Recommended Desktop PC Speakers - Passive or Active? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 49 Old 06-23-2019, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Recommended Desktop PC Speakers - Passive or Active?

Hello guys, I'm currently running this setup:


Computer Sound Card > Schiit Modi 2 Multibit Dac > Schiit Magni 3 amp > preout to a 3.5mm splitter >

>Mackie Big Knob Passive Volume Attenuator > 2 x LSR306Ps
> Bottlehead Crack > Sennheiser HD6XX
> Mackie Big Knob Passive Volume Attenuator > SVS PB-2000


I'm moving to another province for law school and am looking to get a new setup. I'm also looking to upgrade. I've seen some great reviews about the Adam T5V/T7V/A5X and the Focal Alpha 50/65. However, I've also begun thinking about going a passive route, a pair of KEF Q150 speakers are on sale for 400 CAD and 1000CAD for the LS50s. I figure another 200-400 for an amp and I'm sitting close to what a pair of active speakers would cost me.

So with this said, I only use the speakers to listen to music, zero mixing at all. Music generally consists of electronic, rock, metal, classic, etc. (everything but country and rap). They will be on my desk, about 2.5-3 ft away, and will figure out room for the amp, but I also don't want to needlessly spend money. I do live in the Vancouver area, so I can order from Amazon.ca, Long & McQuade, Visions.ca, and any other stores in the area (maybe electronics for less? not too sure what else there is).

I've tried calling around to see who has what on demo, but unfortunately the only ones available on demo for the Adams/Focals are the T7V, the Kef speakers I'll be hearing probably on Tuesday at Visions.

There's also a guy selling two Emotiva Stealth 8s that are 4 years old and a PC-13 ultra that is 3 years old for 1000 CAD local to me.

Budget: $1000-1250 CAD preferably
Country: Canada
Size Limitations: 8" woofer
Upgrade Path: Depends on whether the passive route will provide a good enough amp to justify not repurchasing completely new in the future.
Room Size: Roughly 100 square feet, not 100% sure of new dorm room size, small though.

Audio Preference: I do like my balanced speakers, but I prefer more of a forward sound, so crisp highs and female vocals. With that said, a bold mid really shines when I listen to rock music. Bass is handled by the subwoofer. At the same time, don't want too much fatigue. Was using LSR305s before these 306Ps, I slightly prefer the 306P sound. As I'm moving to live on campus, I would like to take away some of the work from the subwoofer, simply to keep noise complaints down. While not a huge amount, a completely bassless speaker would be hard to do. Thanks everyone!
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post #2 of 49 Old 06-23-2019, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Dill3377 View Post
Hello guys, I'm currently running this setup:


Computer Sound Card > Schiit Modi 2 Multibit Dac > Schiit Magni 3 amp > preout to a 3.5mm splitter >

>Mackie Big Knob Passive Volume Attenuator > 2 x LSR306Ps
> Bottlehead Crack > Sennheiser HD6XX
> Mackie Big Knob Passive Volume Attenuator > SVS PB-2000


I'm moving to another province for law school and am looking to get a new setup. I'm also looking to upgrade. I've seen some great reviews about the Adam T5V/T7V/A5X and the Focal Alpha 50/65. However, I've also begun thinking about going a passive route, a pair of KEF Q150 speakers are on sale for 400 CAD and 1000CAD for the LS50s. I figure another 200-400 for an amp and I'm sitting close to what a pair of active speakers would cost me.

So with this said, I only use the speakers to listen to music, zero mixing at all. Music generally consists of electronic, rock, metal, classic, etc. (everything but country and rap). They will be on my desk, about 2.5-3 ft away, and will figure out room for the amp, but I also don't want to needlessly spend money. I do live in the Vancouver area, so I can order from Amazon.ca, Long & McQuade, Visions.ca, and any other stores in the area (maybe electronics for less? not too sure what else there is).

I've tried calling around to see who has what on demo, but unfortunately the only ones available on demo for the Adams/Focals are the T7V, the Kef speakers I'll be hearing probably on Tuesday at Visions.

There's also a guy selling two Emotiva Stealth 8s that are 4 years old and a PC-13 ultra that is 3 years old for 1000 CAD local to me.

Budget: $1000-1250 CAD preferably
Country: Canada
Size Limitations: 8" woofer
Upgrade Path: Depends on whether the passive route will provide a good enough amp to justify not repurchasing completely new in the future.
Room Size: Roughly 100 square feet, not 100% sure of new dorm room size, small though.

Audio Preference: I do like my balanced speakers, but I prefer more of a forward sound, so crisp highs and female vocals. With that said, a bold mid really shines when I listen to rock music. Bass is handled by the subwoofer. At the same time, don't want too much fatigue. Was using LSR305s before these 306Ps, I slightly prefer the 306P sound. As I'm moving to live on campus, I would like to take away some of the work from the subwoofer, simply to keep noise complaints down. While not a huge amount, a completely bassless speaker would be hard to do. Thanks everyone!
The LS50's (I'm considering getting a pair as well) will really sound nice and are definitely a step above, but will definitely need a sub and decent amp which would put you way over budget. Going with Q150 would lower the cost and would fair a little better without a sub, but would definitely benefit from one. Active speakers are pretty much plug and play and the JBL 308's are definitely a good option and of course a sub is recommended.
Consider getting your stereo receiver or amp here to save money.
https://gibbyselectronicsupermarket....tre-receivers/

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post #3 of 49 Old 06-23-2019, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I appreciate the link man, thankfully I already have a SVS PB-2000 to match with it. So would just need an amp and yes it'd still put me over budget, but a little over won't hurt
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post #4 of 49 Old 06-23-2019, 07:33 PM
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I’d take a look at the Martin Logan LX16, great airy treble with lots of detail, a pleasure to listen to. You can then grab something that could help you consolidate devices like the Yamaha A-S301.
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post #5 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 07:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
I’d take a look at the Martin Logan LX16, great airy treble with lots of detail, a pleasure to listen to. You can then grab something that could help you consolidate devices like the Yamaha A-S301.
What about something like a Nad d3020? or a SMSL AD18? Just looking at options available here in Canada, the Yamaha seems to be tricky to find.
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post #6 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
I’d take a look at the Martin Logan LX16, great airy treble with lots of detail, a pleasure to listen to. You can then grab something that could help you consolidate devices like the Yamaha A-S301.
Sorry about the double post, attaching them to the PC means it's easy enough to split things off, also looked for the Onkyo A-9010 to no avail. Will keep searching though!
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post #7 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 07:52 AM
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Yamaha HS8.
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post #8 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Yamaha HS8.
I heard them at Long & McQuade the other day and wasn't too impressed, they felt like that had no energy at all. Super pulled back, could have just been me. I appreciate the recommendation though!
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post #9 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Dill3377 View Post
What about something like a Nad d3020? or a SMSL AD18? Just looking at options available here in Canada, the Yamaha seems to be tricky to find.


D3020 is a great choice.

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post #10 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dill3377 View Post
Hello guys, I'm currently running this setup:


Computer Sound Card > Schiit Modi 2 Multibit Dac > Schiit Magni 3 amp > preout to a 3.5mm splitter >

>Mackie Big Knob Passive Volume Attenuator > 2 x LSR306Ps
> Bottlehead Crack > Sennheiser HD6XX
> Mackie Big Knob Passive Volume Attenuator > SVS PB-2000


I'm moving to another province for law school and am looking to get a new setup. I'm also looking to upgrade. I've seen some great reviews about the Adam T5V/T7V/A5X and the Focal Alpha 50/65. However, I've also begun thinking about going a passive route, a pair of KEF Q150 speakers are on sale for 400 CAD and 1000CAD for the LS50s. I figure another 200-400 for an amp and I'm sitting close to what a pair of active speakers would cost me.

So with this said, I only use the speakers to listen to music, zero mixing at all. Music generally consists of electronic, rock, metal, classic, etc. (everything but country and rap). They will be on my desk, about 2.5-3 ft away, and will figure out room for the amp, but I also don't want to needlessly spend money. I do live in the Vancouver area, so I can order from Amazon.ca, Long & McQuade, Visions.ca, and any other stores in the area (maybe electronics for less? not too sure what else there is).

I've tried calling around to see who has what on demo, but unfortunately the only ones available on demo for the Adams/Focals are the T7V, the Kef speakers I'll be hearing probably on Tuesday at Visions.

There's also a guy selling two Emotiva Stealth 8s that are 4 years old and a PC-13 ultra that is 3 years old for 1000 CAD local to me.

Budget: $1000-1250 CAD preferably
Country: Canada
Size Limitations: 8" woofer
Upgrade Path: Depends on whether the passive route will provide a good enough amp to justify not repurchasing completely new in the future.
Room Size: Roughly 100 square feet, not 100% sure of new dorm room size, small though.

Audio Preference: I do like my balanced speakers, but I prefer more of a forward sound, so crisp highs and female vocals. With that said, a bold mid really shines when I listen to rock music. Bass is handled by the subwoofer. At the same time, don't want too much fatigue. Was using LSR305s before these 306Ps, I slightly prefer the 306P sound. As I'm moving to live on campus, I would like to take away some of the work from the subwoofer, simply to keep noise complaints down. While not a huge amount, a completely bassless speaker would be hard to do. Thanks everyone!
We seem to have the same musical tastes.

You need something really cohesive near-field. That is criteria #1 . Some speakers do not achieve a good mix of their drivers until you are many feet back. Waveguides, driver matching, and good crossover design helps here.

Criteria #2 is that it should not be FREAKING HUGE on your desk. Both of these points rule out the Emotiva Stealth 8s. Do not underestimate the size of two oversized Darth Vader helmets flanking your screen.

If you liked the JBL 305/306, I would recommend the Mackie MR624 as they should tilt a bit more to your liking: more midrange detail. I love mine and they can crank. One thing I've learned is that I hate a scooped midrange because I need that detail for things to sound real. Bass Extension into the upper 30s is nice, too, though it looks like you are running a sub. But why a PB-2000 for music nearfield? Doesn't seem like the best choice. Do you like it?

But you have a bigger budget, so consider (I have not heard any of these):

Dynaudio Excite X14A on sale
https://twitteringmachines.com/hifi-...ered-speakers/

Swans M200/300
Edifier S2000/3000

Swans M1A
https://swanspeakers.com/product/m1a/

Swans M3A
https://swanspeakers.com/product/m3a/

KEF LS50

For passives, look at Ascend Sierra 2, ELAC Adante AS-61, Revel M105, Focal Aria 905, and Swans M3 to name a few.

HT: Samsung PN64H5000 (recommended settings) | NAD T758 V3 | Buchardt S400 (2) | Emotiva E2 (2) | Rythmik Audio F12 (2)

Last edited by Soulburner; 06-24-2019 at 10:51 PM.
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post #11 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
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We seem to have the same musical tastes.

You need something really cohesive near-field. That is criteria #1 . Some speakers do not achieve a good mix of their drivers until you are many feet back. Waveguides, driver matching, and good crossover design helps here.

Criteria #2 is that it should not be FREAKING HUGE on your desk. Both of these points rule out the Emotiva Stealth 8s. Do not underestimate the size of two oversized Darth Vader helmets flanking your screen.

If you liked the JBL 305/306, I would recommend the Mackie MR624 as they should tilt a bit more to your liking: more midrange detail. I love mine and they can crank. One thing I've learned is that I hate a scooped midrange because I need that detail for things to sound real. Bass Extension into the upper 30s is nice, too, though it looks like you are running a sub. But why a PB-2000 for music nearfield? Doesn't seem like the best choice. Do you like it?

But you have a bigger budget, so consider (I have not heard any of these):

Dynaudio Excite X14A on sale
https://twitteringmachines.com/hifi-...ered-speakers/

Swans M200/300
Edifier S2000/3000

Swans M1A
https://swanspeakers.com/product/m1a/

Swans M3A
https://swanspeakers.com/product/m3a/

KEF LS50

For passives, look at Ascend Sierra 2, ELAC Adante AS-61, Revel M105, Focal Aria 905, and Swans M3 to name a few.
I really appreciate all the options man, I'm checking out a Hi-Fi store tomorrow and will report back. Although it's very likely I won't be able to afford anything there
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post #12 of 49 Old 06-24-2019, 11:06 PM
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It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #13 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 03:07 AM
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The KEF speakers with Uni-Q coincident driver really work well as near-field monitors.

I had my KEF LS50's on my desktop with an NAD D3020 for a time before I moved back to having the BluOS system for streaming. That worked REALLY well. If not for having to use Windows Media Player as the means of control, I would have kept the D3020. I went to a Bluesound Powernode 2 and that worked about the same on sound quality but with much better control and I didn't have to have the PC on if I wanted to kick back to just listen.

It was February this year when I just went and "lost the plot" (as my British friends tell me) and got the NAD Masters M10.

The nice thing about the KEF Uni-Q driver is that it creates a nice soundstage even if pointed straight ahead, so when I do roll back it just gets to be a bigger and deeper soundstage.

KEF R500, R200C, R100, R50, SVS SB2000 sub, NAD T758v3 AVR, Pro-Ject RPM1 TT w/ Ortofon 2M Red, Bluesound Vault2, LG UP875 4K BlueRay, Samsung UN55JU6500F 4K LED TV, KEF M500 headphones, Sony CDP-CE500 CD changer. Desktop: NAD M10, KEF LS50, KEF Kube 10b. Guest room: Hafler 200 L-R, KEF reference Model 100 center, KEF iQ10 surrounds, M&K V-90 sub.
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post #14 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Appreciate dude, will check them out. Although I do find 4" speakers to just be a touch too small for my liking.
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post #15 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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The KEF speakers with Uni-Q coincident driver really work well as near-field monitors.

I had my KEF LS50's on my desktop with an NAD D3020 for a time before I moved back to having the BluOS system for streaming. That worked REALLY well. If not for having to use Windows Media Player as the means of control, I would have kept the D3020. I went to a Bluesound Powernode 2 and that worked about the same on sound quality but with much better control and I didn't have to have the PC on if I wanted to kick back to just listen.

It was February this year when I just went and "lost the plot" (as my British friends tell me) and got the NAD Masters M10.

The nice thing about the KEF Uni-Q driver is that it creates a nice soundstage even if pointed straight ahead, so when I do roll back it just gets to be a bigger and deeper soundstage.
Ooh, 2200 pounds for the M10, I'm glad you're enjoying it my friend. 4 weeks ago the LS50 wireless were on sale for 2 grand locally, might try to push my visions dealer to match and then I can forget about amplifier woes. With that said, I was unimpressed with how they sounded at Visions. I've read that Visions has a poor setup for the LS50s, but they seemed too bass heavy and the highs were lacking compared to something like the Q350.
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post #16 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 11:14 AM
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Appreciate dude, will check them out. Although I do find 4" speakers to just be a touch too small for my liking.
That's why God created subs!
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post #17 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 11:39 AM
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I had my KEF LS50's on my desktop with an NAD D3020 for a time before I moved back to having the BluOS system for streaming. That worked REALLY well. If not for having to use Windows Media Player as the means of control, I would have kept the D3020. I went to a Bluesound Powernode 2 and that worked about the same on sound quality but with much better control and I didn't have to have the PC on if I wanted to kick back to just listen.
foobar2000 + https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...2000controller

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post #18 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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That's why God created subs!
Haha hence the PB2000, would like a smooth crossover though. I'll look into them and see if I can demo them locally though, appreciated again.
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post #19 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 12:47 PM
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This might be the equivalent speaker in kit form?

https://www.amazon.com/HiVi-Bookshel...dp/B0721ZQXDG/

That is so tempting...though, these 3-ways are probably (guessing) not ideal for near-field use.

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post #20 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 02:34 PM
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I already had (and still have it) and it can't hold a candle to BluOS. Not even in the same league.

KEF R500, R200C, R100, R50, SVS SB2000 sub, NAD T758v3 AVR, Pro-Ject RPM1 TT w/ Ortofon 2M Red, Bluesound Vault2, LG UP875 4K BlueRay, Samsung UN55JU6500F 4K LED TV, KEF M500 headphones, Sony CDP-CE500 CD changer. Desktop: NAD M10, KEF LS50, KEF Kube 10b. Guest room: Hafler 200 L-R, KEF reference Model 100 center, KEF iQ10 surrounds, M&K V-90 sub.
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post #21 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 02:35 PM
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I already had (and still have it) and it can't hold a candle to BluOS. Not even in the same league.
So what's the difference that makes BluOS better to you?

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post #22 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 02:50 PM
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So what's the difference that makes BluOS better to you?
There's myriad differences, but let's start with the ease of building and saving playlists from varied sources, control of some 20+ streaming services, various internet radio platforms, and one's own library of music with a common look and interoperability to all. With multiple devices ranging from players to powered speakers in various rooms, complete control of what is playing where and all controlled with single or multiple mobile devices or desktop apps.

All without any paid Roon subscription, and with free and frequent upgrades.

In my specific situation, I primarily use the desktop app to control my NAD M10 powering the LS50 (passive) speakers on stands at either side of my desk. When I wish to move to the 5.1.2 surround system in my living room or the very different 5.1 system in our guestroom, I just click to transfer the playlist (or even my turntable output) over to the other player where I'm heading. I could even play that same source on all 3 systems (or any two) at once if I wanted.

This is what makes BluOS better than Foobar 2000 for me. Hope that helps explain.
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post #23 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 03:05 PM
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Come to think of it, perhaps a nice solution for the OP would be a Bluesound Powernode 2 (assuming no need for Airplay 2 or two-way Bluetooth that the newer 2i has), and a good pair of speakers such as KEF Q150.

https://www.bluesound.com/products/powernode-2/

That enables complete control from the desktop app, and when desired one can just turn off the PC and play from a phone or tablet.

(That was and still is something I enjoy doing.)

KEF R500, R200C, R100, R50, SVS SB2000 sub, NAD T758v3 AVR, Pro-Ject RPM1 TT w/ Ortofon 2M Red, Bluesound Vault2, LG UP875 4K BlueRay, Samsung UN55JU6500F 4K LED TV, KEF M500 headphones, Sony CDP-CE500 CD changer. Desktop: NAD M10, KEF LS50, KEF Kube 10b. Guest room: Hafler 200 L-R, KEF reference Model 100 center, KEF iQ10 surrounds, M&K V-90 sub.
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post #24 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Come to think of it, perhaps a nice solution for the OP would be a Bluesound Powernode 2 (assuming no need for Airplay 2 or two-way Bluetooth that the newer 2i has), and a good pair of speakers such as KEF Q150.

https://www.bluesound.com/products/powernode-2/

That enables complete control from the desktop app, and when desired one can just turn off the PC and play from a phone or tablet.

(That was and still is something I enjoy doing.)
I appreciate the advice Ken, these speakers will be hooked up to my computer though, so everything will be played off of that. I was also offered the LS50 Wireless speakers for 2100 CAD and might go that route. I heard the Q150 at visions and while they were decent speakers, I'd be much more inclined to go with the Q350s or a pair of Adam speakers like the A5x.
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post #25 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 11:34 PM
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I appreciate the advice Ken, these speakers will be hooked up to my computer though, so everything will be played off of that. I wa&s also offered the LS50 Wireless speakers for 2100 CAD and might go that route. I heard the Q150 at visions and while they were decent speakers, I'd be much more inclined to go with the Q350s or a pair of Adam speakers like the A5x.
When I had a Bluesound Powernode 2 on my desk it powered my LS50's (passive), and it was playing streaming sources and my own 550GB of music that is stored on a Vault 2 in our guestroom.

I understand you would be using your computer to feed whatever you get. You still need either an amp or powered (active) speakers. The solution I suggested doesn't change that, it's a 60w/amp for passive speakers. You simply gain the ability to have complete control over music without the computer as long as the network is still live.

There are benefits to both active and passive speakers. The LS50 Wireless is an incredible option, you would not be disappointed! Inside each of them is a 200w amp for the mid-woofers; a discreet 30w amp for the tweeter, and a bespoke DAC/DSP. That's a really good offer too, for Canada!

Best of luck whatever you choose to do.

KEF R500, R200C, R100, R50, SVS SB2000 sub, NAD T758v3 AVR, Pro-Ject RPM1 TT w/ Ortofon 2M Red, Bluesound Vault2, LG UP875 4K BlueRay, Samsung UN55JU6500F 4K LED TV, KEF M500 headphones, Sony CDP-CE500 CD changer. Desktop: NAD M10, KEF LS50, KEF Kube 10b. Guest room: Hafler 200 L-R, KEF reference Model 100 center, KEF iQ10 surrounds, M&K V-90 sub.

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post #26 of 49 Old 06-25-2019, 11:48 PM
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I'm not convinced that the Adam A5X would be much of an upgrade from your JBLs. From what I've read, the KEF LS50 stand a better chance. But for that money, you could have...

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/209-a...o-s400a-s.html

^ Probably the better speaker. However, it's probably not unreasonable to assume the KEF is better near-field.

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I'm not convinced that the Adam A5X would be much of an upgrade from your JBLs. From what I've read, the KEF LS50 stand a better chance. But for that money, you could have...

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/209-a...o-s400a-s.html

^ Probably the better speaker. However, it's probably not unreasonable to assume the KEF is better near-field.
That's my concern, I'm thinking of buying them and just exercising the return policy if there's no upgrade, I have 30 days with the Adams. I also have 15 days with the KEF's and might do the same thing there. I just figured the Adams would be half of what the KEF's cost (2 grand really is a lot to spend for me right now) and should still offer some improvement over the JBLs. Worst that happens is I return both and I'm stuck with my LSR305s a little longer lol.

Those look like beautiful speakers, but the speakers alone are almost 2 grand canadian, plus I'd need an amp
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When I had a Bluesound Powernode 2 on my desk it powered my LS50's (passive), and it was playing streaming sources and my own 550GB of music that is stored on a Vault 2 in our guestroom.

I understand you would be using your computer to feed whatever you get. You still need either an amp or powered (active) speakers. The solution I suggested doesn't change that, it's a 60w/amp for passive speakers. You simply gain the ability to have complete control over music without the computer as long as the network is still live.

There are benefits to both active and passive speakers. The LS50 Wireless is an incredible option, you would not be disappointed! Inside each of them is a 200w amp for the mid-woofers; a discreet 30w amp for the tweeter, and a bespoke DAC/DSP. That's a really good offer too, for Canada!

Best of luck whatever you choose to do.
Ah I see what you're getting at, apologies. I forgot it was an amp as well. I'll give that option some more weight, my concern is the amp dying inside of the LS50 wireless. Pretty abyssmal only having a one year warranty on the electronics...2100 plus the extended warranty could be close to the powernode 2 plus the ls50 passive. I'll take another look!
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post #29 of 49 Old 06-26-2019, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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So I've boiled down to a few options I believe:

A5X @ 690 each
Neumann KH120 @ 800 each
LS50 passive with powernode @ 2000
LS50 Wireless @ 2100
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post #30 of 49 Old 06-27-2019, 01:22 PM
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I would be curious to know how well the Mackie MR624 stack up to those. They are my desktop speakers, and I've heard their sound compared to the JBL 305, Kali LP6, and others. They sound better than those, and better than many speakers costing more. I'm not sure what happens when you get into the price ranges you're looking at, but I think they have the sound signature you're looking for. Would be a very interesting experiment to order a pair for comparison. I put the tweeters at -2, but I did the same with the Emotiva AirMotiv 6s.

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