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Anyway to use home theater speakers WITHOUT a receiver or amplifier?

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
I wish to get some HiFi speakers at Visions, but want a way to connect to my computer without having to buy an AVR. Anyone know if this is possible?
post #2 of 45
You will need some powered speakers for this purpose. What's your budget?
post #3 of 45
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking $500 or $600

I want B&Ws, Paradigms or Monitor Audios.
post #4 of 45
Quote:
I want B&Ws, Paradigms or Monitor Audios.

Do they make powered speakers?

How many speakers are you expecting for $500-600, especially from those mfrs?
post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

I'm thinking $500 or $600

I want B&Ws, Paradigms or Monitor Audios.

Paradigm A2

http://www.paradigm.com/shift/powered/A2/index.php

B&W MM1

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Computer-Speakers/MM-1/product-details.html
Edited by stevensctt - 6/6/13 at 10:19pm
post #6 of 45
Thread Starter 
Are self powered speakers worse or almost as good as speakers being powered by a AVR? Like for Paradigms, would the A2 be as good as their lowest end Monitor bookshelf speakers?

I want a 2.0 or 2.1 system.
post #7 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

Are self powered speakers worse or almost as good as speakers being powered by a AVR? Like for Paradigms, would the A2 be as good as their lowest end Monitor bookshelf speakers?

I want a 2.0 or 2.1 system.

As good or better
post #8 of 45
Vanatoo Tranparent One are well reviewed, 30 day trial

http://www.vanatoo.com/products/?slug=index.php&cPath=23_26
post #9 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post

As good or better

Can you briefly explain why and how? I always thought it was an amp and receiver that makes speakers perform at their max potential.
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

Are self powered speakers worse or almost as good as speakers being powered by a AVR? Like for Paradigms, would the A2 be as good as their lowest end Monitor bookshelf speakers?

I want a 2.0 or 2.1 system.

Self powered speakers have far greater potential for the best possible sound quality because of the tighter integration between the drivers, crossovers, and power amplifiers. This potential may or may not be exploited in particular cases.

They are better accepted in the studio monitor and live sound markets.
post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post

As good or better

Can you briefly explain why and how? I always thought it was an amp and receiver that makes speakers perform at their max potential.

The partitioning of the other various components of an audio system have a larger degree of arbitrariness. For example, only the loudspeaker drivers must be in the speaker enclosure, while just about every other component can be packaged with other components or not. More specifically, the preamplifier for example can be packaged separately, or in the receiver, or with the power amplifier.

Various packaging strategies have various advantages and disadvantages. The best potential price performance probably arises from designing all of the components for a specific application. For example there is no reason why a rack system would not be the best sounding solution.
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

Can you briefly explain why and how? I always thought it was an amp and receiver that makes speakers perform at their max potential.

arnyk explained it well.
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Self powered speakers have far greater potential for the best possible sound quality because of the tighter integration between the drivers, crossovers, and power amplifiers. This potential may or may not be exploited in particular cases.

They are better accepted in the studio monitor and live sound markets.

I've heard some of the best powered speakers in the same price range as my passive speaker setup. They are not "better" simply different sounding.

To the OP: If you don't want a big amp but want passive speakers, get an Indeed TA2021 t-amp off ebay. Does 25 watts and will get surprisingly loud as long as you don't choose speakers with low sensitivity.
post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

I'm thinking $500 or $600

I want B&Ws, Paradigms or Monitor Audios.

You might also consider offerings from Audioengine, Emotiva, and PSB.
post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I've heard some of the best powered speakers in the same price range as my passive speaker setup. They are not "better" simply different sounding.

That's fine but your comparison is apples to oranges and anecdotal unless you were taking measurements and comparing identical speakers, one passive and one active. To say different speakers in about the same price range sounded different means nothing. Too many variables. Arny is correct about the inherent advantages of active designs from an audio theory/engineering stand point. He also said the designer may or may not take advantage of the difference, which is also absolutely true.
post #16 of 45
I think I know exactly what you want to do, because I did the same thing. I didn't want a huge or expensive amp, and I wanted good quality speakers I could plug into my computer.

You need this $37 amp, and it works great. It comes with a 1/8th jack that is male on both ends. Plug one end into the sound card, plug the other end into the amp. It has outputs for regular speaker wire that goes to your regular non-powered speakers. It has 15 wpc but it will crank out plenty of sound.

Use your computer software to make any EQ adjustments.

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-380

Edited by wvu80 - 6/7/13 at 9:26pm
post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudda View Post

That's fine but your comparison is apples to oranges and anecdotal unless you were taking measurements and comparing identical speakers, one passive and one active. To say different speakers in about the same price range sounded different means nothing. Too many variables. Arny is correct about the inherent advantages of active designs from an audio theory/engineering stand point. He also said the designer may or may not take advantage of the difference, which is also absolutely true.

Yes. And powered speaker manufacturers are quick to throw that out as marketing rhetoric. To quote you, "too many variables" in the potential design differences among powered speakers; otherwise, the $300 powered monitors would sound like $1000 ones. For all we know there are crap drivers in a powered speakers at a given price point, and excellent drivers in a passive speaker. Thus, any slight benefits in the electronics offer negligible improvements.

It's theory. But without listening tests--because measurements alone don't tell us whether or not we like one speaker setup over another--you cannot know for sure that at a given price point, that there is better sound. It's just a guess.

Geez. When will all the objectivists apply critical thinking to this rolleyes.gif Why disagree?
post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Yes. And powered speaker manufacturers are quick to throw that out as marketing rhetoric. To quote you, "too many variables" in the potential design differences among powered speakers; otherwise, the $300 powered monitors would sound like $1000 ones. For all we know there are crap drivers in a powered speakers at a given price point, and excellent drivers in a passive speaker. Thus, any slight benefits in the electronics offer negligible improvements.

It's theory. But without listening tests--because measurements alone don't tell us whether or not we like one speaker setup over another--you cannot know for sure that at a given price point, that there is better sound. It's just a guess.

Geez. When will all the objectivists apply critical thinking to this rolleyes.gif Why disagree?

Yes, Captain Obvious, each speaker needs to be looked at individually. There are crap powered monitors and crap passives. There are superb active speakers and superb passive designs. Happy? rolleyes.gif

The OP asked a very specific question about whether powered speakers were "almost as good as" passives. The answer is, all else equal they have the potential to be as good as or better than a passive version.

You blow in and tell Arny he's wrong because you have compared comparably priced actives (presumably built by a completely different manufacturer) to what you currently own and they were not "better" in your opinion, just different. rolleyes.gif What did you expect? Did you even compare them in the same room?

And you want ME to apply critical thinking to the OP's questions? LMFAO.
post #19 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Self powered speakers have far greater potential for the best possible sound quality because of the tighter integration between the drivers, crossovers, and power amplifiers. This potential may or may not be exploited in particular cases.
And there's the rub. Some of the best speakers made are self-powered, but so are many of the worst. One cannot assume that there's any inherent benefit or disadvantage to a powered versus passive speaker. The only thing you can say for sure about the two configurations is that one places the speaker and amplification in the same box, while the other places the speaker and amplification in separate boxes.
post #20 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I've heard some of the best powered speakers in the same price range as my passive speaker setup. They are not "better" simply different sounding.

All other things being equal, powered speakers with competitive performance and price point as passive speakers result in a lower system cost since they already include power amps. Advantage: powered speakers.
post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudda View Post

The OP asked a very specific question about whether powered speakers were "almost as good as" passives. The answer is, all else equal they have the potential to be as good as or better than a passive version.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

All other things being equal, powered speakers with competitive performance and price point as passive speakers result in a lower system cost since they already include power amps. Advantage: powered speakers.

Sure. I will agree with the idea that "all other things being equal" that this is true. If we build two versions of the same speaker, but one with passive crossover and then another version of it with the active crossover and amplification built in to go with it, the latter will probably be better if the active design is well-implemented. But that's a pretty useless point for someone trying to decide what speakers to buy on AVS. It is almost NEVER the case that "all else [is] equal." When was the last time ANYONE came on the AVS speaker forum and asked for help choosing between the same driver/tweeter/enclosure design trying to choose between the passive vs. the active version?

So it is just as likely that my anecdotal experience comparing passive and active speakers is valid as it is unlikely. And while I agree that the audio market could reach a point where the better buy at a given price point is obviously an active speaker set, I don't think the industry has reached that yet. Otherwise, I suspect there would be speaker shootouts in audio magazines and all over the web confirming that. But I could be wrong.

And that's the problem with this whole argument you guys are putting forward. You are not being clear enough that this is a theoretical argument that doesn't have enough real world tests to support that the market has evolved to this point. And then the other problem is that you are contributing to misinformation by not being clear enough that this argument is only a theoretical one about what is possible, not what is, because of all the people making the argument that the design principles are superior without the restriction that "all else [is] equal"; I would suspect that indicates a bias towards the idea that superiority of active speakers, rather than a true objective analysis of this.
post #22 of 45
An argument for quality self-amplified speakers (regardless of the above debate):
Quote:
Affordable AV receivers DON'T have quality amplifiers inside of them... once you get to the more expensive receivers you have a potential problem... When the receiver is outdated because of the digital processing, but the amplifiers themselves are not outdated and it is unlikely that anything has come along or been invented that changes that statement... unfortunately for you when this happens you either A have to keep the receiver with the outdated processing or B buy a new receiver which also means buying new amplifiers THAT YOU DON'T NEED!

(Kudos to "givmedew" of overclock.net for making this point)

Of course there are many low-quality self-amped speakers, one only needs to look at the majority of "PC speakers". Once you start looking at certain brands (Paradigm, Dynaudio, Adam, Swans, Focal) the risk of getting crappy sounding tin-cans is minimized.

An argument for getting an A/V receiver, is having additional inputs such as HDMI.
Edited by 8bitg33k - 7/12/13 at 11:10am
post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8bitg33k View Post

An argument for self-amplified speakers:
Kudos to "givmedew" of overclock.net for making this excellent point!

Not impressed. I have an older Denon AVR-888 which does not have True HD or DTS-HD. Not a problem because it accepts LPCM, which decent blu-ray players can output.
post #24 of 45
A lot of active speakers are classified as studio monitors and have a few inherent differences when compared to passive speakers. Studio monitors are designed to be very accurate and have flat response curves. They will reveal possible issues with a source and generally have smaller sweet spots (because they are meant to be used in near field with a single listening position). Now this is not true of all active speakers, but a good majority fit the bill.

I use powered speakers at my computer and have been very happy with them, while doing research on my purchase I came to the conclusion that there are more of them suited for nearfield then there are passive speakers. A lot of passive speakers really benefit from a wide spacing allowing the imaging to reach its full potential. This isn't always possible if being used at a desk or in a confined area. You can go to guitar center and demo quite a few different ones, but the sound will always be different in your room.

Upgrading your setup with passive speakers is easier however because you can buy a new amp or speakers and not have to replace everything. One thing to factor in to your decision however is volume control. A lot of active speakers have separate volume controls on each speaker, on the back. This necessitates the use of a mixer or audio interface to provide intermediate volume control. Using the digital control on a computer is an option, but you run the risk of bit loss when the computer volume is not at 100%.
post #25 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Not impressed. I have an older Denon AVR-888 which does not have True HD or DTS-HD. Not a problem because it accepts LPCM, which decent blu-ray players can output.

I don't think the arguments are inherently mutually exclusive but rather that there are valid points in each argument made. I'm not interested getting into a nitpicking contest. The OP will have to weigh the pros and cons of each setup and make a decision based on his own needs and preferences. He wants to know if a setup can be made without an amp/ AV receiver and the short answer is yes it can be done and that there are benefits as well as drawbacks.
Edited by 8bitg33k - 7/12/13 at 4:58pm
post #26 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8bitg33k View Post

I don't think the arguments are inherently mutually exclusive but rather that there are valid points in each argument made.

That argument you referenced is weak:
Quote:
Affordable AV receivers DON'T have quality amplifiers inside of them... once you get to the more expensive receivers you have a potential problem... When the receiver is outdated because of the digital processing, but the amplifiers themselves are not outdated and it is unlikely that anything has come along or been invented that changes that statement... unfortunately for you when this happens you either A have to keep the receiver with the outdated processing or B buy a new receiver which also means buying new amplifiers THAT YOU DON'T NEED!

If the room correction, bass management, Dolby processing, Audyssey Dynamic Volume, etc. are useful features, they continue to be useful features even if newer technologies provide better versions. The idea that one would forgo useful DSP features simply because there will be improved features later (and then forgo those, too, based on this argument) seems silly.
post #27 of 45
Who said anything about foregoing DSP? The point was that low-cost amps don't have very high quality amps. One could always go with a pre-amp, like the Emotiva XDA-2 or UMC-200 or any other pre-amp.
Edited by 8bitg33k - 7/12/13 at 6:05pm
post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8bitg33k View Post

Who said anything about foregoing DSP? One could always go with a pre-amp, like the Emotiva XDA-2 or UMC-200.

This thread you revived was about a $500 to $600 budget rolleyes.gif
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

This thread you revived was about a $500 to $600 budget rolleyes.gif

Wow, you just want to argue, don't you?
Edited by 8bitg33k - 7/12/13 at 6:18pm
post #30 of 45
http://www.kef.com/html/us/showroom/digital_music_solutions/x300a/overview/


These babies might be over your budget but they are amazing. Internal amps and dsp....
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