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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Disclaimer: While I have done my best to make this a, "Please make sure I know what I'm doing," post, it may veer off into, "Please tell me what I want," territory. Brace yourselves.

Background: I do virtually all of my music listening through my laptop. I've been traveling off and on over the past few weeks, so I've had a pile of temporary clutter on my desk where the laptop usually sits. A few days ago, I finally got so sick of listening to my laptop speakers (go 3/4" drivers, go!) that I actually cleaned off my desk and plugged in my computer speakers... only to find that they'd stopped working. Sound came out of the headphone jack, but there was no output to any of the speakers, not even the usual hiss when I cranked up the volume knob. I'm guessing something broke in the control pod, but there isn't much I can do about it as the speakers have been discontinued for a while and there aren't any spare pods for sale on eBay.


In some ways, this wasn't as disappointing as you'd expect. The speakers were a good deal for the price, but I'd been wanting to replace them for some time: the subwoofer had a pronounced midbass hump that persisted no matter where I put it and how many old socks I jammed into the bass reflex port. Unfortunately, it appears as though the computer speaker market has stagnated since I bought my set and it's basically impossible for me to move to something better without jumping into the home audio segment (FWIW, the old speakers were the Logitech Z-560s, which I can't post a link to until I've proven I'm not a spammer). Since I'm getting more and more tired of my laptop speakers, I figured now would be as good a time as any to take the plunge and get some nicer gear.

Relevant part: A couple days ago, I impulse-bought a pair of Energy C-100s off of woot.com (85$/pair with shipping!). I need an amplifier to go with them. I have very little interest in a surround setup at this point, as I haven't used the surrounds on my old speakers in about five years. However, I would like to have the option of adding a subwoofer at some point in the near future.


I'm still going through school, so my budget is extremely tight. I can't justify spending more than $200 on an amplifier, and I'd really prefer to get down near $100 if at all possible. My original thought was that I might be able to meet this budget and get some decent wattage if I looked for a 2.1-only amplifier. It appears that I can; however, from what I've read here, the 2.1 amplifiers in this segment send a full-spectrum signal to both the speakers and the subwoofer (I'm speaking of the Onkyo TX-8555 in particular, since that seemed like a good choice when I first noticed it). Since I really don't want the Energies trying to play down below 80 Hz or so once the subwoofer's been added, this is a bit of a deal-breaker for me.


From what I've seen, the Onkyo TX-SR304 looks like a decent entry-level multichannel receiver, and the manual refers to the subwoofer crossover I wanted. Google Product Search revealed that I could get a refurbished receiver from Accessories4Less (never heard of 'em, but they have a decent reseller rating) for around $115 after shipping. Onkyo's web site shows that they are an authorized dealer, so I'm inclined to go for that rather than scrounging around eBay and craigslist.


The question is... does anyone know of a better alternative in my price range? Again, I don't have any interest in decoding digital signals or even multichannel output, I just want an amplifier that properly supports a small speaker + subwoofer configuration.


Thank you for your time.
 

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your best option is to hit up the used market, since all you need is amplification for 2 speakers you should be able to find a nice receiver for under $100. you don't need anything fancy at all, any stereo receiver or even a multichannel AV receiver will do the trick.


even if you have a stereo receiver (i.e. no digital bass management) you can still use a sub with crossover, as almost all powered subs have built-in crossovers and speaker posts. just wire the speaker wire from the FRONT L/R of the receiver to the sub's speaker wire (high level) inputs, and then wire the speakers to the speaker outs of the sub and use the sub's crossover knob to alter the "blend".


for example, here is the back of the Energy ESW-8 sub, see the speaker wire spots at the top?




that all being said, yes, the Onkyo 304 will do just fine. for the 304, or any digital AV receiver, if your computer has a digital audio out you can send the 2-channel PCM audio to be played by the receiver and then you can employ digital bass management when you get a sub.


your needs are meager so almost ANY receiver will do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I had considered using the sub as a crossover. I don't know if I like the idea of sending speaker-level input to the sub, but I'll give it another thought if I can find a stereo receiver for cheap. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the ESW-8 or ESW-10 have speaker-level outputs, which is too bad, since I was considering eventually getting one of those *grumble*.


Thanks for the input. I'll browse around for used stuff some more.
 
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