Best receiver+monitors for music?

brettjrob

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I've currently got a pair of M-Audio AV-30's hooked up to my onboard sound. However, I think the left speaker (with the amp) is starting to give out, as it won't turn on half the time. Even aside from that, I think I'm ready for a step up in sound quality.

Music is my only real concern, specifically rock/prog/metal. I do minimal gaming these days, and don't care about multi-channel or a loud sub for movies.

It looks like a good receiver and pair of passive monitors is probably my best bet. I'd like to keep the total cost around $300-350, if possible. I realize this might mean going with monitors that aren't exactly top-shelf (to say the least), but that's fine for now, as they can always be upgraded when I'm out of school and have a real income.

Recommendations?

FWIW, my biggest complaint with my AV-30's is actually the high end, which seems lacking. My ideal speakers would have really clean, pronounced treble and crisp bass that isn't artificially inflated to compensate for the lack of sub, like the AV-30/40 seem to have.
 

thetruth

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For that get a Denon 589 which has Odyssey sound calibration. Neat feature that auto adjusts your speaker levels for your sitting position. Aka a sweet spot. Not top of the line tech but better than just setting it up yourself for the first time.

Speakers? Yeah monitors. On your budget, the only thing I can think of decent and new is the TweakCityAudio WAF-1. They have a good deal going for $200 you get a pair of speakers and a pretty good amp. You could get a soundcard to go with it and have decent sound.

http://www.tweakcityaudio.com/
 

Sycraft

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Audyssey, not Odyssey. I agree though it is well worth the price to get. As for speakers, I like the SVSound lineup, though I think that will blow your budget.
 

brettjrob

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Thanks for the replies. After doing more searching around, the Denon 589 seems to be a pretty standard recommendation so I'm definitely looking into that now.

I'm new to the whole speaker thing, so forgive me if the name is blasphemy in audiophile circles, but... what does everyone think of low-end Klipsch bookshelfs like the Synergy B-2? As I said in my OP, treble is really important to me, and something I feel is lacking with the AV-30/AV-40... are these "horn tweeters" a possible solution to my needs or just a gimmick?
 

Sycraft

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Well... It depends.

So horn tweeters aren't a gimmick. The compression horn is a well established design that you see a lot... In stage speakers. The reason is it is efficient at generating high levels, which you need on stage. However it also tends to suffer from more distortion than standard dome tweeters.

I haven't heard many Klipsch speakers so I cant' render any real judgment on them. I am a little wary of the horn design for the reason stated. Horns are almost exclusively the domain of stage speakers. Even companies that use horns on their stage speakers don't tend to on their home speakers.

If you are looking at more main stream speakers then the best things is to go listen to some. The major brands you can generally find at a local dealer, just go to their site and check. Go, have a listen, see what you think. The only time you have to buy blind is when you want a less well known or more specialty brand like SVS that only does Internet sales.

One thing to remember is there's no such thing as "wrong" sound. You do what you like, don't do what others tell you that you should like. I mean if you are doing audio production, ok you've got a reason to want perfectly neutral sound. However for listening at home? Whatever you like. You want a system with booming bass, loads of distortion and so on? Build it. If it sounds good it IS good.

With low prices you aren't going to get fantastic, neutral, speakers so just go listen and get the ones you like best (unless you settle on ones off the net). Also note that Audyssey will clean them up a bit, it equalizes speaker response, though the regular Audyssey MultEQ isn't all that high resolution for the speakers (it is high rez for the sub).
 

thetruth

Gawd
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WAF-1 or used monitors like Paradigm Atoms on audiogon. Both around $100-150. Skip the Klipsch.
 

NickS

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Cheap A/V receiver on CL (in my case I picked up a Pioneer 5.1 receiver for $20) and a set of Dayton B652's.

It will probably blow your old stuff out of the water for <$100 invested. Read the reviews on Parts-Express about those speakers, as well as on CNET, etc etc etc.
 

J Macker

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Cheap A/V receiver on CL (in my case I picked up a Pioneer 5.1 receiver for $20) and a set of Dayton B652's.

It will probably blow your old stuff out of the water for <$100 invested. Read the reviews on Parts-Express about those speakers, as well as on CNET, etc etc etc.

I'll second the Dayton speakers, though I bought the Dayton BR-1 kit for $170/pair and an Onkyo 601 off ebay for $120.

A little spendy, but they sound phenominal. They rival my Polk RTi 8 floorstanding speakers and sound better than the Swan D1080mkII '08's.
 

PiratePowWow

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I'd stick with active monitors for your purposes. As long as you have a decent sound card that doesn't buzz, you'll be fine with unbalanced cables.

Behringer, Samson, KRK. All affordable and all sound very very good. I'd go for an 8" personally, maybe go for something like the older Samson ResolvA8 to save some cash.
 

brettjrob

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I'd stick with active monitors for your purposes. As long as you have a decent sound card that doesn't buzz, you'll be fine with unbalanced cables.
Well, here's where I may be a bit confused. I'm currently using onboard sound, so it seems my choices are either to (a) purchase an audiophile-grade sound card for $100+, or (b) purchase a decent receiver for $100+ and run S/PDIF out from my motherboard. Would (b) not offer equal sound quality and more speaker options than (a) for roughly the same price?

Furthermore, can't you get better-quality passive speakers for a given price vs. active monitors?
 

PiratePowWow

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If you've got to buy another sound card, then I guess it's a toss up between active/passive.

I personally would go for actives since they are pre-set for a flat frequency response and you'll hear the music as it was 'intended'. But if you don't care about that, and aren't recording any music, then go for the nice stereo receiver. Maybe go for a DAC and an old school tube amp. Build both yourself, save a ton of money, have fun doing it, learn something, and enjoy the best sound you've ever heard from home.
 

brettjrob

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So I'm still weighing my options, and I have another question after further thought: how do the DAC's in low-end receivers (say ~$100) compare with the ones used by onboard audio chips?

I was gung-ho about the idea of using optical out to a receiver because the signal would be "pure," but obviously analog conversion has to occur at some point. If cheap receivers aren't really much better at this task than my onboard audio or a cheap sound card (e.g., Xonar DX), then this upgrade path might not make sense. So, I suppose the real question is: do the DAC's inside of receivers vary substantially in quality from cheaper to more expensive models? Or are the primary differences between a $500 and a $100 receiver simply power and features that won't affect me as a stereo music listener with small bookshelf speakers?
 

Snufykat

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Well, here's where I may be a bit confused. I'm currently using onboard sound, so it seems my choices are either to (a) purchase an audiophile-grade sound card for $100+, or (b) purchase a decent receiver for $100+ and run S/PDIF out from my motherboard. Would (b) not offer equal sound quality and more speaker options than (a) for roughly the same price?

Furthermore, can't you get better-quality passive speakers for a given price vs. active monitors?

If you already have the option of digital out, I would use it and a receiver with a set of book self speakers.
 
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