Recommend some good speakers for music

Wiseguy2001

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As the title says really. I've tried some different 2.1 speakers over the years and haven't been impressed, they just seem to push out loads of bass at the expense of everything else (even a set of throwaway in-ear headphones provide more detail).

I was/ am interested in the Corsair SP2500's as they have received very good reviews and many comments about the little distortion and hearing details they have never heard before. But I am not sure if the massive sub is needed, so I am seeing what else is available. Maybe getting some monitors instead of PC speakers?

Some other details, I have quite a varied taste from Rock to Classical, (Old skool) Hiphop to Electronic - so it really isn't limited to a single Genre. My desk is against a wall (which may be a problem with rear speaker ports?). Also I have just redone my office with thermal/ acoustic installation (high density plasterboard/ rock-wall makes such a difference!) - you can now hear a pin drop so as little speaker-buzz as possible is also on the list.

I don't have a strict budged but I want to keep it below $500, my short-list so far is Corsair SP2500, M-Audio av40 & BX5a's and KRK RP5 G2. I am also going to get a Xonar Essence STX to do this setup justice. Also I occasionally game, but this isn't a big deal.

I'm all ears
 

Wiseguy2001

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Yeah that is true, not much difference in price. Would there be much difference in sound quality in going with these?

I'm after quality rather than trying to pick a fight with the neighbours. :D
 

Vexerz

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For music? Monitors instead without a doubt. Computer speakers were made for gaming and has too many gaping holes in frequencies. Like you said, they sacrifice everything else.
I would even consider some nice pair of headphones like Beyerdynamic or Sennheiser, with DAC etc if music was your main concern.
 

spaceman

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Yeah headphones are the easiest way to get amazing sound. With speakers, you can get better sound quality, but at a cost. It takes more time, usually money and space. My speakers are in the middle of my room for instance. The entire room is basically dedicated to them. If you get some good monitors, with 5 1/4 to 6 1/2 " drivers like the KRK RP6G2, they will do way better for music than any pc 2.1 setup.
 

450

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I copied a post I made in GenMay earlier today.

Here are some of the ones I'd pick for myself.

1. 2.0/2.1 multimedia system (just listing my top picks)
a. Swan M50w from The Audio Insider (or another dealer) -$280
b. AudioEngine A5 -$325
c. NHT M-00 - $500 (My personal favorite)

The new Promedia 2.1's that I heard don't sound as good as before. Sub just doesn't have the impact it had on the older models.

2. Receiver + Speakers
I don't know your desk/room layout so not all of these might work for you.
If you have a receiver laying around the house, just use that. If you don't have one, pick one up from accessories4less.com (their refurb Marantz's are great!).
a. Infinity Primus P163 (~$270/pr)
b. PSB Alpha B1 (~$280/pr) (other PSB bookshelf speakers are good too)
c. Paradigm Atom (~$360/pr)
d. Epos ELS-8 (~$500/pr)
 

Wiseguy2001

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Thanks guys,

I was thinking about going with a head end headphone setup, but there's a certain freedom about not wearing headphones + some decent speakers is the one thing that is missing from my pc/ office (aside from the sexy PA).

I've now crossed off the SP2500's and I am very interested in the Audio Engine A5's, they seem to offer allot for the money. I'm also temped by the A5's little bro, the A2's as I am wondering if the bigger speakers are overkill since they won't be pushed at higher volumes. Also with the A2's, I can also add some decent headphones so I get the best of both worlds.

I think I really need to experience some of these speakers in person.
 

JR-Orion

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Damn, those AudioEngine A5s look really nice, as do the A2s. The Swan 2.1 system looks good, too.
Overall, I like powered systems. Seems like the companies who make them try to really match up the built-in amp to the speakers, maybe giving you some better sound.

For passive 2.0 systems, I've heard good things about the Dayton Amps from Parts Express. The 50 watt amp is $100-
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-383
 

dustNbone

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Yeah for music purposes I think you want to avoid a 2.1 setup and go with just 2.0 full range monitors. I personally have 2 sets of AV40s one front and one rear and find them excellent for their cost and size. But definetly avoid a subwoofer for music, it's always going to sound "boomy" unless you get into some pretty expensive systems. Nature of the beast I suppose. Music is recorded on 2 channels (for the most part) with full audio range, and a 2.1 system simply cannot reproduce this.

Dustin
 

Wiseguy2001

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How do you find the AV40's? I did have those in my short-list but the M-audio fans seemed to be absent..
 

Vexerz

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How do you find the AV40's? I did have those in my short-list but the M-audio fans seemed to be absent..

I have this setup on my pc. Its impressive for the price, definitely bang for buck monitor speakers. I also have some bookshelf speakers Energy RC 10 with a Denon receiver that I switched over just to compare for mp3 files, movies, and gaming.
Of course the the AV 40's can't cant touch the bookshelf speakers but they hold their own if you have quality FLAC files for music. For music their a notch above any pc speakers out there. I don't think you would need a subwoofer either if you went the AV 40 they have sufficient bass without the boomy effect. They have a relatively decent and clean and flat soundstage for such a low priced speaker.
Also check out the M-Audio BX5a Which is supposed to have a better lower end and more crisp sound stage for a step up.

Imo I think you would do better to go with something like a decent budget setup like PSB Alpha bookshelves + receiver. You can always add a subwoofer later on or better yet some killer 2.0 setup like Paradigm Atoms.
 
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Personally, as for 2.1 I can personally recommend the swan M50w's. Although I do not own them, I have heard them (at a friends house, I go often) and they are quite great. Although, if you intend to fill a room with sound, getting a 2.0 set and later adding a sub would be a better route.

As for 2.0, I own the Swan T200b's and they are amazing for the price, however I'm assuming they may be out of your price range. I'd look at the M200MK series, I had the MKII (although I'd say if your going with the MK's, the MKIII is quite a step up) and they had great midrange, clear trebble, and great low end.

If you do go with 2.0, you then have the option to upgrade with a sub. I reciently ordered a craigsub 10.2 and am awaiting it, however I can add it on because I have a AVR with pre-outs. If you do not want to buy an AVR, as odd as this sounds (I can not vouch for the quality of the sub's sound) the swan H10 sub has if I recall pre-outs up to 7.2. I saw a setup on a forum that a guy had got it working with T200b's and claimed it sounded great. I'd say though if your going to go the H10 sub route, go with the H4/H5 speakers, it just makes sense that all of them would sound together better as they are designed as a set. If you can opt for a AVR pre-out , I'd recommend do that and go with a better sub and the MK/T200b setup. I got my yamaha RX-V667 for about 360. It's also considerably the best midrange receiver so if you plan on going with passive speakers (I plan on buy the T900F and Center by the end of this year, and using my T200's as rears.) its a good choice to have this freedom.

You can get them here: http://lockwaresystems.com

I will be honest I am a bit biased with swan as everything I've heard with them has sounded great, however, I have not heard much of any other company besides logitech and Creative, swan just seemed a amazing choice to go for desktop monitors, and I can definitely say they beat creative/logitech by far. If you have any other questions you can always ask here or pm me.

(Also as a P.S. I have heard the A5's, and although they are really great sounded, I felt that the M200MKII was fuller and clearer in most aspects. The bass end was quite stronger in comparison.)
 
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450

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Alternatively, you could do what I do: use floorstanding speakers.

I used to use Magnepan MMG's nearfield next to my computer. Good times. I might do that again soon.
 

jack57

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I used to have Ohm F, Magnepan, Thiel and my current large electrostatic Sound Labs. I need a new set for my computer editing platform. After a fews days of checking out music stores I will be receiving a pair of Tannoy speakers and can give a review in a week or so in my working environment.
 

450

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I used to have Ohm F, Magnepan, Thiel and my current large electrostatic Sound Labs. I need a new set for my computer editing platform. After a fews days of checking out music stores I will be receiving a pair of Tannoy speakers and can give a review in a week or so in my working environment.

You've have had some really nice equipment.
 

DisrupTer911

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Fromy my 2 months experience with the Corsair Sp2500 thus far, the bass is not over powering.

I have the level set at the optimal threshold on the little screen.
and during games and music and movies, it's subtle but there.
 

450

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I would prefer the CX5 model as my choice on the M-audio line. I will be setting up my new Tannoys tomorrow. Just go on what you like.

Which Tannoy's are you getting? When you set them up, would you be willing to take a picture? Thanks.
 

Spooony

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I mean how can people claim headphones are the best way for good sound. I mean do we all listen to the same music. Do we all worry about the fact there's shitty base in headphones? I mean numbers on Dacs are just pure manufacturers bs. I mean music is 16bit so the highest snr level it can reach is 98db. Yet 120db stated sell the card.
I mean having a good of good speakers will blow any headset in to good kingdom come. But I think people will disagree coz as we see they look at Dac specs for speakers!!!!! WTF. Room acoustics surpass any Dac spec and is far more important. What's your room setup? How big is it. If its not large nor small a good mid size to near full range speakers will be perfectly in it.

If you don't have a receiver stay away from Sony receiverswith the exception of the ES line. Yamaha has some nice receivers in the 200 to 400 ranges as do Denon, Onkyo, and Pioneer.
Speaker manufactures like Polk, B&W, Martian Logan, Mission, SVS, and so many more.
Wattage is a relatively meaningless term because it totaly depends on how the company does the rating as there is no real standard. The more important thing to consider is frequency response at a certain db level andthe efficiency of the speaker its self plus its all about what YOU like, let your own ears make the decision.
 

Wiseguy2001

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The room is 3.5 x 4.2m, there are some soft furnishings (carpet and bed), so not too echo'y.

I've just ordered some AudioEngine A2's (start from the bottom) and go from there until I find something I like. I'm a bit concerned about the bass, but I want to see how much desk space I need to part with.
 

spaceman

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The room is 3.5 x 4.2m, there are some soft furnishings (carpet and bed), so not too echo'y.

I've just ordered some AudioEngine A2's (start from the bottom) and go from there until I find something I like. I'm a bit concerned about the bass, but I want to see how much desk space I need to part with.

Good plan. I would have gone with larger drivers but still a good start.
 

450

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I mean how can people claim headphones are the best way for good sound. I mean do we all listen to the same music. Do we all worry about the fact there's shitty base in headphones? I mean numbers on Dacs are just pure manufacturers bs. I mean music is 16bit so the highest snr level it can reach is 98db. Yet 120db stated sell the card.

The card's maximum SNR isn't limited to 98db if it supports 24-bit recordings.
 

Spooony

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The room is 3.5 x 4.2m, there are some soft furnishings (carpet and bed), so not too echo'y.

I've just ordered some AudioEngine A2's (start from the bottom) and go from there until I find something I like. I'm a bit concerned about the bass, but I want to see how much desk space I need to part with.

let me give you some advice. You can buy online but please go into a couple of stores and listen to different speakers. Don't listen to what the guy in the shop say. Just listen to different sets and make up your own mind. Its not anyone else going to listen to it only you. Speakers will sound different in different environments on different types of music at different levels. If it sounds good to and your happy with it then you know what to get. You may come at some place where some guy will tell oh that's junk speakers you got etc etc but you can tell him to jog on coz no one is sitting in your environment.
 

Spooony

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The card's maximum SNR isn't limited to 98db if it supports 24-bit recordings.

oh please only dvd content is in 24bit and that's multichannel audio. Music is only in 16bit. A 200 dollars card like the STX got a 24bit Dac but its only stereo which is as useless as wet toiletpaper. For that same price you can get a yamaha receiver with the same Dac but 24bit in all 5 channels which is a complete setup with amplification. So no with music 24bit is just marketing BS
 

450

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oh please only dvd content is in 24bit and that's multichannel audio. Music is only in 16bit. A 200 dollars card like the STX got a 24bit Dac but its only stereo which is as useless as wet toiletpaper. For that same price you can get a yamaha receiver with the same Dac but 24bit in all 5 channels which is a complete setup with amplification. So no with music 24bit is just marketing BS

Card manufacturers are going to advertise the limits of their hardware, not the theoretical limits of the consumers media.
 

Spooony

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Card manufacturers are going to advertise the limits of their hardware, not the theoretical limits of the consumers media.
The audio industry is full of ambiguity, leading to common misconceptions by consumers, and thus marketing opportunities by manufacturers. Additionally, the unknowing consumer tends to make their own assumptions, not based on engineering principals, or logical assumptions for that matter, but on their ideas as to what they perceive as right from wrong from the propaganda printed on sales literature or spewed by sales people or chat forums.

Also the above was a example.
 

jack57

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Which Tannoy's are you getting? When you set them up, would you be willing to take a picture? Thanks.

I am getting the Tannoy Reveal 501a since the 601a is too big for my needs. I needed also to keep the price down a bit. The front flared port is going to help me since the room that I will be putting them in is more acoustically challenged alone the long wall closely instead of the shorter wall. I did not want the sounds from the port to bounce off the wall that is not as solid it can be. It is not as big of a difference and do not have to mess with the trim switches as much. The Tannoy has only the high trim switch and no RCA inputs but not a issue with me. Is is going to take me a while before I will say more.
 

JohnDC

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Parts Express. Get the Dayton DTA-100a digital amp for $100, then a pair of the B652 bookshelf speakers for $34. With 6 1/2" mid-woofs, they put out plenty of bass for a computer setup, And the amp is tiny, like 3" tall, 4" wide, and maybe 8" deep. Has a great built-in headphone amp too.
 

Blackbeard Ben

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oh please only dvd content is in 24bit and that's multichannel audio. Music is only in 16bit. A 200 dollars card like the STX got a 24bit Dac but its only stereo which is as useless as wet toiletpaper. For that same price you can get a yamaha receiver with the same Dac but 24bit in all 5 channels which is a complete setup with amplification. So no with music 24bit is just marketing BS

Here, you can buy stereo music at up to 24 bit, 96 kHz here. Or just buy DVD-Audio or SACDs.

The question of whether the benefits of higher bit rate or sample rate audio are audible at all is entirely different. As far as the science goes, so far it has been shown that no one can tell a difference when listening to the same recording except in the quietest of passages in the quietest of listening rooms with the best recordings and the best transducers playing at high levels. So higher bit rates themselves aren't really important (heck, with the exception of killer samples it's normally impossible to distinguish LAME V0 MP3s from the PCM originals), but the oft-realized improvement in the mastering of such tracks is of course a real benefit to end users (it's just not integral to the higher bit/sample rate).

But the existence of music at 24 bits is real and the possibility of using a DAC for that is as well. I do agree with you on the lies and exaggerations perpetuated by the audio community, however. Any decent DAC is usually functionally transparent, but yes, the numbers that manufacturers put out for them are easily and frequently tested with RMAA and other software suites - they're not made up.



Oh, and sorry, the STX also comes with an excellent headphone amp capable of driving essentially any headphone out there with enough current and voltage swing (orthos and perhaps the least efficient high impedance cans could benefit from more current and voltage swing, respectively). The Yamaha you mentioned can't do that. Nor is there any indication that it has the Burr Brown PCM 1792A - just some Burr Brown capable of 192/24 audio. The 1792A costs $13 apiece for manufacturers to buy - do you really think Yamaha is putting it (three of them, actually) into a $200 receiver? It probably doesn't cost Yamaha $39 in parts and labor to make the whole receiver. Besides it's not just the chip - the implementation is just as important. The power supply especially.

I also fail to see how people looking at DAC specs has anything to do with headphones versus speakers - if you're listening to digitally encoded audio, you need a DAC for both...




As for headphones - have you ever even heard half decent headphones? "shitty base"; lol; more like shitty spelling. If there's one enormous advantage headphones have over speakers at any price, it's in bass reproduction. With speakers, to even get decent extension you've got to spend big bucks (compared to headphones); to get reasonably low distortion you've got to spend a whole lot more; and to minimize the effect of room modes, standing waves, and comb filtering, you've got to spend a whole lot of time modeling and measuring your room acoustically to optimize placement [and possibly even more money to get multiple subwoofers (the more the better)]. Headphones avoid all of those problems. Of course, you do not get the whole-body vibrations that you do with speakers - but in sheer accuracy you have to spend many times the cost of a given pair of headphones to equal it.

The same goes for the accuracy of headphones over the rest of the spectrum. Again, you'll have to spend far more on speakers to equal them. Now, believe it or not, I'm a speaker guy, when given the chance. You'll never equal the presentation of speakers with headphones, although binaural recordings will take you places speakers can't either. The perceived depth of the sound (and all the other audiophile adjectives you want to use to describe the very measurable effect of soundstage) is better with speakers. Good speakers sound effortless (whatever that means), like they're not even there. Of course, the feeling of deep bass is great too. Additionally, the best speakers (regardless of price range, but usually not starting until you get into the $2000-ish range) will measure far more flat than any headphones and with distortion comparable as well. But you'll still need to deal with room acoustics.

As for prices/value... Well, new, headphones are amazingly priced compared to speakers, when it comes to comparable objective performance. The used market for speakers is of course much larger and much richer with deals that can make headphones look expensive, sometimes. So IMHO, I think there's more bang-for-the-buck in speakers once you get above the perhaps $300 mark or so - if you're willing to go used.

And guess what - with headphones I've got a transportable high-end rig that I could never take with me if I had stuck to speakers. I can lay in bed and still be in the sweet spot. I can sit in the middle of Chicago's Orchestra Hall while I'm in the library. I can sit at my desk at work and be in the front row of an AC/DC show in 1979. I can't do that with speakers, let alone reference-quality level gear. I cando that with headphones.



As for power ratings - yes, you're right, it's a bit more complicated than it would seem. But for stereo amplifiers, the FTC RMS power measurement is always used in the US and is consistent. Multichannel amplifiers are in a different boat as you know, because the channels in multichannel applications are never used like in stereo music - you never have sustained high output through all channels for a long period of time. There's no real consensus as to the way to specify multichannel amplifiers because there's no real consensus on what is the best indicator of real-world performance. I'm sure each manufacturer's engineering department has its' own logical opinion, as does every marketing department have one intended to maximize sales... But stereo amplifier measurements will be consistent with the FTC RMS power measurement rules.

Frequency response of every competent amplifier should be within 0.5 dB or less from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and probably reasonably flat below (to maybe 5 Hz or so) and above (25-100 kHz) that to the point where the high and low pass filters begin attenuating the signal. Any amplifier that isn't flat like that is either terribly flawed or deliberately colored. So I wouldn't call it an important thing to consider, only something to know if it's good enough (essentially flat) or not. Far more important are build quality, features (especially future-proofing), and, yes, power. You can run Hereseys off of 5 Watts comfortably. Carver Amazings will take 300 Watts at 4 ohms and beg for twice as much. Like you said, efficiency of the speakers (and the full impedance curve) is vital. If you've got speakers that drop down to 2 ohms at 35 Hz, you need an amp that can handle that. Thankfully for the avoidance of confusion from consumers, most speakers fall in the same less-demanding efficiency and impedance ranges.


And the O.P. is looking for stereo speakers for music (or a mid-level 2.1 system) but you tell him you'd save him money by buying a medicore receiver and surround satellite speakers with no subwoofer? Give me a break... $50 more and you'd have a pair of MMGs...

Once the O.P. tries the AE2s he bought, he'll have a good benchmark to compare, and if he wants to upgrade he should have a relatively easy job of knowing what he wants.
 

450

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Great post Blackbeard Ben! (Also get the MMG's they are great! I've had 'em and since have had some of the bigger models!)
 

jack57

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It seems that a few of us here have or had Maggies, interesting. I agree with many things said about headphones as well.
P.S. When I first saw the Tympani I thought they were some sort of room dividers.
 
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spaceman

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We really are going to have to make a budget categorized what speakers or headphones thread. I am experienced with headphones but not nearly as much with speakers.

You want a soundcard, solid external dac, a decent amp and a pair of speakers with at least 5 1/4 drivers to start for nearfield listening. Pc speakers with 3" drivers just can't deliver the goods period. Unless you strap them on your head lol.

I do think the easiest, most noob friendly route to good stereo sound is a pair of solid headphones like the Beyer 880, Denon 2000 and a decent external dac/amp. Just a lot less complicated. Slap them on your head, select the proper output modes and voila. No need for room treatment, speaker placement, etc.

Stereo is the best for music. If you want surround, that is for movies and games.

I have had high end headphones and prefer speakers but find the speaker setup to be quite challenging. It takes weeks and months to get the speakers properly situated in a room. The reward is greater than with headphones but the cost is higher both in terms of $$ and time.

So easy and cheaper = headphones

Harder and more expensive with bigger and better results = speakers
 

InternationalHat

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If you want to get picky...
Headphones don't image. They can't. Everyone's ear canal is different and the driver location is incorrect to properly image a stereo recording. Headphones are great for tone/separation and they sound "good," but they're not a reliable source for well-imaged reproduction of a stereo recording. You never mix entirely on headphones. I guess you could with something like dubstep but not anything physically recorded. Headphones are great for isolating sound which is why most people use them when tracking during the recording process or if they're looking to critically listen to a very specific part of the recording.

When you record and subsequently mix a stereo recording (or even 5.1) you generally try to mix for a wide variety of point sources. You have to mix "up" for the ideal reproduction system and mix "down" for the bedroom integrated or set of headphones.

Linkwitz says:
"The stereo recording angle is defined by the source directions for which sound is first mapped to the Left and Right loudspeakers. An equilateral triangle playback setup is assumed with 60 [degree] angles." You can't get this with headphones.

So if you're interested in playback as intended during recording, your setup should be loudspeakers (not headphones) in an equilateral triangle with all drivers generally the same distance from your ears. Typically the tweeter is put on the same plane as the ear. This is why nearfield monitoring is generally done with nonfatiguing high-frequency drivers designed to play at reference levels from a distance of 1-2 meters. It's also why monitors are a decent choice for computer users.

I like headphones, but I feel they have a very specific purpose. I use them sometimes if I'm trying to keep the noise down. However, I will almost always choose even a mediocre speaker setup if it images properly over even great headphones. Imaging is what makes a good recording come alive and the ultimate goal of stereo sound reproduction is that if you close your eyes you can almost see the band or source in front of you as recorded.
 

Spooony

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Here, you can buy stereo music at up to 24 bit, 96 kHz here. Or just buy DVD-Audio or SACDs.

The question of whether the benefits of higher bit rate or sample rate audio are audible at all is entirely different. As far as the science goes, so far it has been shown that no one can tell a difference when listening to the same recording except in the quietest of passages in the quietest of listening rooms with the best recordings and the best transducers playing at high levels. So higher bit rates themselves aren't really important (heck, with the exception of killer samples it's normally impossible to distinguish LAME V0 MP3s from the PCM originals), but the oft-realized improvement in the mastering of such tracks is of course a real benefit to end users (it's just not integral to the higher bit/sample rate).

But the existence of music at 24 bits is real and the possibility of using a DAC for that is as well. I do agree with you on the lies and exaggerations perpetuated by the audio community, however. Any decent DAC is usually functionally transparent, but yes, the numbers that manufacturers put out for them are easily and frequently tested with RMAA and other software suites - they're not made up.



Oh, and sorry, the STX also comes with an excellent headphone amp capable of driving essentially any headphone out there with enough current and voltage swing (orthos and perhaps the least efficient high impedance cans could benefit from more current and voltage swing, respectively). The Yamaha you mentioned can't do that. Nor is there any indication that it has the Burr Brown PCM 1792A - just some Burr Brown capable of 192/24 audio. The 1792A costs $13 apiece for manufacturers to buy - do you really think Yamaha is putting it (three of them, actually) into a $200 receiver? It probably doesn't cost Yamaha $39 in parts and labor to make the whole receiver. Besides it's not just the chip - the implementation is just as important. The power supply especially.

I also fail to see how people looking at DAC specs has anything to do with headphones versus speakers - if you're listening to digitally encoded audio, you need a DAC for both...




As for headphones - have you ever even heard half decent headphones? "shitty base"; lol; more like shitty spelling. If there's one enormous advantage headphones have over speakers at any price, it's in bass reproduction. With speakers, to even get decent extension you've got to spend big bucks (compared to headphones); to get reasonably low distortion you've got to spend a whole lot more; and to minimize the effect of room modes, standing waves, and comb filtering, you've got to spend a whole lot of time modeling and measuring your room acoustically to optimize placement [and possibly even more money to get multiple subwoofers (the more the better)]. Headphones avoid all of those problems. Of course, you do not get the whole-body vibrations that you do with speakers - but in sheer accuracy you have to spend many times the cost of a given pair of headphones to equal it.

The same goes for the accuracy of headphones over the rest of the spectrum. Again, you'll have to spend far more on speakers to equal them. Now, believe it or not, I'm a speaker guy, when given the chance. You'll never equal the presentation of speakers with headphones, although binaural recordings will take you places speakers can't either. The perceived depth of the sound (and all the other audiophile adjectives you want to use to describe the very measurable effect of soundstage) is better with speakers. Good speakers sound effortless (whatever that means), like they're not even there. Of course, the feeling of deep bass is great too. Additionally, the best speakers (regardless of price range, but usually not starting until you get into the $2000-ish range) will measure far more flat than any headphones and with distortion comparable as well. But you'll still need to deal with room acoustics.

As for prices/value... Well, new, headphones are amazingly priced compared to speakers, when it comes to comparable objective performance. The used market for speakers is of course much larger and much richer with deals that can make headphones look expensive, sometimes. So IMHO, I think there's more bang-for-the-buck in speakers once you get above the perhaps $300 mark or so - if you're willing to go used.

And guess what - with headphones I've got a transportable high-end rig that I could never take with me if I had stuck to speakers. I can lay in bed and still be in the sweet spot. I can sit in the middle of Chicago's Orchestra Hall while I'm in the library. I can sit at my desk at work and be in the front row of an AC/DC show in 1979. I can't do that with speakers, let alone reference-quality level gear. I cando that with headphones.



As for power ratings - yes, you're right, it's a bit more complicated than it would seem. But for stereo amplifiers, the FTC RMS power measurement is always used in the US and is consistent. Multichannel amplifiers are in a different boat as you know, because the channels in multichannel applications are never used like in stereo music - you never have sustained high output through all channels for a long period of time. There's no real consensus as to the way to specify multichannel amplifiers because there's no real consensus on what is the best indicator of real-world performance. I'm sure each manufacturer's engineering department has its' own logical opinion, as does every marketing department have one intended to maximize sales... But stereo amplifier measurements will be consistent with the FTC RMS power measurement rules.

Frequency response of every competent amplifier should be within 0.5 dB or less from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and probably reasonably flat below (to maybe 5 Hz or so) and above (25-100 kHz) that to the point where the high and low pass filters begin attenuating the signal. Any amplifier that isn't flat like that is either terribly flawed or deliberately colored. So I wouldn't call it an important thing to consider, only something to know if it's good enough (essentially flat) or not. Far more important are build quality, features (especially future-proofing), and, yes, power. You can run Hereseys off of 5 Watts comfortably. Carver Amazings will take 300 Watts at 4 ohms and beg for twice as much. Like you said, efficiency of the speakers (and the full impedance curve) is vital. If you've got speakers that drop down to 2 ohms at 35 Hz, you need an amp that can handle that. Thankfully for the avoidance of confusion from consumers, most speakers fall in the same less-demanding efficiency and impedance ranges.


And the O.P. is looking for stereo speakers for music (or a mid-level 2.1 system) but you tell him you'd save him money by buying a medicore receiver and surround satellite speakers with no subwoofer? Give me a break... $50 more and you'd have a pair of MMGs...

Once the O.P. tries the AE2s he bought, he'll have a good benchmark to compare, and if he wants to upgrade he should have a relatively easy job of knowing what he wants.

There are however discernable differences in parts usage such as the Burr Brown DAC's. One would think that the higher numbered DAC (PCM-1796) would be superior to the lower number unit (PCM-1792), but this is NOT thecase. Aside from the 30% component cost adder of the Burr Brown PCM-1792s found on the DVD-5910CI and the PCM-1796s found on the DVD-3930 there are significantspecification difference between these two DAC's. The PCM-1792s have superior dynamic range (about 3dB better), better channel to channel separation (about 4dB) and better filter characteristics, particularly with respect to superior Stop Band Attenuation(-130dB on the 1792s vs -98dB on the 1796s) as well passband ripple. The 1792s also appear to have greater drive capabilities than those of the 1796s which isn't surprising since the 1792s are the Burr Browns flagship DAC's and arguably some ofthe highest performance multi function audio DAC's ever created. Whether or not a consumer could hear a sonic difference between these units depends upon many factors such as: hardware implementation, quality of upstream components and loudspeakers, room acoustics, listeners hearing capabilities.

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/transports/dvd-players/denon-dvd-5910ci/technology-overview

The STX you pay for what? $200 for the $39?

DACs, like op amps, are only as good as the supporting circuitry. To the end user it doesn't really matter which dac is used, so long as the unit as a whole is properly designed. In other words a good chip that is poorly implemented will sound worse than a poor chip properly implemented. I would buy based on overall performance rather than what chips they use.
You are significantly more likely to hear a difference in the program algorithms and fx processing than you are dac performance.

The ONLY time you wil hear A difference between the DAC of the Xonar DG $30 AND the XONAR STX $200 IS if you crank up the volume to STADIUM LEVELS!!!!!

OP Those speakers were marked down from $999 to $399 and they're a steal for that price. Thought I share it before they are sold out.

Speaker power ratings have nothing to do with how much power they will consume. A less efficient speaker will consume more power than a more efficient design to achieve similar sound levels. A speaker rated at 4 ohms will draw twice the current as a similar one rated at 8 ohms. Impedance and sensitivity are the critical metrics in determining how power hungry a particular speaker will be.

Frequency response of every competent amplifier should be within 0.5 dB or less from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and probably reasonably flat below (to maybe 5 Hz or so) and above (25-100 kHz) that to the point where the high and low pass filters begin attenuating the signal. Any amplifier that isn't flat like that is either terribly flawed or deliberately colored.
Continuous Power / Channel from 20Hz to 20KHz into 8/4 ohm loads for at least two channels driven. SNR figures at full power and one watt. Yes that's the power game but that don't say anything how it will sound. Although a particular loudspeaker may be rated for 4 ohms (nom), it may actually provide a more stable load for an amp to drive than another speaker rated at 8 ohms.This has to do with the inductive reactance nature of loudspeaker systems. A speakers impedance varies as a function of frequency.An improperly designed loudspeaker may have nasty impedance dips at certain frequencies.

Speakers ROOM ACOUSTICS!!!!! That's the most important thing.

yes they do have shit bass. Do you know what bass is? Not everyone listens to headphones and your music. Do you know how bass is created? what makes bass better? There's not much of anything when music is poured straight into your eardrum. Unless you have a ported enclosure in your headset that you managed to develop.
 
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matteos

[H]ard|Gawd
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For music? Monitors instead without a doubt. Computer speakers were made for gaming and has too many gaping holes in frequencies. Like you said, they sacrifice everything else.
I would even consider some nice pair of headphones like Beyerdynamic or Sennheiser, with DAC etc if music was your main concern.

Agreed, spend the money on an amp and real speakers. They've had Polks on sale for a while now at Newegg

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290207

throw in an amp and you're good to go, can add sub down the line.
 
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