Good compact 2.0 setup (PC, music/some movies, occasional gaming)

B00nie

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You should be fine as the ESS9018Q2C is a decent chip. My dislike for onboard DAC is just a carryover from the old days where noise isolation was a pretty low priority but the newer high end mobo should be fine. I just prefer to take the digital signal and decode it outside the case but that's just a personal preference.
Many onboard sound implementations use galvanic isolation and well known chips in them, they're not the crap they used to be. The speakers are typically the weakest link. If someone is using some plastic soap cup size multimedia speakers, a dac is their least concern. Once you get to the level of, say, Genelec G three or G four, then you might begin to be built-in audio limited.
 

B00nie

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I was just responding to your post that thought I was using a $2000 DAC with cheap speakers. My original respond was recommending the AudioEngine which has a built-in 16/48 DAC to the OP as a slightly more expensive solution than the Monoprice. Of which your respond was "Heh, that's quite an overstatement. This is a nice entry level speaker but not even remotely 'one of the best'. The best ones cost 10-100 times as much as this." If only you remember that he was looking for 6" 2.0 setup.
My respond was to you claiming the Audioengine speakers were 'one of the best powered speakers'. Which is not factual. The Danley labs Studio 2 I posted graphs on is actually a traditional 'powered speaker' i.e. a speaker with a passive crossover and a built-in amp. It does have DSP also but used in a bit unconventinal way.
 

Wiz33

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My respond was to you claiming the Audioengine speakers were 'one of the best powered speakers'. Which is not factual. The Danley labs Studio 2 I posted graphs on is actually a traditional 'powered speaker' i.e. a speaker with a passive crossover and a built-in amp. It does have DSP also but used in a bit unconventinal way.

Unfortunately it does not fit what the OP was asking for while my respond was within context of his requirement. OK, a bit pushing it to trust web reviews but if you do a search for best PC speakers. The AudioEngine is pretty much always on the list:

https://www.ign.com/articles/the-best-desktop-pc-speakers

https://www.techradar.com/news/best-computer-speakers

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-computer-speakers,review-6355.html

https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-computer-speakers

https://www.soundguys.com/best-computer-speakers-8539/

Claiming that there are other better powered speakers when it has nothing to do with what the OP is asking for doesn't help anyone.
 
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criccio

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lopoetve what happened here lol. You would have been perfectly happy with the $70 speakers I linked as the first response.

Arguing over frequency response graphs? Some uber nerds need to learn to read the room.
 

Wiz33

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Many onboard sound implementations use galvanic isolation and well known chips in them, they're not the crap they used to be. The speakers are typically the weakest link. If someone is using some plastic soap cup size multimedia speakers, a dac is their least concern. Once you get to the level of, say, Genelec G three or G four, then you might begin to be built-in audio limited.

All depends on how old you meant when you say "Used to be". My last mobo was a LGA 1150 ASUS Z97 from 2015 with a Realtec ALC1150 and the audio quality was noticeably improved when I put a TEAC HA-P50 in between even when driving my XBA-A3 IEM or a set of Boston Acoustic MircoMedia speakers in my office at work. There's also a noticeable difference between the same mobo driving a set of Logitech Z680 5.1 system between using the analog out from the mobo vs using the optical/coax digital out from the mobo. Also, the mobo is not the only source of electronic noise in a PC case. You can get interference from the PSU, Cooling fan, any PCI card that you're using.

 
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lopoetve

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lopoetve what happened here lol. You would have been perfectly happy with the $70 speakers I linked as the first response.

Arguing over frequency response graphs? Some uber nerds need to learn to read the room.
That’s what I’m buying 🤣. Then I’ll fiddle with the second question I asked.
 

B00nie

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Unfortunately it does not fit what the OP was asking for while my respond was within context of his requirement. OK, a bit pushing it to trust web reviews but if you do a search for best PC speakers. The AudioEngine is pretty much always on the list:


Claiming that there are other better powered speakers when it has nothing to do with what the OP is asking for doesn't help anyone.
Did you just write that after bringing 2000 dollar DACs to this thread? ROFL!
 

B00nie

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All depends on how old you meant when you say "Used to be". My last mobo was a LGA 1150 ASUS Z97 from 2015 with a Realtec ALC1150 and the audio quality was noticeably improved when I put a TEAC HA-P50 in between even when driving my XBA-A3 IEM or a set of Boston Acoustic MircoMedia speakers in my office at work. There's also a noticeable difference between the same mobo driving a set of Logitech Z680 5.1 system between using the analog out from the mobo vs using the optical/coax digital out from the mobo. Also, the mobo is not the only source of electronic noise in a PC case. You can get interference from the PSU, Cooling fan, any PCI card that you're using.

Differences in gain are enough for most people to think there are perceivable differences but in double blind tests when gains are leveled, most people, audio reviewers included, struggle or fail to find differences between two working DACs (entry level vs high end). I highly doubt that you were able to hear a real improvement using craptastic speakers such as the MicroMedia lol. The differences between DACs are normally so small. Headset? Much more likely though. And it always cracks me when people rant about 120db vs 110db S/N when they listen to sources with around 65db dynamic range (or 90ish on modern cd's) at the average of 85db output volume.
 

Wiz33

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Differences in gain are enough for most people to think there are perceivable differences but in double blind tests when gains are leveled, most people, audio reviewers included, struggle or fail to find differences between two working DACs (entry level vs high end). I highly doubt that you were able to hear a real improvement using craptastic speakers such as the MicroMedia lol. The differences between DACs are normally so small. Headset? Much more likely though. And it always cracks me when people rant about 120db vs 110db S/N when they listen to sources with around 65db dynamic range (or 90ish on modern cd's) at the average of 85db output volume.

That's the point. The clarity, imaging all improved even on crap Micromedia speakers between using the analog 3.5mm out on the mobo vs using the optical out to a mid range standalone DAC and it's not only me as my co-workers notice the difference also. That's why I said noise isolation is not up to par on older mobo/PC and I meant electronic noise. There're also other interference sources within a PC case from the PSU to cooling fans to other cards in the case. Using the Logitech Z680 is another example or doing DAC onboard vs the DAC on the Logitech control box. Also used a cheap Fiio Q1 portable with the same results. So this is not comparing one DAC to another, just that moving the DAC function from the mobo to a standalone unit makes enough difference to be noticed even on crap speakers.
 
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Wiz33

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Did you just write that after bringing 2000 dollar DACs to this thread? ROFL!

Yes, since that reply was directed at you who suggested that good powered speakers need to be 10-100 times more expensive which was not within the context of the OP requested.
 

B00nie

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That's the point. The clarity, imaging all improved even on crap Micromedia speakers between using the analog 3.5mm out on the mobo vs using the optical out to a mid range standalone DAC and it's not only me as my co-workers notice the difference also. That's why I said noise isolation is not up to par on older mobo/PC and I meant electronic noise. There're also other interference sources within a PC case from the PSU to cooling fans to other cards in the case. Using the Logitech Z680 is another example or doing DAC onboard vs the DAC on the Logitech control box. Also used a cheap Fiio Q1 portable with the same results. So this is not comparing one DAC to another, just that moving the DAC function from the mobo to a standalone unit makes enough difference to be noticed even on crap speakers.
Unless your old sound card was down right faulty, I find this highly implausible and most likely the result of placebo/gain difference. It's a widely known phenomenon that if people listen to source A and source B that are otherwise identical except the other has higher gain, the higher gain one is perceived as better. From the point of technical specs alone, the differences are less than 1% compared to differences between any two speaker.
 

B00nie

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Yes, since that reply was directed at you who suggested that good powered speakers need to be 10-100 times more expensive which was not within the context of the OP requested.
Please learn to read. You stated that the Audioengine speakers were 'one of the best powered speakers' and I corrected you on that mistake. They may be one of the best for the price and size but certainly not one of the best powered speakers all in all.
 

Wiz33

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Please learn to read. You stated that the Audioengine speakers were 'one of the best powered speakers' and I corrected you on that mistake. They may be one of the best for the price and size but certainly not one of the best powered speakers all in all.

I was staying within the context of this thread. At least I contributed something to the thread discussion while your comment did absolutely nothing.
 

Wiz33

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Unless your old sound card was down right faulty, I find this highly implausible and most likely the result of placebo/gain difference. It's a widely known phenomenon that if people listen to source A and source B that are otherwise identical except the other has higher gain, the higher gain one is perceived as better. From the point of technical specs alone, the differences are less than 1% compared to differences between any two speaker.

Instead of theorizing. Have you actually done anything like it. I at least tried 3-4 standalone DAC on a few difference PCs and laptop around 2017.
 

B00nie

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I was staying within the context of this thread. At least I contributed something to the thread discussion while your comment did absolutely nothing.
I beg to disagree. My comment contributed greatly to the thread by pointing out your exarberation.
 

B00nie

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Instead of theorizing. Have you actually done anything like it. I at least tried 3-4 standalone DAC on a few difference PCs and laptop around 2017.
I have probably done more than you ever will on the field of audio, trust me. I have been building and designing speakers and audio systems (home audio, cinemas, clubs) professionally for around 30 years although my main profession right now is in the field of IT.

I've designed, built and sold systems based on active, passive, DSP, electrostatic, dynamic, horn loaded, planar, dipole, cardioid etc. principles as well as run them on dozens of different types of DACs and amplifiers. Pure tube, hybrid tube, A, AB, D class etc. I have worked with the big guys doing professional audio for festivals. Always fun to feel the punch of 30 horn loaded 18" bass drivers in your chest. I've frequented in the largest high-end expos (before covid naturally) and sampled the products of the most serious manufacturers.

So yeah, when I say the Audioengine is not the best powered speaker in the world, I say it with the weight of experience.

That being said, I'm not claiming everything I say is the final truth. Audio is always subjective and if someone is pleased to the sound of the 30 dollar multimedia system, who am I to deny that pleasure from them.
 
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Wiz33

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I beg to disagree. My comment contributed greatly to the thread by pointing out your exarberation.
How did you contributed to a thread where someone was asking for a 6" size power speaker? Then why don't you go tell all the web articles that consistently name the AudioEngine one of the best PC power speakers that they're wrong.
 

B00nie

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How did you contributed to a thread where someone was asking for a 6" size power speaker? Then why don't you go tell all the web articles that consistently name the AudioEngine one of the best PC power speakers that they're wrong.
Of course they're wrong (or being paid to advertise more likely). Any smaller Genelec for example will wipe the floor with the AudioEngine.
 

Wiz33

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I have probably done more than you ever will on the field of audio, trust me. I have been building and designing speakers and audio systems (home audio, cinemas, clubs) professionally for around 30 years although my main profession right now is in the field of IT.
Sorry, got you beat as I was already playing the in the high end audio field in the early 80s. My initial exposure actually started with tube receivers. I also became a distributor for one of the major audio manufacturer back in the early 90s. My store room is filled with Fisher, Scott and McIntosh tube receiver and amps, Thorens turntables, SME tonearms with Dynavector phono cartridges, Tandberg Reel to reel and a couple Nakamichi Dragons.
 

B00nie

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How did you contributed to a thread where someone was asking for a 6" size power speaker? Then why don't you go tell all the web articles that consistently name the AudioEngine one of the best PC power speakers that they're wrong.
Audioengine review/measurements:
http://noaudiophile.com/AudioEngine_A2_Plus/
1620320289037.png


Genelec review/measurements:
https://recordingmag.com/resources/featured-reviews/genelec-8351b-studio-monitor/
1620320265508.png
 

B00nie

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Sorry, got you beat as I was already playing the in the high end audio field in the early 80s. My initial exposure actually started with tube receivers. I also became a distributor for one of the major audio manufacturer back in the early 90s. My store room is filled with Fisher, Scott and McIntosh tube receiver and amps, Thorens turntables, SME tonearms with Dynavector phono cartridges, Tandberg Reel to reel and a couple Nakamichi Dragons.
Playing as a consumer, not on the developer side.
 

lopoetve

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Of course they're wrong (or being paid to advertise more likely). Any smaller Genelec for example will wipe the floor with the AudioEngine.
All are far too big. Even their smallest is almost 8" tall.
 

lopoetve

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Not to quite argue, but that's comparing a 5.8" tall entire system to one with a 8.5" woofer (never mind the rest of the enclosure) - and one cost $270 for two, while the other costs $4000 for ONE. Price has to come into the comparison as well, or we start trying to compare the Arrakis to the Audioengine, and we get into crazy town. I'd LOVE to do high-end kit on every system, but I not only can't afford it, but have space constraints. I need ~small~ speakers for this setup, and of the ones listed, it's either audioengine or the monoprice... Just like my other workstation is running an older Cambridge Soundworks 2.1 setup from 1998. Because SIZE (and the fuckers won't die, dammit!).
 

B00nie

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Not to quite argue, but that's comparing a 5.8" tall entire system to one with a 8.5" woofer (never mind the rest of the enclosure) - and one cost $270 for two, while the other costs $4000 for ONE. Price has to come into the comparison as well, or we start trying to compare the Arrakis to the Audioengine, and we get into crazy town. I'd LOVE to do high-end kit on every system, but I not only can't afford it, but have space constraints. I need ~small~ speakers for this setup, and of the ones listed, it's either audioengine or the monoprice... Just like my other workstation is running an older Cambridge Soundworks 2.1 setup from 1998. Because SIZE (and the fuckers won't die, dammit!).
This discussion stopped being about your requirements at the moment when wiz claimed the Audioengine was one of the best powered speakers, period. I corrected him and he took an issue about it. The Audioengine might be a good choice for you if you need to make all the compromises (size, price, sound quality etc). My recommendation has always been to try it out in your real environment and if you like it, keep it.
 

JSHamlet234

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Not to quite argue, but that's comparing a 5.8" tall entire system to one with a 8.5" woofer (never mind the rest of the enclosure) - and one cost $270 for two, while the other costs $4000 for ONE. Price has to come into the comparison as well, or we start trying to compare the Arrakis to the Audioengine, and we get into crazy town. I'd LOVE to do high-end kit on every system, but I not only can't afford it, but have space constraints. I need ~small~ speakers for this setup, and of the ones listed, it's either audioengine or the monoprice... Just like my other workstation is running an older Cambridge Soundworks 2.1 setup from 1998. Because SIZE (and the fuckers won't die, dammit!).

You are limiting yourself MASSIVELY with that size requirement. There is nothing I can recommend at that size. Because karma.
 

JSHamlet234

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Have you considered putting the speakers on stands instead of your desk? They'll sound better on stands anyway...

EDIT: Do you have a picture you can post of your setup, so maybe a pair of fresh eyes can think of something that will work?
 

Wiz33

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Playing as a consumer, not on the developer side.

Not about to put my whole career resume online but did you missed the part about being a distributor for a major Audio equipment manufacturer. I have also put out a line of speakers and while I haven't done a cinema design, I have done sound system for a bunch of night clubs, restaurants and churches. Also, since we're dealing with an end user. It's logical so recommend something within the budget and space limitation rather then go sprouting off about what's best in the industry when they does not meet the customer requirement.
 
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lopoetve

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You are limiting yourself MASSIVELY with that size requirement. There is nothing I can recommend at that size. Because karma.
It is what it is. The monitors only go so high, and it’s a workstation. There are 3 of the things.
 

lopoetve

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Have you considered putting the speakers on stands instead of your desk? They'll sound better on stands anyway...

EDIT: Do you have a picture you can post of your setup, so maybe a pair of fresh eyes can think of something that will work?
1620329892650.jpeg

Setup on the left. This was previous to cable management and the third monitor.
 

JSHamlet234

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So the speakers are going under the bezels of the monitors? If that's the case you aren't going to get the proper tonality or imaging out of anything you put there, since the tweeters need to be at or at least aimed towards ear-height and away from anything reflective to minimize comb filtering. It would be a waste to put anything expensive there. You could place stands behind the desk and aim a pair of powered studio monitors down towards you. That would sound pretty good. Otherwise, stick a pair of Logitech Z200's under the monitors and call it a day.
 

Wiz33

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So the speakers are going under the bezels of the monitors? If that's the case you aren't going to get the proper tonality or imaging out of anything you put there, since the tweeters need to be at or at least aimed towards ear-height and away from anything reflective to minimize comb filtering. It would be a waste to put anything expensive there. You could place stands behind the desk and aim a pair of powered studio monitors down towards you. That would sound pretty good. Otherwise, stick a pair of Logitech Z200's under the monitors and call it a day.

Something simple like this can help solve the tweeter directional problem, It does add a bit of height but it could work if you lay the speakers on their side.

https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Addicted-Isolation-Monitors-Acoustic/dp/B0757LTZJJ/ref=sr_1_54?crid=WU8EMYH39JI0&dchild=1&keywords=speaker+stands+pair+bookshelf&qid=1620332760&sprefix=speaker+stands+,aps,228&sr=8-54
 
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lopoetve

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So the speakers are going under the bezels of the monitors? If that's the case you aren't going to get the proper tonality or imaging out of anything you put there, since the tweeters need to be at or at least aimed towards ear-height and away from anything reflective to minimize comb filtering. It would be a waste to put anything expensive there. You could place stands behind the desk and aim a pair of powered studio monitors down towards you. That would sound pretty good. Otherwise, stick a pair of Logitech Z200's under the monitors and call it a day.
Ear height would be the middle of the monitor (or upper third). Eyes > ears. Have to see to work, don't have to hear to work. Putting them on stands would put them a good foot above my head, and aiming down would be pretty significant - that would drive me nuts I think (it would always sound like it was well above me, no?).
 

lopoetve

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Have you considered putting the speakers on stands instead of your desk? They'll sound better on stands anyway...

EDIT: Do you have a picture you can post of your setup, so maybe a pair of fresh eyes can think of something that will work?
Current updated pic (ignore the cable management, just un-ran half of them to figure out why a bad DP cable was bad - answer: bad DP cable, so the third monitor is also missing). edit: sub is for the klipsch setup on the gaming system to the right.
 

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lopoetve

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So the speakers are going under the bezels of the monitors? If that's the case you aren't going to get the proper tonality or imaging out of anything you put there, since the tweeters need to be at or at least aimed towards ear-height and away from anything reflective to minimize comb filtering. It would be a waste to put anything expensive there. You could place stands behind the desk and aim a pair of powered studio monitors down towards you. That would sound pretty good. Otherwise, stick a pair of Logitech Z200's under the monitors and call it a day.
Who the what now? I vaguely get comb filtering - but they're close enough together that shouldn't be a huge issue, no? Is a particle board ikea desk reflective enough to matter?

I've been told "it's a waste" when it comes to car audio too - but my ears disagreed (especially given how much time I spend in a car each year), so I'm all about paying for demonstrable quality (if it's real - I can't justify the cost of the generlac speakers Wiz suggests, or a $5000 receiver/amp combo for a workstation...).
 

JSHamlet234

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Ear height would be the middle of the monitor (or upper third). Eyes > ears. Have to see to work, don't have to hear to work. Putting them on stands would put them a good foot above my head, and aiming down would be pretty significant - that would drive me nuts I think (it would always sound like it was well above me, no?).

Another possibility would be to put the speakers on either far side of the monitors and toe them in steeply. With enough toe-in, it could sound surprisingly good. But you are not going to get good sound out of tiny speakers placed under your monitors. They will be so lacking in bass that they will not be able reproduce male vocals with any degree of fidelity, let alone things like kick drums, bass guitar, cello... it would be a very long list of things that would be faint, distorted, or missing entirely. Then the reflections from the desk willl ruin the midrange, and the off-axis position of the tweeters will mute the treble. I don't think you'd be happy at all.

You don't have to spend a lot - $200-300 for some quality bookshelf speakers with 5.25" or 6.5" woofers would sound amazing in a near-field arrangement.
 
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