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$800 Bookshelf

post #1 of 97
Thread Starter 
Hi all, long time lurker here…

I'm looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers + small stereo amp+dac (think TEAC or NuForce) under $800. It will be on my desktop for near-field usage 50% of times, and the other 50% to fill up a studio/medium sized room.

Another option I've been eyeing is Kef x300a ($799), and that's where I drew the magical number $800.

I'm definitely open to used/vintage/B-stock items since $800 isn't a whole lot for some of you guys XD.

I tried looking into Craigslist to find good deals, but as a noob, it's tough to tell what a good deal is and what is not. If someone could help me scan through SF/Bay area craigslist, it would be much appreciated!!
post #2 of 97
Any size limitation on the bookshelf speakers? For instance, I use Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs in a similar kind of setup coupled with an HK 3390 and ODAC, but the 170s are very large. However, speakers with larger drivers can be a plus for producing better midbass.

Also, what kind of music do you listen to? If you like bass heavy music, a 2.1 setup might better suit your needs.
post #3 of 97
For that kind of usage, I think it would hard to beat the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers which Music Direct sells for $349 per pair.

The Harman-Kardon 3390 stereo receiver is very good and sells for around $300; that would be my choice.
post #4 of 97
For $804 shipped to your door, this combination would certainly get the job done:

$111 - Schiit Modi
http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=14

$350 - Yamaha R-S500BL
http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-R-S500BL-Natural-Stereo-Receiver/dp/B0044779GI

$343 - Hsu Research HB-1 MK2
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hb-1.html

Truth be told, there are a LOT of ways to skin this cat, but since I've had very positive experiences with Schiit DAC's, Yamaha amps, and Hsu speakers, this would be the road I'd take at $800. Then I'd add a Hsu sub down the road when I could afford it
post #5 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGcollector View Post

$111 - Schiit Modi
http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=14

+1

For the difference in price, I would go with the Modi over the ODAC unless (a) the smaller size of the ODAC is appealing and (b) you had some use for a portable USB DAC.
post #6 of 97
Thread Starter 

It's a little too big for desktop usage frown.gif

I was thinking along the line of NuForce DDA-100, which functions as DAC and amp.
Quote:
If you like bass heavy music, a 2.1 setup might better suit your needs.

Though I would appreciate some bass for movies, sub is not an option at this point due to my living arrangements.
Quote:
The Harman-Kardon 3390 stereo receiver is very good

Again, the size becomes the problem...



The reason why I looked into actives (x300a) in the first place was due to receiver size limitations. However, there are some powered DACs like NuForce and TEAC that are smalle enough to fit on desktop.

With that said, I appreciate all the help so far, and keep'em coming!! XD
post #7 of 97
I'm seeing these EMP Tek E41 speakers being recommended as passive nearfield monitors lately. Just passing this on, I know nothing about them (but am interested).
post #8 of 97
The Emotiva Airmotiv powered monitors get a lot of good testimonials.

Then the ODAC with the 3.5mm plug (no SQ advantage in getting the one with RCAs) is very tiny. Sorry for the bad quality phone pic, but here it is next to the Logitech G400 mouse:




So small, you can hide it away behind powered monitors.
post #9 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The Emotiva Airmotiv powered monitors get a lot of good testimonials.

Then the ODAC with the 3.5mm plug (no SQ advantage in getting the one with RCAs) is very tiny. Sorry for the bad quality phone pic, but here it is next to the Logitech G400 mouse:




So small, you can hide it away behind powered monitors.

I'm wondering if Kef x300a is a better deal (even if it's more expensive) than Emotiva powered speakers + DAC.

Kef's have DAC built in.
post #10 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedears View Post

I'm wondering if Kef x300a is a better deal (even if it's more expensive) than Emotiva powered speakers + DAC.

Kef's have DAC built in.

Hard to know. Even if you can find someone who has compared the x300a with equivalently priced setups of powered monitors with external USB, your particular listening preferences and your room setup could make you like one or the other better.
post #11 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Hard to know. Even if you can find someone who has compared the x300a with equivalently priced setups of powered monitors with external USB, your particular listening preferences and your room setup could make you like one or the other better.

Very true. I'm just going through exploratory phase right now haha. Just trying to figure out what an optimal setup might look like
post #12 of 97
Well, your best bet might be to add a $40 demo fee to your budget, find two setups you like, and then order both. Let the speakers break in a little, listen some, and return the setup you like least. smile.gif
post #13 of 97
I'll preface this by saying that I've never used this piece of equipment, but it might fit the bill for you:

http://www.itemaudio.co.uk/kingrex_t20u.html
post #14 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGcollector View Post

I'll preface this by saying that I've never used this piece of equipment, but it might fit the bill for you:

http://www.itemaudio.co.uk/kingrex_t20u.html

Interesting find! I'll have to study it a little. From very very quick glane 6moons seems to approve it! Anyone have any experience with these?
post #15 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedears View Post

Interesting find! I'll have to study it a little. From very very quick glane 6moons seems to approve it! Anyone have any experience with these?

For the price (seems like I'd have to buy PSU for more power), NuForce DDA-100 seems like the better deal to me. Any opinions?
post #16 of 97
Isn't the NuForce DDA-100 over $500? As an alternative to the Kingrex, Topping makes some t-amps with built in USB DACs.
post #17 of 97
How about this idea:

$111 - Schiit Modi
http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=14

$159 - Dayton Audio APA150 Amp
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-812&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=pla

. . . that leaves you with the smaller unit you're looking for (I believe), and a solid 75W / channel to pour into a whopping $530 worth of speakers! You sacrifice remote control, but at $530 for speakers, you have a ton of great selection.
post #18 of 97
I misunderstood what you wanted there; excuse me...lol.

I use the Audioengine 2 speakers with a subwoofer for my PC; that is what I suggest. The A2 speakers are excellent.

The A2 speakers are $200, and Polk PSW 505 will also run around $200 (or you may just want an 8-inch model for moderate volumes.



Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedears View Post

It's a little too big for desktop usage frown.gif

I was thinking along the line of NuForce DDA-100, which functions as DAC and amp.
Though I would appreciate some bass for movies, sub is not an option at this point due to my living arrangements.
Again, the size becomes the problem...



The reason why I looked into actives (x300a) in the first place was due to receiver size limitations. However, there are some powered DACs like NuForce and TEAC that are smalle enough to fit on desktop.

With that said, I appreciate all the help so far, and keep'em coming!! XD
post #19 of 97
Please let me know if this is a topic to be avoided on this forum but I was under the impression that NuForce and Schiit made awful "audiophile" scam products, especially Schiit. Plenty of measurements show that a lot of this gear measures to be less than capable if transparency is your goal, annoying to use (extreme channel imbalance and volume tracking on NuForce products), and flat out dangerous in some cases. There are videos online of a Schiit amp running a huge DC current through a headphone and warping the driver badly and I believe multiple people have had this happen with the Asgard and the Lyr.

I don't know if the products listed here still suffer from the poor engineering I've seen previously but I would keep it in mind when you make your decision. I hope for consumers sake these companies have turned over a new leaf and they may have, I stopped following them a year or two back when these issues came to light and the companies involved and a particularly deluded forum swept it nicely under the rug.
post #20 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGcollector View Post

How about this idea:

$111 - Schiit Modi
http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=14

$159 - Dayton Audio APA150 Amp
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-812&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=pla

. . . that leaves you with the smaller unit you're looking for (I believe), and a solid 75W / channel to pour into a whopping $530 worth of speakers! You sacrifice remote control, but at $530 for speakers, you have a ton of great selection.

hm... well let me ask your opinion on something first. Am I foolishly looking for more power? Would Kingrex T20U fill up a medium sized room / small apartment (Studio)?


EDIT: Teac AH01 What do you think about this?
Edited by confusedears - 3/29/13 at 8:45am
post #21 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DayoftheGreek View Post

Please let me know if this is a topic to be avoided on this forum but I was under the impression that NuForce and Schiit made awful "audiophile" scam products, especially Schiit. Plenty of measurements show that a lot of this gear measures to be less than capable if transparency is your goal, annoying to use (extreme channel imbalance and volume tracking on NuForce products), and flat out dangerous in some cases. There are videos online of a Schiit amp running a huge DC current through a headphone and warping the driver badly and I believe multiple people have had this happen with the Asgard and the Lyr.

I don't know if the products listed here still suffer from the poor engineering I've seen previously but I would keep it in mind when you make your decision. I hope for consumers sake these companies have turned over a new leaf and they may have, I stopped following them a year or two back when these issues came to light and the companies involved and a particularly deluded forum swept it nicely under the rug.

I was not aware of Schiit problems... I've heard of NuForce issues, but DDA-100 received glowing reviews from many different journalists.
post #22 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I misunderstood what you wanted there; excuse me...lol.

I use the Audioengine 2 speakers with a subwoofer for my PC; that is what I suggest. The A2 speakers are excellent.

The A2 speakers are $200, and Polk PSW 505 will also run around $200 (or you may just want an 8-inch model for moderate volumes.

Sorry for spamming :P I didn't realize how many replies came through while I was composing my own...

I can't add a subwoofer due to living arrangements, so ideally I'd want speakers that can handle lower frequencies better than A2. Again, I know it's not a good practice to base everything off of things I read, but I mentioned Kef X300A, because it handles lower frequencies better than other active speakers.
post #23 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by DayoftheGreek View Post

Please let me know if this is a topic to be avoided on this forum but I was under the impression that NuForce and Schiit made awful "audiophile" scam products, especially Schiit. Plenty of measurements show that a lot of this gear measures to be less than capable if transparency is your goal, annoying to use (extreme channel imbalance and volume tracking on NuForce products), and flat out dangerous in some cases. There are videos online of a Schiit amp running a huge DC current through a headphone and warping the driver badly and I believe multiple people have had this happen with the Asgard and the Lyr.

I don't know if the products listed here still suffer from the poor engineering I've seen previously but I would keep it in mind when you make your decision. I hope for consumers sake these companies have turned over a new leaf and they may have, I stopped following them a year or two back when these issues came to light and the companies involved and a particularly deluded forum swept it nicely under the rug.

There was a problem with one of the Schiit amps, like you describe. It has been fixed from what I have read.

The Modi has apparently be released in response to the ODAC, as an attempt by Schiit to provide a reasonably priced product with decent transparency. So far what I've read about it suggests that is true. But I would agree. I would not invest in their more expensive products. A $400 headphone amp just doesn't make sense to me. And as an ODAC owners, I don't see how a more expensive DAC could be that much better sounding.
post #24 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by DayoftheGreek View Post

Please let me know if this is a topic to be avoided on this forum but I was under the impression that NuForce and Schiit made awful "audiophile" scam products, especially Schiit. Plenty of measurements show that a lot of this gear measures to be less than capable if transparency is your goal, annoying to use (extreme channel imbalance and volume tracking on NuForce products), and flat out dangerous in some cases. There are videos online of a Schiit amp running a huge DC current through a headphone and warping the driver badly and I believe multiple people have had this happen with the Asgard and the Lyr.

I don't know if the products listed here still suffer from the poor engineering I've seen previously but I would keep it in mind when you make your decision. I hope for consumers sake these companies have turned over a new leaf and they may have, I stopped following them a year or two back when these issues came to light and the companies involved and a particularly deluded forum swept it nicely under the rug.

Schiit does NOT make scam products, that is 100% false. The "issue" with their headphone amps was spurred by those that were too lazy to properly connect/disconnect their headphones. Schiit has since added delay relays for those that are too lazy to unplug their cans. I own both a Bifrost and a Lyr, and they're both excellent products for the money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedears View Post

hm... well let me ask your opinion on something first. Am I foolishly looking for more power? Would Kingrex T20U fill up a medium sized room / small apartment (Studio)?


EDIT: Teac AH01 What do you think about this?

It depends on the actual volume of the room and if you like to listen at reference level. Personally, I doubt you'll need 75W/channel with a pair of sensitive bookshelf speakers. That said, extra headroom isn't a bad thing. I have no experience with the TEAC unit you listed, but if it ACTUALLY outputs 50W/channel, I don't see why it wouldn't work for your application. The sub-out is a nice touch.
post #25 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGcollector View Post

Schiit does NOT make scam products, that is 100% false. The "issue" with their headphone amps was spurred by those that were too lazy to properly connect/disconnect their headphones. Schiit has since added delay relays for those that are too lazy to unplug their cans. I own both a Bifrost and a Lyr, and they're both excellent products for the money.
It depends on the actual volume of the room and if you like to listen at reference level. Personally, I doubt you'll need 75W/channel with a pair of sensitive bookshelf speakers. That said, extra headroom isn't a bad thing. I have no experience with the TEAC unit you listed, but if it ACTUALLY outputs 50W/channel, I don't see why it wouldn't work for your application. The sub-out is a nice touch.

Yeah I like that I can add sub later if my living arrangements change. With that said, I'll be auditioning a few speakers in the next couple weeks or so... Do you have any speaker suggestions in $400 range?
post #26 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGcollector View Post

Schiit does NOT make scam products, that is 100% false. The "issue" with their headphone amps was spurred by those that were too lazy to properly connect/disconnect their headphones. Schiit has since added delay relays for those that are too lazy to unplug their cans. I own both a Bifrost and a Lyr, and they're both excellent products for the money.

I should clarify. Hopefully, I didn't come across as agreeing there is something wrong with their products. Just that there are greatly diminishing returns on the electronics, and I don't see the value in spending that much. Well, unless one already has something like the Sennheiser HD 800s or the Ultrasone Edition series. The SQ return to me comes from putting the money into the headphones.
post #27 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedears View Post

Yeah I like that I can add sub later if my living arrangements change. With that said, I'll be auditioning a few speakers in the next couple weeks or so... Do you have any speaker suggestions in $400 range?

Here are just a few off the top of my head (in no particular order):

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hb-1.html

http://www.theaudioinsider.com/product_info.php?loudspeakers=arx&p=arx-a1b-monitor-loudspeaker&cPath=21_32&products_id=65&

http://www.wharfedale.co.uk/Products/Product/tabid/78/PID/166/CID/171/language/en-GB/Default.aspx#detail

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/cbm170/cbm170.html

http://www.klipsch.com/rb-51-ii-bookshelf-speakers-pair

http://www.energy-speakers.com/bookshelf-speakers/?sku=V-5-1-BS

http://us.infinitysystems.com/product-detail-11657/p163bk.html

http://www.polkaudio.com/products/monitor45b

*Some of these can be found MUCH cheaper from 3rd party retailers, for instance the Polk 45's can regularly be found for under $200/pair at Newegg. Happy hunting!
post #28 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusedears View Post

Hi all, long time lurker here…

I'm looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers + small stereo amp+dac (think TEAC or NuForce) under $800. It will be on my desktop for near-field usage 50% of times, and the other 50% to fill up a studio/medium sized room.

Another option I've been eyeing is Kef x300a ($799), and that's where I drew the magical number $800.

I'm definitely open to used/vintage/B-stock items since $800 isn't a whole lot for some of you guys XD.

I tried looking into Craigslist to find good deals, but as a noob, it's tough to tell what a good deal is and what is not. If someone could help me scan through SF/Bay area craigslist, it would be much appreciated!!




I am about to setup something similar to what you are doing.

I am going to use my Arx Ab1 bookshelf speakers ($300 a pair from theaudioinsider.com) with a Denon 1913 that I bought refurbished ($280 but now the best I see is about $340).

If you have room for an AVR, like that Denon, then that is all you really need. You can run an HDMI (or optical cable) out from your computer right to the AVR. The AVR will be your DAC and AMP for the speakers. (Also, I do not know for certain, but I am pretty sure it will also act as a fairly decent headphone amp.). Not to mention that Denon is capable of more than what you need. You can likely find an older model AVR or stereo receiver on craigslist or something that would do just as well.


The Arx Ab1s are pretty damn good. (For what it is worth, to justify that statement, I own Ascend Sierra-1s ($850 a pair), Ascend CMB-170se ($350 a pair), and Arx Ab1s ($300 a pair)).
post #29 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goride View Post

The Arx Ab1s are pretty damn good. (For what it is worth, to justify that statement, I own Ascend Sierra-1s ($850 a pair), Ascend CMB-170se ($350 a pair), and Arx Ab1s ($300 a pair)).

I'd hate to derail this thread, so feel free to PM me, but I'm very interested to hear your opinion of the Sierra's vs the other two.
post #30 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by SIGcollector View Post

I'd hate to derail this thread, so feel free to PM me, but I'm very interested to hear your opinion of the Sierra's vs the other two.

I would as well............can PM me, too.........
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