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Choosing new speakers

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August 10, 2006 11:20:30 AM

It's quite a dilemma to choose the right speakers. So much choice, and everybody likes different speakers, one review says one thing and the next one says something completely different.

I'm looking for a new set of speakers for my PC, I first looked at 5.1 sets but I can't really place the 2 rears anywhere in my room so they act as actual rear speakers. So I think i'll stick to 2.1

But I have no clue which speakers to get. I've read some topics on this forum and I see a lot of people advising the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers. Could just take those but I don't want to rush into a decision.

In another topic I read about bookshelf speakers, but I have no clue which are good ones and I'd have to pick a subwoofer too, I don't know if they come in sets, couldn't really find a lot about it.

I will be watching movies or tv shows most of the time, playing a game once in a while (madden/nhl, don't really need surround sound for those)

The speakers who are currently on my list:

Klipsch ProMedia 2.1
Altec Lansing MX5021 (2.1)

What would you advise? Should I go for those bookshelf speakers or should I stick to a ready to use pc speaker system. My budget is around $200 because I need a soundcard too :p 

More about : choosing speakers

August 10, 2006 11:38:17 AM

Quote:
It's quite a dilemma to choose the right speakers. So much choice, and everybody likes different speakers, one review says one thing and the next one says something completely different.


Generally the reviews are done with no direct comparisons to other models, so "good" or "bad" has a huge varying range of tolerances, it becomes just whatever is "acceptable" to the person. They don't do direct comparisons, because that way they avoid having their sponsors voiding their free review samples or income.

Quote:
I'm looking for a new set of speakers for my PC, I first looked at 5.1 sets but I can't really place the 2 rears anywhere in my room so they act as actual rear speakers. So I think i'll stick to 2.1

But I have no clue which speakers to get. I've read some topics on this forum and I see a lot of people advising the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers. Could just take those but I don't want to rush into a decision.


They've been replaced by the iFi. I would check them out, though they are pricey for a first time buyer ($200 at Costco or refurbed at Klipschstore).

Quote:
In another topic I read about bookshelf speakers, but I have no clue which are good ones and I'd have to pick a subwoofer too, I don't know if they come in sets, couldn't really find a lot about it.


Bookshelf speakers come in pairs. If your basis for comparison is PC speakers, you need not worry. The standard 6.5" composite driver on a bookshelf will reach just as deep if not deeper than your average 8-10" PC sub, and likely more accurate and with less distortion. Unless this is for a living room, a sub would be overkill in a small room when your mains are so capable.

Quote:
I will be watching movies or tv shows most of the time, playing a game once in a while (madden/nhl, don't really need surround sound for those)

The speakers who are currently on my list:

Klipsch ProMedia 2.1
Altec Lansing MX5021 (2.1)

What would you advise? Should I go for those bookshelf speakers or should I stick to a ready to use pc speaker system. My budget is around $200 because I need a soundcard too :p 


If you have the room, I would definitely suggest bookshelfs. Placing bookshelfs for optimal listening is far easier than placing a PC speaker. A bookshelf with good dispersion is going to sound like its coming from all over the room. A PC satellite speaker is going to sound like a tiny horn coming from a corner. This is not really going to work if you need accuracy thats is needed for demanding vocals in movies and TV shows. Unless of course, your speakers are sitting right next to your monitor. Then I guess its not that big of a deal. But then I would say getting headphones is a better idea in that case anyway.

Suggestions (of popular) bookshelfs;

Insignias, $50/pair
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=7705307&t...

Athena AS-B2, $160/pair
http://www.jpstock.com/catalog/2way-watt-bookshelf-spea...

Infinity Primus 160, $140/pair

AV123 X-LS (top end of your budget, $220/pair)
http://www.av123.com/products_product.php?section=speak...

Additionally you need a amplifier. You could buy a 2-channel standalone amp for as little as $40-50. However, I would bite the extra pain and get a ~$100-200 5.1-7.1 receiver, because the future benefits are huge (upgradability, processing, millions of inputs, etc). I've got some suggestions for these as well, if you are interested in this path.
August 10, 2006 12:08:36 PM



That's how my room currently looks like.

New speakers would be on my desk for now, but I'm going to renovate my room within a month (new walls, floor :) ) so drilling holes to maybe attach the speakers to the wall (is that a good idea with bookshelfs?) wouldn't be a problem if that creates a better sound.

I also like the idea of begin able to upgrade in a while, maybe add a center speaker or more speakers if i'd like to.

If I need a receiver too I would probably go to for the Infinity Primus 160 because they have a nice price.. I will have around 150 dollars for a receiver left.

Would a good soundcard still be neccesary if I buy the bookshelves/receiver combo? But that will have to wait untill I have my september salary :p 
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August 10, 2006 12:28:52 PM

Quote:

New speakers would be on my desk for now, but I'm going to renovate my room within a month (new walls, floor :) ) so drilling holes to maybe attach the speakers to the wall (is that a good idea with bookshelfs?) wouldn't be a problem if that creates a better sound.


Closer to the wall means more bass reinforcement. You should have at least 6" of space between the wall and the speaker to avoid muddiness from upper-bass frequencies with long wavelengths getting "smashed" against the wall (at least that's what I've heard from AV123 and Ascend owners; in this case more is better, unless you want more bass at the cost of it maybe overpowering the other frequencies). As long as the wall mounts are strong I think you won't have any problem, but if your bookshelfs are 15lbs or over, you are going to have a hell of a time finding wall mounts that can hold them. Stands (solid wood or metal, shouldn't have to cost much; hell you could use lamp stands that you already have) 6"+ from the wall would work just as fine, if not better.

As for location, it seems in order to keep the room clutter free, putting them in the side where the sliding door is may be the best bet...I think you can set the speakers in positions where it doesn't end up covering either end of the sliding door (though one may rest in the middle between the two doors).

If you don't want to move your monitor, it may be best to put some stands near the table (so you have some space sliding off your bed), or simply putting them on the table. If you do decide to put them actually on your table, I hope you have a sturdy table =P. Otherwise, getting the Infinity Primus 150s or even 140s might be a better idea. The reason -- if you have a flimsy table, a monitor with that much deep bass is gonna resonant your table good =P

Quote:
I also like the idea of begin able to upgrade in a while, maybe add a center speaker or more speakers if i'd like to.

If I need a receiver too I would probably go to for the Infinity Primus 160 because they have a nice price.. I will have around 150 dollars for a receiver left.


I'll look around, but Harmon Kardon or Onkyo SR-TX502/3s are good picks at this price range, good for at least 50W/channel in surround mode, and fair deal more stereo mode only. I would suggest my receiver as its a veritable beast in terms of power, and Class-D (very clean, almost no noise compared to standard analog designs) but it isn't cheap ($220).

Quote:
Would a good soundcard still be neccesary if I buy the bookshelves/receiver combo? But that will have to wait untill I have my september salary :p 


You could go my route, get the Chaintech AV-710s, which are somewhere in the vicinity of $20, have bitperfect digital optical output, and a very good stereo output (Wolfsenn DACs). There are plenty other choices out there too, but you don't need to overspend on what you don't need. Most of the expensive sound cards focus on software effects like reverbs, echoes, EQ patterns--things that primarily effect gaming audio.

So no, pumping out a ton of cash on a sound card does not mean you are going to get any better hardware, if even (particularly as Creative soundcards natively resample frequencies, even if the Windows remixer is disabled), so you aren't exactly getting waveform accurate output.

P.S...I might be repeating what you already know but...don't forget to get speaker wire (that runs between amp and speakers)! (50-100 foot spool of 16 guage is my recommendation, and banana plugs if you like being able to attach/detach the wire at your convenience, without having to worry about yanking some of copper threads loose.
August 11, 2006 12:16:18 PM

Probably a stupid question, but is it possible to buy the speakers now, use 'em and save up for a good receiver and for now just use a pc-soundcard? If so I might have worse sound quality for a while but I rather have that than buy a bad receiver now and basicly waste my money, because I've been looking at some receivers and they aren't exactly cheap :oops: 
August 11, 2006 12:49:22 PM

I have those Altec Lansing speakers you are looking at running through a basic X-fi. I have to say I am very impressed by the speakers and the card. The nice thing about the two satellites is that the don't just have the one driver in them but three different sized ones to cope with various pitches etc.

I replaced my trusty sony hifi with the setup and haven't regretted it.

I would def recommend them for movies, music and games.
August 12, 2006 12:13:19 AM

Quote:
Probably a stupid question, but is it possible to buy the speakers now, use 'em and save up for a good receiver and for now just use a pc-soundcard? If so I might have worse sound quality for a while but I rather have that than buy a bad receiver now and basicly waste my money, because I've been looking at some receivers and they aren't exactly cheap :oops: 


Well you need some method of amplification. The cheapest method is the Sonic T-amp ($30) + AC adaptor ($15) which adds up to about $45 + shipping.

As for receivers, what is outside your budget? Are you talking about $1000? $500? $200? $100?
August 12, 2006 12:27:04 AM

Alright I've been looking at some speakers available in my country (ordering speaker from the US with shipping and taxes would turn out pretty expensive unfortuantly) and I couldn't find any of the speakers you recommended (only one that came close was the Infinity Primus 150 instead of the 160.

I started looking and looked at the price and design first but also at some pictures what other people used, I saw a couple of speakers more than once and decided to look at them...

The Mordaunt Short Avant 902i. (Specifications are in English: http://www.bestekeus.nl/shop/product_info.php/cPath/27_...)



They look awesome in design, just don't know if the specifications are good. They are €89 per one speaker so €178 for a set (about $225)

And I looked at some low budget receivers.. the next one is in my price range:

Pioneer VSX-416-K (Specifications are in English too: http://www.bestekeus.nl/shop/product_info.php/cPath/27_...)




It's cheap (€198 = $250) but don't know if it's any good.

I would like to add a center speaker in the near future, probably the same series as the bookshelf speakers to match the design (Avant 905i).

Thanks for all the help, appreciate it :) 
August 12, 2006 12:28:00 AM

Quote:
Probably a stupid question, but is it possible to buy the speakers now, use 'em and save up for a good receiver and for now just use a pc-soundcard? If so I might have worse sound quality for a while but I rather have that than buy a bad receiver now and basicly waste my money, because I've been looking at some receivers and they aren't exactly cheap :oops: 


Well you need some method of amplification. The cheapest method is the Sonic T-amp ($30) + AC adaptor ($15) which adds up to about $45 + shipping.

As for receivers, what is outside your budget? Are you talking about $1000? $500? $200? $100?

I see you replied when I was typing my reply, maybe that receiver is something?
August 12, 2006 12:57:38 AM

Wow you can post images? It used to be you had to have 100 posts before they allowed you to do that =O

That receiver looks like it doesn't have binding posts/banana plug inputs, only old school wire posts. Since you are in the Netherlands, It's hard for me to suggest something, since in the price range you are looking at, if you were in the US, I could definitely suggest much more cost-effective gear. If you were in the US, under the circumstances I would suggest either to pick up one of the better receivers in this price range (which I don't think is availble to you) or pick up a cheap amp like the Sonic T-amp until you have the money for a full fledged receiver (that has binding posts dammit!)

The reviews I've checked on the Mordaunt Shorts are that they look phenomenal, but might sound a little strained if you turn it too high up (but if this is for a small room setup, that doesn't matter). I don't know what's available in the Netherlands, but Paradigm and Energy are well respected names in retail audio, known for their neutrality and accuracy, if you can find their speakers there (and if you can find them at a good cost).

I think what you've found seems like it could work quite well, but if you can get the Sonic T-amp cheap in your country until you get the money for a better amp.

Here's the website for the Sonic T-amp. It looks like it'll cost you $30+ $20 shipping to get that into the Netherlands, after which you need to find a 3A ac adaptor in your country to power it. The alternative is the Super T-amp, also an option, at $130+$25 shipping which is the Sonic T-amp with beefier parts and a bigger, sturdier case, ac adaptor, and binding posts so you can hook up banana plugs. (These amps only power up to 2 channels, justwhat you need now).

But if you forsee yourself upgrading to surround earlier, then getting the receiver is a better idea.
August 14, 2006 3:44:54 AM

I have no idea about bookshelf speakers and would out of place to compare them to PC systems but IMHO the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 is an awesome set for what it does and how much it costs. As long as you want to keep it simple, that's they way I would go.
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