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Gone Wireless, Looking For Active Speakers Under $500

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Having set up my AirportExpress to play through an old set of powered computer speakers, I'm enjoying the convenience. Now I want to upgrade to some nicer sound. Here's what I'm looking for:


1. Price $500 or under.


2. Active speakers (I own no amp, receiver, or other power source).


3. Clarity, detail, and brightness at low volume is essential. Everything else is secondary. The cheap computer speakers ($60) I'm currently using have more volume than I can handle in a 12' x 20' room.


Am leaning toward Audioengine A5+. Also have seen good notes here about the KRK and other studio monitor options. My only concern there is whether they would work at the distance I'll be listening (8-9 feet from the speakers on a couch).


Ideas welcome. :-)


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  • 2 weeks later...

You might want to check out the Kanto Yaro speakers, http://www.kantospeakers.com/products/yaro. It's a clever twist on the powered speaker idea since it adds a small control unit that has digital inputs. The apple express sounds better using a digital than an analog connection.


Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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My vote is for the Audioengine 5+. Audioengines speakers are made by audiophiles for audiophiles with computers.


Thomas Turner


SPEAKERS - Snell Type C/V | PREAMP/DAC -  Project Pre Box S2 Digital  | SOURCE - Auralic Aries Mini | ROOM TREATMENT - LEDE, bass traps @ Rear of room, acoustic panels @ 1st reflections point: side walls | AMPLIFIER - Acurus A100

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like I thought I was. Still thinking. :)


Here's my last reservation with the Audioengines (indeed, with any powered, versus active, speaker).


I don't understand how the sound isn't affected by having one speaker heavier and full of equipment (the one with the amp) versus the other one which is lighter and, among other things, operating at a lower temperature.


Doesn't this affect sound compared to a passive set-up?


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Emotiva just put out a new line of powered monitors.


"The Audiophiliac" column called one of the models (the $399 pair) the best speaker of it's type he's heard at that price:



I don't think 8-9 feet for these type of speakers in a small room will be a problem.


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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but not to a level that bothered the Stereophile reviewer who looked at the A2. He commented on how he also expected them to image poorly.


I love my A5+, but speaker placement (especially toe-in and distance between speakers being at least 6 feet) is critical. I also found it necessary to do some sidewall reflection dampening as well as putting a blanket on my television during extended listening.


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I really like what I'm seeing with the Airmotiv line, but I'm wondering about the lack of heatsinks on the 4 and 5 models (the 6 has one). Wasn't overheating the reason the new Audioengine A5+ has a heatsink? Or is there some compensatory design feature with the Airmotivs 4 and 5 that take care of heating without them?


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Six feet is a bit wide for the space I'm looking at. Also, there's a diagonally aligned 42" TV that already bounces the heck out of my tiny computer speakers I'm current using in the space.


Not sure if the spouse will allow the tinkering necessary for optimal A5+ placement based on your experience. :-)


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Yeah I mean they were ok at 4 feet, but then the listening position got really awkward for my living room.


The 6 feet thing is in the little booklet that ships with them, they basically say something like "these speakers are very forgiving with positioning but we recommend placing them at least 6 feet apart for the best imaging." 4 feet might be just fine for you though.



wgscott, convince my wife that I'm not crazy with the blanket, please! :-)


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Although I cannot assess the overall state of your husband's mental health, the simple act of placing a blanket over your television set is not, in and of itself, an act of insanity (unless it is one of those blankets that has been previously immersed in a vat of small pox virus). In fact, it could be viewed as an act of mental health preservation. In addition, it might significantly raise his IQ.


In the event that he turns the sound on to your audio system, it may also have a side benefit of reducing or eliminating undesired sonic reflections, thus providing a better stereo image.


Yours faithfully,


His fellow inmate


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They're an odd little speaker, I must admit. Not sure what I expected. So far, they're the reverse (to my ears) of the plurality consensus on the web; they're much, much brighter and detailed than I expected, while the bass is very tight and focused at low to moderate listening levels. Not boomy at all.


As someone else mentioned in this thread (or perhaps another one on the AE5+), they scale with the source remarkably well. They don't make an MP3 sound like crap (although you *will* know it's an MP3) while also taking whatever crispness a well-recorded Lossless recording will give them. They love vocal and acoustic music.


I'll continue to listen. My hearing is sensitive and definitely couldn't take anything brighter than the treble produced on these. However, there could be issues with the DAC I'm using, too (an older model HeadRoom MicroDAC) or perhaps I need to wait for the full break-in period. I don't know.


Thanks to everyone again for all the help. I'll continue to evaluate and if anyone has questions about them I can answer, please, don't hesitate to ask. I'll try my best to respond.




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