Bookshelves for Audiophiles only?

brettjrob

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Studio monitors aren't necessarily for everyone. I had the AV-30's for awhile, and I'll freely admit that the flat response didn't suit me. My music sounded lifeless and dull. My biggest gripe was the lack of high-end treble, as compared with the crap multimedia speakers I'd used before (Logitech z560).

A lot of monitors and even bookshelf speakers have "rolled off" high frequencies. Many audiophiles claim this is a good thing because it reduces "fatigue," but I couldn't disagree more. It drives me insane and makes it sound like there are five pillows between me and the speaker. I eventually swapped them for a T-amp and Klipsch B-2 bookshelf speakers, and am much happier now. If you think the KRK monitors sound bad because they're too flat and lifeless, I'd recommend looking at Klipsch bookshelf speakers. They're not audiophile quality, but their sound is very aggressive (especially the treble, due to their horn tweeters) and allows you to rock out while still maintaining high-quality, full sound that covers bass, mids, and highs (unlike cheap computer speakers).
 

Nihsnek

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He is hearing how shitty the source of his sound is.

This means upgrade your soundcard at the very least. I would go with an external dac with optical or usb input and rca out for the speakers. That will kill the hiss, lower the noisefloor and sound much better.

Yea you can't hook the KRKs directly to your PC. Use an external sound card or DAC if you can afford one. Also, you can turn the KRKs way down on the back and adjust in Windows and the hiss should dampen.

They are flat man, it takes awhile to get used to them. I'm actually trying to get rid of mine and move to Energy RC-10's.
 

Xolos

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Brettjrob,
I have a pair of M-Audio AV30s and a Allison AL10 hooked up to my TV currently. The AV30's do a darn good job at what they're supposed to do. Pretty clear all through their response. The issue with them is that I feel they're a little under powered if you start turning them up. Beyond that for the price and what they are it is hard to knock them.

In regards to KRK. In my opinion for their price KRKs are nice, but they're not exactly a 100% accurate monitor. They seem to hype the low mids a bit too much. Don't get me wrong for what they are they're not too bad though, but they're not the flattest monitors around. Good secondary monitoring system if you've got the space and such.

Another set of speakers people should consider are the Yamaha HS50m's. IMO they're a bit clearer than KRK Rokits, but still suffer from a bit too much mid range hype. Just my opinion though.
 

LeninGHOLA

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Studio monitors aren't necessarily for everyone. I had the AV-30's for awhile, and I'll freely admit that the flat response didn't suit me. My music sounded lifeless and dull. My biggest gripe was the lack of high-end treble, as compared with the crap multimedia speakers I'd used before (Logitech z560).

A lot of monitors and even bookshelf speakers have "rolled off" high frequencies. Many audiophiles claim this is a good thing because it reduces "fatigue," but I couldn't disagree more. It drives me insane and makes it sound like there are five pillows between me and the speaker. I eventually swapped them for a T-amp and Klipsch B-2 bookshelf speakers, and am much happier now. If you think the KRK monitors sound bad because they're too flat and lifeless, I'd recommend looking at Klipsch bookshelf speakers. They're not audiophile quality, but their sound is very aggressive (especially the treble, due to their horn tweeters) and allows you to rock out while still maintaining high-quality, full sound that covers bass, mids, and highs (unlike cheap computer speakers).

Rolling off at any frequency should be frowned upon, especially by audiophiles. You want to hear the full range, as flat as it was recorded when possible. The Rokit's, in general, sound pretty good. They shouldn't be feeding too little treble, but there is a distinct sound difference between the M-Audio AV line and the Rokit's. Both are good for their price bracket, but to me, the KRK's sounded fuller range.

Another point you bring up is horn tweeters. Personally, I like the sound of Klipsch horn tweeters and the BIC/Acoustech style horn tweeters. Often they are labeled as too bright, but for me, they just seem to fill the high end a bit more fully. Though, we're getting into personal preference here.
 

Coldblackice

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Studio monitors aren't necessarily for everyone. I had the AV-30's for awhile, and I'll freely admit that the flat response didn't suit me. My music sounded lifeless and dull. My biggest gripe was the lack of high-end treble, as compared with the crap multimedia speakers I'd used before (Logitech z560).

A lot of monitors and even bookshelf speakers have "rolled off" high frequencies. Many audiophiles claim this is a good thing because it reduces "fatigue," but I couldn't disagree more. It drives me insane and makes it sound like there are five pillows between me and the speaker. I eventually swapped them for a T-amp and Klipsch B-2 bookshelf speakers, and am much happier now. If you think the KRK monitors sound bad because they're too flat and lifeless, I'd recommend looking at Klipsch bookshelf speakers. They're not audiophile quality, but their sound is very aggressive (especially the treble, due to their horn tweeters) and allows you to rock out while still maintaining high-quality, full sound that covers bass, mids, and highs (unlike cheap computer speakers).


Thanks -- I think I'm in that exact same boat. Aside from the slight hissing (which I attribute to lack of beefy soundcard and non-Monster cables :), I also feel that the sound is... lacking, like I'm listening to the sound through cardboard, or it's some "lifeless" tinny speaker from a Mcdonalds toy. Absolute no offense to studio monitor/audiophiles out there, I just don't think my juvenile hearing/listening is ready for this high-level flat sound. I would much prefer to bring back my (albeit flawed) punching Logitech Z Cinemas and their nice side dish of 'WOOF.

Thanks for the recommendations -- it seems like Klipsch gets a lot of nods around here (for what they're worth, obviously not the best to be had). Would Klipsch bookshelves be better than the ProMedia 2.1 system?

Also, forgive the perhaps over-the-top questionnaire, but what "T-amp" did you get? Does that qualify as your 'receiver'? Did you add a sub? And what kind of sound card do you have feeding it?

I'd also love others' recommendations on this as well, if you don't mind this thread living another day, that is!

-Popular bookshelf speakers/brands for music (no production)/gaming/movies(known brand, good/fast resellability, low value diminish rate)
-Sound card recommendation (From other threads, it seems this battle may come down to Creative vs the Xonar?)
-Amp vs Receiver


Thanks for everyones contributions. I apologize for the questions; I try to avoid my threads being so specifically personal or narrow, and hope that other growing audiophytes can benefit from this information as I have :)


EDIT: Whoa, didn't see the recommendations trickle in as I was writing this out. Cool beans.
 
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tdg

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Great bang for the buck setup for about $200 - Topping TP30 USB DAC & 30 watt "class T" amp and a pair of BIC DV62si 6.5" bookshelves. You can get both components from Partsexpress for just over $200 and it'll destroy any big brand setup for the price. Especially nice is the DAC will bypass your soundcard so one less thing to upgrade.
 

pwrusr

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I think I remember the OP saying $300 max??

If that's the case look at your local guitar center and see all the different studio monitors in your price range. I personally went for the Yamaha HS50M a few weeks ago after taking back the pair of dynaudio bm5a mk2.

I wrote a full review on my personal experience here:
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1615083
Be sure to check out the other thread I link to in the first post.

That said, what worked for me might not work as well for you. Again, check out your local guitar center and bring some music along that you often listen to. Plan to be there for a 1-3 hours auditioning the speakers. That way you can know for sure which speakers are right for you... Also do a bit of shopping around online once you find a set of speakers you're happy with and bring that price in to guitar center.they should be able to price match on the spot :cool:
 

brettjrob

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Thanks -- I think I'm in that exact same boat. Aside from the slight hissing (which I attribute to lack of beefy soundcard and non-Monster cables :), I also feel that the sound is... lacking, like I'm listening to the sound through cardboard, or it's some "lifeless" tinny speaker from a Mcdonalds toy. Absolute no offense to studio monitor/audiophiles out there, I just don't think my juvenile hearing/listening is ready for this high-level flat sound. I would much prefer to bring back my (albeit flawed) punching Logitech Z Cinemas and their nice side dish of 'WOOF.

Thanks for the recommendations -- it seems like Klipsch gets a lot of nods around here (for what they're worth, obviously not the best to be had). Would Klipsch bookshelves be better than the ProMedia 2.1 system?

Also, forgive the perhaps over-the-top questionnaire, but what "T-amp" did you get? Does that qualify as your 'receiver'? Did you add a sub? And what kind of sound card do you have feeding it?
I think I have a pretty good test of whether moving to the Klipsch sound would fix the problems you perceive the KRK's to have. If you're a foobar2000 user, try downloading this plugin: http://foosion.foobar2000.org/components/?id=delta and set it at some value like 75% or 100% once it's installed. If your music then sounds a lot more like you want it to (without needing such a plugin that introduces hiss and other issues, of course), then I think Klipsch bookshelf's are just what the doctor ordered. God, I love these horn tweeters, despite seemingly 75% of people on audio message boards deriding them as "too bright" or "fatiguing."

A T-amp is just a standalone amplifier. It's like a receiver without any of the fancy inputs or knobs or electronics. I got the cheapest one available from Parts Express (DTA-1, $40). It gets the job done for powering two small to medium-size bookshelf speakers without a sub, but if I weren't a starving college student I probably would've sprung for a decent receiver. If budget is a big concern for you, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this cheap T-amp, which will open you up to the world of passive speakers (much more variety than the powered speaker market).

I'm using onboard sound and no sub. Any true audiophile would cringe at my ghetto setup, but for a measly $140 total, I feel it's better than anything else I could've gotten. I really don't think you need a sub with mid-size bookshelf speakers unless you're a basshead or more concerned with games/movies than music. The Klipsch B-2's I'm using are ideal for my apartment: plenty of mid-bass, but not much in the way of the window-rattling, chest-thumping stuff.
 

LeninGHOLA

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Having a T amp on your desk does open up quite a few possibilities for PC audio.
 

LeninGHOLA

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Thanks -- I think I'm in that exact same boat. Aside from the slight hissing (which I attribute to lack of beefy soundcard and non-Monster cables :), I also feel that the sound is... lacking, like I'm listening to the sound through cardboard, or it's some "lifeless" tinny speaker from a Mcdonalds toy. Absolute no offense to studio monitor/audiophiles out there, I just don't think my juvenile hearing/listening is ready for this high-level flat sound. I would much prefer to bring back my (albeit flawed) punching Logitech Z Cinemas and their nice side dish of 'WOOF.

Thanks for the recommendations -- it seems like Klipsch gets a lot of nods around here (for what they're worth, obviously not the best to be had). Would Klipsch bookshelves be better than the ProMedia 2.1 system?

Also, forgive the perhaps over-the-top questionnaire, but what "T-amp" did you get? Does that qualify as your 'receiver'? Did you add a sub? And what kind of sound card do you have feeding it?

I'd also love others' recommendations on this as well, if you don't mind this thread living another day, that is!

-Popular bookshelf speakers/brands for music (no production)/gaming/movies(known brand, good/fast resellability, low value diminish rate)
-Sound card recommendation (From other threads, it seems this battle may come down to Creative vs the Xonar?)
-Amp vs Receiver


Thanks for everyones contributions. I apologize for the questions; I try to avoid my threads being so specifically personal or narrow, and hope that other growing audiophytes can benefit from this information as I have :)


EDIT: Whoa, didn't see the recommendations trickle in as I was writing this out. Cool beans.

Brett gave a pretty good subjective report on this type of thing above me, but I'd like to add as well.

If it's just "studio flat" that doesn't jive with you, then I'd try out a pair of Klipsch reference bookshelves as well as the top end BIC bookshelves

http://www.amazon.com/America-FH-65...TP8K/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1309412113&sr=8-5
 

Rossi~

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I doubt very few people would share your position. More likely the other way around.

I shared my experience on powered monitors in the OP's budget range, and out of the blue you interject:

1) tell me I've never listened to anything good
2) then list a $3200 setup as an example of "what's good"

When the OP has stated at $200 budget. And then when I explain to you I have heard what I consider are decent monitors, you call me a troll instead of responding with a post of substance?

Good luck finding some one who sides with you there. I'm afraid you fit the textbook definition of a troll yourself.

1) Studio monitors are designed to give you a very precise and very clean sound, any "hiss" you're getting is either because the monitors are cheap/poor quality or the source is dire.
2) Read this again and see the many "..." and then read it again, there's an element of sarcasm right? I was clearly stating that i would purchase studio monitors for PC use ONLY IF i had a lot of money to spend. Now check my signature and you will see that i have a receiver setup for my PC that cost me around £700-£750 excluding the soundcard..

I would choose powered studio monitors over passive hi-fi speakers for my PC in a small-medium office any day.. if i had £2000 to spend... (Genelec 8030A + Genelec 7050B). However if sitting back on the sofa listening to music or watching music i would instantly turn to receiver + passive.

I don't know, maybe my post was hard to get but it seems to me that you just jumped the gun to have a go at me because i said the that studio monitors you've heard are rubbish/not set up properly.

Either way, back on topic, if the user has $200-$300 to spend i would personally get a second hand receiver ($200ish) and a set of bookshelf speakers ($100 ish) and add a sub later on. Connect via digital from whatever means are available currently.
 

John721

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Audioholics did a Budget Bookshelf Speaker Shootout a while back. Most of the speakers reviewed are still available on the market, and for lower prices than the msrp prices listed in the review. It's hard to beat your own ears for judging speakers, but it's a good read if you're looking.
 

Coldblackice

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Cool, currently checking out recommended speakers/articles/guitar shops.

I'm getting googly eyed over the Klipsch B2's and BIC DV62's -- thanks for the recommendations (Yamaha's are a little too expensive for me at ~$130-$200/speaker).

They both seem to get pretty dang good reviews, and both look like they have a handful that are selling (and reselling) on ebay. On the matter of reselling -- I'm gathering that speakers keep a much longer resale value than most internal computer hardware? What would your rough guess be on the value of these in 1-2 years from now? What's a rough rate of decrease?

After searching the For Sale forum for Klipsch, I was blown away by how many promedia sets are (and have) sold, and on ebay as well. And it seems like they get rave reviews (at least on Amazon). Will one really hear a big difference between a ProMedia set and say the Klipsch B2 bookshelfs with an external DAC ("one" being a non-audiophile in general pop.)?

I guess the main thing I'm worried about with walking the bookshelf speaker route is that it looks to be far less mainstream and fewer traversed; my main worry being that when I want to upgrade in a year, I'll be stuck with some no-doubt great-sounding speakers, but that they won't garner any resale attention, being off the beaten path. And then I'll have to chop their sale price far below what their real diminished value would be.

Have you had good success reselling used bookshelfs (and other non-mainstream type speakers and audio equipment), retaining as much of their value as possible?
 

Procyon12

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obviously your going to loose alot of value right off the bat, like driving a car off the lot, but if you keep them nice, (and for higher end stuff, in a cosmetically mint condition is very important) they will resell pretty well, even 10 years from now.

i bought a pair of infinity kappa 6.1 sii's 2 years ago for $300 (and i think i underpaid by atleast $150)
they were about $1100 in the early 90s.
25% after ~15 is pretty good in my book.

that being said, if you wish to upgrade down the line, i would keep the B2s and look into better recievers/amps and sources, possibly adding a nice musical sub, then upgrade from the B2s far down the line after that.
 
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Coldblackice

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Cool, thanks procyon. As for the driving new off the lot analogy, I'm actually looking to buy everything used in the first place, so it's hopefully already fallen off that initial value cliff.

With the B2s, will upgrades in the DAC/receiver/amp category give better benefit in sound than a speaker upgrade would?

Anyone have an opinion on a tossup between Klipsch B2's and BIC DV62si's?
 

dragonhawke

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I don't know, maybe my post was hard to get but it seems to me that you just jumped the gun to have a go at me because i said the that studio monitors you've heard are rubbish/not set up properly.

On a forum:

Quality of Baseless Challenge = Quality of the Reply

Was my response snarky? Yes, a deserving response to a snarky post. Dropping some passive-aggressive turd will get an equally asinine response. I have no qualms with you otherwise.
 
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Procyon12

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With the B2s, will upgrades in the DAC/receiver/amp category give better benefit in sound than a speaker upgrade would?

short answer is, it depends.

to be honest, im not really familiar with the model, but cheaper recievers wont bring the most out of good bookshelves, so upgrading those first may not be the best idea.

there are alot of different options in your upgrade path, and no way is necessarily the correct way. something to consider along the way, is if these will be used for music, or gaming/home theater..other things you have to consider are the room and distances, and placement options as well, so some that might suit desktop placement for a computer, may not have the same effect in a bigger room, or on a wider sound stage. or some speakers perform better in rooms with hard walls where the speakers can go into corners, etc..

alot of people dont realize that better amps that can deliver cleaner power can deliver better bass and clarity you though was not possible with your speaker. a better transport can reduce jitter increasing the resolution of the audio.

something to remember is that audio is an analog domain, and i mean that both physically and metaphorically.

from a musical standpoint, in my opinion, better sources and amps, can bring out the best performance of a speaker, adding warmth, livleyness, texture, soundstage, depth, and "feel" even if the speaker hits all the same notes as it did before.

for example, maybe you want to upgrade your system, because it doesnt have the clarity or bass you'd like. perfectly fine, but maybe, adding a degree of "musicality" if that makes any sense, takes a higher priority, at that particular point in your upgrade path,


the bottom line is this, when looking to upgrade your system, consider what part of the sound you want to improve the most, then look into which components can help you get there on your budget. It may or may not be the speaker.
 
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spaceman

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It is your source. Get any other speaker than what you have now and the sound will be more or less the same.

Keep the KRK and get an external dac.

Then consider other upgrade options. You are trying to run without legs right now.
 

SYN ACK

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short answer is, it depends.

to be honest, im not really familiar with the model, but cheaper recievers wont bring the most out of good bookshelves, so upgrading those first may not be the best idea.

there are alot of different options in your upgrade path, and no way is necessarily the correct way. something to consider along the way, is if these will be used for music, or gaming/home theater..other things you have to consider are the room and distances, and placement options as well, so some that might suit desktop placement for a computer, may not have the same effect in a bigger room, or on a wider sound stage. or some speakers perform better in rooms with hard walls where the speakers can go into corners, etc..

alot of people dont realize that better amps that can deliver cleaner power can deliver better bass and clarity you though was not possible with your speaker. a better transport can reduce jitter increasing the resolution of the audio.

something to remember is that audio is an analog domain, and i mean that both physically and metaphorically.

from a musical standpoint, in my opinion, better sources and amps, can bring out the best performance of a speaker, adding warmth, livleyness, texture, soundstage, depth, and "feel" even if the speaker hits all the same notes as it did before.

for example, maybe you want to upgrade your system, because it doesnt have the clarity or bass you'd like. perfectly fine, but maybe, adding a degree of "musicality" if that makes any sense, takes a higher priority, at that particular point in your upgrade path,


the bottom line is this, when looking to upgrade your system, consider what part of the sound you want to improve the most, then look into which components can help you get there on your budget. It may or may not be the speaker.

you conveniently ignore the room.
nothing is more detrimental to sound quality than a small acoustical space masking the signal.
 

Procyon12

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you conveniently ignore the room.
nothing is more detrimental to sound quality than a small acoustical space masking the signal.

yes because i was trying to illustrate buying upgrading speakers vs upgrading source components.
 

spaceman

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Easy now, don't melt their brains lol.

Easiest thing to do is get a proper source, then play with the speaker placement and room acoustics. With a nearfield aka pc desk setup, room acoustics are not as pronounced as a traditional stereo or surround setup. Just get away from the walls by at least a foot for starters if possible. Can of worms opened by syn ack!
 

brettjrob

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I'm getting googly eyed over the Klipsch B2's and BIC DV62's -- thanks for the recommendations (Yamaha's are a little too expensive for me at ~$130-$200/speaker).
FWIW, I only chose the B2's because they were on clearance for $100 (for the pair) at my local electronics store. It looks like they're retailing for $200-300 right now. If that's the best price you can get, it's probably worth moving up to the Klipsch Reference series -- namely, the RB-51's. I auditioned them at the store and they sounded noticeably better than the B2's I took home. If the B2's had been only 30% cheaper instead of 60%, I probably would've nabbed them.

If you're buying used, I assume a similar price differential will apply -- that is, the B2's probably aren't going to be THAT much cheaper than the RB-51's, unless you find a really good deal.

---

As for the issue of allocating your money to a better receiver vs. better speaker, I can't speak from experience. All I know is that my Klipsch's sound fine hooked up to the cheap T-amp. I don't doubt that I could spend five times more on a receiver and the sound would improve noticeably. But if I have $200 to spend, I'm putting $150 toward the speakers and $50 toward the amp, and not vice-versa. It may be true that a good receiver paves a better "upgrade path" for later on, but that's immaterial if you don't envision yourself affording nice $500 bookshelf's as an upgrade any time in the near future.
 

spaceman

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The speaker needs to be fairly efficient to run full bodied on a t-amp. Bookshelves tend to be more power hungry than tower speakers btw. Still, it is true. Get a t-amp and spend as much as you can on a good pair of speakers. Do not be afraid to buy used either. I have a pair of 30 year old polk monitor 10s that will still kick the crap out of anything in BB. I do not like Klipsch very much compared to other builders but speaker preference is based on what YOU like not me.
 

Procyon12

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i love klipsch but they tend to be on the bright side without good amplification; since digital sources themselves are brighter than analog, id reccomend something else for music when mated with cheaper sources/amps/recievers; i use klipsch in my HT, just my 2c.
 
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Mr. Wolf, the problem with a sub + studio monitor combination is that you don't get the bass management or room acoustics management that a modern receiver gives you. No, not everyone needs those things, but I've had so much trouble getting subwoofers to integrate into my room that I want all the help I can get.

coldblackice, what's your budget? What existing audio equipment do you own?

"Studio" monitors with a sub out (or a sub with monitor outs) will have a fixed crossover based off of the manufacturer's opinion. If you're having trouble integrating subs with your room, you should start looking at treating your room instead of saving up for the most expensive one you can buy. Running stereo subs also helps with room mode issues.
 

Coldblackice

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I apologize for digging up this old thread, but thought that my recent purchases and subsequent thoughts might help others who read this thread--

After a lot of research and some great recommendations and info from this thread, I went ahead and bought some used Klipsch B3 Bookshelf speakers off ebay. I also bought a BIC PL-200 12-inch subwoofer (which gets mouth-foaming reviews and recommendations in the budget subwoofer arena).

Still undecided on the amp/DAC/receiver part, I went ahead and bought a home theater set at walmart to see how everything would sound hooked up to the cheap RCA receiver, not realizing just how critical that part is, that it's literally the heartbeat of the entire setup.

I hooked everything up to the cheap RCA receiver, and knowing that it was cheap and wouldn't be able to do much, I still slumped over in hopelessness at how crappy sounding everything was. I also had to crank the receiver to near max volume to even get a moderate level. From reading, I knew there were big sound differences in the power/quality of the amp/receiver, but I thought I would at least be able to get "enjoyment" from this receiver, to at least be able to get a taste of how the speakers/sub could sound.

I was suddenly wishing I hadn't sold my Logitech Z cinema set up, and gladly would have taken it back. But I decided to go ahead and get a good receiver and give that a try, hoping for a miracle.

I went ahead and found a highly-recommended receiver (again, in the budget arena) -- a Yamaha RX-V667 -- and I found it at a KILLER price. I spent all last night stripping and banana plugging 12-gauge speaker wire, and hooking everything up with some sweet cables from monoprice.

And all I can say is....


H-O-L-Y C-R-A-P


My mind is BLOWN. The sound is MAGNIFICENT. The POWER is so strong that the vibrations make me levitate a couple inches off the floor as I float around the room on a hovercraft of sound.

I feel like I've been eating chicken patties all my life, until now, until the moment the God of Sound smiled down upon my being and clapped two big fatty succulent steaks over my ears.

They taste good.... real good.



EDIT:

100th POST!
 
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Blackbeard Ben

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Nice, man! I've a pair of B2s I traded for, and they're very, very impressive for their efficiency/size/value proposition.

They're my smallest, most inexpensive, and least technically competent speakers ATM, but for what they are they're great. I would have probably gotten the B3 or RB-51 or something more impressive if I hadn't traded for them, but I'm happy nonetheless.

They do run fine off of low-powered T-amps in reasonably sized rooms, which is something few other bookshelves can do to the same degree. Obviously you've discovered the difference between incompetent and competent amplification with your Yammy versus a HTIB - from where you are on up, other than equalization which can easily be accomplished by other means there's not a whole lot of improvement to be made for your dollar.
 

pwrusr

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Coldblackice, now you know what it's all about :D

Great choice on the RX-V667. That's the best "low end" receiver Yamaha made a year or so ago. see review below to see what i mean by that
http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/receivers/yamaha-rx-v667

Very well regarded receiver from the reviews I've read :cool:

BTW I loved this part of your post:
The POWER is so strong that the vibrations make me levitate a couple inches off the floor as I float around the room on a hovercraft of sound.
I'm still loling from that :D

Congrats on finding some serious audio nirvana :cool:
 

Coldblackice

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Aug 14, 2010
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1,151
Thanks guys! :) I can finally go and get "Audiophile... Jr" tatted across my pecs.


Wowwee, I'm already sad that late night is upon me, because it means 10+ hours that these badboys will have to keep their quiet voices on. :/ But come 9AM, I don't care how many people are in this apartment complex, these walls are coming DOWN :O


Question -- Blackbeard alluded to there not being much more "up" on the scale that I can move. Now of course I understand that there are finer and more expensive items in these departments, but as far as bang-for-buck goes, I imagine I won't find similar returns on this same type of monetary investment I've made.

BUT, I'm wondering -- What about a sound card? All of my music comes from my computer, currently coming from the optical-out that's built into my EVGA motherboard. Would I get much benefit or notice a reasonable difference in popping in some kinda of beefy high-end soundcard?

My initial thinking is that because the signal is digital, it's just straight 1's and 0's from the mp3s, and thus there's no real variation or interpretation that would make a difference in a high end sound card. But, I'm guessing that it's not that simple, and that even with a digital signal, the mobo port and the sound card still apply some processing and "interpretation".

TLDR: Should I get a beefy soundcard instead of my mobo port? What would the benefit be, and would I (an audiophile Jr) notice much difference between the two? If not, maybe the money saved from not buying a sound card would be better put toward some higher-end receivers/amps/speakers down the line...?
 

pwrusr

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 30, 2009
Messages
3,116
You will not really hear much of a difference between a higher end sound card's optical out and your current optical out. Your receiver is still doing the digital to analog conversion.

BTW, don't get yourself evicted. I'd hate to read a genmay thread on that one :p
 

Procyon12

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 26, 2011
Messages
1,190
My initial thinking is that because the signal is digital, it's just straight 1's and 0's from the mp3s, and thus there's no real variation or interpretation that would make a difference in a high end sound card. But, I'm guessing that it's not that simple, and that even with a digital signal, the mobo port and the sound card still apply some processing and "interpretation".

your right its not quite that simple. the issue is, its not just copying the mp3 to the DAC and saving it there. its live streaming. and this live streaming is where the complications arise.

theres mainly 2 things to consider:
a) the output capabilities of the sound card.
b) jitter.

its important to get a sound card that can output bitperfect audio. if you dont, you risk the software altering the 1's and 0s. sound cards with native ASIO or WASAPI support will make getting the best sound out of your computer so much easier. Redbook CDs are recorded in 16 bit 44.1khz sample rate. the problem is that the windows kmixer operates at 48khz. with this kind of support, your audio program can take full control over the sound card without windows touching it with its dirty fingers. without a direct output support on the sound card, the sound will be polluted by the windows kmixer and it will loose quality as it gets converted to 48khz.

the other concern the Timing of the delivery of the 1s and 0s. when your 1s and 0s come a little to late or too early, your DAC will not rebuild the audio waveform correctly. i would not worry too much over over low end vs high end sound cards at this point, but the issue with onboard sound is that your CPU, GPU, power supply etc, will much more easily pollute the clock of your digital output. take this article as a good intro to the issue:
http://www.stereophile.com/reference/1093jitter

in short, if your looking for a sound card upgrade, i would look at the sound card with ASIO drivers or read reviews as to the WASAPI performance, and preferably externaly connected that falls within your budget.

im going to put a disclaimer out here:
when using digital, the largest difference your going to perceive between the low end and high end, is how "musical" does it sound, over whether the speakers technically hit all the right frequencies. polluted digital streams tend to sound more "clinical"
 
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bAMtan2

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 16, 2008
Messages
1,480
BUT, I'm wondering -- What about a sound card? All of my music comes from my computer, currently coming from the optical-out that's built into my EVGA motherboard. Would I get much benefit or notice a reasonable difference in popping in some kinda of beefy high-end soundcard?

no. you've got the bases covered. anything else is just fetish.
 

brettjrob

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 3, 2008
Messages
387
im going to put a disclaimer out here:
when using digital, the largest difference your going to perceive between the low end and high end, is how "musical" does it sound, over whether the speakers technically hit all the right frequencies. polluted digital streams tend to sound more "clinical"
I'm curious about exactly what you mean here. I'm about to upgrade from onboard analog out to an external DAC that can be connected to my onboard via S/PDIF.

Like the OP, I was under the impression that "0s and 1s are 0s and 1s," aside from minor issues like jitter. Jitter does not seem like a problem that would affect the musicality or even really the quality of audio, at least not on a frequent basis. So, am I correct to assume you're referring to upsampling from 44.1 kHz to 48 kHz as the reason for music sounding more "clinical?" That's interesting, if so, and I'd love to hear others' experiences with that.
 

Procyon12

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 26, 2011
Messages
1,190
I'm curious about exactly what you mean here. I'm about to upgrade from onboard analog out to an external DAC that can be connected to my onboard via S/PDIF.

Like the OP, I was under the impression that "0s and 1s are 0s and 1s," aside from minor issues like jitter. Jitter does not seem like a problem that would affect the musicality or even really the quality of audio, at least not on a frequent basis. So, am I correct to assume you're referring to upsampling from 44.1 kHz to 48 kHz as the reason for music sounding more "clinical?" That's interesting, if so, and I'd love to hear others' experiences with that.

what i mean to say is this:
generally speaking, for the most part, jitter isnt likley going to cause issues in clarity, noise, or anything like that. but its going to create minute anomalies in the wave form with occasional freq spikes. things tend to sound more forward, and direct, instead of just soaking into you. the high freq is most effected by jitter, so jitter tends to make the high end seem "harsh" thats what causes it. thats what i mean by musical and clinical.

the best way i can think to describe it is this:
its not something that you can just listen to and say aha! this this is note didnt hit the exact correct frequency: thats where it messed up....Your brain just intuitively knows what sounds natural and it doesn't sound quite like it supposed to sound.


but heres the problem: on higher end systems, the DAC is better apt for correcting jitter issues, but at that higher level, imperfections are more revealing, so youd want to get a more pure output stream anyway.

here is my second issue: im not a fan of HT recievers for music. they are designed to do moves well. and music as a second thought. im not sure that the average HT reciever even sounds musical enough to be effected by these issues.....i would have gone for a stereo integrated amp for the same price..
 
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Blackbeard Ben

Limp Gawd
Joined
Mar 3, 2010
Messages
237
Nobody has ever heard jitter whatsoever in any competent system. EVER. Don't worry about it.

On top of that, for digital transmission of signals you don't need anything approaching a perfect square wave. There's tolerances (margins of error) both in the time and amplitude domain that mean that the signal can be far from perfect.

Here's an eye diagram similar to those for USB and S/PDIF audio:

nea_0205inin-1fig2.gif


You can read a simple explanation of eye diagrams here and a more in-depth explanation here.

Also, Windows 7 and Vista do not use kmixer. Read here to learn about the new volume mixer and how it is superior - and if you have it set right, when you have no other audio sources playing at the same time you are getting a bit-perfect stream in most cases.

As far as "musical" - that's a made-up term that has no real, specific meaning. It's useless in actually describing sound and correlating it with real measurements. Actually, if an amplifier isn't completely transparent in use - amplifying the signal near-perfectly with minimal distortions in the time and amplitude domains - there's something wrong with it. There is an objective standard for the amplification of sound as represented by a summation of sine waves in the electrical domain - an amplifier should reach as close to that as possible unless your goal is not truly high fidelity.
 

dragonhawke

Limp Gawd
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
212
Can I see a video of this levitating off the floor? I think you are going to be headlined on CNN pretty soon.

As far as jitter goes, I'm gonna bet you won't even be able to tell in a DBT with $20,000 gear.
 

Procyon12

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 26, 2011
Messages
1,190
As far as jitter goes, I'm gonna bet you won't even be able to tell in a DBT with $20,000 gear.

im not really sure what you mean by that...jitter reduction means that more simple dacs have less work to do.

a 20,000 source components to a $1000 source components would fail in a DBT to untrained ears and succeed in a DBT with trained ears. whats your sample going to be like? most people dont pay enough attention to music (just think of whats popular on the radio and tv for proof) to even note the difference between a system to that level, what is a DBT with an average population sampling going to do?

if you take a DBT with people who specifically look for errors, then it will succeeed, but its is flawed from the start becaue of the sample. DBTs in audio run in to sample issues....

i think a DBT is probably more suited on the low end, which is where we are.

anyway, the point is this:
going from on motherboard to asynchronous outboard on a few hundred dollar DAC is probably the most noticible difference....i could tell that on a DBT id put good money on it.


anyone who thinks that on motherboard digital to good outboard digital is completley unnoticible makes me rofl my waffles.
 
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Sycraft

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
5,071
In terms of jitter and that kind of thing it is only possibly an issue if you are not using a receiver. If you are using a modern receiver, source jitter is irrelevant because the receiver processes everything. The input signal will be taken, converted, processed by the DSP, and then sent to the onboard DACs which have their own clock source. Source jitter doesn't matter as the source isn't used for any clock. This goes double in the case of using Dolby Digital Live or DTS Interactive where it is a compressed signal.

If you have a normal DAC, one that doesn't do any sort of reclocking (and cheap ones may not) then it could possibly be an issue. In actuality, well that's hard to say I'd have to test your system, but in theory the issue can exist at that point.

So in the case of most HT type computer setups, where a receiver is central to it, don't worry. So long as the source is clean enough for the receiver to lock on to (and they all are) you are good. The signal will go through whatever DSP is on board before it goes to the DACs anyhow so it is getting reclocked.

Now please note all the above applies only to digital connections. With analogue you get a whole set of new issues.
 
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