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Paradox of Choice - Bedroom setup with laptop

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Full-disclosure: Newly registered to Head-Fi, but have been reading for some time. :)


So I'm VERY new to the whole Hi-Fi audio scene and, as such, have been doing a lot of research. I have a pair of HD555s and DBA-02s and M50s, so I'm getting my feet wet with the headphone scene (not without the help of Head-fiers! :D). However, I'm looking to replace a busted set of Z5500s in my bedroom. I mainly used them for music when I was cleaning up or just reading or when I didn't want my 'phones on my head (gasp, I know...). Then they died and I'm getting the Z906s through warranty. I want to sell them and use the proceeds to get a better audio system, especially since the z906s are kind of a step down. Lame.


The main thing that I've seen suggested is to get "a good amp and a pair of bookshelf speakers" but then no one gives any suggestions as to better help the person needing advice. Additionally, there has been a lot of talk about DACs and Amps and I'm not entirely sure on the difference between the two.


My preferences:

  • I listen to jazz, electronic, and classical (Indian and European) music. MP3 256/320; WAV 16 44.1; AIFF; FLAC
  • I use a MBP Late 2008 Unibody. No audio-related enhancements
  • I would also use this to watch some TV; movies more rarely, but mainly Hulu/Netflix/etc.
  • Also for games, but nothing extensive. No FPSs per se (so less of a need for surround sound). Think Portal + World of Goo + Braid kind of tastes.
  • If possible, I'd like it to fill up the room with sound (instead of sitting-at-a-desk-PC-speakers); that's what attracted me to the 5.1 system in the first place. I would like to be able to hear it well in more than 1 spot in the room.
  • Low-level listening. No need for rocking the house and everyone around me.
  • I'll be on my bed or sitting in my room with no desk. So I'll get stands to support whatever or put it on my nightstand + chest of drawers.
  • Not tied to any company, per se.
  • Ability to plug in iPod/iPhone or MBP
  • BUDGET: $600 (not a hard budget, but would prefer to stay within it)


I've been looking at HTiB setups (Onkyo s3400; Onkyo s7400), but I don't know if those would work...


I've also been looking at just an amp, but I don't know which ones to look at. I would then like to attach a decent pair of speakers on to that. I've taken a look at the Swan M200 MkIIs, the M-Audio Bx5as, and the Audioengine A2s/A5s.

My plan was to perhaps have a 2.0 system with a pair of those speakers and eventually add on surrounds and a sub to take care of the TV/movie/game needs. That would require a 5.1 amp (right?).


Finally, I just want to be able to make it sound better than the Z5500s were (with the sub turned WAAAY down) and be able to enjoy the music without something on my head (I wear glasses, so even with the velour pads on the HD555s it eventually gets annoying).


I'm completely OK with getting barebones right now and knowing what I need to buy later. Hence, the $600 should get me up and running with plans to expand later.


TL;DR: Have MBP, want good bedroom setup. Don't know much. Looked at 5.1 A/V receivers + basic tube amps and a pair of bookshelf speakers. Budget = $600-ish. Your suggestions?


Thank you!

post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 

So I figured I must have missed something by getting a bunch of views and no responses... :/


I looked at this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/497014/what-s-the-next-step-up-from-the-audioengine-a5-s


And I think for now I'm looking at a low-budget amp (like the Rotel RA-972 Amp) and a pair of the Swann M200 mkIIs. Thoughts? Would I be able to drive headphones using this?

post #3 of 5

The swans are actives they don't need an amp if your looking at actives then consider the prodipe monitors, you can drive headphones with the rotel amp, the amp isn't too important they sound mostly the same just get something with decent specs and the power output into the load (ohm) you want , speakers are personal prefence i don't know what sort of sound you would like the swans and audioengines are active hifi speakers the M-Audio Bx5as are active monitors, hifi speakers are generally coloured with boosted bass, midrange , mostly warm and musical sounding, monitors are designed to be netruel, clear and revealing. good passive monitors are the behringer b2031p http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-B2031P-Ultra-Linear-Reference-Monitor/dp/B000LQ2ABK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308308172&sr=8-1 and the alesis m1 mk2s http://www.amazon.com/Alesis-Monitor-One-Mk2-speakers/dp/B0002A2RTU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1308308196&sr=8-2 , i have the alesis's myself don't be fooled by there low price they outperform speakers double that price.

If you want a warm and musical sound then these http://www.monitoraudio.co.uk/products/bronze-bx/bx2/ do that well.


post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for the reply.


Yeah. As I've been searching more and more, I figured that actives might be an option instead of an amp + passives. I'm looking at the passive route right now, though.


So I like the sound that my ATK M50s are giving me. Not necessarily clinical, something warmer, but nothing too bright. Something that has a decent amount of bass. No earth shaking or super loud music necessary. My thought is that the amp will add some color too. Essentially, as long as they sound better than my Z5500s that I had previously, I don't really care.


I'll definitely take a look at the Alesis and the bx2s. What do you think about the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s? Or the Paradigm Studio 20s? Or even the PSB Alpha B1s?

post #5 of 5

Monitors and hifi speakers are different speakers for different purposes, the monitors will be more netruel , clinical , revealing , the hifi speakers will be warmer more musical more forgiving and laid back.

The Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 and monitor audio bx2's are quite musical speakers, the monitor audios are a bit more netruel than the wharfedales and sound a little bit duller and brighter, the wharfedales are a bit warmer and fuller sounding not as bright (netruel) , but the monitor audios are a bit cleaner and clearer sounding. The alesis out do them both easily on sound seperation and sound staging and bass. The wharfedales and monitor audios don't handle eletronic music well and wouldn't be any good for gaming aswell but they do excell with jazz , classical and rock music, the alesis (the monitors) i find handle anything and do well with eletronic music and gaming but listening to jazz , classic and rock they don't have the warmth , emotion and musicalness of the wharfedales and monitor audios.


Solid state amps mostly sound the same they don't colour the sound unless theres something wrong with them or have bass and treble controls, since you say you like low level listening you should look at the class T amps like this http://www.amazon.com/Dayton-Audio-DTA-1-Digital-Amplifier/dp/B001PNOH2I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308586390&sr=8-1 .

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