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post #1 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Help with my very first audio setup

Hey all,

This is my first post here, and I will try to adhere to the guidelines for posting for help on this forum.

Recently, I put together my dream desktop for the first time, and I've always been happy with the setup. However, it's time to upgrade the audio system that I've been enjoying recently, and to improve my listening experience. A bit of background: I have severe hearing loss, so I use a hearing aid to help me and can hear slightly below average because of it.

This is why I'm very much into instrumental, electronic dance music and dubstep; basically non-lyrical music. For about 6-7 years I've had a wonderful Logitech Z Cinema speaker system (2.1) which had a remote, one of the bigger reasons why I chose it. I love the fact that it has a dedicated subwoofer, and was able to shake my entire room even at a low volume. My room is about 15' x 15' x 10', and I don't plan on getting a bigger one anytime soon.

Since I've been a long-time member on a different forum dedicated to computers, I was able to ask a couple of friends on there what kind of speakers I should be looking at if I wanted to get serious about my audio system (and now I do). He recommended me these options:

1) Dayton Sub-1200
2) Sony SS-B3000 or Mica MB42 for a cheaper option
3) Lepai LP-2020A+

Like before, I'd really love a decent 2.1 speaker setup system (remote not necessarily needed), and I was unsure if I needed a receiver since this will be at my desktop. As for the connections on my motherboard, I have an AsRock Z77 Extreme4 motherboard, which should have everything I need. I don't have any placement restrictions nor aesthetic ones, and I would consider myself an amateur basshead.

For everything needed for the audio setup, the highest I'm willing to go is $500. I know that's not much for an audiophile to work with, but I don't consider myself one, just a music lover.

I'd appreciate any other input and help, so please let me know if this post is missing any vital information. Thanks.

Mr. Mysterious

Last edited by Mr_Mysterious; 08-14-2014 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Grammar issues
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post #2 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 06:57 PM
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Hi Mr Mysterious, my advice is to just get a decent pair of powered monitors and not worry about the sub until you can get a better one. Skip the wimpy lepai amp, Definitely skip the Sony speakers, those are terrible, and skip the Dayton sub. Here is what I would get within your criteria and budget: either these or these. Either will pack way more of a punch then your listed equipment. They will be much more accurate, much more dynamic, and a lot more fun overall. That dayton sub might get you a little bit deeper bass (but not by much), but it will be much sloppier bass. I would wait to buy a sub when you can afford a much better one, at the very least the $300 subs but I would go for the $600 subs, if not more.

Be aware though, those JBL and Mackie monitors are somewhat large and heavy. They will eat up desktop space, but they will hugely outperform the Mica and Sony speakers.

You may want a better audio interface with monitors like those, so I would recommend investing in something like this. It will offer a much cleaner sounding audio jack then your Asus likely has, and it has a volume knob for easy adjustment.
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post #3 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Mr Mysterious, my advice is to just get a decent pair of powered monitors and not worry about the sub until you can get a better one. Skip the wimpy lepai amp, Definitely skip the Sony speakers, those are terrible, and skip the Dayton sub. Here is what I would get within your criteria and budget: either these or these. Either will pack way more of a punch then your listed equipment. They will be much more accurate, much more dynamic, and a lot more fun overall. That dayton sub might get you a little bit deeper bass (but not by much), but it will be much sloppier bass. I would wait to buy a sub when you can afford a much better one, at the very least the $300 subs but I would go for the $600 subs, if not more.

Be aware though, those JBL and Mackie monitors are somewhat large and heavy. They will eat up desktop space, but they will hugely outperform the Mica and Sony speakers.

You may want a better audio interface with monitors like those, so I would recommend investing in something like this. It will offer a much cleaner sounding audio jack then your Asus likely has, and it has a volume knob for easy adjustment.
Wow, thanks for the recommendations, I'd happily take a look at those. I'm a bit confused though, are you saying I wouldn't need a receiver with these? Just the USB audio interface and the two monitors?

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post #4 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 07:03 PM
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Powered monitors are the way to go in your situation. If the suggested monitors are too big then take a look at something from Audioengine.
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post #5 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 07:31 PM
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Welcome to AVS, Mr. Mysterious. You have gotten some really solid active speaker suggestions. They will no doubt out perform your current setup by a large margin. When one thinks of active desktop speakers, one usually thinks of AudioEngine, M-Audio, Emotiva, JBL and on and on. There are a lot to manufacturers to choose from, but those already mentioned look really great for the money.

However, I do feel that limiting yourself to a 2.1 desktop system is just that … limiting. You might also consider going to an Audio/Video Receiver (AVR) and two passive speakers to start with in order to remain within your initial $500 budget. However, I don't know if your current subwoofer can be hooked up to such a system (the little I could discern is that it is run via a USB cable from the computer). With an AVR, you can run a 2.0 system now and/or expand to a 2.1 system (if you can use your sub, or purchase a new and better sub). Later down the road you could expand to a 3.1 system (adding center channel), then later to a full-blown 5.1 system (adding a couple of surround speakers). This allows you to have a small, but very nice home theater experience for the future. We'd be talking around $500 for 5 passive speakers, $200 or so for the AVR, and if you want to replace your sub (or need to), another $125 to $275 depending upon which budget sub you choose. As shadyj mentioned, the really good subs start out at around $500. Adding some bookshelf speaker stands and your total will indeed go over double the original budget, but it doesn't have to be now nor all at once. Start out simple and expand when and if you want. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it, but you know your wants and needs far better than I .
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post #6 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
Powered monitors are the way to go in your situation. If the suggested monitors are too big then take a look at something from Audioengine.
Thank you, perhaps the A5s?

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Welcome to AVS, Mr. Mysterious. You have gotten some really solid active speaker suggestions. They will no doubt out perform your current setup by a large margin. When one thinks of active desktop speakers, one usually thinks of AudioEngine, M-Audio, Emotiva, JBL and on and on. There are a lot to manufacturers to choose from, but those already mentioned look really great for the money.

However, I do feel that limiting yourself to a 2.1 desktop system is just that … limiting. You might also consider going to an Audio/Video Receiver (AVR) and two passive speakers to start with in order to remain within your initial $500 budget. However, I don't know if your current subwoofer can be hooked up to such a system (the little I could discern is that it is run via a USB cable from the computer). With an AVR, you can run a 2.0 system now and/or expand to a 2.1 system (if you can use your sub, or purchase a new and better sub). Later down the road you could expand to a 3.1 system (adding center channel), then later to a full-blown 5.1 system (adding a couple of surround speakers). This allows you to have a small, but very nice home theater experience for the future. We'd be talking around $500 for 5 passive speakers, $200 or so for the AVR, and if you want to replace your sub (or need to), another $125 to $275 depending upon which budget sub you choose. As shadyj mentioned, the really good subs start out at around $500. Adding some bookshelf speaker stands and your total will indeed go over double the original budget, but it doesn't have to be now nor all at once. Start out simple and expand when and if you want. Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it, but you know your wants and needs far better than I .
Thanks for the warm welcome. I know I'm probably limiting myself by sticking to a 2.1 speaker system, but I know that no matter how much better the 5.1 or 7.1 systems out there will sound, I will never go for anything more than a 2.1 setup, due to space and budgetary constraints.

About the logitech, you're right, there's no way to hook it up to the AVR since it just uses a USB cable to hook up to my desktop. I think for now, I'll stick to a 2.0 system, with an AVR and a pair of great monitor speakers. When I earn up another $500 or so, I'll add a very good sub to the whole setup.

As for the AVR, I don't need a wildly complicated, bleeding-edge design, merely a no-frills machine that will do a good job well within its expectations. I've been looking at the Denon AVR E-200/300 for that, namely the refurbished ones.
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post #7 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr_Mysterious View Post
Wow, thanks for the recommendations, I'd happily take a look at those. I'm a bit confused though, are you saying I wouldn't need a receiver with these? Just the USB audio interface and the two monitors?

Mr. Mysterious
You don't need a receiver with these. An AVR would really only benefit your proposed setup in one respect - room correction equalization, that is, shaping the sound so room acoustics don't damage it as much. In a near-field monitor setup, it isn't quite as necessary, but can still be advantageous. Nothing else in an AVR would do you any good, although it would allow you to expand your setup later on for more sources, surround sound, listening modes, etc. If it were me with $500, I would go the powered monitor route, because if you spent some on an AVR, you don't have the budget for both a great AVR and some speakers with decent bass extension. You can have one or the other, but, for $500, sorry to say, you can not have both.
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post #8 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:14 PM
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Thank you, perhaps the A5s?
Yes, the Audioengine A5+ (about $400) and the M-Audio BX5 (about $300) are probably the most commonly recommended mid size powered monitors - these can be driven directly from your computer's sound card (with some adapters). I have M-Audio speakers on my computer and really like them - I don't even have a sub.

This is a very highly regarded budget sub that will easily best any computer speaker 2.1 sub
Dayton Audio SUB-1200 12" 120 Watt Powered Subwoofer - $129

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As for the AVR, I don't need a wildly complicated, bleeding-edge design, merely a no-frills machine that will do a good job well within its expectations. I've been looking at the Denon AVR E-200/300 for that, namely the refurbished ones.
If you get powered speakers, you won't need an AVR.

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post #9 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
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You don't need a receiver with these. An AVR would really only benefit your proposed setup in one respect - room correction equalization, that is, shaping the sound so room acoustics don't damage it as much. In a near-field monitor setup, it isn't quite as necessary, but can still be advantageous. Nothing else in an AVR would do you any good, although it would allow you to expand your setup later on for more sources, surround sound, listening modes, etc. If it were me with $500, I would go the powered monitor route, because if you spent some on an AVR, you don't have the budget for both a great AVR and some speakers with decent bass extension. You can have one or the other, but, for $500, sorry to say, you can not have both.
Okay, fair enough. For my future reference, could you please recommend a great AVR and a great subwoofer? Like I said in a previous post, I don't need anything more than a 2.1 system, but I will need an AVR in order to incorporate the woofer to the setup. When I earn up enough, I'd love to come back here and see the recommendations. Speaking of, thank you all for your suggestions, they are much appreciated!

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Yes, the Audioengine A5+ (about $400) and the M-Audio BX5 (about $300) are probably the most commonly recommended mid size powered monitors - these can be driven directly from your computer's sound card (with some adapters). I have M-Audio speakers on my computer and really like them - I don't even have a sub.

This is a very highly regarded budget sub that will easily best any computer speaker 2.1 sub
Dayton Audio SUB-1200 12" 120 Watt Powered Subwoofer - $129



If you get powered speakers, you won't need an AVR.
There you guys go again, confusing me lol. The Dayton is what I was talking about in my first original post? I understand people have some very different opinions about such things, and there will naturally be some disagreement.

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post #10 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:15 PM
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Those JBLs would probably play louder than all the other suggestions here - especially if they are anything like their powered PA speakers - if that is what you are looking for.

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2, Paradigm Signature S4 v.2, (2) SVS SB12-NSD subs, AQ & Cardas XLR
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post #11 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr_Mysterious View Post
As for the AVR, I don't need a wildly complicated, bleeding-edge design, merely a no-frills machine that will do a good job well within its expectations. I've been looking at the Denon AVR E-200/300 for that, namely the refurbished ones.
As I stated, you know what you need far more than I . Since you are thinking about an AVR the need for active speakers has vanished. That leaves you wide open for a lot of different passive speakers that your AVR will drive. However, as those above me have stated, if you are looking strictly for a desktop only solution, then desk-mounted active speakers are probably the way to go, and thus there will be no need to buy an AVR … so put that money back in your pocket.

I wish you the best on your audio future.
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post #12 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:29 PM
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There you guys go again, confusing me lol. The Dayton is what I was talking about in my first original post? I understand people have some very different opinions about such things, and there will naturally be some disagreement.
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post #13 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Would it be possible to hook up the JBLs to the AVR? I know they're powered speakers and they don't need to be, but is it safe/feasible?

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post #14 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 09:11 PM
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I would not buy a receiver for active speakers

If going passive >>>

I would look at the JBL Studio 130
http://www.amazon.com/JBL-Studio-130...IO+130+SPEAKER

Denon 1513 receiver
http://www.accessories4less.com/make...d-ready/1.html

I for the most part, do not like to recommend subs under $300 - so, Dayton is your call

JBL active speakers on sale here - buy 1 and get the second half off
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/deta...89202644&SID=0

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LSR308

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Would it be possible to hook up the JBLs to the AVR? I know they're powered speakers and they don't need to be, but is it safe/feasible?
Not the AVRs that have been mentioned. The AVR would need "pre-out" ports so an RCA cable could connect to the power amp of your speakers. And these AVRs tend to get a bit pricey. Powered speakers have their own amplifiers, thus there is no need for an AVR. Plus you are using those speakers on the desktop. Most powered speakers are designed for near-field or desktop placement.

Now, if you do decide to go with an AVR, this allows you to place passive speakers anywhere in the room and preferably not on your desktop. Passive speakers are design to do their job with the listening position 5 or 6 feet away minimum. So you have a decision to make.

BTW, while I'm not familiar with your PC, it should have a sound card port. By using an adapter, one should be able to connect that port to a Y-cable adapter, thus allowing you to use RCA cables from the adapter cable to your subwoofer. The subwoofer is then connected to the ports on your speakers. At least that is how I envision it. So if anyone that knows otherwise, let me know.
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post #16 of 106 Old 08-14-2014, 09:21 PM
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Okay, fair enough. For my future reference, could you please recommend a great AVR and a great subwoofer? Like I said in a previous post, I don't need anything more than a 2.1 system, but I will need an AVR in order to incorporate the woofer to the setup. When I earn up enough, I'd love to come back here and see the recommendations. Speaking of, thank you all for your suggestions, they are much appreciated!
The technology of AVRs change so rapidly that what I would recommend now might not be the best choice in the future. The brands I like are Denon, Yamaha, Marantz, and Pioneer. You pretty much can not go wrong with any of those. You don't really need one of those to incorporate a subwoofer, although they do make it easier. You could just cross the sub over at the speaker's rolloff, in which case all you need is a couple of these. If you want to determine your own crossover point, get one of these. If you want some equalization with a crossover, get one of these with its umik mic; that'll do a better job of EQing your sub than most AVRs.


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There you guys go again, confusing me lol. The Dayton is what I was talking about in my first original post? I understand people have some very different opinions about such things, and there will naturally be some disagreement.

Mr. Mysterious
Same sub. For the price, its probably not a bad sub, but its quality of bass will not be on the level of say the bass produced by a couple of decent monitors.
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post #17 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 05:41 AM
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This would be a good powered monitor choice:

Emotiva Airmotiv 5s These are some excellent active speakers with a very good ribbon tweeter. I think they are a better choice than those JBLs, and the ribbon tweeter works better on a desk. It has an inherent smaller vertical dispersion compared to a soft dome tweeter, and when you have speakers on a desk, the desk surface can be a source of bad reflections.

As shady mentioned, you would need an audio interface, I would recommend this Schitt preamp and then something like the Behringer DAC that was linked. This gives you a physical volume control, which I prefer over using the computer to adjust volume.

Later on you can incorporate a sub that has line-level connections, and have a nice 2.1 system. Expansion beyond this would require a receiver with pre-outs, so just know 2.1 is the limit when going this route.

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post #18 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of your suggestions, everyone. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the subwoofer that can be connected up to a pair of powered monitor speakers?

If you could explain or even link me to an explanation about what exactly line-level connections are, that would be a big help.

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post #19 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 08:24 AM
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Generally this is the chain of equipment: PC > DAC > Subwoofer > Speakers

Line level connections mean RCA connections, and you would run RCA cables from the DAC output to the sub input, and then from the sub output to the speakers.

You need a sub that has connections like these:
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post #20 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 09:12 AM
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Here is what I would do. Completely disregard your friends suggestions. Buy the Yamaha A-S300 integrated amp for $330. (used on Amazon for $240 now!) And the Pioneer SP-BS22 bookshelf speakers for $130. Or much cheaper used. They are good speakers. Add a sub later. And also add an external DAC as well. Something like the Nuforce Ikon uDAC2. The DAC will give you will get much better sound if you're playing music off your computer.


I say this because it sounds like a sub is important to you. Skip the powered speaker recommendations and get a decent integrated amp like the Yamaha with a sub out connection. Then you can add a quality sub later.
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post #21 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 09:44 AM
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Okay, fair enough. For my future reference, could you please recommend a great AVR and a great subwoofer?
For a desktop system, any AVR would do the job but I would recommend Denon. I see a lot of people recommending a DAC, but honestly unless there is a problem with your sound card you probably are not going to hear the difference - there are better places to spend your money. If your integrated sound card is noisy, you can get a higher quality PCI / PCIe sound card.

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There you guys go again, confusing me lol. The Dayton is what I was talking about in my first original post? I understand people have some very different opinions about such things, and there will naturally be some disagreement.
There really isn't any disagreement, the Dayton is a great BUDGET sub - for $129 and free shipping there isn't anything that can touch it. Much better than low end Polk subs around the same price.

Now there will be a lot of different opinions about a GREAT sub - the low end of the price range is about $400 and there are a lot of them at $500. Look at HSU, SVS, at Outlaw Audio and check the "discount / bargain " areas - often an open box or a scratch will take off $50 to $100.

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2, Paradigm Signature S4 v.2, (2) SVS SB12-NSD subs, AQ & Cardas XLR
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD

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post #22 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr_Mysterious View Post
Thanks for all of your suggestions, everyone. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the subwoofer that can be connected up to a pair of powered monitor speakers? If you could explain or even link me to an explanation about what exactly line-level connections are, that would be a big help.
Line level connections are nothing more than pre-amplifier connections - typically using RCA cables like the output of a CD player, MP3, computer, etc. In the case of a computer, the line level connection is called "line out" (green jack) uses a stereo 3.5mm jack - use a 3.5mm to RCA adapter to connect to your powered speakers.



If you are going to add a subwoofer to powered speakers, there are a couple of ways to do it.

The easiest way will run the powered speakers full range (including all bass) and the sub will also get a full range signal - but powered subwoofers have a built-in low pass crossover that will help you "blend" the sub's bass with your powered speaker's bass. Connect your 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable to your PC, then on each of thoes RCA connectors use an RCA splitter (F-F), and then two standard RCA cables (Male-Male) one to your power speakers and one to the subwoofer "line level" inputs. The sub crossover frequency and volume will be adjusted on the sub.



You can also use an external "active crossover" to give you "bass management" - to remove the low bass from desktop powered speakers and re-direct ALL of it to the sub. This becomes more important when you have small (5" and smaller) mid range drivers in your powered speakers and they really cannot reproduce any low bass. By removing the low bass, you free up a lot of their power for mid-bass reproduction and it can make them sound better.

This is a more advanced 2.1 system technique that is handled automatically for most people when using an AVR and a powered sub - the AVR has bass management that strips the low bass from "Small" speakers and re-directs it to the sub. People will tell you that you don't need an active crossover but most of them are already using one that is built into their AVR - it will make a lot more difference than a DAC.

Yes, some subs have line level OUTPUTS, but you need to check to see if they actually filter the low bass out of these outputs - many do not. Some have a fixed high pass crossover of 80Hz and do not change when you adjust the sub's low pass crossover frequency (which can work OK).

Problem with active crossovers is that they are not a really popular item - many companies have made them but most have stopped. My favorite low cost active crossover is the Paradigm X-30 - made back in the early 2000's - they go on eBay for about $100 - easy to connect PC to crossover L/R inputs -> high pass outputs to powered desktop speakers -> low pass sub outputs to powered sub


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post #23 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
This would be a good powered monitor choice:

Emotiva Airmotiv 5s These are some excellent active speakers with a very good ribbon tweeter. I think they are a better choice than those JBLs, and the ribbon tweeter works better on a desk. It has an inherent smaller vertical dispersion compared to a soft dome tweeter, and when you have speakers on a desk, the desk surface can be a source of bad reflections.

As shady mentioned, you would need an audio interface, I would recommend this Schitt preamp and then something like the Behringer DAC that was linked. This gives you a physical volume control, which I prefer over using the computer to adjust volume.

Later on you can incorporate a sub that has line-level connections, and have a nice 2.1 system. Expansion beyond this would require a receiver with pre-outs, so just know 2.1 is the limit when going this route.
Wow, I'm really liking the Airmotiv 5s. This has jumped to the front of the line in terms of my choices.

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Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
Generally this is the chain of equipment: PC > DAC > Subwoofer > Speakers

Line level connections mean RCA connections, and you would run RCA cables from the DAC output to the sub input, and then from the sub output to the speakers.

You need a sub that has connections like these:
Thanks, I'm going to save that image so I can use it as a reference!

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Originally Posted by djp2k7 View Post
Here is what I would do. Completely disregard your friends suggestions. Buy the Yamaha A-S300 integrated amp for $330. (used on Amazon for $240 now!) And the Pioneer SP-BS22 bookshelf speakers for $130. Or much cheaper used. They are good speakers. Add a sub later. And also add an external DAC as well. Something like the Nuforce Ikon uDAC2. The DAC will give you will get much better sound if you're playing music off your computer.


I say this because it sounds like a sub is important to you. Skip the powered speaker recommendations and get a decent integrated amp like the Yamaha with a sub out connection. Then you can add a quality sub later.
Yes, a sub is very important to me. If I can't get one now, I'll simply get one later when I can afford it. What matters to me is that my current setup will be -capable- of adding a great sub later when I'm able to.

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Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
For a desktop system, any AVR would do the job but I would recommend Denon. I see a lot of people recommending a DAC, but honestly unless there is a problem with your sound card you probably are not going to hear the difference - there are better places to spend your money. If your integrated sound card is noisy, you can get a higher quality PCI / PCIe sound card.



There really isn't any disagreement, the Dayton is a great BUDGET sub - for $129 and free shipping there isn't anything that can touch it. Much better than low end Polk subs around the same price.

Now there will be a lot of different opinions about a GREAT sub - the low end of the price range is about $400 and there are a lot of them at $500. Look at HSU, SVS, at Outlaw Audio and check the "discount / bargain " areas - often an open box or a scratch will take off $50 to $100.
Like I said above, I'm not going to bother with a sub that's below $500-$600 for now. I'll just add it in later.

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Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
Line level connections are nothing more than pre-amplifier connections - typically using RCA cables like the output of a CD player, MP3, computer, etc. In the case of a computer, the line level connection is called "line out" (green jack) uses a stereo 3.5mm jack - use a 3.5mm to RCA adapter to connect to your powered speakers.



If you are going to add a subwoofer to powered speakers, there are a couple of ways to do it.

The easiest way will run the powered speakers full range (including all bass) and the sub will also get a full range signal - but powered subwoofers have a built-in low pass crossover that will help you "blend" the sub's bass with your powered speaker's bass. Connect your 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable to your PC, then on each of thoes RCA connectors use an RCA splitter (F-F), and then two standard RCA cables (Male-Male) one to your power speakers and one to the subwoofer "line level" inputs. The sub crossover frequency and volume will be adjusted on the sub.



You can also use an external "active crossover" to give you "bass management" - to remove the low bass from desktop powered speakers and re-direct ALL of it to the sub. This becomes more important when you have small (5" and smaller) mid range drivers in your powered speakers and they really cannot reproduce any low bass. By removing the low bass, you free up a lot of their power for mid-bass reproduction and it can make them sound better.

This is a more advanced 2.1 system technique that is handled automatically for most people when using an AVR and a powered sub - the AVR has bass management that strips the low bass from "Small" speakers and re-directs it to the sub. People will tell you that you don't need an active crossover but most of them are already using one that is built into their AVR - it will make a lot more difference than a DAC.

Yes, some subs have line level OUTPUTS, but you need to check to see if they actually filter the low bass out of these outputs - many do not. Some have a fixed high pass crossover of 80Hz and do not change when you adjust the sub's low pass crossover frequency (which can work OK).

Problem with active crossovers is that they are not a really popular item - many companies have made them but most have stopped. My favorite low cost active crossover is the Paradigm X-30 - made back in the early 2000's - they go on eBay for about $100 - easy to connect PC to crossover L/R inputs -> high pass outputs to powered desktop speakers -> low pass sub outputs to powered sub


Wow, that's a lot of information. Thanks for that. I'll probably go for the easier option, running both the powered speakers and the sub full range. I'm pretty sure I'm not tech-savvy enough to deal with the bass-management system, and I'll be happy with any improvement at all over my current Logitech setup.

Just to summarize so we're all on the same page here, this is what I'm thinking of buying for now:

1) Airmotiv 5s ($500 per pair)
2) Behringer UCA222 ($30)

or I can get:

1) JBL LSR308 (2 of $200 for $400)
2) Behringer UCA222 ($30)

For later, when I can afford it, I'll get a:

1) Denon AVR-S700W ($450 on Amazon currently)
2) SVS PB1000 ($500 on Amazon currently)

What do you think? Could you guys also add to the list any extra adapters/cables I would need that would not already be included with the items that I'll be buying? Thanks.

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post #24 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by djp2k7 View Post
Buy the Yamaha A-S300 integrated amp for $330. (used on Amazon for $240 now!) And the Pioneer SP-BS22 bookshelf speakers for $130. Or much cheaper used. They are good speakers. Add a sub later. And also add an external DAC as well. Something like the Nuforce Ikon uDAC2. The DAC will give you will get much better sound if you're playing music off your computer.
Why would the OP spend over $300 for a 60W integrated amp when he can get a fully functional AVR with more power for half of that? I wouldn't recommend those Pioneer speakers either - especially for the kind of music that the OP listens to - he needs something with a lot more dynamics. The Pioneer speakers have very warm, smooth response and are a great deal for the money, but it doesn't make sense to spend extra money on an amp and have to buy very low cost speakers. I am sure that these speakers would not meet the OP's expectations. I hope the OP ignores this and goes with more lively speakers or better yet, powered speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djp2k7 View Post
I say this because it sounds like a sub is important to you. Skip the powered speaker recommendations and get a decent integrated amp like the Yamaha with a sub out connection. Then you can add a quality sub later.
A "decent integrated amp like the Yamaha" isn't going to sound any different than the Denon that the OP was considering and will blow the budget - the OP should either get a "budget" sub or skip the AVR altogether and get lower cost powered speakers and a better sub.

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Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
Generally this is the chain of equipment: PC > DAC > Subwoofer > Speakers

Line level connections mean RCA connections, and you would run RCA cables from the DAC output to the sub input, and then from the sub output to the speakers.

You need a sub that has connections like these:
Thanks Transmaniacon - perfect example. I looked up that plate amplifier (which is used on the SVS PB-1000) and this is what the owners manual says:

Quote:
These outputs are used in 2-channel applications to high pass the signal being
sent to the loudspeaker amplifier. The line level outputs feature a fixed 80 Hz
12 dB/octave high pass filter.
So if you wanted full range desktop powered speakers AND bass from this sub, you would connect them with the RCA splitters like I recommended earlier. If you wanted to remove the low bass from the powered speakers, you would run an RCA cable from the sub's "line level out" to the powered speaker input and you would have a 2.1 with an active crossover and bass management.

By the way - that is an amazing sub for the price - any way you could afford that?

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post #26 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 03:37 PM
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Wow, I'm really liking the Airmotiv 5s. This has jumped to the front of the line in terms of my choices.
Emotiva isn't something that I normally recommend, but Transmaniacon knows what he's talking about - these do seem kind of expensive compared to some of the other suggestions especially when you have JBL, M-Audio, and Audioengine powered monitors from companies that have been making them for many years and coming in at a lower price. I'm not an Emotiva hater either (like many), I just see a lot of people buying their stuff and then upgrading soon after - that certainly doesn't say anything about these particular speakers - I think they have a very good return policy - you can listen to them and decide for yourself - that is what is important.

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Originally Posted by Mr_Mysterious View Post
Yes, a sub is very important to me. If I can't get one now, I'll simply get one later when I can afford it. What matters to me is that my current setup will be -capable- of adding a great sub later when I'm able to.

Like I said above, I'm not going to bother with a sub that's below $500-$600 for now. I'll just add it in later.
+1 - I totally agree, put your system together in stages and research each one to be the best that it can be - get components that you are going to enjoy for many years!
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Originally Posted by Mr_Mysterious View Post
For later, when I can afford it, I'll get a:

1) Denon AVR-S700W ($450 on Amazon currently)
2) SVS PB1000 ($500 on Amazon currently)

What do you think? Could you guys also add to the list any extra adapters/cables I would need that would not already be included with the items that I'll be buying? Thanks.
That Denon AVR doesn't have preamp outputs so it isn't going to work with your powered desktop speakers. Powered speakers can't be upgraded in terms of power - they use the amplifier built into them - period. They can be upgraded by feeding a better signal to them - like a better sound card, an external DAC or even a better preamp - but if an AVR only has speaker wire binding posts and no "preamp output RCAs" on the back it isn't the right thing.

Yes, that sub is very good. As I said earlier, check their bargain area and you may find it for $50 - $100 less or one of its bigger brothers for the same price. I have two of their bigger sealed box subs and the first time I turned them on and played a low frequency tone sweep it scared the &#$^& out of me!

All you need is a stereo 3.5mm to RCA adapter - long enough to reach one speaker (if you choose a model with both inputs on one speaker) or long enough to pull apart into two wires and reach both speakers (if you choose a model with one input and power cable on each speaker) - that is it until you get a sub.

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post #28 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
That Denon AVR doesn't have preamp outputs so it isn't going to work with your powered desktop speakers. Powered speakers can't be upgraded in terms of power - they use the amplifier built into them - period. They can be upgraded by feeding a better signal to them - like a better sound card, an external DAC or even a better preamp - but if an AVR only has speaker wire binding posts and no "preamp output RCAs" on the back it isn't the right thing.

Yes, that sub is very good. As I said earlier, check their bargain area and you may find it for $50 - $100 less or one of its bigger brothers for the same price. I have two of their bigger sealed box subs and the first time I turned them on and played a low frequency tone sweep it scared the &#$^& out of me!

All you need is a stereo 3.5mm to RCA adapter - long enough to reach one speaker (if you choose a model with both inputs on one speaker) or long enough to pull apart into two wires and reach both speakers (if you choose a model with one input and power cable on each speaker) - that is it until you get a sub.
All right, thanks. If that AVR isn't going to work, which one would?

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post #29 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 04:12 PM
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Mr. Mysterious, you are beginning to write with a bit more excitement than dread . Good audio is exciting and there are a lot of exciting products to look at and to audition.

As I indicated above, and as mtn-tech confirmed, you would need an AVR that has pre-out ports. These are ports that bypass the AVR's own amplifier and allow you to use a separate amplifier, such as what are in active speakers. These types of AVRs don't come cheap, that why I indicated that you may be at a crossroads and need to make a decision of which way you want to go, i.e., active desktop speakers or passive bookshelf speakers. The more information you get, the better choice you can make.
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post #30 of 106 Old 08-15-2014, 04:47 PM
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If you want to get an AVR that will work with powered speakers, you will want one with pre-outs. Pre-outs aren't really found on AVRs less than $500. You will have to look on mid to high end AVRs.

One more thing, nice as those Emotiva monitors surely are, with 5" woofers, they will only have so much bass output. The JBL and Mackie monitors, on the other hand, promise a lot more powerful bass output due to their 8" woofers. In terms of area, an 8" woofer will have more than twice the surface area of a 5.25" woofer, this means twice the air displacement and much better bass performance. The Emotiva monitors list a response of -6 dB at 50 Hz, and that strikes me as optimistic, except maybe at modest volumes. The Mackie and JBL monitors should do 50 Hz with no sweat.

This is not normally a problem with systems with subwoofers, since subwoofer usually take the task of 80 Hz and under, but I have noticed subwoofers are a lot more localizable in near-field monitor setups. For this reason I would encourage a lower than normal crossover setting, so the subwoofer does not draw attention to itself. I would experiment with lower crossover settings, 60 Hz or so. I think this will blend the sub better with speakers. If course, it really helps to have speakers which play that low, which is why I encourage near-field speakers with large woofers, such as the JBLs, Mackies, and there are others like KRK Rokit 8s and Behringer 3031As. If you have a pro-audio store like a Guitar Center around you, call them up and see if they have some studio monitors up for demo. Go in and listen to some if they do. Many of these stores are setup to give you a nice demo of their monitors. I warn you though, if you listen to some of the higher end monitors, that may compel you to raise your budget!

As for subwoofers, the SVS subs are nice for computer setups because they have high-passed outputs, unfortunately the outputs are fixed at 80 Hz. SVS subs do deep bass real well, but unfortunately again, their mid and upper bass output isn't so great on every model. In a 2 m groundplane test, the PB1000 can not really get past 100 dB without choking. For bass, I don't consider that very loud. If you aren't into cranking some electro or dubstep, that may not be a problem, but if you like hard hitting bass, you will run into the limits of a PB1000 pretty fast. For punchier bass, I would be looking at a Hsu VTF2, Rythmik LV12r, and the Reaction BPS212. Once in awhile the Outlaw EX goes on sale for $600 shipped, and that is a killer deal when it does if you like loud music. It probably won't go on sale again for a few months though, so don't hold your breath for that deal.
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