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Newbie looking for first system advice

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Hi All,


I was just about to push the button on an order of basic AMP and Speakers for my home office, then I came across this site and got to thinking a bit more about it.


I have my entire collection of CDs ripped in Apple Lossless, I work using an Apple MacBook, I need some speakers so I can listen to music and podcasts whilst I work.


Will I get better value for money (and quality) with a pair of basic speakers (looking at Tangent EVO) and a basic Amp, something like a Cambridge Audio A5 connected via the line-out of my MacBook, or, will I better with some active monitors such as the M-Audio Studiophile. Also, would I be better investing in a USB soundcard or USB DAC for the MacBook. Total budget is realistically $450 (although I'm in the UK so the prices are not as good). My main concern is something with good quality that isn't too in your face, and, I need to be able to wall mount the speakers as I don't have any room on my desk.


I listen to a lot of pop, rock and Hip-Hop, so I like my bass tight and fast, but, I don't want the bass to shake the house. I want to me able to hear it, not feel it. I also quite like a lot of vocal and piano style music, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Vanessa Carlton, so I like the clarity at the top end.


Any pointers for a first timer?


Many thanks




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Hi Andrew - nice to see you found C/A, welcome.


You have quite a few options.


Here's my two cents - I'd get two used high efficiency speakers. At least as high as you can find.


Then you can use a smallish receiver that you can run the headphone jack from Macbook via a splitter into the left and right audio inputs.


That way you presumably get radio and tunes from the Macbook.


Given the budget and the fact you need both speakers and amplification, I'd skip the DAC for now. I think the speakers will be the most critical component in your budget.


Peek at something similar to Infinity Primus P162 for a general idea on the speaker. USA they sell for about $200 a pair. 90 db sensitivity. Find a reasonable 20 watt or so receiver. I'd skip the DAC until the budget increases.


Just my thoughts




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Thanks for the warm welcome and the prompt feedback. It's all a bit confusing this audio game so I'm grateful of the helping hand.


Do you think something like this http://www.richersounds.com/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=TANG-EVO-GREEN


Would be a good bet? I'm struggling to find the brand you reccomended this side of the pond.


I'd originally started looking at the M-Audio active speakers but I could use the Tangent speakers with an AMP and then add a DAC at a later stage as you suggest.


I'm actually going to be in the USA in November so I might be able to pick one up there.


As for the AMP, I have a small Denon system that I'm not using (http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/Product_ID/530) Do you think this would fit the bill, or, would I be doing myself a dis-service.


Thanks again, it's really interesting to read about it all.




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I like that little amp thing! I think it's fine to get ya rolling along. Especially if it's paid for. Put your money into some speakers is my vote. I'd hunt better ones. There are a lot of choices. The ones I mentioned before aren't super popular, but they get decent reviews. Just an example for cost comparision. For your side of the pond here's something - http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/Product_ID/2491.


Others will likely chime in. Now here's the issue I see. With a 20 watt amp, speakers that are in the 88 db sensitivity range are gonna peak out at about 95 db volume. That's fine unless you want really loud. You can decide on that. If you can find speakers with higher sensitivity you will get more volume. If it's an office that's fairly small and you don't blast the music it won't matter. Most any sensitivity will work.


Chris or somebody else will probably have an option on bookshelf speakers that are in your price range.


I just bought two of these for 395 USD delivered. They are used, but new in box. http://www.klipsch.com/products/details/r-5650-s.aspx. I think mine have a single tweeter that pivots. Not sure how you feel about in-wall. I use them when I don't want a box around. You can get ones that hang or flush mount.


Check on prices if you ship back from USA to your home. Given the exchange rates I imagine you will get a LOT more for your money from us Yanks. Shipping costs will be the key. If that should make sense, buy something over here, double box and pad and send it back.




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Hi Andrew - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. I know innertuber has given some very good advice above, but let me offer a little different spin. There are many ways to get to the finish line. A different approach would be to look into the Devilsound DAC and a pair of AudioEngine A2 speakers. This would be a great space saver because the Devilsound has such an all-in-one design. The A2s are really a great value and sound great.


Let me know what you think.


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Well, I suppose that harks back to my original question. Where will I get the most value:


1) Traditional AMP and Speakers, adding DAC at a later date




2) Active Speakers and a DAC now


It's really difficult, and the choice available here is limited so I'd have to order over the internet, I wouldn't be able to demo the kit.


Thanks again for everyone's help.




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The AE2 look great, but, I'd be worried about wall mounting them, also, the volume etc is on the rear of the unit.


After a lot of searching, I think the solution may be a KingRex T20U USB Amplifier it combines a DAC and an AMP, I can use it with any passive speakers.


Anyone ever heard this setup, or, can anyone see a drawback in my plan?


Also looking at the specifications for the KingRex, how do I know what to look for in a pair of speakers?








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