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post #1 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 02:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently had a pair of M-Audio AV-40's finally crap out on me after about 4 years and I need replacement speakers. I'm looking for a 2.0 or 2.1 setup, active and keeping my budget around $300-350 dollars. Usage would primarily involve music, movies and gaming with a lean toward gaming. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

To give you an idea of what I was looking at, I was pondering the KRK Rokit 5 Generation 3's and the Klipsch Promedia 2.1's but if you have better suggestions, I'm willing to hear it out.

For reference, it's a small room with the speakers rather close to the listener (3 feet-ish) most of the time and I'm using a Creative X-Fi Titanium HD sound card.
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post #2 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 03:35 AM
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I would suggest either the Audioengine 2 powered speakers or the PSB Alpha PS1 powered speakers.

Any small subwoofer should be adequate if the volume is going to be moderate.
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post #3 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 06:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Hmm.. the PSB's look interesting. I like the design aspects of it and seems to have a few more options than the Audioengine, at 50 bucks more... and one of the reviews said something about them removing the power button? O.o

The Audioengine A2+ is something I can check out locally I guess, one of the cheapest sellers on Amazon is a store in my hometown.

I'll try that today.

Since the PSB's aren't something I have access to, anyone got a reason I should be partial to them beyond what I've seen?
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post #4 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 10:14 AM
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Are you truly looking for "active," or did you just mean powered speakers? Active monitors have active crossovers and are bi-amped. Many of the powered speakers in the <$350 range are not active. For instance, I'm pretty sure that none of Audioengine's speakers are active. The only reason I mention this is that sometimes people buy into some of the active monitor marketing hype, and then don't realize that the reasons they are buying the speakers don't actually apply to the speakers that they are looking at. Not that I think it matters. A good sounding active, non-active powered, or passive speaker setup is a good sounding setup, regardless of the technology smile.gif

For an active speaker in your budget range, look into the Emotiva Airmov 4. They are out of stock right now. You'd have to contact Emotiva to see when they will have them back.

And you can definitely do better than the A2+. The Audioengine A2 series has an artificially boosted upper midbass to help make up for the tiny drivers. What you get with the A2+ over the original A2 is the built in DAC. You don't need that since you already have a good sound card.

Easy thing to do is to go to your local Guitar Center and listen to some speakers. I would recommend the JBL LSR305 or the KRK Rokits over the Audioengine A2+. And those Airmotivs if they come back in stock.

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post #5 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
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There must be some terminology confusion on my part then, or marketing weirdness. Powered or Active works for me. Basically I just want something that I don't have to buy additional A/V equipment to use so passive is out of the question. I don't really have the space for anything beyond a 2.1 or 2.0 and just that.

Unfortunately the local music stores are kinda crappy for what I'm trying to accomplish. They tend to cater to those that are homeless or those that are wealthy beyond reason. There is no middle ground. That's rather why I'm here.

The JBL's look interesting and are in stock at most places. I have a friend who doesn't trust them though. I'm wondering if he has older memories of JBL or if there's something unique about those models.

Going to check with a guy I know who has a recording studio, see what his opinions are on Monday.
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post #6 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 02:51 PM
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I'm running the same sound card in my computer in my office. I used an old Harman Kardon AVR I had laying around and bought a used pair of Klipsch RB-5 bookshelf speakers. I use my computer for music and gaming both and the Klipsch are awesome IMO. I have a pair of Paradigm Studio 20's as well but the Klipsch won the shootout.
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post #7 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 04:12 PM
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The JBL305s are part of a new monitor series from JBL released this past year. If you google their model number along with "review" you'll find that they are getting a lot of love.

Too bad you don't have a Guitar Center nearby. That's usually one of the best options for comparing powered speakers in your budget range.

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post #8 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 04:26 PM
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Do not under-estimate JBL

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post #9 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

Do not under-estimate JBL

I have yet to see a negative review of those JBL LSR305s--and I have looked. LOL

They are getting compared favorably with all the popular < $500 powered monitor sets. JBL seems to have hit a home run with them. smile.gif

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post #10 of 25 Old 01-26-2014, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Found a guitar center! It's not really close but I'll head there tomorrow to check out a few things. They have the JBL LSR305's in stock so hopefully they'll have some I can listen to, they also seem to carry most of the speakers I was looking at or that we were talking about so yeah, it's in my price point alright. Thanks for the advice!

I'll update depending on what I pick up to give you guys the general impressions.
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post #11 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 05:58 AM
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Tannoy501a sounds better than anything else at Guitar Center. No idea bout Audioengine though. But you'll need a DAC or external audioface to send a balanced signal to them. Trust, you WANT to go balanced signal with studio monitors...it's night and day. It's going to be over your budget so maybe audioengine would be better...dunno. But with all of those, a good sub later on will make a world of difference. SVS has sub's that can take balanced signal and send a balanced output out with crossover of 80Hz and below taken out. Send that signal to the SM's and take the low freq out. Then, crank the volume and lose hearing smile.gif
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post #12 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Trace79 View Post

Tannoy501a sounds better than anything else at Guitar Center. No idea bout Audioengine though. But you'll need a DAC or external audioface to send a balanced signal to them. Trust, you WANT to go balanced signal with studio monitors...it's night and day. It's going to be over your budget so maybe audioengine would be better...dunno. But with all of those, a good sub later on will make a world of difference. SVS has sub's that can take balanced signal and send a balanced output out with crossover of 80Hz and below taken out. Send that signal to the SM's and take the low freq out. Then, crank the volume and lose hearing smile.gif

I don't think he will see much benefit from going with a balanced system, it's good for longer runs or in places where there could be external interference, but for a computer setup the price premium is generally not worth it. The biggest improvement you can make for PC audio is getting a sound card (internal or external) and he has that so spend your whole budget on a nice pair of monitors.

I see those JBLs recommended a lot, they are probably the best option in your price range.

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post #13 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 01:15 PM
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I'd also look at some of Swan's offerings too such as the M50W's and the M100MKII's:

http://hiviusa.com/product-category/mulitmedia-speakers/
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post #14 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

I don't think he will see much benefit from going with a balanced system, it's good for longer runs or in places where there could be external interference, but for a computer setup the price premium is generally not worth it. The biggest improvement you can make for PC audio is getting a sound card (internal or external) and he has that so spend your whole budget on a nice pair of monitors.

Agreed.

I think a lot of these people that proclaim balanced to sound so much better have never compared balanced/unbalanced with the same speakers and DAC. What they've done is upgrade their DAC, and so the improvement in SQ is coming from that, if there is actually any at all (audio memory is so unreliable). Well, except for those few that actually had external interference via RCA cables. So many of us without unbalanced don't seem to have a problem, I can't imagine that those with actual interference problems can be that significant.

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post #15 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Agreed.

I think a lot of these people that proclaim balanced to sound so much better have never compared balanced/unbalanced with the same speakers and DAC. What they've done is upgrade their DAC, and so the improvement in SQ is coming from that, if there is actually any at all (audio memory is so unreliable). Well, except for those few that actually had external interference via RCA cables. So many of us without unbalanced don't seem to have a problem, I can't imagine that those with actual interference problems can be that significant.

I can compare BOTH balanced and unbalanced on the fly with the DC-1 and there is no audible difference since my cable runs are only 6'. I don't even have dedicated sound cards in my computers since I use either the TosLink or USB UAC 2.0 to send the audio to the DAC. Only reason I went with balanced XLR is so that I can use the unbalanced for the sub-woofer. Using good, shielded RCA cables would probably work just as well.

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post #16 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
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After listening to most of the offerings, I went with the JBL's. The others had too much wrong in my mind to make up for (KRK was too rough and melded too much, Audioengines sounded.. weird, and everything else was just really bad imho). I know that setups and lifetime could vary based on shelf models but the JBL had too much good and not enough bad to warrant looking at anything else again.

Brought them home and it's pretty damn good. Thanks for the recommendations. I still need to adjust for the room, sitting position and what not but they played a digitally mastered version of Steely Dan well enough to impress an audiophile friend.

I also learned that I need to improve my source material when it comes to music, though that's a 1st world problem. It's nice having a speaker that notices :P

Thanks for the advice all! biggrin.gif
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post #17 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 09:07 PM
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Awesome! That's a good problem to have that your speakers (and soundcard) are so good that you tell the difference in your source material now. smile.gif

You have to come back in a couple months so we can help you find a sub to improve your gaming and movie experience wink.gif

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post #18 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Agreed.

I think a lot of these people that proclaim balanced to sound so much better have never compared balanced/unbalanced with the same speakers and DAC. What they've done is upgrade their DAC, and so the improvement in SQ is coming from that, if there is actually any at all (audio memory is so unreliable). Well, except for those few that actually had external interference via RCA cables. So many of us without unbalanced don't seem to have a problem, I can't imagine that those with actual interference problems can be that significant.

I can only speak on what I have tried with my Tannoy 501a's and I did just this; went from an unbalanced RCA connection from my Focusrite 2i4 and the a balanced XLR connection and like I said, it was a HUGE difference. Sound quality and output were greatly increased with the balanced connection. I'm no audiophile nor have I done this with any other equipment than my own. The reason I was doing this was to run the signal from my SVS sub and take the low-end out for the Tannoy's which turned them unbalanced. The RCA connection directly from the 2i4 had the exact same affect...for what it's worth. Maybe it was the 2i4, maybe it was the Tannoy's...dunno. It was clearly night and day though :/
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post #19 of 25 Old 01-27-2014, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Trace79 View Post

I can only speak on what I have tried with my Tannoy 501a's and I did just this; went from an unbalanced RCA connection from my Focusrite 2i4 and the a balanced XLR connection and like I said, it was a HUGE difference. Sound quality and output were greatly increased with the balanced connection. I'm no audiophile nor have I done this with any other equipment than my own. The reason I was doing this was to run the signal from my SVS sub and take the low-end out for the Tannoy's which turned them unbalanced. The RCA connection directly from the 2i4 had the exact same affect...for what it's worth. Maybe it was the 2i4, maybe it was the Tannoy's...dunno. It was clearly night and day though :/

Sure. Your balanced output has more gain. So of course it will sound better. It's louder. You have to use an SPL meter to adjust each to the same volume level to compare the difference in SQ. Even a 1db difference in volume can make the louder one sound better.
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post #20 of 25 Old 01-28-2014, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Sure. Your balanced output has more gain. So of course it will sound better. It's louder. You have to use an SPL meter to adjust each to the same volume level to compare the difference in SQ. Even a 1db difference in volume can make the louder one sound better.

+1 This. By going from an RCA line level to a balanced XLR, all you did was increase the gain. If you weren't having any problems with electromagnetic interference, XLR should make no difference in sound quality. Take the right speaker, use the RCA line in and use XLR for the left speaker. Level match them and have someone swap them around without knowing which is which. Now playback anything not knowing which connection you are using and see if you can tell the difference.
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post #21 of 25 Old 01-28-2014, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trace79 View Post

I can only speak on what I have tried with my Tannoy 501a's and I did just this; went from an unbalanced RCA connection from my Focusrite 2i4 and the a balanced XLR connection and like I said, it was a HUGE difference. Sound quality and output were greatly increased with the balanced connection. I'm no audiophile nor have I done this with any other equipment than my own. The reason I was doing this was to run the signal from my SVS sub and take the low-end out for the Tannoy's which turned them unbalanced. The RCA connection directly from the 2i4 had the exact same affect...for what it's worth. Maybe it was the 2i4, maybe it was the Tannoy's...dunno. It was clearly night and day though :/

Sure. Your balanced output has more gain. So of course it will sound better. It's louder. You have to use an SPL meter to adjust each to the same volume level to compare the difference in SQ. Even a 1db difference in volume can make the louder one sound better.

The balanced input may have also made some barely audible hum or other noises go away. That can provide a SQ improvement, too.
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post #22 of 25 Old 01-28-2014, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by satsunada View Post

I recently had a pair of M-Audio AV-40's finally crap out on me after about 4 years and I need replacement speakers. I'm looking for a 2.0 or 2.1 setup, active and keeping my budget around $300-350 dollars. Usage would primarily involve music, movies and gaming with a lean toward gaming. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

To give you an idea of what I was looking at, I was pondering the KRK Rokit 5 Generation 3's and the Klipsch Promedia 2.1's but if you have better suggestions, I'm willing to hear it out.

For reference, it's a small room with the speakers rather close to the listener (3 feet-ish) most of the time and I'm using a Creative X-Fi Titanium HD sound card.

If you want something that is a serious upgrade both in terms of loudness and SQ, you might want to try the Behringer B3021A active (powered) speakers.

http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-B3031A-Reference-Monitor-Speaker/dp/B001F1ZMHY



However, you can obtain the passive model of the same speaker ( B2031p) and a good AVR with Audyssey for the same money or less.
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post #23 of 25 Old 01-28-2014, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

If you want something that is a serious upgrade both in terms of loudness and SQ, you might want to try the Behringer B3021A active (powered) speakers.

http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-B3031A-Reference-Monitor-Speaker/dp/B001F1ZMHY

However, you can obtain the passive model of the same speaker ( B2031p) and a good AVR with Audyssey for the same money or less.

+1 to this too, just be aware that is a fairly large speaker for a desktop. I don't think most people would have enough room, but if you do, that should be at the top of your list for a budget monitor.
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post #24 of 25 Old 01-28-2014, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by satsunada View Post

After listening to most of the offerings, I went with the JBL's. The others had too much wrong in my mind to make up for (KRK was too rough and melded too much, Audioengines sounded.. weird, and everything else was just really bad imho). I know that setups and lifetime could vary based on shelf models but the JBL had too much good and not enough bad to warrant looking at anything else again.

Brought them home and it's pretty damn good. Thanks for the recommendations. I still need to adjust for the room, sitting position and what not but they played a digitally mastered version of Steely Dan well enough to impress an audiophile friend.

I also learned that I need to improve my source material when it comes to music, though that's a 1st world problem. It's nice having a speaker that notices :P

Thanks for the advice all! biggrin.gif

Congrats on the purchase, you made a good choice. One thing I will recommend though is to invest in a set of Auralex MoPads. These allow you to decouple the speaker from the desk, and more importantly angle them to make sure the tweeter is pointed at you. On some lighter desks, or those made of glass, you can really notice vibrations from the speaker, so this is a good way to clean that up.

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post #25 of 25 Old 01-30-2014, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Congrats on the purchase, you made a good choice. One thing I will recommend though is to invest in a set of Auralex MoPads. These allow you to decouple the speaker from the desk, and more importantly angle them to make sure the tweeter is pointed at you. On some lighter desks, or those made of glass, you can really notice vibrations from the speaker, so this is a good way to clean that up.

Oddly I was just looking at that. Thanks for the advice on that. Also a problem that's new and good :P

As for a sub, I'll look into that down the line when my finances improve. I'll definitely come here, you guys know what you're talking about moreso than any store rep. Again, I appreciate the help.
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