up to 100db for a few seconds before I couldn't stand it any more. Still wasn't quite all the way turned up.

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post #19 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

The Topping seems pretty well built to me. I don't know how it compares to cel's Indeed.

My Topping did come with the USB cable....and the analog cable as well.

I think I am going to try the Indeed next, or the comparable Topping, it is less expensive, has more power, but it is not a DAC.

BTW...I knew about t-amps before, but some communication with cel got me to try one, and I had an Amazon gift card. smile.gif

How does your Topping sound with the HLV-1's? I am considering ditching my studio monitors for some bookshelves and a t-amp.

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post #20 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

For the heck of it, I just turned on some pink noise with my CBM-170 SEs and got out the SPL meter. From about 2.5" to 3" away (in my sitting position), I got it turned up to 100db for a few seconds before I couldn't stand it any more. Still wasn't quite all the way turned up.
Wow...that's plenty loud.

I am going to listen to the TP30 some more. As you can see from the picture, the desk is quite deep, and I'm getting a lot of bass reinforcement from it. I'm going to see what I can do to tame it...but my daughter does not seem to mind. It would be easy if the Mac had tone controls, but it doesn't.
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How does your Topping sound with the HLV-1's? I am considering ditching my studio monitors for some bookshelves and a t-amp.
Without the deep desk...they sound great.

To me...the t-amp just seems to offer a lot of flexibility in speaker choice. You don't need to be tied to powered speakers. I'm not saying powered speakers are bad, there are some great ones.

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post #21 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:15 AM
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Wow...that's plenty loud.

Yeah. I don't run it that loud normally. When I've turned it up that like that before with music just to try it out, it does seem like the amp is exhibiting some harmonic distortion. Definitely not quite as clean, but OK. But who needs to listen to it like that seated at a desk? And if I want to crank it up to provide some volume for the upstairs of the house when I'm out of the room, that's fine.
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I am going to listen to the TP30 some more. As you can see from the picture, the desk is quite deep, and I'm getting a lot of bass reinforcement from it. I'm going to see what I can do to tame it...but my daughter does not seem to mind. It would be easy if the Mac had tone controls, but it doesn't.
Without the deep desk...they sound great.

In my son's room, we have Energy V5.1s paired up with the Indeed. They are about 3" or 4" from the wall--probably a little too close for the rear ports--and it seems the bass is getting a little over emphasized and a touch bloated on the low end. But of course, he likes rap and EDM, so he doesn't mind that smile.gif

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post #22 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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so guys help me out here. ive now gone from shopping for a 2.1 multimedia system, to a pair of self powered monitors and now to a t-amp & DAC and a pair of desktop speakers.
i was going to get the audioengine 5+ for $330
so staying with in that budget, what t-amp with built in DAC and speakers can i get for around $330?

my desk is 59" long & 30" deep
have a MacMini, 23" monitor and thats it on the desk so i have a decent amount of space available.

please help me i sold my 2.1 system and need to order something ASAP!!
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post #23 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:29 AM
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I would go with the Indeed TA2021 + Behringer UCA202 + Cambridge S30 or Wavecrest HLV-1. Whichever way you go, Auralex MoPads or speaker stands would probably be a good idea.

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post #24 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cjp3 View Post

so guys help me out here. ive now gone from shopping for a 2.1 multimedia system, to a pair of self powered monitors and now to a t-amp & DAC and a pair of desktop speakers.!
That is the danger of reading these forums. They cause you to want to buy more things and spend more money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp3 View Post

i was going to get the audioengine 5+ for $330
so staying with in that budget, what t-amp with built in DAC and speakers can i get for around $330?

my desk is 59" long & 30" deep
have a MacMini, 23" monitor and thats it on the desk so i have a decent amount of space available.

please help me i sold my 2.1 system and need to order something ASAP!!
I just went from being a home PC user for 28 years, to a Mac mini a couple of weeks ago. smile.gif

What did you find lacking in your old desktop sound system?

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post #25 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Whichever way you go, Auralex MoPads or speaker stands would probably be a good idea.
I need to get some more of these.

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post #26 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

I would go with the Indeed TA2021 + Behringer UCA202 + Cambridge S30 or Wavecrest HLV-1. Whichever way you go, Auralex MoPads or speaker stands would probably be a good idea.

I don't use them, but I think the Auralex MoPads can be a good choice because they are angled, which will help to better aim the tweeters towards your ears. Audioengine also makes some speaker stands that have different angles than the MoPads.

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post #27 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I don't use them, but I think the Auralex MoPads can be a good choice because they are angled, which will help to better aim the tweeters towards your ears. Audioengine also makes some speaker stands that have different angles than the MoPads.

I have since placed my Mackies on stands next to my desk and the improvement has been substantial, but if space is an issue, the MoPads do a pretty good job. Those audioengine stands you mention might be more appropriate for a smaller speaker like the S30 or HLV-1, that's a good suggestion.

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post #28 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 10:53 AM
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I recently saw a link questioning any difference in audio quality by using pads. While I did not read it, it certainly stands to reason that if desktop speakers have 12-18" of desk in front of them there will be reflections. Auralex wedges can lift the front of speakers up for better placement both for aiming and to help limit this. Or so I would think. Decoupling speakers from the desktop may be a more subjective argument, but it stands to reason that a desk, for the most part hollow, might pick up some resonance. Maybe this is only a concern with lightweight cabinets (cheapo speakers), I dunno. In short, I'm a proponent of Auralex MoPads, but the reason I bought them was to tilt my speakers up. Even if I gain nothing else it was $35 well invested.

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post #29 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I recently saw a link questioning any difference in audio quality by using pads.
That was in regards to the Auralex subwoofer pad. If the floor or sub flooring is concrete, I would agree, it would not make a difference. Otherwise, I am not as sure.

Those AudioEngine stands look like a nice option for a desk.

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post #30 of 82 Old 07-02-2013, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I recently saw a link questioning any difference in audio quality by using pads. While I did not read it, it certainly stands to reason that if desktop speakers have 12-18" of desk in front of them there will be reflections. Auralex wedges can lift the front of speakers up for better placement both for aiming and to help limit this. Or so I would think. Decoupling speakers from the desktop may be a more subjective argument, but it stands to reason that a desk, for the most part hollow, might pick up some resonance. Maybe this is only a concern with lightweight cabinets (cheapo speakers), I dunno. In short, I'm a proponent of Auralex MoPads, but the reason I bought them was to tilt my speakers up. Even if I gain nothing else it was $35 well invested.

In regards to the de-coupling, I think it might depend more on the surface itself. I have a glass desk and before I got the MoPads, there was definite vibration from the speakers. After adding the pads, 90% of that went away. If you have a wooden desk, or something that is more sound, you may see less of an effect, but as you mentioned aiming the speakers is important in near field listening.

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