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Audiophile quality speakers for computer use

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
I am currently using an Audio Engine self powered speakers for my computer paired with an SVS 12" subs (sealed). My speakers sound crap next to my dad's system (which consist of good sounding equipment since he is an audiophile - jadis/conrad johnson-b&w 800-etc)

Anyway, he tried setting up a very simple setup in one of our rooms. It consists of his very old speakers (rogers LS3/5 and also a SPICA in another room). He only used my very cheap yamana AVR amp which was lying around accumulating dust. However, the sound was still damn remarkable compared to my computer system. I know that its the speakers. They just sound so sweet and gentle. He just used a normal denon dvd player.

In this regard, is there any speaker that can give me the same sweetness provided that I use it in a "nearfield" environment (since I am always on my computer). I don't want to setup my speakers like an ordinary setup. It should be placed at the left and right of my computer monitor.

I am using an Asus essence XT soundcard which serves as a pre-amp. I can get a power-amp (tube or whatever) to drive the new speakers. I still plan to use the SVS subs.

Anyone can recommend me an audiophile grade speaker that is designed for nearfield operation? (beside computer monitors)?

Budget for speakers = US$1000ish

Power Amp = around US$1000ish too

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 57
These would be some nice Active speakers for near field
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BM5Amk2

or
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BM6AmkII/
Neither of these speakers require an amp. As its built in.

This nuforce is a nice dac and headphone amp
http://estore.nuforce.com/nuforce-dac-100-super-high-performance-dac-and-headphone-amp/

and cables you can connect the dac and speakers with.
http://www.amazon.com/PPRC-X05-Professional-Audio-Cable-Female/dp/B000V1RLI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356720361&sr=8-1&keywords=rca+to+xlr
Edited by callas01 - 12/28/12 at 1:02pm
post #3 of 57
Emotiva Airmotiv 6 (currently priced at $579/pr., shipped). They're powered speakers, so you wouldn't need to purchase an additional power amp.
post #4 of 57
Genelec - 6010/8020 plus sub or 8030

Focal - CMS65

Neumann - KH120

All are active speakers and don't require an amp.
post #5 of 57
Will he part with his "very old speakers" ...

The sweetness you refer to may be what others would describe as warm. A neutral speaker may seem harsh or bright to you.
post #6 of 57
Thread Starter 
So the only speakers im contrained to get are those designed for nearfield right? Since ill be using it on my computer system.

What will happen if I use an ordinary speakers that are passive and not designed for nearfield application? Won't that work? I kinda like it to be passive as I am thinking of using tube amps to power said speakers.

However, if that won't work due to design, then its back to nearfield for me.
post #7 of 57
Quote:
So the only speakers im contrained to get are those designed for nearfield right? Since ill be using it on my computer system.
You stressed a nearfield set-up and desktop placement in your original post, which is why I (and perhaps others also) suggested powered speakers. But you can get whatever speakers you like.

I have a pair of Paradigm 5se MkII speakers flanking my computer desk (and toed slightly inward), powered by an old Sony receiver which is fed signal from my PC's sound card. It's a great little set-up! smile.gif

Since you want the speakers to be flanking your monitor, a pair of gently-used Paradigm Studio 20 v4s will work nicely. Or, since you can save money on amplification (see below), a new pair of Studio 20v5s - or perhaps even Studio 10v5s - would be sweet.

Re. amplification, I'm not familiar with tube amps so I'll suggest the Emotiva mini-X a-100 ($179, shipped). It pushes 50W/ch., which (IMO) is plenty of power for a pair of nearfield speakers. (My old Sony puts out ~30W/ch. and those 5se MkIIs can get pretty loud!)
Edited by eljaycanuck - 12/29/12 at 7:00am
post #8 of 57
These:

http://www.roundsound.com/satellite.php

They have a single driver so you won't have driver integration issues in the near-field.

Cheers,
OldMovieNut
post #9 of 57
Here's a suggestion for you:

The Music Hall A15.2 integrated amplifier or the NAD C326 BEE integrated amplifier. (around $500-600).

The Definitive Technology Studio Monitor 55 speakers (around $600 per pair), or the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers ($350).

I think that combination would sound very nice. Those are both good-sounding amplifiers, and the speakers are exceptionally good for their price and not too large.

There was a recent rave review of both speakers in Stereophile which you may wish to read at their website.


Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

So the only speakers im contrained to get are those designed for nearfield right? Since ill be using it on my computer system.
What will happen if I use an ordinary speakers that are passive and not designed for nearfield application? Won't that work? I kinda like it to be passive as I am thinking of using tube amps to power said speakers.
However, if that won't work due to design, then its back to nearfield for me.

Edited by commsysman - 12/29/12 at 7:08am
post #10 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot for the replies.

By the way, will normal speakers still perform well if they are near you? (like in my setup) Both speakers are like only 1 meter away from me (1m from left speaker and 1m from right speaker. The Left and Right speakers, though are about 1.5m to 2m apart (since I have 2x 26" monitors in front of me).

Will they work for me or will they only work if the listener is far? (lke 2-3m away from speakers)

I've been looking at the Dynaudio Excite and Paradigm studio 10 or 20 but I think they are normal speakers and not defined as "nearfield". You think they would work?
post #11 of 57
Quote:
By the way, will normal speakers still perform well if they are near you? (like in my setup)
Yes.
Quote:
I've been looking at the Dynaudio Excite and Paradigm studio 10 or 20 but I think they are normal speakers and not defined as "nearfield". You think they would work?
Yes.
post #12 of 57
Thread Starter 
oh wow nice. All along i was trying to limit my speaker choices to speakers classified as "nearfield". This is good news.

By the way, If the speakers are like only 1m away from me, do i both point them towards me?
post #13 of 57
Yes. You toe the speakers in toward your listening position smile.gif

I use Energy Veritas V 5.1 speakers with an HK 3390, and they sound great. Don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money on the amplification. The SQ return is quickly diminishing as you go up in price, so you can get better value for your money elsewhere. If you want a smaller unit without many features, that Emotiva mini-X a-100 could work very well with your STX.

In fact, with a $2000 budget, you might consider room correction as a feature to spend money on. For instance, an Antimode 8033 would improve the bass response from your subs. Or, if you have room for it, an HT receiver with Audyssey MultEQ or MultEQ XT would help to smooth the frequency response of both the speakers and the subs, as well as having active bass management to let you set a crossover higher than the natural rolloff of the speakers (should you choose to). For example, there is a good deal on the Onkyo TX-NR809 on Amazon.

If I was going to spend $1000 on the speakers, I'd look at the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1. They get rave reviews from owners here on AVS.
post #14 of 57
post #15 of 57
post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMovieNut View Post

They have a single driver so you won't have driver integration issues in the near-field.

Really? How did they become immune to comb filtering between the two enclosures?
post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Yes. You toe the speakers in toward your listening position smile.gif
I use Energy Veritas V 5.1 speakers with an HK 3390, and they sound great. Don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money on the amplification. The SQ return is quickly diminishing as you go up in price, so you can get better value for your money elsewhere. If you want a smaller unit without many features, that Emotiva mini-X a-100 could work very well with your STX.
In fact, with a $2000 budget, you might consider room correction as a feature to spend money on. For instance, an Antimode 8033 would improve the bass response from your subs. Or, if you have room for it, an HT receiver with Audyssey MultEQ or MultEQ XT would help to smooth the frequency response of both the speakers and the subs, as well as having active bass management to let you set a crossover higher than the natural rolloff of the speakers (should you choose to). For example, there is a good deal on the Onkyo TX-NR809 on Amazon.
If I was going to spend $1000 on the speakers, I'd look at the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1. They get rave reviews from owners here on AVS.

but what owner doesnt rave about his own speakers?
post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

Really? How did they become immune to comb filtering between the two enclosures?

What are you talking about? I was referring to a two-way vs a full-range implementation (minus the sub).

Cheers,
OldMovieNut.
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by callas01 View Post

but what owner doesnt rave about his own speakers?

Of course. You can go on Amazon and read lots of great reviews from clueless people about the Polk PSW10, how it is an amazing sub eek.gif

But the difference is there are lots of Sierra-1 owners on AVS who demoed or have owned a lot of other speakers in making their choice.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Of course. You can go on Amazon and read lots of great reviews from clueless people about the Polk PSW10, how it is an amazing sub eek.gif
You know, it's $80 right now. That's pretty amazing. No need to be like that, a few hundred bucks spent on a system can provide a lot of enjoyment. There are a lot of people around here making much worse decisions.
post #21 of 57
I am currently using a pair of Vienna Acoustics Haydn speakers (and a Rel subwoofer) as computer speakers. These are fairly standard bookshelf speakers. Not specifically near field. They work fine. There are actually differences in near field speaker, but I don't think the difference is enough to rule out normal speakers. You wouldn't want very large speakers. Mine are fairly compact. 5 1/4 inch woofers.

On the other hand, if I were doing it again, I would probably look at professional monitor speakers (those most people above have been suggesting).
post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy_ View Post

You know, it's $80 right now. That's pretty amazing. No need to be like that, a few hundred bucks spent on a system can provide a lot of enjoyment. There are a lot of people around here making much worse decisions.

Makes me think of how many times I've bought a cheap tool, only to replace that tool when it breaks, always at "the worst possible time"... and end up buying the right tool anyway.
post #23 of 57
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzy_ View Post

You know, it's $80 right now. That's pretty amazing. No need to be like that, a few hundred bucks spent on a system can provide a lot of enjoyment. There are a lot of people around here making much worse decisions.

It regularly goes for $90 to $100, and while $10 less is a nice break for people, it's still the 1$ McDonald's Double Cheeseburger of subs. It's a good very limited budget value sub for some uses, but it is not "pretty amazing."
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Of course. You can go on Amazon and read lots of great reviews from clueless people about the Polk PSW10, how it is an amazing sub eek.gif
But the difference is there are lots of Sierra-1 owners on AVS who demoed or have owned a lot of other speakers in making their choice.

I know and agree with what youre saying, and Id take the opinion of most avs people over non avs persons. but even avs'ers are still going to say that what they bought was the best speaker they've heard(Ill admit that Im guilty of it too). which is still subjective.

FWIW, Im not saying they arent great speakers. JMO.
post #26 of 57
I've resold too many speakers to begin to think what I bought was the best. What I still have at the house thusfar is the best I could find that I could afford. Actually some aren't even that. The B&W sub I use on my computer, for example, is "good enough"; as are the Infinity P360's I use as surrounds in my bedroom. I guess I could say they were each the best in their price range that I was aware of and had access too (most were bought used).

It would be really silly of me to listen to 10 speakers I could afford and then buy one other than the one I thought was the best.
post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by callas01 View Post

even avs'ers are still going to say that what they bought was the best speaker they've heard

LOL Not sure I agree with that. I'm sure there are many of us who have heard way better speakers than we can afford wink.gif
post #28 of 57
Emotiva just released the Stealth 8, which I got to hear at EmoFest 2012. They are $1500 a pair but are rated at 200 Wrms HF + 200 Wrms LF each. The OP might consider them to be "bright" though.

http://emotivapro.com/products/powered_monitors/stealth8.php

Also take a look at the Adam A7x or A8x, but I think the Stealth 8 out-performed those.

I hear the Genelecs are real accurate, but I have not personally heard them myself.

I just bought a pair of Emotiva Airmotiv 5 strictly for computer use. They are better than what I had before and miles better than any traditional computer speaker.

I AM looking for a way to incorporate Stealth 8's into my setup though along with a good DAC.
Edited by jevans64 - 12/30/12 at 1:11am
post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

I am currently using an Audio Engine self powered speakers for my computer paired with an SVS 12" subs (sealed). My speakers sound crap next to my dad's system (which consist of good sounding equipment since he is an audiophile - jadis/conrad johnson-b&w 800-etc)
Anyway, he tried setting up a very simple setup in one of our rooms. It consists of his very old speakers (rogers LS3/5 and also a SPICA in another room). He only used my very cheap yamana AVR amp which was lying around accumulating dust. However, the sound was still damn remarkable compared to my computer system. I know that its the speakers. They just sound so sweet and gentle. He just used a normal denon dvd player.

joms, in the LS3/5a you're hearing the BBC's standard for the day for studio sound reproduction, a design specification probably far more clever and musically satisfying then the majority of the commoditized products you'll hear today. This design spec was from an era where authentic sound mattered more than hifi sound and specifications, and nowhere more than in top studios. The LS3/5a - a low sensitivity design licensed to multiple British brands - embodied a good deal of the art arguably missing in modern sound reproduction. Whether this design stands up to subjective criticism today remains to be seen, but what sounded musically satisfying then does so still, as you've just found.

In the Spica you're hearing a similar design sense, only this time it's executed in a way that also renders the sound "impulse-perfect", which is to say that on the listening axis the drivers' respective outputs are integrated together in both the amplitude and time domains. Such designs are a rarity and in the case of the Spica, also included good quality components and careful attention paid to minimizing acoustic diffraction. Such designs emphasized the importance of waveform fidelity and were the ancestors of today's "time aligned" speaker products.

Both designs are discussed in Lynn Olson's excellent The Art of Speaker Design. I can easily see how you'd prefer this sound, especially when the speakers are driven by better quality amplification than the usual onboard electronics in many powered speakers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

In this regard, is there any speaker that can give me the same sweetness provided that I use it in a "nearfield" environment (since I am always on my computer). I don't want to setup my speakers like an ordinary setup. It should be placed at the left and right of my computer monitor.
I am using an Asus essence XT soundcard which serves as a pre-amp. I can get a power-amp (tube or whatever) to drive the new speakers. I still plan to use the SVS subs.
Anyone can recommend me an audiophile grade speaker that is designed for nearfield operation? (beside computer monitors)?
Budget for speakers = US$1000ish
Power Amp = around US$1000ish too.

Your plan to use good external amplification and what we trust is a good quality source is wise. From there just find the most musically satisfying minimonitors you can - if you like the LS3/5a then high output isn't important and for nearfield desktop use shouldn't be. Fidelity is and you don't need high power or even exotic-appearing technologies to get it. Design is important and listening is even more important.

What sounds good in a smaller speaker in the "audiophile" environment, when driven well, can sound very good on or near the computer desk too.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Lane View Post

This design spec was from an era where authentic sound mattered more than hifi sound and specifications, and nowhere more than in top studios.

"authentic" was more important than "faithful"?

And though I'm sure some brilliant engineers made the standards; it was made to meet very constrained conditions. The enclosures playing back this (limited bandwidth) audio had to include small, cheap, and low-power.
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