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A newbie in need of help (buying a new audio system)

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Hi all!


The time has finally come to replace my trustworthy 6y.o. Panasonic SA-PM03 (link *cough*) which has been hooked up to the last three computers I have owned. Also, I have always been using mobo-integrated sound cards up until now (atm using Intel HDA/Azalia 82801I).


Therefore I thought that the time was ripe for replacing both. Now, I have looked a little bit around for something which would fit my budget and suit my needs. I am almost sure that Audioengine 2 speakers are perfect both in terms of price tag, value and quality (at least judging by the reviews). Unfortunately I have been unable to hear them for myself due to the fact that no stores in my area sell them.


As for the soundcard - I am really not sure. Someone suggested me M-audio Audiophile 2496, but looking at the price tag ($100 - if you're lucky) I have my doubts. I guess I *could* stretch my budget but it has to be worth it - as I have never used anything but integrated sound cards I am not entirely sure what to expect. Will I indeed hear the difference?


So, can anyone of you help me out? Any suggestions - be it speakers, soundcard or both - are always greatly appreciated.


Thanks in advance!


PS. I do not consider myself as an audiophile per se although I do very much enjoy good sound. Also, I am rather new at this, so please be gentle :)


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Hi Dr.Ivan, first off let me say I consider myself much more an audio-hobbyist rather than audiophile & therefore can't really comment on what the higher end sound cards might do for you.


Now I have owned the Audioengine 2's that you're interested in and think you would probably really like them as most people who have heard them do.


I'd also suggest that you keep using the integrated sound card with the audioengines, you maybe very happy with them and see no need to upgrade. I think your biggest bang for the buck would come from the speakers in your case, and if your located in the U.S. you can always return them for a full refund within 30 days if you don't like them.


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I'll second the keeping the integrated sound for now. Put all your money into a pair of nice active speakers until you decide to move (leap) up to the $400 dollar dac level. I was quite satisfied with the output from my iMac to my grado phones for a while. That being said, don't underestimate the difference a good dac makes even on inexpensive speakers.


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