Sketching out first computer audio system

Hey all,

I've been limping along for a while now with a set of Juster 3D-101's from back in the stone age running off a Asus Xonar DX. Lately I've been looking to upgrade my audio setup on my computer to something at least half-way decent since it's generally where I do the most listening to music. On top of that I use my rig for gaming, as well as the occasional movie. I've done as much research as I can, but honestly I'm pretty much still all thumbs when it comes to designing an audio system. I'm willing to spend probably upwards of a grand or so on the first round of build-out for this. So far what I was thinking was a pair of M-Audio BX5 D2's and an Asus Xonar Essence One DAC hooked up via XLR to start myself off with.

Seems like everyone has great things to say about the BX5a Deluxe, and while there wasn't much out there on BX5 D2s by way of reviews, I did hear some chatter that they were a worthy successor to the former model.

The Xonar Essence One seemed like the best quality:cost for an asynchronous USB DAC, and I've always had great experiences with Asus products in other areas. Of course this is unfortunately coming from reviews and recommendations since I'm still new enough that I can't personally tell much of a story from looking at the spec's of the device directly.

Does anyone have any comments/suggestions regarding that setup? Would I be better off going with passive speakers and looking into a receiver? Is there any obvious issues or oversights I'm making with that upgrade? I'm honestly a little nervous about it because from my beginner's point-of-view I kind of figured that getting a decent system set up would take more that just some active monitors and a DAC.

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  1. To me, it looks like you are spending way too much on the Xonar DAC ($600). I think that's more for headphones than speakers anyway.

    I think your Xonar DX is great card and you'd be far better off investing in a good amp and some speakers. It sounds like you are interested in a straight 2.0 system. For that I'd either get an audiosource 100 or a Dayton DTA-100a Amp (each around $90) and a nice set of speakers. Look at the Dayton B652's first ($30 a pair) and make sure you are certain any speakers you buy would be better.

    If you decide to go the surround sound route, I'd pick up a used Harmon Kardon AVR 3600 ($280) and either a set of Energy Take classic's ($400) or 4 Dayton B652's , a single Dayton CCS33B center channel, and a Dayton sub 1200 (all for about $230 total)
  2. Since your budget is around $1k I would suggest a Cambridge Dacmagic+ and a pair of Paradigm Shift A2 powered speakers. Connect the dac with usb and the soundcard is irrelevant since you are bypassing it. Instead of mid fi you can go towards an entry level audiophile system.
    Other options are to use an ESA Juli@ soundcard that has decent analog audio out (via gold plated RCA jacks) and get an good quality integrated amp (Cambridge, NAD, etc) and a pair of good speakers. You can upgrade from there.
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