Need new PC Speaker system (not for gaming) incl. problem with space - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-27-2019, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Need new PC Speaker system (not for gaming) incl. problem with space

Hey everyone,

Disclaimer: I am a complete noob regarding sound and speakers (like what's important, what are the variables, what's the difference between price ranges).

I have for long time now had the following - probably pathetic - setup on my Workstation:
Soundcard: Asus Xonar DX7.1
Speaker system: Logitech X-530
Software: with C-media Panel UNi Xonar Audio I have the system input setup with 2 Channels, DSP Mode on with 7.1 Virtual Speaker Shifter, and Output Mode for 6 Speakers with Digital Audio 44.1 Hkz.
Usage: I use the speakers to listen to music, watch movies and VoIP. Everything else (gaming, composing) I use Headphones.

Positioning/Space problem
I have a problem with positioning and space because my computer/desk is setup in a corner, I have three computer screens with no space left and right... so currently I have (from left to right):
- back-left speaker behind the left screen, at my hands' height
- front-left speaker hanging on the wall above on the top-left corner of the middle screen, above my head's height
- the middle speaker in front of the middle screen, at my hands' height
- the front-right speaker immediately to its right, behind the middle screen, at my hands' height
- the back-right speaker to my right on top of a small cabinet, at my ears' height
- the subwoofer beneath desk is also a nice footstool
... and so they are all at different distances, and variable heights, and so I use the Speaker Shifter to try and balance it out.

So I am not really that happy with it, and leads me to think that what I need is maybe a soundbar or a 2.1 system, and I'm open to all kinds fo suggestions.

My budget is up to $300 (but it can also be cheaper if a significant improvement). My main concern is space as there is no space available left and right of the three screens, and I don't want to split the screens to create space in between. There is room in front/beneath the screens or room can be made behind the screens (but I'm guessing that's bad?).

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
Pedro
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-27-2019, 09:29 AM
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QUALITY over Quantity = definitely go 2.0 or 2.1 due to your budget and placement limitations.

Easiest way to go is a pair of JBL LSR305 or 305p off Amazon. Most people are happy not using a sub with those.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-27-2019, 10:22 AM
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I have 2 computer speaker systems i use constantly.

Klipsch ProMedia 2.1
Polk Magnifi Mini

Under your budget with decent easy to control bass.

Projector:Epson 6050ub Screen:Elite screens manual SRM Pro series 120" TV: Vizio P75f Pre/Pro:Marantz AV7705 Amplifier:Monolith 7x and Emotiva A-700 for ATMOSSpeakers:Klipsch THX8000-L (LCR) R5800 side surrounds, 5650-S rear surrounds Klipsch 5800-C for ATMOSSubwoofers:PSA v1811x2 Bluray Player:Panasonic ub820 Media Streamer:Fire TV cube
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-27-2019, 11:14 AM
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Sounds like you might have the best success with the polk magnifi mini. No point in investing in separate speakers when you do not have the ability to place them properly. That said, have you considered getting two small speaker stands, so you can place the speakers to the sides of the desk?

Something like these would allow you to place them very close to the desk/wall intersections:

https://www.amazon.com/Atlantic-Adju...SIN=B000289DC6

or these:

https://www.amazon.com/Sanus-Adjusta...SIN=B002HZHUCW

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

Last edited by RayGuy; 07-27-2019 at 03:26 PM.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-27-2019, 03:03 PM
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Going to have to decide what your priorities are...do you want a wall of screens? Or one or two really good screens (top + bottom) and room for good speakers?

Agree with 2.0 or 2.1. You can't make surround sound work with all the speakers up front, so opt for quality over quantity.

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post #6 of 14 Old 09-09-2019, 02:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone,

Thanks for the replies! Really grateful it seems like 2.0 or 2.1 is the way to go!

Regarding downgrading the 3 monitor setup I need that screen realestate for work. There is an option to go 2x 4k screens side by side, which could give room for side speakers. I will look into that as well.

Regarding the speaker stands... I had not for a moment even thought that was an option so thanks for that! It does sound like the way to go if I don't opt to change to 2 monitors.

So with that I have a few follow up questions:

- If I go for 2.x on stands, should I place them behind and above the "three monitor wall"? Or on the side making about a 75 degree angle to each side from the main monitor in relation to me? And/or is there any content on the topic of speaker positioning that you recommend?

- Since as you reasoned quality over quantity, I could increase the budget if I had a reason for it. Are there any kind of established entry level prices into various tiers of sound quality? Like from 500€ instead of 300€ there is a big difference. And also how subjective is the appreciation of higher sound quality for the price in your opinion? I have never had "good speakers" so I can't really tell.

- Finally... I LOVE to listen to music and I listen to music all day having Spotify (computer or phone) as the source (with music quality on "Very High", whatever that means :P). I have a Asus Xonar DX7.1 on my computer as a soundcard (not sure if that counts for anything). So this may come as a silly question but bare with my noobness in sound: I know there is "machinery" for sound (amps, preamps and a variety of boxes with sockets, knobs and buttons)... and I would like to know more about it... but don't even know where to start, to understand the basics of setting up a sound system and why. More volume? More clarity? Both? Is it to control equalizers like I can do digitally? So in short... if I get good speakers... am I being fair to them by pluging them to my sound card? Or I'd be amazed if I knew about XYZ sound machinery?

Big thanks for all the help! I always find it wonderful to get insights from enthusiasts

Cheers!
Pedro
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-09-2019, 02:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedro Figueiredo View Post
Hey everyone,

Thanks for the replies! Really grateful it seems like 2.0 or 2.1 is the way to go!

Regarding downgrading the 3 monitor setup I need that screen realestate for work. There is an option to go 2x 4k screens side by side, which could give room for side speakers. I will look into that as well.

Regarding the speaker stands... I had not for a moment even thought that was an option so thanks for that! It does sound like the way to go if I don't opt to change to 2 monitors.

So with that I have a few follow up questions:

- If I go for 2.x on stands, should I place them behind and above the "three monitor wall"? Or on the side making about a 75 degree angle to each side from the main monitor in relation to me? And/or is there any content on the topic of speaker positioning that you recommend?

- Since as you reasoned quality over quantity, I could increase the budget if I had a reason for it. Are there any kind of established entry level prices into various tiers of sound quality? Like from 500€ instead of 300€ there is a big difference. And also how subjective is the appreciation of higher sound quality for the price in your opinion? I have never had "good speakers" so I can't really tell.

- Finally... I LOVE to listen to music and I listen to music all day having Spotify (computer or phone) as the source (with music quality on "Very High", whatever that means :P). I have a Asus Xonar DX7.1 on my computer as a soundcard (not sure if that counts for anything). So this may come as a silly question but bare with my noobness in sound: I know there is "machinery" for sound (amps, preamps and a variety of boxes with sockets, knobs and buttons)... and I would like to know more about it... but don't even know where to start, to understand the basics of setting up a sound system and why. More volume? More clarity? Both? Is it to control equalizers like I can do digitally? So in short... if I get good speakers... am I being fair to them by pluging them to my sound card? Or I'd be amazed if I knew about XYZ sound machinery?

Big thanks for all the help! I always find it wonderful to get insights from enthusiasts

Cheers!
Pedro
Ah and I forgot to add:

I'm afraid a soundbar like polk magnifi mini will sound like the sound is just "mono", as in "in front" of me. I like when the sound fills the room. Again I've not experienced soundbars but wouldn't a 2.x system be immediately better in terms of filling the sound space?

Cheers!
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-09-2019, 11:18 AM
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Roughly, you want to form an equilateral triangle with the speakers and your head. Play around with positioning wider/less wide, various levels of toe-in, height (generally, tweeter at ear level). Just keep playing with position until you get the best sound to your ears.

Polk magnifi was just in case you did not go with separate speakers. Since you like the speaker stand idea, forget the Polk.

Budget depends primarily on you and your needs. Some folks are happy with $100/pair speakers next to their monitor. Others will spend significantly more (KEF LS50, for instance). Nobody can make that decision for you. If you want more quality, then you will need to get out from behind the keyboard and do some actual listening to speakers. If that is not an option for you, then look at ordering a few pairs of speakers from Crutchfield. Send back the losers for $10.

Now, you have to decide what you want. Do you want a receiver or integrated amplifier to power passive speakers? If you are going to hook up a bunch of ancillary equipment to them, like phono, cd, tv, blu-ray, etc, you'll need the extra connection capabilities of these separate units. If all you are going to do is listen through the computer, you could simplify all the way down to just powered speakers. One other option is a small desktop amp with passive speakers.

So, of those options, which sound like your situation?

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Last edited by RayGuy; 09-09-2019 at 11:24 AM.
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post #9 of 14 Old 09-09-2019, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi again,

Thanks RayGuy for the quick thourough reply

I can definitely get out to look at speakers. Not sure what type of store though. Everything I have been buying in terms of tecnology in the past 10 years has been based on reviews and enthusiasts' feedback and ordered online... so I wouldn't be sure where to listen to speakers. The big electronics/tech shops are always rather noisy and plus from what I understand the acoustics of speakers have a lot to do with being a room with walls. Music instrument shops do have small rooms for testing instruments, but they don't sell speakers. Hence me once again seeking the enthusiast community for guidance . I have used knife forums when choosing a knife... head-fi when choosing headphones more than once... and have always enjoyed and used the feedback as my main guiding point when buying.

So I am really greatful for your help! And thanks for the tip on positioning! Plus polk is out of the equation ^^ your statement on "if I go with separate speakers, forget polk" tells me what I needed to know about soundbars vs separate speakers which narrows and simplifies my search!

So what I would like would be (strange feeling of writing a christmas list...):
- Have better speaker sound than my Logitech X-530 5.1 when listening to music or watching movies (but I care mainly for the music)
- The stands seem to be a brilliant way of solving my desk space problem
- I would like the sound to feel like "it's around me" (like when using headphones) and not "in front of me" (like on my laptop's crappy internal speakers), which is what I am most afraid of, but not sure if it is the case. This is why I currently have a crazy setup with a 5.1 that pretends to be 7.1 and spreads stereo music through all speakers. But if quality 2.0/2.1 can give me that more headphone-like embracing sound experience still when sitting aligned with the system... and then also deliver on good ambience for when not sitting at the computer, that'd be great.
- I would also like to understand a bit better what gives better and/or different types of sound (soundcard worth it/why? types of speakers? size? material?). That's something I intend to research on my own, but any pointers, good content/youtubers would be great
- I would like (if possible) to have the least amount of cables, devices, controls unless some tech magic would make me go "wow that sounds a lot better!" in which case I wouldn't mind tripling the budget. I just don't want to overspend for what I need... the problem is since I have no experience as reference... it's hard to find the right buy-in level for me.
- Appart from connecting the speakers to my computer I could think of connectivity via blutooth to my phone so I could also use the speakers with guests for ambient, keeping the computer off to kill the white noise, and controlling music with the phone. That would be pretty neat if it was a seamless transition

Finally... if it's not too subjective... I would love to know what really differentiates the KEF LS50 from the BL LSR305. A quick google search tells me "KEF X300A Wireless is around 3 times as expensive as JBL LSR305, yet the difference in sound quality much smaller than one could expect"... which leads me to think: so what defines good sound? I can understand being warmer or colder, or electric or acoustic, is probably subjective to taste... but there must be some parameters/metrics that can say "this speaker is better than that one because its whatage/omegage/somethingage is this or that and uses material XYZ". For example... like for headphones... are there speakers better for certain types of music?

Sorry for asking so many questions... let me know if I am being abusive in anyway. I just finding exciting to explore unknown territory

Again big thanks for all the help!
Pedro
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-09-2019, 01:57 PM
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no speakers are perfect so ofc we have preferences. many on this forum like speakers that measure flat. some studies have shown that. with desktop speakers its gonna be bass output that impresses peeps....I just use a sub. I like my audioengine desktop system w/velodyne sub.

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
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post #11 of 14 Old 09-10-2019, 02:15 PM
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Speakers will never sound like headphones. So, if that is your goal, then just stick with headphones. That said, you can get speakers that have a large soundstage, but that is very much a function of speaker and seating position. Of course, it will sound different when in the room than sitting nearfield at your desk, and it is difficult to arrange the speakers to cater to both. There will be compromises, unless you get a separate pair of wireless headphones for all your guests!

Get bluetooth via a separate receiver, integrated amp, or mini-amp, then pair with the passive speakers of your choice. However, if you can find powered speakers with bluetooth capability, then you would have the ultimate simple solution. I see Edifier has some like this, and they are a respected name in powered speakers for your computer. Also AudioEngine and Swan. Not sure if they will service the entire room? How far away will you be listening when not seated right in front of them?

Something like the wireless LS50 from KEF is an entirerly different animal. Far higher quality components, plus you can connect via something other than bluetooth (which is lossy and downgrades the sound). If you are going to use bluetooth, then these speakers will be severely underutilized, and the price not justified, in my opinion. However, my opinion means nothing, the only opinion that matters is yours. So, the best solution is for you to order them and maybe two of the other options and listen for yourself. Is it worth the extra $? Only you can make that determination.

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Last edited by RayGuy; 09-10-2019 at 03:04 PM.
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-11-2019, 02:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Speakers will never sound like headphones. So, if that is your goal, then just stick with headphones. That said, you can get speakers that have a large soundstage, but that is very much a function of speaker and seating position. Of course, it will sound different when in the room than sitting nearfield at your desk, and it is difficult to arrange the speakers to cater to both. There will be compromises, unless you get a separate pair of wireless headphones for all your guests!

Get bluetooth via a separate receiver, integrated amp, or mini-amp, then pair with the passive speakers of your choice. However, if you can find powered speakers with bluetooth capability, then you would have the ultimate simple solution. I see Edifier has some like this, and they are a respected name in powered speakers for your computer. Also AudioEngine and Swan. Not sure if they will service the entire room? How far away will you be listening when not seated right in front of them?

Something like the wireless LS50 from KEF is an entirerly different animal. Far higher quality components, plus you can connect via something other than bluetooth (which is lossy and downgrades the sound). If you are going to use bluetooth, then these speakers will be severely underutilized, and the price not justified, in my opinion. However, my opinion means nothing, the only opinion that matters is yours. So, the best solution is for you to order them and maybe two of the other options and listen for yourself. Is it worth the extra $? Only you can make that determination.
Alright thank you for the info!

Again I am unaware of what's possible and what's not, so it's good to know that there are limitations I must consider.

The room is not very big at around 20 m^2, but I have my desk in a corner. So I think for now my priorities will be:
- Computer speakers on side stands to solve the desk space issue or go 4k with only 2 screens and gain desk space
- Speakers with large soundstage to approach the "headphone" effect
- Look for speakers with the option to connect via blutooth as well as by cable to the computer
- Avoid higher range speakers that would not be able to enjoy wireless connection.

On a side note, we have a Radio in the kicthen that connects via WiFi. Is the quality better that way? Because Spotify on my phone allows me to play on the Radio speaker via WiFi.

And I will look into those three brands you suggested later today thanks again!
Pedro
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-11-2019, 11:56 AM
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WiFi is a better approach. If you go that route, then something like the KEF comes back into the mix, as you would be feeding it a higher quality (lossless) signal.

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post #14 of 14 Old 09-19-2019, 01:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone!

Thank you again for all the feedback. I've decided to give my desk space for speakers beneath the screens by installing ergonomic gas spring arms which will lift them (they are also too low atm). I estimate about 20-25cm freed space beneath the side monitors which will allow better placement of the speakers.

Having that said, considering previously mentioned models:

JBL LSR305
These are 30cm height, which then they would need to be behind the monitor and so slightly covered by the monitor. Correct me though if I am wrong in thinking that putting the speakers behind the monitors even though they would be 80% uncovered would affect sound significantly.

LS50 and LSX
These are only 24cm height, have WiFi and support Spotify connect, so they are an option

I've created a separate thread as a follow up as this now goes into another topic which is what speakers to choose

So mega thanks for guiding me through speaker world!
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