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Help choosing computer/room speakers? ~$500 ?


Lynn124
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Hello, I'm looking for advice on speakers that will connect to my computer and fill a 150 sq ft or more. Right now my stereo is in storage and I don't have space for big speakers. I can spend around $500. It's a little tricky for me as the closest place I could listen to anything but Bose or Kenmore is about 6 hours away... And I think I could get better speakers for that $.

 

I'm looking for something that has a lot of clarity and definition in all ranges without sounding "cold" or harsh. I'm partial to vocals. I work in a music library and listen to everything from opera to grunge and punk. Just about every genre but electronica. I would love to be able to hear finger slides on a guitar but that's probably not possible in that price range without it being harsh? What comes close? If a genre is analogous to a "sound" then I guess what I'm looking for is something good for warm chamber music with a good loud and clear bass- adequate, not booming. I can always add a subwoofer later, but not for a while. I wouldn't mind buying used but I don't see any good deals (yet) within 200 miles on Craigs.

 

I've looked on line and Vanatoo T1 looks good (??). I've heard of a couple others that are a little more expensive but don't know if the price is worth it. At this point anything is better than the speakers I have now, but it would be really nice to have a clear sound.

 

It would be nice if the speakers could handle occasionally being moved outside to the deck while I'm working on something.

 

And other questions are- is it better to buy a speaker with an internal DAC or to buy a DAC separately? And will a DAC really compensate for a crummy audio card? I think my audio card is incorporated into the MB. I am not very techy...

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

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My default suggestion for a situation like yours is the JBL LSR305 speakers. Self powered, with more low end than you would think. You can usually find them for $260/pr or less. If you have a Guitar Center music store near you they usually have them to audition. JBL LSR308 speakers are very similar with an 8 inch woofer. Also perhaps worth you looking into at a price of around. $450/pr or a bit less. The LSR308 might be a bit too large for your desires.

 

If you go with the LSR305 that leaves money for a good inexpensive DAC which might be very helpful compared to the audio out on your motherboard.

 

Something like this:

Big Ego | Emotiva

 

I have not heard this exact DAC, but have used other Emotiva equipment including DACs which seem to perform very well at affordable pricing.

 

While speaking of the Emotiva they also have some speakers which might fit your needs.

Airmotiv 3b | Emotiva

I have not heard these, but Stereophile gave favorable reviews.

Emotiva Audio Pro Airmotiv 4s powered loudspeaker | Stereophile.com

 

You also might consider one of the Schiit DACs which many are happy with and within your budget if you were to go with the LSR305 speakers.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Thanks guys. Have either of you heard the Vanatoo T1's? I wonder how they compare to the LSR305's. Just found out why no one carries them. They only sell on Amazon and their own web site. Small company. Lots of really good reviews on Amazon though.

 

I might be traveling closer to a good store around new years. Any other suggestions?

 

Thanks for the DAC suggestions.

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I have not heard the Vanatoos. They have a good reputation.

 

I try not to sound like a fanboy, but in this price range the JBLs are far beyond the competition that I have heard.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I choose the Elac B6's in this price range ($279 pair):

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f12-headphones-and-speakers/elacs-debut-line-anyone-have-these-speakers-yet-26795/

 

After my last comments (i.e. more break in), I have noticed less of the "veil" on male voices that I heard before - may be a room response thing (I have moved them around a little bit). I would choose these over the B&W 685 (twice as much), and rate them only a bit behind the B&W CM5's ($1500 + a pair). And as a bonus you don't get that slight treble emphasis/brightness you get with either B&W. Also, my amp is a $149 (on sale) Emotiva a-100 so who knows how good they would be with a higher dollar amp.

Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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If you have ~$500 for speakers alone, I would second the ELAC recommendation but maybe go for the F5 towers (they're slim, so not too big for a smallish room) for $560. I heard them sounding amazing at RMAF this year, and just about everyone who came to their room felt the same way.

 

Audio card - Just use a USB DAC and you don't need to worry about it. iFi Nano is $200 and a lot of people like it, or you can go with one of the others that's been mentioned here.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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until I saw the analog-in sounds better than the other inputs which are all digital, so one loses the fun of using DACs.

 

Huh? That seems extremely unlikely, given that the analogue in connects to an analogue-to-digital converter and then is treated with exactly the same DAC/amp.

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Huh? That seems extremely unlikely, given that the analogue in connects to an analogue-to-digital converter and then is treated with exactly the same DAC/amp.

 

Maybe the A/D conversion ain't great.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The JBLs are around $250. I'm looking at speakers alone for $500. ??

 

I realise it's not the same speakers... but.. I heard JBLs years ago when I was listening for car stereo speakers and didn't like them. I thought they sounded cold and not so alive. The highs sounded tinny to me. The salesmen were really surprised, the JBLs were their best sellers after listening. I ended up with used Quartz speakers which I liked better, but they weren't fantastic.

 

This is hard because everyone hears differently. I think I like slightly warm but clear.

 

I have not heard the Vanatoos. They have a good reputation.

 

I try not to sound like a fanboy, but in this price range the JBLs are far beyond the competition that I have heard.

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I'm quite pleased with mine. I have them in a small home office at the moment.

 

Vanatoo powered speakers: my experiences - Blogs - Computer Audiophile

 

 

The review is what brought me to this forum- very helpful. Thank you :) I'm also considering sierra-1 's. Hard to figure this out without a lot of return shipment... I could buy used as well. I don't care about scratches. These will be my main speakers for a while. In your opinion are the Vanatoos slightly warm or sweet in the high notes?

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For some reason looks like my first post didn't go through...

 

Thanks Wgscott. Your review is what brought me to this forum. Nice review, very helpful. In you opinion is the treble slightly warm or sweet? I have a feeling what I'm looking for is slightly warm but clear. I like to hear as much emotion in music as possible- not clinical. Maybe another way to ask is- is it NOT fatigueing? Is the treble easy on the ears and somewhat sweet? And have you ever heard seirra-1's? I'm thinking they may be similar, but sierras may be over priced because of their name?

 

I'm trying to get hold of an old acquaintance. The one serious audiophile that I've heard his system and loved it. He might be able to clarify what I'm looking for in sound. He had glass tubes which I understand are warm, but the music was so clear. I know I won't get anywhere near his sound but if I get the same tone that would be very nice.

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The JBLs are around $250. I'm looking at speakers alone for $500. ??

 

I realise it's not the same speakers... but.. I heard JBLs years ago when I was listening for car stereo speakers and didn't like them. I thought they sounded cold and not so alive. The highs sounded tinny to me. The salesmen were really surprised, the JBLs were their best sellers after listening. I ended up with used Quartz speakers which I liked better, but they weren't fantastic.

 

This is hard because everyone hears differently. I think I like slightly warm but clear.

 

Well these are not your father's JBLs.

 

No connection in terms of quality or sound.

 

You also could look for some Focal Alpha 50 speakers in your price range.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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If you're intent on spending $500 (no need really) the Studio 530 is another not your father's JBL worth more than its price tag. They need power though so generally I recommend them to folks who might have a good 100wpc amp lying around. If you do you'll get even more detail and sense of space than the 305s (perhaps at the expense of a flat response). They're all good and best leave your JBL prejudices behind as I did and enjoy what Harmon is doing these days.

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thanks, good to know. I'll try to give them a listen

 

Well these are not your father's JBLs.

 

No connection in terms of quality or sound.

 

You also could look for some Focal Alpha 50 speakers in your price range.

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And thanks Jeff. I'll try and check them out.

 

If you're intent on spending $500 (no need really) the Studio 530 is another not your father's JBL worth more than its price tag. They need power though so generally I recommend them to folks who might have a good 100wpc amp lying around. If you do you'll get even more detail and sense of space than the 305s (perhaps at the expense of a flat response). They're all good and best leave your JBL prejudices behind as I did and enjoy what Harmon is doing these days.
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  • 2 weeks later...

thank you, I will check that out. It will probably take me a month or 2 to check outand buy any as I have no time right now.

 

Get the LSR 305's and an Audioquest Dragonfly. You'll also need a 1/8TH inch TRS to dual mono 1/4" TS cable. Hosa sells them on Ebay and Amazon. Total cost will be about $400-450.
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  • 3 months later...

Thank you all very much! I learned a lot here :)

I decided on the Emotiva airmotiv 6s, but called the factory and they were out. They had a reconditioned EA 5 for $270, so I got that. I'm hoping the sound quality is the same but less "foot print". I plan on adding a subwoofer later, after I figure out what dac and wires.

 

I hope I'm happy. I really wanted the 6, but the price was so good I went for the 5. It's a small room with a 10 x 10 deck off of it and I work on the deck a lot in good weather. Maybe I can wire them so I can move them outside off and on.

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Hello, I'm looking for advice on speakers that will connect to my computer and fill a 150 sq ft or more. Right now my stereo is in storage and I don't have space for big speakers. I can spend around $500. It's a little tricky for me as the closest place I could listen to anything but Bose or Kenmore is about 6 hours away... And I think I could get better speakers for that $.

 

I'm looking for something that has a lot of clarity and definition in all ranges without sounding "cold" or harsh. I'm partial to vocals. I work in a music library and listen to everything from opera to grunge and punk. Just about every genre but electronica. I would love to be able to hear finger slides on a guitar but that's probably not possible in that price range without it being harsh? What comes close? If a genre is analogous to a "sound" then I guess what I'm looking for is something good for warm chamber music with a good loud and clear bass- adequate, not booming. I can always add a subwoofer later, but not for a while. I wouldn't mind buying used but I don't see any good deals (yet) within 200 miles on Craigs.

 

I've looked on line and Vanatoo T1 looks good (??). I've heard of a couple others that are a little more expensive but don't know if the price is worth it. At this point anything is better than the speakers I have now, but it would be really nice to have a clear sound.

 

It would be nice if the speakers could handle occasionally being moved outside to the deck while I'm working on something.

 

And other questions are- is it better to buy a speaker with an internal DAC or to buy a DAC separately? And will a DAC really compensate for a crummy audio card? I think my audio card is incorporated into the MB. I am not very techy...

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

 

For active speakers in that price range, I don't think you get a lot of clarity. I would go with Audio Engine 5+. For more clarity in this price range I think you'd have to go for passive speakers -- Q Acoustic 3020's have a lot of clarity for the money.

mQa is dead!

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Thanks everyone, really appreciate it. I ended up deciding on an emotiva airmotiv 6, but when I went to order they were out. So went with a reconditioned airmotiv 5 for $270. Couldn't resist for that price. Now I just have to get cables and a DAC. At some point I'll be looking at used larger speakers, but this seems like a good start.

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For those on a budget and interested in a set of high quality desk top powered speakers with a small footprint the Akimate Micro B are excellent. They comprise a 40 watt Creek amp driving a 4" Epos woofer and 1" tweeter together with a built in DAC (via USB) and an analogue input as well as bluetooth.

 

Seriously good sound for $A400 = $US300.

 

Micro B

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks everyone, really appreciate it. I ended up deciding on an emotiva airmotiv 6, but when I went to order they were out. So went with a reconditioned airmotiv 5 for $270. Couldn't resist for that price. Now I just have to get cables and a DAC. At some point I'll be looking at used larger speakers, but this seems like a good start.

Please post your feedback on the airmotiv when you get it. They look like a really good deal at full pice and a steal at that price.

Roon ->allo Sparky-USBridge w/ SBooster 5V LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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