Pairing a subwoofer with AV40 monitors

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by hegulator, May 11, 2012.

  1. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    My goal here is to build the best 2.1 system possible for around 200 bucks. I have a set of Klipsch Promedia 2.1's that gave up the ghost, so I'm looking to replace them. I haven't really found a 2.1 set that I feel would be better for a reasonable price, and I don't think I want to buy the same thing again, as I've heard the quality on them has gone downhill (the quality on my old set wasn't even that good - went through 2-3 preamps throughout their life). Another constraint I have is that I want to stick with near-field speakers, as I want to keep the sound contained within the office as much as possible. This made me discount going with a t-amp and some bookshelf speakers, as I didn't find much in the way of near-field passive bookshelf speakers. My benchmark is the Swan M50w, which seems to be basically exactly what I want, but I don't want to spend the $330 shipped for them.

    From the research I've done it seems like the best way to accomplish my goals with my budget is to "build" a 2.1 system using powered 2.0 monitors (likely the M-Audio AV40's) and a separate, inexpensive sub (probably something like the Dayton Sub-800). I know this topic has been brought up several times across several forums (this one included), but after searching for a few days I haven't come up with any definitive conclusions on the best way to do this.

    The problem comes down to hooking them up. Obviously the best option is to go with a sub designed to do this, like the M-audio SBX-10. However, this defeats the point of an inexpensive setup and at that price point i'd just go with the Swan M50W (or something even better). It appears that there are a few options in hooking these up.

    1) Get a sub with low-level RCA pass-throughs:
    a) go from the PC sound card (onboard audio on my Asrock Z68 Pro3) to the sub RCA in using a 3.5mm to RCA cable
    b) then from the sub RCA out to the AV40 input

    2) Using a sub without RCA pass-throughs, use a splitter to send the same signal to both the sub and the AV40's.

    3) Using a sub without RCA pass-throughs, use the front speaker jack to go to the AV40's and the center/sub jack to go to the sub

    The problem with all of these options is that the sub volume is now independent of the AV40 volume, so I'd have to adjust them separately. To me this seems like it would be a huge pain and is really the number one thing stopping me from just doing option 2 or 3. Option 1 sucks because all of the subs with RCA pass-throughs seem to be expensive, aside from the Dayton Sub-80, which doesn't seem to be in production anymore. The other problem with all of these options is that I'm sending the full signal to the AV40's, when really I don't want them trying to handle anything below about 120 Hz. I think I can remedy this by patching some high-pass crossovers in-line, but I'm not sure how well that would work. Here is what I'm looking at:
    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=266-274

    The problem I see with option 3 is that I'm not sure how the on-board Realtek 5.1 sound will handle the AV40's on the front jack and the sub on the center/sub jack. I think I'd have to enable 5.1 just to get the signal sent to the center/sub jack, but I'm not sure how the sound will work with 5.1 mode enabled when I only have a 2.1 setup. Basically, will I be "missing" a bunch of sound because it thinks there are 2 more speakers there when there isn't and not sending the full signal to the AV40's.

    I don't like Option 2 that much because I'm afraid I'll lose too much volume by splitting the signal from one jack.

    It seems like there is no silver bullet here. Any thoughts or advice would be very appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    I should add that I realize that with the AV40's and the Sub-800 I'm over 200 bucks. I'm willing to to go about 250 on budget, but that's really the limit. If I can't get an acceptable solution for 250, I'd probably just buy another set of Promedia 2.1's.
     
  3. Martha Stewart

    Martha Stewart Gawd

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  4. AVT

    AVT [H]ardness Supreme

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    Here's my setup: Polk PSW10 + AV40.

    Works great! Would definitely recommend for the price.

    No need for pass thru. Just get a headphone splitter. Adjust volume from the source after you get the sub/speakers balanced.

    Set crossover on your sub to 85hz, that way it'll match with the AV40s, and will sound great. I wouldn't recommend a more complicated crossover setup, as I don't think a sub in your price range will sound much better than the AV40s between 85-120hz anyway.
     
  5. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    So you guys are just using a 3.5mm y-splitter at the sound card speaker jack and then running a 3.5mm to RCA cable from the splitter to each component (AV40 and Sub)? Then you just set the volume on the AV40's and the Sub to blend well and adjust the volume only from windows from there on out?
     
  6. AVT

    AVT [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yep.

    I wouldn't worry too much about volume loss. My setup is loud enough with my iPhone as the source to have a small dance floor in the middle of my living room. :D
     
  7. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    Isn't adjusting the volume through windows all the time a major pain? Is there some kind of USB remote thingy out there to let you adjust windows volume with a knob to make it easier? I guess I just can't imagine having to hit up my taskbar every time I want to adjust volume - especially if i'm in a full screen game.
     
  8. dustNbone

    dustNbone [H]ard|Gawd

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    Lots of keyboards now have media control buttons on them, including volume controls. Just a thought.
     
  9. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    I just realized my Saitek Eclipse (original) has volume up and down buttons. Problem solved, I suppose!
     
  10. Martha Stewart

    Martha Stewart Gawd

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    yes


    I adjust the volume with my keyboard(you could do it directly from the AV40s)

    I spent a couple minutes adjusting the sub gain with the speakers and it sounds amazing. The AV40s+the POLK sub are stupid loud and will shake your room.
     
  11. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    I'm going with the Dayton SUB-800 8" sub, as I really don't want earth-shaking base. Part of the goal of this setup is to be as near-field as possible, while being able to achieve as much of a flat frequency response across the spectrum as possible. I think the AV40's with the 8" sub will accomplish this, aside from not being able to get down below 40hz very well. I decided I am going to try the AV40's with the high-pass filters on them as well. For 25 bucks I think it will let me push the AV40's to higher volumes without distortion when I do want to crank it up.
     
  12. Impulse

    Impulse [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Even if your keyboard didn't have said keys, you could always map a macro to two F key combinations to handle volume, using software like Autohotkey... I love the volume roller/drum on my K90 tho. Has that analog feel of a knob (even tho it obviously isn't). If you use headphones at all with a sound card and without an external amp you quickly realize software volume control is your best option.
     
  13. 450

    450 [H]ard as it Gets

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    I'd look into the Swan M50w.
     
  14. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    Okay, so I went forward with the AV40's and the Dayton Sub-800. I went the splitter route and just split the stereo mini-plug coming out of the sound card and ran the split signal to the AV40's and the sub. I also did get the 100 Hz high-pass filters. My initial impression is that the setup sounds very nice. I'm glad I got the high-pass filters as it really helps to clean up the sound. I tried it with no filter and with the filters to see what the difference is, and it does help a lot. By preventing anything below ~120Hz from getting to the AV40's, they sound a lot cleaner into the higher volumes and the 8" sub is able to get up to about 140Hz, so I don't think I'm missing any frequencies really. I think I made the right choice with this setup and I'd actually advise anybody else running the AV40's with a sub using the split signal method like this to get those high-pass filters.
     
  15. Impulse

    Impulse [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Got any link to those? I've thought about adding a sub to my Samson monitors a few times...
     
  16. Trevorm7

    Trevorm7 n00b

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    How would a setup like this compare to the Corsair SP2500 system?
     
  17. lagittaja

    lagittaja [H]Lite

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    SP2500 pales in comparison.
     
  18. hegulator

    hegulator Limp Gawd

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    Here is where I got the Sub-800 from:

    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-627

    Here is where I got the best price on the AV40's from:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/797785-REG/M_Audio_9900_65139_00_AV_40_Active_2_Way.html

    For cables I just picked up some Hosa ones off amazon. The crossovers are linked in my OP. I can't say how this compares to the SP2500, because I've never heard them. However, I feel they are much better than my Klipsch Promedia 2.1's are and, according to some reviews I've read, the SP2500's aren't really substantially better than the Promedia's.

    I will say this, though. With this setup I was able to put some pretty serious volume through them without distortion. They passed my test of good speakers - I didn't realize how loud they were until I tried to talk over them.
     
  19. alfie1020

    alfie1020 n00b

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    Hello. After reading this thread, I went ahead and ordered the Dayton Sub-800 with the high pass crossovers. I also have the AV40s and wanted a seperate sub to handle the low end. I'm going the splitter route as well and have a question regarding the connections. I will be hooking up the speakers and subwoofer to my soundcard (Creative x-fi xtreme gamer). From my understanding, I would need a headphone splitter coming from the 3.5mm jack of the sound card, and 2 RCA to 3.5mm cables from both the AV40s and the subwoofer connected to the splitter. Is this correct? Also, where would I connect the high pass crossovers?

    Thanks for the help! I'm very excited to hear how this setup will sound.