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Forget $3k. Forget the "entry level" concept. Very fine sound is now incredibly cheap!


bluesman
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I can't believe what great sound you can get for a few hundred dollars! I was going to use my PrimaLuna power amp and Rogers LS3/5as for a small desktop system in my new den (we moved to an apartment last month). But they take up a lot of real estate and I can't listen to them at anywhere near the levels I favored when we were in the house. As I saw so many raves about small active monitors on CA, I thought I should check out the latest ones because opinion without experience is worth what it costs.

 

Guitar Center is currently selling JBL LSR305s for $99 each (!) in bright red, and you just can't turn that down. I picked up a pair yesterday on my way home from work and set them up last night. All I can say is "wow"! These little guys (actually not so little - they turned out to be bigger than the Rogers) are clean, neutral, uncolored, and powerful. They're position sensitive, with rear ports and significant boundary interactions with walls and adjacent surfaces - I'm getting flattest, cleanest sound with them 6'+ away from the side walls in the room, a foot from the wall behind them, and sitting on 4" blocks rather than directly on the desktop.

 

They go down to the last few frets of a 4 string bass (the low E string is 41.2 Hz, so they're probably flat to about 55 and 6 to 8 db down at 40), and that bass is clean & tight. Their midrange is amazingly neutral - voices are solid and rich without spurious coloration. Early Joni Mitchell sounds like early Joni Mitchell, and late Ella Fitzgerald sounds like late Ella Fitzgerald. Imaging is stable and solid. Piano reproduction is excellent, including my own recordings of my own Yamaha grand in the next room (yes, we moved the piano into the apartment). The internal amps must be well designed for this application. There's absolutely no background noise at all, and they do do a really solid job on all kinds of program material from a whisper to a brief 85+ db burst (no, I didn't risk early expulsion from the condo by cranking them beyond that).

 

So.......for $200, you can get very decent sound from a pair of speakers with internal amps. I'm driving them with the balanced outputs on my Emotiva Stealth DAC. But if I were building this system from scratch, I'd use a Dragonfly, an Audioengine D1, or another such low priced high quality DAC. Drive the DAC/active speakers with Foobar on a BeagleBone, a Raspberry Pi, a Chromebox, or whatever computer you happen to have available, and you've got an amazingly good computer audio system for under $500 + file storage. If you stream free Spotify or a similar service, you don't even have to buy storage to have music you can enjoy.

 

So I now have 3 systems (sharing one phono setup and one NAS not added to the following values), two with replacement costs over $10k each and one worth $700. Guess which one will get the most use.......

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I was all set to get a Rogue Sphinx amp and either Tekton's or GoldenEar Tritons 5's for my $3k "beginning audiophile" system. I auditioned the Sphinx with the GodlenEar's and wow! Then, I made the mistake of ordering the new Elac B6's ($280) and an Emotiva a-100 amp ($149) and hooked them up to my iFI iDSD ($189 - total cost $650) and wow! True, not the equal of the Rogue/GoldenEar, but frightfully close particularly for the room (office, decent size), and given the price this system should not sound this good.

 

Now, I don't know what to do. I will be upgrading the living room, but I want to see how good the new Uni-Fi line from Elac turns out to be before deciding...Maybe I should look at some larger JBL monitors ;)

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

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Guitar Center is currently selling JBL LSR305s for $99 each (!) in bright red, and you just can't turn that down. I picked up a pair yesterday on my way home from work and set them up last night. All I can say is "wow"!

 

+1 on that. I'm always amazed by how good mine sound. Definitely a bargain at $200 for the pair.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Maybe I should look at some larger JBL monitors ;)

 

Not a really high WAF, but there's always the LSR308:

 

LSR308 Products | JBL Professional

 

Worth an audition at Guitar Center next time you're near one.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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For some strange reason, the LSR305s cost much more in Australia than in the US and the Audioengine a5+s cost much less, so they both come out about the same here (~$US 300). Any thoughts which is better at that price point?

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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For some strange reason, the LSR305s cost much more in Australia than in the US and the Audioengine a5+s cost much less, so they both come out about the same here (~$US 300). Any thoughts which is better at that price point?

 

You need someone who has heard both to be sure. I would guess the LSR305 is better (while dutifully noting I own some). The LSR305 isn't just good for what it is, or even just really good. It is so good you wonder how it can possibly be true.

 

I mostly use them as monitors when mixing music I recorded. I also have used them with a woofer in a larger room. The little boxes go pretty deep toward the 40 hz range. I should post some REW measurements of mine. Relieve them of the low frequencies however and they sound even better even in a fairly large room.

 

I am contemplating setting up a 5.1 rig for the first time at my place. Hard to think how you could do better than 5 of these and a good woofer for the .1 channel. I know someone who heard mine, and immediately replaced the 3 front channels in his HT rig with these.

 

My regular speakers are Soundlabs electrostats so not like I have never heard large clean speakers.

 

For stereo a pair of these for $198 and any number of inexpensive DACs like the Emotiva (which is also a surprisingly good bargain) you do get amazingly good sound in a highly convenient package that simply has never been available at this low a level before now.

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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Hey Bluesman and Crenca,

 

Active monitors have always been extensively used in the pro audio realm and their hidden value has not really been exploited by audiophiles. I can't really say why as to my mind they provide incredible bang for the buck.

 

I have not heard the JBL active monitors but after reading your comments I intend grabbing a pair for my son's boarding school dormitory (he has just been upgraded to his own room) .... he already has a dragon fly.

 

FYI I have been playing a pair of Adam A7 (which you can pick up second hand on eBay in mint condition for less than $1,000 per pair) in a smallish room (10" x 20') for the past 6 years and they still sound stunning fed from my Benchmark HDR DAC. The updated A7x are now a few years old and have bigger woofers and amps .... the tweeters are powered with individual 50 watt A/B amps and the 7" woofers with 100 watt PWM amps. More money I know but the sound is really incredible .... check out eBay where there is pair available at $1,100 coming out of a recording studio.

 

Bottom line is a $500-1,000 DAC with DSD capability fed straight into active monitors provides a very simple and great sounding system without the worries of cables, system compatibility etc etc. With front firing ports they can be placed on a pair of stands near the rear wall providing a very spouse friendly system.

 

I really don't see any negatives to active speakers, do you?

 

All the best, Ajax

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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I love them!

 

I've got into them via PMC, then Adams and now ME Geithain. The last are not cheap, but I love the sound. I've also heard quite a few and if I didn't have Geithain I'd be looking at Quested.

 

At the more affordable end, along with Adam I am a fan of Eve monitors which share some of the technology with Adam.

 

It is a less laid back sound than passive floorstanders, but much more precise for equivalent price.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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i'm the type to wonder if the air is different in different parts of the world (or even a single nation) causing one speaker over the other to be a better fit.

but then again, cell towers are everywhere (almost) and they need to run on the same frequencies in order for the signal to work with travelers.

chances are the static coming from the cell phone towers is stronger than the natural static pressure.

they say the speed of sound is changed because of temperature, humidity, static.

i know my speakers sounded way different when the cold winter came.

i would think air with more pressure would need slightly more cone travel, and air with much less pressure would need slightly less cone travel.

an extreme example is a speaker under water, all the pressure is hard to move but it does happen.

anybody wanna compare barometer pressure?

here's a local reading from about an hour ago: 30.31 inHg

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I really don't see any negatives to active speakers, do you?

I certainly don't now, Ajax. But until the last few years and the advent of good class D amplification modules, good powered studio monitors were heavy & expensive pro tools not well suited for audiophile use at home. Class D amplification and its T variant didn't sound great when first developed, much as early solid state electronics were less than thrilling. So the first monitors with integrated digital amps (like the first SS audio electronics) disappointed most audiophiles. And a bad first experience with new technology turns optimistic early adopters into skeptics when v2 rolls around. Since the audiophile press has only recently started praising active monitors, those with less than complete faith in their ears (and/or serious concern for what others think) simply wouldn't consider active speakers, for no good reason.

 

The only downside of any concern is AC power. Although external electronics require power too, accessible AC has to be available to each speaker at a convenient location (ideally in the wall right behind each one). Hiding long, heavy line cords running to speakers can be difficult, and bundling them with unbalanced line level audio cables can induce hum (less of a concern and problem with line level than running AC wires with speaker cables). I assume that any benefits of heavy audiophile power cables are at least as audible with active speakers, although I haven't tried my Pangeas with my JBLs yet because the cabling is at the back of my desktop and looks bad enough (to my wife) with the heavy guitar amp power cables I'm using now. The JBLs come with relatively flimsy line cables, so I didn't bother using them - and I'm running balanced lines.

 

The only other concern I have is that more and more active monitors are showing up without grilles. As I haven't impaled a speaker grille in 5+ decades of rampant audiophilia, I was able to convince myself that this is not a big deal. But every time I see those drivers staring me in the face, I cringe a tiny tiny bit.......

 

David

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