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Factory Factory
Mar 19, 2010

This is what
Arcane Velocity was like.


Anything stopping you from just running the speaker output(s) to your stereo's receiver? You can get a stereo mini to RCA jack cable, use TOSLINK or S/PDIF, or use HDMI passthrough, and most computers are already equipped for at least two of those.

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H13
Nov 30, 2005



Fun Shoe

Factory Factory posted:

Anything stopping you from just running the speaker output(s) to your stereo's receiver? You can get a stereo mini to RCA jack cable, use TOSLINK or S/PDIF, or use HDMI passthrough, and most computers are already equipped for at least two of those.

At the moment? Yes. The only place for my stereo is behind me. That's not going to work for games.

I'm looking for nice bookshelf speakers (albiet not too big) to sit on my desk.

Factory Factory
Mar 19, 2010

This is what
Arcane Velocity was like.


Well, you could get a small t-amp if you don't need too many Watts per channel. I don't have any recommendations because I went the self-powered monitor route, but that's what was recommended to me when I was considering bookshelf speakers.

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

I think the most important thing would be to get the speakers off your desk to ear level if you're worried about that muddiness. My Audioengine A2's and my normal bookshelves sound really boomy and muddy when directly on the desk surface.

If you're an audio snob I think your best bet would be to run a digital out from your computer either to an external DAC or a receiver with one built in.

MMD3
May 16, 2006

Montmartre -> Portland

Factory Factory posted:

Well, you could get a small t-amp if you don't need too many Watts per channel. I don't have any recommendations because I went the self-powered monitor route, but that's what was recommended to me when I was considering bookshelf speakers.

I picked up a T-Amp from Part's Express recently that I'm pretty happy with. I got the DTA-100a and have been really happy with it but the DTA-1 is supposed to be pretty solid too and is like half the price.

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

T-amp route is the el cheapo route where you have ~$100 or less total, have a pair of old cheap speakers lying around and/or are strapped for space. Separate volume knob and headphone plug are handy.

The problem with DTA-100a is that you have to compare it to this:

http://www.amazon.com/Sherwood-RX-4...32466973&sr=1-1

Multiple inputs, built-in tuner and remote are nice to have, and if you have LP player you can get the $10 more expensive model which lets you hook it up.

e: copypaste from another thread:

Looking at PC speaker choices, the options are pretty much as follows:

- cheap plastic cans that come in varieties of 2, 2.1 and 5.1 (Altec Lansing, Creative)
- not-so-cheap computer speakers that sound reasonable (Klipsch ProMedia, M-Audio MV-40)
- professional nearfield monitors (Genelec)
- stereo or surround amp with whatever (see rest of this thread)

Those get signal from integrated sound cards, other sound cards or USB DACs. Typical connection is either optical or 3,5mm to RCA for sound cards. External DACs use USB and sometimes optical. Pro audio gear uses balanced connectors (3-pin XLR) but that's outside most use cases. For headphones external DAC is the most convenient option.

Audio signal is most often either FLAC or other lossless format. MP3 and other lossy compression is still common, but it may or may not sound terrible depending on what the rest of the system is like (for example, 128kbps MP3 sounds just terrible with a proper stereo system). Streaming services like Spotify usually offer a high quality option.

Personal opinions after this point only: "computer speakers" are generally speaking not worth it if you want to listen to music. T-amp based systems are cheap, other stereo receivers are powerful and passive speakers offer superior variety at very competitive prices. Even when picking cheap parts you can still get very good value. Surround audio for computers is another thing I wouldn't attempt. It's easier to hook up your laptop to your home theater receiver than build a home theater around your laptop. Look into HTPC if you're interested: for $400 you can get a lot.

If you're strapped for cash consider getting headphones. $50-100 buys you a lot of headphone.

Nearfield monitors are recommended if you do audio work. Active speakers aren't necessarily any worse than passives and can be significantly better for some applications.

I'm not much for lots of bass, but most every system can include a subwoofer.

Example systems:

NuForce Icon uDAC-2, $130
Onkyo TX-8255 Stereo Receiver, $170
Pioneer SP-FS51-LR floorstanding speakers (the Andrew Jones model), $180 (pair)
AKG Q 701 headphones, $290
Wires etc. $20 (USB, RCA, speaker wires, banana plugs)

Lepai TA2020A+ Tripath amp, $25
Sony SS-B1000, $45 (pair)
Wires etc. $20 (3,5mm to RCA, speaker wire)

Behringer MS40, $165
Optical wire

All prices checked from Amazon on the day of writing.

The Behringers are an interesting choice. On paper they're good but I keep hearing how they cut corners in manufacturing, leading to constant small problems. Buyer beware. For what it's worth, when they work they sound nice. Wouldn't use them for professional audio work however.

Hob_Gadling fucked around with this message at 15:13 on May 10, 2012

MMD3
May 16, 2006

Montmartre -> Portland

Hob_Gadling posted:

T-amp route is the el cheapo route where you have ~$100 or less total, have a pair of old cheap speakers lying around and/or are strapped for space. Separate volume knob and headphone plug are handy.

The problem with DTA-100a is that you have to compare it to this:

http://www.amazon.com/Sherwood-RX-4...32466973&sr=1-1

it'd be difficult convincing the girlfriend that a full-sized receiver deserved a place on our nightstand.

I ordered the T-Amp as much for it's compact footprint and portability as I did for anything. So far it's doing a great job at the job I picked it up for. I can't see someone wanting a full-sized receiver on their computer desk either but maybe that's just me.

qirex
Feb 15, 2001



Hammer Floyd posted:

So I'm thinking I might need something better than PC speakers to make me happy. What's the easiest way of connecting a PC to regular stereo speakers? I dont really want to go the monitor route as these are a bit more general-purpose rather than for music only.

A $2 TOSLINK cable into a receiver?

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

MMD3 posted:

it'd be difficult convincing the girlfriend that a full-sized receiver deserved a place on our nightstand.

Yeah, sometimes size is important. These things are always a compromise of one sort or another. As long as you're satisfied with it it's all good!

H13
Nov 30, 2005



Fun Shoe

So I went and bought these instead:

http://worldwide.bose.com/axa/en_au...ion_5/page.html

And I'm a very happy man.

They're a tad trebley, but nothing tragic. The simulated surround sound is genuinely impressive. Sure, it's NOT actual surround sound, but it's respectable if you only have 2 speakers.

The subwoofer is loving awesome.

KozmoNaut
Apr 23, 2008

Happiness is a warm
Turbo Plasma Rifle


Grimey Drawer

Goddammit

ShamrockShake
Sep 7, 2011

by Y Kant Ozma Post


Hammer Floyd posted:

I'm a BIT of an audio snob, but I'm not tragic.

Hammer Floyd posted:

So I went and bought these instead:

http://worldwide.bose.com/axa/en_au...ion_5/page.html

And I'm a very happy man.

Tell us how much you paid. I want my e-penis to engorge further.

I bought a pair of these:

http://www.geniusnet.com/wSite/ct?x...6696&ctNode=148

From goddamn Genius-KYE corporation, you remember Genius? The company you bought your first 10/100 ethernet card from for college that had all sorts of driver issues? Well they are back, really never having gone away, but they now have added speakers to their repetoire. The insides are likely full of lead solder, lacquered toilet rolls acting as bass ports and use recycled chinese newspapers for baffling, but at just $50 for 50 watts of power, I am enjoying their rugged good looks, grilleless living-on-the-edge design and features like a fully integreated off/volume knob.

But dont take my word for it, feel free to lookup the SP-HF1800A on youtube and get reviews from several dozen Romanian dudes blasting lovely Romanian club music to make the lowest of the three way speakers reach its full centimeter of bass excursion.

Here is a non-broken aspect ratio picture of them with a keyboard shown for scale at the Taiwan Excellence Fair 2010. Presumably they won every award in their category.



For real though, these are decent bargin speakers, so long as they dont catch on fire and kill me in my sleep.

ShamrockShake fucked around with this message at 19:46 on May 13, 2012

H13
Nov 30, 2005



Fun Shoe

ShamrockShake posted:

Tell us how much you paid. I want my e-penis to engorge further.

I got them on sale for $400. That's the same price as A5+s. Actually, if you want a subwoofer for the A5+s, then you're looking at a total of $700.

Whenever I mention these speakers, everybody scoffs and tells me that they'd be good, yet overpriced. I got these for less than the "best" PC speakers on the market and I find them to be a shitload better. Not that the A5s weren't good speakers, they were just not worth anything approaching $700 bucks.

Mr_Angry
May 15, 2003
A severe disappointment

College Slice

I've moved to a smaller apartment and instead of having a second TV to use solely to play games so as to not disturb my fiancée or prevent her from watching shows I want to run my existing 360, PS 3 and Wii through my computer monitor. I have a Gateway FHD 2400 HD computer monitor that does HDMI and component (along with the DVI I currently use for my PC) but last night as I was looking for the audio in for the component connection did I realize...of course, this monitor has no speakers.

My current PC speakers are just a generic set of Philips with a small subwoofer that has no audio in so I'm prepared to buy new speakers. Budget wise I have no problem spending a few hundred USD on a good solution (this is a small room so the speakers will never really be cranked up) so what I'm curious about is:
  1. Is there a set of computer speakers with a good subwoofer that would take digital audio output from the 360 and PS 3 and the audio output from a component connection?
  2. Should I instead just be looking at some type of AV switcher to do the job for me? My monitor only has one HDMI input so is there an audio/video switcher that would do the job for me? If I go this route I realize I still need to buy new speakers but then I can just worry about one audio in versus the multi-audio in scenario in question #1.
Recommendations appreciated.

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

I'd seriously consider an A/V receiver here just for the ability to connect everything conveniently. Sub-$200 example:

Receiver
Speakers]

Separate subwoofer and center/surround channels if you want to expand the system: neither is absolutely required. I'd seriously consider headphones also.

Setup:

Hook your Xbox and PS3 to receiver via HDMI.

If your PC has a HDMI-capable video card hook it up to receiver. Otherwise you'll have to do 3,5mm -> RCA to receiver and whatever it is you use to hook it up into monitor.

Connect the video cables of Wii into monitor and audio into receiver.

Connect monitor and receiver with HDMI.

You may need about $20 worth of speaker and HDMI wires if you're missing any.

ShamrockShake
Sep 7, 2011

by Y Kant Ozma Post


But if you are buying a budget sub $200 receiver and running the output from your PC through it, to your monitor be very weary and readup on HDMI handshaking and passthrough on standbuy issues.

Look here specifically regarding the Denon 1312 reccomended above me.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/show...p?t=1334369#L12

Those issues with receivers and PC's can be resolved usually with spending another $90 on an HDMI Detective at amazon. But they can still be a nightmare as they reveal the inconsistent and corrupt soul of the HDMI standard. Its what scared me away from an AVR in the first place.

I'd reccomend instead buying a new montior with some speakers built in for what, $89 US these days, and connecting the speakerless monitor as a wonderful second desktop monitor. But, this solution will sound like complete poo poo, using those $2/2 Watt LCD speakers, but you were going to get bad audio anyway if your first plan worked out.

If you really dont want to disturb your fiancee, get a monitor that has a headphone jack for audio-out and get better audio with zero disruption.

ShamrockShake fucked around with this message at 10:10 on May 21, 2012

Philosopher King
Oct 25, 2006


So what is the best of the lovely range speakers for under $100? I'm a total novice at anything audio and all I care about is hearing diablo growl really clearly.

KozmoNaut
Apr 23, 2008

Happiness is a warm
Turbo Plasma Rifle


Grimey Drawer

Philosopher King posted:

So what is the best of the lovely range speakers for under $100? I'm a total novice at anything audio and all I care about is hearing diablo growl really clearly.

Best PC speakers in that price range?

Logitech.

Otherwise, go hunting flea markets etc. for a cheap stereo amp and a set of bookshelf speakers. Wire it up to your PC with a 3.5mm jack to stereo RCA cable.

WanderingKid
Feb 27, 2005

lives here...

Hob_Gadling posted:

The Behringers are an interesting choice. On paper they're good but I keep hearing how they cut corners in manufacturing, leading to constant small problems. Buyer beware. For what it's worth, when they work they sound nice. Wouldn't use them for professional audio work however.

I think thats a bit of a myth that comes from their old DJ mixers like DJX700, which was a cheap copy of the industry standard DJM500 from Pioneer. One of the reasons why DJM500 was an industry standard was because it was built like a brick poo poo house and could survive the most incredible abuse like years of knob twidling by stoned plonkers tipping spliff ash into the channel/cross faders and general wear and tear caused by gigging.

Well the Behringer didn't quite live up to the standard of the mixer it was aping so they got flak for it and their other cheap 2 channel mixers which were predictably inferior to Pioneer's smaller offerings and those of Vestax et al.

They also developed a decade old reputation for making cheap clones of well known gear and have been sued several times by Pioneer and Aphex Systems so word got around that Behringer was a knock off company. Perhaps it is not entirely undeserved but mud sticks and that rep hounds them, even when their stuff is good.

Their Truth monitors are decent but they are big and powerful like alot of desktop studio monitors. They are designed to be used at close distances but in reasonably large, open rooms and probably on a meter bridge or something because all the trim pots are on the back of the speaker. In that respect its similar to my Dynaudios which have power on/off and trim switches on the rear of the monitor. If you have an unhappy accident and something is too loud, you don't have a panic button to smash within arms reach when going around kmixer. Its assumed all volume control is handled on the console (which I don't have!).

For various reasons my Dyns live permanently in rented studio space. I don't use them at home since they go obnoxiously loud and they sound like rear end in small rooms with no controlled acoustics anyway. Mixing is far more effort than its worth. At home I use headphones mainly but I can make do on a mini hifi system or anything that has actually been designed for use in a very small room with buttons on the front.

Tacier
Jul 21, 2003



I just hooked up a pair of Audioengine A2s I bought on the strength of the recommendations in this post. At first I was incredibly disappointed with the sound. It was muddy and boomy and just sounded awful compared to my old Klipsch promedias. I was seriously ready to pack them up and send them back, but after fiddling with the EQ for a while and putting them on books to get them off my desk they're actually beginning to sound pretty good. I'm still not sure if I prefer them to the Klipsch, but assuming they continue to improve while breaking in I'll most likely be keeping them.

Moral of the story: EQ your A2s.

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

Any good 2.0 speaker is going to sound crappy directly on the surface of a desk. You really do need to get them up closer to ear level and it's a shame there aren't better mounting solutions out there.

The reason they sound so boomy compared to the Klipsch system is that all the bass on the Klipsches is coming from the subwoofer on the floor, not the satellites on your desk. With the A2's, everything's coming from the satellites and there's a boundary effect with the desk that makes them boomy--and would make ANY good speaker sound boomy. To see what I'm talking about, set the speakers on stand away from the wall a bit (or even just pull them all the way to the very front of your desk) and listen without the EQ. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes. Obviously they have to be sort of on the desk if you're using them with a computer so a bit of EQ'ing might be necessary anyway, but I managed to get mine far enough off that they sound great without.

Tacier
Jul 21, 2003



Yeah, getting them off the desk made a much bigger difference than I thought it would. They also seem to sound better the louder I play them, which is a bit counter-intuitive for such a small speaker.

Jigoku
Apr 5, 2009



So, the A2's sound like the best as per recommendations from this thread, but is there anything sub-$250 that's worth the money that also comes with a receiver?

I've been looking at some Onkyo and Samsung deals but it seems like the speakers are mostly garbabe. I'm living with a 70's Akai receiver and80's denon speakers that are...adequate but wholly unreliable but I want some 2.0's or something to replace / add to the whole setup that are both reliable and sound better.

Is this too much to ask for?

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

Skywalker OG posted:

So, the A2's sound like the best as per recommendations from this thread, but is there anything sub-$250 that's worth the money that also comes with a receiver?

Accessories4less.com has A/V receivers starting from $109. Get one of those and any pair of speakers you want with the rest?

http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...Receiver/1.html

Jigoku
Apr 5, 2009



Hob_Gadling posted:

Accessories4less.com has A/V receivers starting from $109. Get one of those and any pair of speakers you want with the rest?

http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...Receiver/1.html

Thanks for the suggestion...I will definitely get something like this to replace my 70's akai receiver.

Got some A2's as well due to recommendations from this thread and because I have an audioengine retailer close to where I live.

They sound great, as long as they are aimed directly at my face. I'm impressed by the non-subwoofer'ed base, but they aren't a replacement for a real sub, of course.

They definitely sound better turnt up with the bass down slightly. They are actually the clearest speakers I've ever heard but I haven't heard much, admittedly.

One thing to consider, one speaker is passive and the other is powered and won't work unless it's plugged in, so if you are going to plug these into a pre-existing system I'd recommend to go with P4's.

booseek
Oct 8, 2011



Copied and edited from the software/hardware forum:

I need some advice on a headphone and speaker amp for my computer setup.

I am not very knowledgeable about audio, but I like decent sound. I use a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic card, Altec Lansing MX 5021 speakers, and Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones. My current setup is that the speakers are plugged directly into the 3.5mm stereo output of the XtremeMusic card, and when I use headphones, they are plugged into the audio controller that controls volume, treble, and bass (the standard type of controller that comes with most computer speakers). One issue is that the headphone audio degrades when run through this controller; when plugged directly into the 3.5mm output of the sound card, the audio is noticeably cleaner.

I'd like to upgrade my speakers to the Corsair SP2500 (or another similar 2.1 speaker system) and add an amplifier. This amplifier must accept a 3.5mm input from the sound card and be able to provide 3.5mm output for both the speakers and the headphones at the same time. Basically, it must have at least one 3.5mm input for the sound card and at least two 3.5mm outputs for the speakers and headphones, as well as a volume control knob for each. I also want this amplifier to do more than provide audio to multiple sources -- I primarily want it to make my music and games sound better. My budget is up to $300, but I'd also like to be reasonable in what I buy; an amp that costs $100 more but sounds 10% better is not worth it to me, even if it's within my budget. I don't know what these types of amps are called, and which ones simply split signals and which ones actually improve audio quality.

Also, I realize that some amps have 1/4" holes instead of 1/8" ones, so as long as I can use an adapter, the holes can be any size that can accommodate or be transformed to accommodate a standard (green-colored) analog 3.5mm plug.

Specifically, I am looking for an amp like this, but one that will make the audio sound cleaner, crisper, and better. As you can see, it has an 1/4" input for the sound card four 1/4" outputs for the headphones and speakers (I would only need two, though). Would this more expensive one work for my purposes?

Also, does anyone have any other 2.1 computer speaker recommendation? Are the Corsair SP2500 good? Better than my Altec Lansing MX5021 speakers? Would I see any real difference between my X-Fi XtremeMusic and an ASUS Xonar ST or STX in case I decide to upgrade my sound card?

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

booseek posted:

I am not very knowledgeable about audio, but I like decent sound.

What sort of space restrictions do you have? Your budget is easily high enough to get a receiver and pair of floorstanding speakers to go with it. For example:

Pair of Pioneer SP-FS51-LR speakers $130
Denon DRA-397 stereo receiver $150

+ wires from Monoprice or similar (~$20)

This is the way to go if you have enough space and value music above other uses.

You can also play around with various bookshelf speaker and subwoofer combos if you get a stereo amp. I prefer floorstanding speakers, but good bookshelves can be excellent for music.

If you're set on active speakers then you might want to check out the options from Pro-ject, Fiio or NuForce.

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer


I don't know that those amplifiers are going to help you all that much. Especially not vs. the regular line out for speakers. The things you're looking at are more for recording studios where multiple people need to listen to the same source over headphones. They will probably sound better than the headphone out right on the speaker, but that's about it. I suppose they'll work for what you're doing but I think you need to start from "I want my music and games to sound better" and try to find the solution that fits best, because I don't think an amplifier or preamp is going to do that.

If you do want the source switching you're used to from a more standard home theater amplifier, you can get some decent bookshelf speakers for relatively cheap. I personally wouldn't shell out for an HT receiver and then plug it into something that's already amplified. It'd probably be a bit of a crapshoot as to whether the headphone out was any good too.

You might want to look at different speakers or a different set of headphones first. I personally don't much care for the sound from DT770's and am much happier with the Audio Technica ATH-M50's and AKG K701's I'm using now. IIRC, those Corsair speakers you're looking at are most sought out for being really loud rather than quality, so you might want to think about looking around for something else there too.

booseek
Oct 8, 2011




I'd like the speakers to stand on my desk, so floor standing will not do it. How are these Swan M200MkII speakers?

What are active vs inactive speakers, in short?

The stereo receiver that you posted -- I take it as that is an amp? Is there any other use for it beyond providing better sound?

About wires -- I'm pretty clueless about them. Let's say I get the Swan M200MkII speakers and keep my XtremeMusic card. What wires do I plug in into the sound card? Those wires that come with the Swans -- will they fit into the soundcard's holes? What are those wires called and what do they look like?

EDIT: According to the Swans' manual, the speakers use a regular 3.5mm connection to the soundcard. Is this typical for bookshelf speakers? There is still the issue of having the soundcard feed into two outputs at the same time -- the speakers and the headphones. How can I manage to do this? I'd also like my headphones' volume to be adjusted via a knob, and NOT have to go into Windows' volume panel every time. I don't think that there is a headphone jack on those Swan speakers.

I've always thought that subwoofers are necessary for good sound. Are they simply for more bass, or do they have other functions? If I decide to get a subwoofer to go with those Swan speakers, is there a separate hole in my soundcard that accepts the subwoofer's connection? How do the speakers "communicate" with the subwoofer? Are there wires that must be run between the speakers and subwoofer as well?

Would the Swan M200MkII speakers without a subwoofer blow my MX5021 speakers, with a subwoofer, out of the water?

Does the standard 3.5mm connection provide lower quality audio than other connections? I noticed that the soundcard has a few holes for different types of connections. The Swans use a 3.5mm connector.


Thanks for your help. I decided to go with bookshelf speakers instead, as stated earlier in this post. If you can help me with my additional questions, I'd really appreciate it.

I will keep my DT770s, however, as I'm very happy with them. They work great, they feel great, and I feel like buying something else will be frivolous spending.

booseek fucked around with this message at 18:05 on Jun 21, 2012

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

The Swans are very well regarded. People really like them and they get consistently good reviews. I found them to be a little light on the bass but most people don't seem to think so. I'm thinking they'lll probably be better than your current set, but you won't get the chest thumpiness of a subwoofer. I'm guessing the upper range will blow your current stuff out of the water but you might be disappointed if you really like to crank the bass.

Active speakers have amplifiers built in. Both the Corsairs and the Swans are active. They're what one usually thinks of when talking about computer speakers. Inactive, or passive speakers, need an external amplifier. This is what you think of when you're looking at a more traditional stereo or HT setup with a big amplifier/receiver.

Hob's stereo receiver would be to power passive speakers. Opening up to passive speakers gives you a bit more flexibility and may or may not lead you to better sound.

Subwoofers take care of the low end. They aren't strictly necessary for good sound--I don't own any subwoofers for any of my systems and don't miss them, BUT my speakers are all made for full range listening. You can also add a subwoofer later if you miss the very low end. This would be doable with those Swans you posted and would make a pretty badass system, I'd think. The subwoofer just needs to get the same sound as the speakers. Depending on the sub this could be from a splitter off your sound card or line level stuff from the speakers.

I totally feel your paint on having a separate knob for the headphones. This is what I use:

http://www.amazon.com/NuForce-uDAC2...r/dp/B003Y5FRNS

It's a good headphone amp / DAC thing. You plug it into your USB port, plug the speakers into the back, and then when you plug the phones into the front port it turns off the speakers and you control it there. I do that with my AKG 701's and a pair of Audioengine speakers and it works great.

powderific fucked around with this message at 18:07 on Jun 21, 2012

booseek
Oct 8, 2011



powderific posted:

I totally feel your paint on having a separate knob for the headphones. This is what I use: http://www.amazon.com/NuForce-uDAC2...r/dp/B003Y5FRNS

It's a good headphone amp / DAC thing. You plug the speakers into the back, and then when you plug the phones into the front port it turns off the speakers and you control it there. I do that with my AKG 701's and a pair of Audioengine speakers and it works great.

I only turn up the bass about half-way, and sometimes even lower it. I just want the bass to be there, but I don't care for it to be "chest-thumping."

My sound card does not actually have a front-port connector (at least I don't think it does), though my HAF 932 case has a front port. I would not use the front port anyway because a lot of people report static via front port connections.

Would something like this cheaper Behringer HA400 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amp serve a similar purpose? I'm thinking that I can plug the amp directly into the card, then run my headphones and my speakers into the separate outputs on the amp. There is a knob for each output, as you can see. My concern is whether the signal would somehow be degraded with either the speakers or the headphones, or whether the amp in the speakers would somehow interfere with the Behringer amp that I would use to split the signal.

When you say that "The subwoofer just needs to get the same sound as the speakers," you're referring to the source, in this case the sound card?

The other reason I'd like an amp is for my headphones. If I choose the right one, would it necessarily make them sound better?

Also -- would you recommend an ASUS Xonar Essence ST/STX to replace my X-Fi XtremeMusic? I don't care for EAX effects, just high quality sound. It's all within my budget, but if it doesn't sound much better, or only 10% better, it's just not something that I'd like to spend on. Is it much of an upgrade? I know that the ST/STX comes with a built-in amp that most reviewers say is great, which is important for my headphones. Would this sound card amp work if it is run into the Behringer amp to split the signal and feed it into the headphones? If so, I can just forget the more expensive amp, get the Behringer, and get the ST/STX for its headphone amp and better overall sound quality.

booseek fucked around with this message at 18:27 on Jun 21, 2012

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

booseek posted:

What are active vs inactive speakers, in short?

You may find this thread useful with the basics.

Speakers come in active and passive varieties. Passive speakers need to be powered by receiver, active speakers do not. Typical computer speakers are active speakers. Generally speaking "normal" stereo speakers are usually passive and subwoofer is active. The first decision you probably have to make is whether to go with a receiver and passive speakers or active speakers and some sort of a switching device.

quote:

The stereo receiver that you posted -- I take it as that is an amp? Is there any other use for it beyond providing better sound?

It powers your speakers, that's the main function. You can also connect several audio devices to it, and it should come with an iPod dock. The Swans you linked are active speakers, you don't need an amp to power them. They include an amplifier to boost the line-level volume to audible levels. If you get a separate receiver like the Denon linked, you probably want something like Polk RTi6s or Klipsch WB-14s to pick a few examples from Neweggs speaker choices. Hifi shops near you will have more choices: I would seriously suggest you visit one of them and tell what you want to have. If the shop is any good you can bring in your headphones and listen at available choices on location. Without actually listening to the speakers in question you're essentially trying to guess if they sound any good.

quote:

I've always thought that subwoofers are necessary for good sound.

They're not necessary per se. The reason why computer speaker setups always have them is because computer speakers are small. Physics of sound say that you can't get very deep bass out of a very small speaker: thus, add in a subwoofer to hit the low frequencies. Floorstanding speakers can be large enough to hit the magic 20Hz frequency, below which human ear can't hear. Most cheap floorstanders (and many expensive ones!) don't go quite that low, so for chestrumbling bass you may want to add a subwoofer into the mix anyway.

How you would connect the subwoofer depends on what exact stuff you get. Receivers may have a specific subwoofer pre-out for connecting the sub. You may have to connect your receiver to sub and sub to other speakers. There may be some other way of connecting the speakers.

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

booseek posted:

Would something like this cheaper Behringer HA400 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amp serve a similar purpose? I'm thinking that I can plug the amp directly into the card, then run my headphones and my speakers into the separate outputs on the amp. There is a knob for each output, as you can see. My concern is whether the signal would somehow be degraded with either the speakers or the headphones, or whether the amp in the speakers would somehow interfere with the Behringer amp that I would use to split the signal.

Any of that style headphone amp serves a similar purpose and I can't comment much on their quality. I don't see much talk about them in headphone threads, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything bad. I don't think it should hurt you too much--anything in the signal chain is going to degrade things to some degree, but I can't imagine it'd do something weird like crosstalk.


booseek posted:

When you say that "The subwoofer just needs to get the same sound as the speakers," you're referring to the source, in this case the sound card?
Most subwoofers can take either output from a sound card/receiver, OR you can pass the cable that connects the speaker with the amplifier to the speaker without through a separate set of terminals on the back. Not sure what connectors the Swan has, but it'd probably be easier to come off the sound card.

booseek posted:

The other reason I'd like an amp is for my headphones. If I choose the right one, would it necessarily make them sound better?

Also -- would you recommend an ASUS Xonar Essence ST/STX to replace my X-Fi XtremeMusic? I don't care for EAX effects, just high quality sound. It's all within my budget, but if it doesn't sound much better, or only 10% better, it's just not something that I'd like to spend on. Is it much of an upgrade? I know that the ST/STX comes with a built-in amp that most reviewers say is great, which is important for my headphones. Would this sound card amp work if it is run into the Behringer amp to split the signal and feed it into the headphones? If so, I can just forget the more expensive amp, get the Behringer, and get the ST/STX for its headphone amp and better overall sound quality.

An amp might make your headphones sound better. DT770's supposedly have very high impedance, which is where headphone amps make the biggest difference. Thing is, most people aren't talking about the kinds of headphone amps you're looking at. They're more thinking audiophile specific stuff rather than studio stuff. I honestly have no idea how the two compare.

If I was you, I'd probably go with something like the U-Dac. It does everything you're looking for and is relatively cheap.

Factory Factory
Mar 19, 2010

This is what
Arcane Velocity was like.


Since you seem to have missed my SH/SC follow up, reposting:

booseek posted:

What kind of amp? Do you have any that you recommend for my purposes? This was my basic question.

As I said, no specific recommendation. Just a simple T-amp, I would think, but you really should get info from somebody else for that.

quote:

I was thinking about an ASUS Xonar ST or STX, but I'm not sure how much of a difference I'd hear coming from an X-Fi XtremeMusic.

The Xonar DX is about 99.9% the sound card the STX is, so there's no reason to go for the STX. It would take over $500 of speakers and a soundproof room to tell the difference.

The difference between the Xonar DX and the XtremeMusic is conveniently quantified by TechReport. It's a decent increase in quality at most common source frequencies/bitrates and, at worst, matches the X-Fi XtremeMusic at its best.

quote:

What 2.1 Logitech speakers are you using?

Logitech Z323. They weren't as cheap in late 2010 as they are now, either.

booseek
Oct 8, 2011



powderific posted:

Most subwoofers can take either output from a sound card/receiver, OR you can pass the cable that connects the speaker with the amplifier to the speaker without through a separate set of terminals on the back. Not sure what connectors the Swan has, but it'd probably be easier to come off the sound card.

Can I use any subwoofer with those Swans if I can run it through the sound card independent of the speakers? I'm looking at the Polk Audio PSW Series PSW10, but I'm not exactly sure where it would plug into, and with what cable. Would it be one output on the sound card for the speakers and another output on the sound card for the subwoofer?

Looking at this image of the back of the subwoofer, I don't know how I'd run the connections.

The second page of the Swan manual shows two RCA connectors going into the main speaker that connect to the sound card via a 3.5mm hole (or the L/R holes with an additional connector that transforms the 3.5mm connector into an RCA connector). Two other RCA cables connect the main speaker to the subsidiary speaker.

Also, I will probably hold off on the subwoofer until I hear how those speakers sound. If I'm content, there is no reason for me to drop $100 more.

I will consider the NuForce uDAC2 some more. It's just that, at this point, I'm spending $130 that can go towards a new card with its own high quality built-in amp; the only thing I'd be lacking is the volume knob control, which I may be able to get with the $22 amp I mentioned previously.

Hob_Gadling posted:

You may find this thread useful with the basics.

Thanks for the link and information.

Factory Factory posted:

Since you seem to have missed my SH/SC follow up, reposting:

The Xonar DX is about 99.9% the sound card the STX is, so there's no reason to go for the STX. It would take over $500 of speakers and a soundproof room to tell the difference.

I just saw the other post -- thanks. About the Xonar DX vs STX -- do you have a link? Googling STX vs DX, I get most people saying that the STX sounds quite a bit better. (Granted, I don't exactly know people's setups, so they may have $1000 speakers for all I know). It's 99.9% the same even with the STX's headphone amp that the DX lacks, if I'm using my DT770s?

booseek fucked around with this message at 20:50 on Jun 21, 2012

Factory Factory
Mar 19, 2010

This is what
Arcane Velocity was like.


I checked, and the STX's headphone amp can actually output sufficient power for your headphones, but now you're getting into cost/benefit issues - an $80 difference for that headphone amp, assuming the sound quality is similar.

And is it similar? Let's take some images from an STX review and a DX review using the same benchmark:

Frequency Response



The DX is the smidgiest bit better at the upper end of human hearing. Perfect for getting top fidelity on the compression artifacts on lovely YouTube music

Dynamic Range



Welp, the STX is better, ain't gonna lie. But you still get over 100dB dynamic range. Is your hearing sensitive enough that you can hear a pin drop, yet your lust for loud so strong that you want the true experience of a lawnmower three feet away? Because if not, the STX won't do anything for you.

Noise (SNR)



For common playback levels, it's pretty much a tossup. If you're recording, the STX is better because it gives you a bit more noise leeway at higher bitrates.

Also, if you're planning to use the computer to drive concert loudspeakers, or if you want blow out your eardrums without any background hiss, the STX does better.

Intermodulation Distortion



Largely similar, STX is better. Let's see the XtremeMusic. Because of the review I had handy, this is a number of different cards at CD quality (16-bit/44.1 KHz).



The Xonar DX is more of a step up from the XtremeMusic than the STX is from the DX.

You can suss out the rest yourself.

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

The NuForce does have a decent amp built in for the headphones, and has the knob. It's its own sound card--you don't need anything else.

Another thought I had was that you could get the udac for your headphones and then just use the xifi for the speakers.

For connecting, it'd be easiest if you found a sub that had a passthrough for the RCA (that sub doesn't.) Just running a splitter might work but I have no experience with subs so I can't be much help. Any of the other cards you listed will have an output specifically for the sub.

I sincerely doubt you'd ever hear a difference between those two xonar cards. The speakers/headphones you use are going to have far more effect on the sound you get than the card.

booseek
Oct 8, 2011



Factory Factory posted:

I checked, and the STX's headphone amp can actually output sufficient power for your headphones, but now you're getting into cost/benefit issues - an $80 difference for that headphone amp, assuming the sound quality is similar.

Do those charts take the amp into account? I'm not too sure what I'm looking at when I read the charts, or whether or not they are a perfect comparison given that they were done by two different reviewers with different hardware configurations. This is why I'm more inclined to listen to people who heard both cards and can vouch for one's quality over the other's. I'm fairly frugal, and so an extra $80 for nothing is unacceptable to me, even if my budget is decent. But one thing that I keep hearing from people is that if one uses headphones (and most of the time I do), the STX is better than the DX. Is it twice as good to cost twice as much? I'm not really sure.

The other question is whether an amp is necessary if I want higher quality sound from my DT 770s. Most people would say yes, I think, unless someone here can convince me otherwise (I'm not sure of the answer myself). In that case, a separate quality amp would cost me $100+ dollars, which exceeds the extra cost of the STX that has an amp already built-in.

powderific posted:

The NuForce does have a decent amp built in for the headphones, and has the knob. It's its own sound card--you don't need anything else.

Another thought I had was that you could get the udac for your headphones and then just use the xifi for the speakers.

For connecting, it'd be easiest if you found a sub that had a passthrough for the RCA (that sub doesn't.) Just running a splitter might work but I have no experience with subs so I can't be much help. Any of the other cards you listed will have an output specifically for the sub.

I sincerely doubt you'd ever hear a difference between those two xonar cards. The speakers/headphones you use are going to have far more effect on the sound you get than the card.

Would the NuForce, as its own card and amp, be comparable to a Xonar DX, without an amp? I also don't think that the NuForce has all of the audio effects that a Xonar has, which leads me to think that the $22 amp for volume control plus the Xonar DX is probably better than the $130 NuForce.

What is the sound card's output for the sub called? Does it go by a specific name and color coding?

Thanks for your input about the cards. Xonar STX with a quality built-in amp vs Xonar DX without an amp specifically for my headphones -- you're saying that the audio difference will be negligible? I should research this some more before I decide what to get. I plan on buying sometime in mid to late July, anyway, so I have plenty of time.

EDIT: I just remembered that my SteelSeries Merc keyboard has a volume control option at the very top of the keyboard. It works when I'm on the desktop, but not when I'm in-game. I will look into it some more to see if I can just use my keyboard to control the volume. It would also be easier than reaching for the amp's volume control knob.

booseek fucked around with this message at 01:37 on Jun 22, 2012

powderific
May 13, 2004



Grimey Drawer

Do you know which version of the DT770's you have? There are a bunch of different ones and how much difference an amp makes will really depend on that. In general people seem to think that they're a headphone that's well suited to amplification. You should really check the headphone thread to see which one people are recommending right now--maybe the ones you're looking at will work, but I've never seen them recommended.

I think your best bet for what you want to do is probably the cheaper Xonar card with a headphone amp recommended in the headphone thread. That'll let you do the subwoofer later if you want without too much trouble and will give you the volume control you're looking for. I can't really tell you if the NuForce is better or not as I've not compared the two. I think it sounds great compared to my macbook's output and the output on my motherboard, but those are hardly a high bar.

Your sound card manual will tell you which hole to hook your sub up to. You might need an RCA to 3.5mm but that's all.

edit: saw your edit. If you do figure out the volume button thing the stx might be a good choice as it does seem to have an amp well suited to your headphones, but it doesn't look like it has an output for the sub, so you'd have to figure something out there. I don't think it'd be insurmountable but it's worth remembering.

powderific fucked around with this message at 01:57 on Jun 22, 2012

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booseek
Oct 8, 2011



powderific posted:

Do you know which version of the DT770's you have? There are a bunch of different ones and how much difference an amp makes will really depend on that. In general people seem to think that they're a headphone that's well suited to amplification. You should really check the headphone thread to see which one people are recommending right now--maybe the ones you're looking at will work, but I've never seen them recommended.

I think your best bet for what you want to do is probably the cheaper Xonar card with a headphone amp recommended in the headphone thread. That'll let you do the subwoofer later if you want without too much trouble and will give you the volume control you're looking for. I can't really tell you if the NuForce is better or not as I've not compared the two. I think it sounds great compared to my macbook's output and the output on my motherboard, but those are hardly a high bar.

Your sound card manual will tell you which hole to hook your sub up to. You might need an RCA to 3.5mm but that's all.

edit: saw your edit. If you do figure out the volume button thing the stx might be a good choice as it does seem to have an amp well suited to your headphones, but it doesn't look like it has an output for the sub, so you'd have to figure something out there. I don't think it'd be insurmountable but it's worth remembering.

I have the DT 770 Pro 250 OHM headphones. I've read that 250-300 OHM headphones are ideal for the Xonar STX's built-in amp. This is why I think that it may make a significant difference over no amp. In fact, I keep reading that this 250 OHM version needs an amp to sound its best.

At this time, I honestly don't think that I'd be going for the subwoofer. Those Swan M200MkII speakers are almost as big as my Altec Lansing MX5021 subwoofer, and since I keep the bass at half or less, I think that it will have enough bass. If I power on the speakers and they don't, I will exchange them for something else, or exchange the whole sound card/speaker combo and look for a compatible subwoofer, speaker, sound card, and amp configuration.

I figured out that most games actually accept my keyboard's volume control buttons, but some, like Witcher 2, do not. I found this thread online that details how to map volume controls in more ways, which I will take a closer look at later. If I come by a game that doesn't let me change the volume via my keyboard, I will just suck it up and do it in the volume panel. I've also noticed that my headphones plugged directly into my X-Fi XtremeMusic are way too loud, so I would probably not need any more power than the 100% setting that Windows allows via the regular volume panel; I would in fact need to turn it down.

This way, I will also avoid any possible audio degradation by having additional equipment plugged into my card, and my headphones plugged into there.

I also read that the Xonar STX (probably the DX as well) lets you select "headphones" or "speakers" and disables the output that is not selected. This will let me use one source at a time, and since I use the same source for an extended period, changing it once in a while should probably not bother me (I change the settings in the same way now for my Creative card via its own software suite whenever I switch from headphones to speakers).

I think that I have settled on the Asus Xonar Essence STX to power my Swan M200MkII speakers. No subwoofer, at least for now (don't think that I will need it). The STX's amp will also power my Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 OHM headphones and the speakers will plug into the other outputs. Headphone volume will usually be controlled via the keyboard with its built-in or customized shortcuts. Should cost around $430 if the prices don't drop from here until the end of July.

Thanks for all of your advice.

booseek fucked around with this message at 11:40 on Jun 22, 2012

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