Originally Posted by derekmoore
On one hand I like the simplicity of the powered speaker idea, but I have no experience with them. Are you aware of any sources for researching options/reviews you could point me to for research?
On the other hand, I like the idea of having access to more (better?) speaker options along with the flexibility external power would provide. The downside with this approach being space related. So I'd have to keep it small and aesthetically pleasing to the misses. I have little background knowledge of options for amps/integrated amps. I'm aware Emotiva has an option or two but I'm sure there must be other alternatives. Can you point me to a good starting point for researching options here?
I used to sell this stuff but that was over a decade ago so I've lost touch with what's out there, so sorry, I can't get more detailed with specific brands. I also find that the internet is a hodge-podge of both good and bad information. This would include so-called "expert" reviewers and magazines unfortunately. I think if I were in your shoes I'd buy a receiver [even though it sounds like only stereo is needed I wouldn't discount the possibility of buying an AVR since they are amazingly affordable for the feature set they provide: a real work horse] from a brand like Denon or Yamaha [I'm not as well versed on Emotiva and Outlaw but have never heard anything but good reports on them] and bookshelf passive speakers from brands like SVS (Prime) and Polk.
When it comes to audio systems the speakers, the room, and the placement and aiming of the speakers in the room are paramount. I always check the frequency response curves from third party reviewers using professional measurement gear in laboratory settings like the NRC, whom I trust [I don't trust the manufacturers themselves] to get an idea of the speakers tonal accuracy from the bass to the treble. One of the best databases I know of is here: https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/in...=16&Itemid=140
Here's what to look for in the their frequency response graphs:
- The goal with these frequency response charts is to have a dead flat line from 20-20kHz. Nobody has ever succeeded at that! [Plus the room acoustics will mess it up anyways.]
- If you plan to add a sub, only worry about frequencies above about 60/80 Hz. If truly tiny speakers are needed [say the size of a lunch box or smaller], then only going down to 100Hz is OK, but plan on mounting the sub in the front and center of the room because you may notice the direction the 80-100Hz frequencies are coming from, so they ought to be near the front main speakers.]
- Don't worry as much about where the sound frequency range (or "bandwidth") rolls off (suddenly falls 3 dB or more from the main plateau level, like a cliff) and worry more about the size of the peaks and dips or the "tolerance window" across the entire main plateau, especially in the more critical frequency range, say from 100Hz to 10 KHz. This is where the ear is most critical of peaks and dips.
- focus on the flatness (hoping for the smallest possible) tolerance window, +/- dB error from the main plateau, as possible for your price range. Here are some rough examples:
100-10kHz +/- 3dB [the sound has peaks and dips but no greater than a 3 dB window, up and down, from the bass range (100Hz) to the treble (10kHz): an outstandingly accurate speaker and usually very pricey
100-10kHz +/- 5dB: quite good but usually much more affordable
100-10kHz +/- 7dB: OK, more run of the mill
100-10kHz +/- 10dB: not so hot but tolerable for background music or non-critical listening. Avoid unless looking for very
100-10kHz +/- 15-20dB: really bad and should be avoided by all.