Back in May, I read Steve Guttenberg's article on CNET about putting together an extremely low budget desktop stereo system. The system basically consists of Dayton Audio B652 bookshelf speakers and a Lepai LP-2020A+ amplifier. The article is here:
Well, it sounded reasonable to me, so I decided to go for it. I paid $29.98 for the speakers at Parts Express and I paid $28.00 for the amplifier at Amazon.com, but Parts Express has the speakers for $39.80 right now while the amplifier is currently $19.38 at Amazon.com. (Check both Amazon and Parts Express as prices fluctuate on these two items.)
Anyway, for under $60 spent, I couldn't be more pleased. Now of course, a source is needed. I've tried the system with my Sansa Clip Zip .mp3 player, and it sounds great using that as the source. I did buy one other item from Parts Express, and that was 6' 3.5mm male-to-male Dayton Audio stereo cable (part #181-713) for $11.79. It's a fantastic quality cable with gold-plated connectors and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great cable for cheap. Using that cable, I can run straight from my .mp3 player's headphone jack into the 3.5mm input on the back of the Lepai amplifier.
However, the way I normally use the system is with my ancient Toshiba A215 laptop running Windows Vista and foobar2000. From there, I run USB into my FiiO E17 DAC / headphone amp. I have the FiiO L7 line-out dock connector for the FiiO E17, so I run a true line-out signal from the E17 into the Lepai amplifier using the L7 line-out dock and the 3.5mm cable mentioned above. In this way, I am only using the FiiO E17 as a DAC to bypass my computer's sound card and I'm not using the headphone amplifier portion of the E17.
Anyway, for anyone looking at cheap computer speakers at Best Buy or something, or even considering something like the Audioengine A2 speakers, consider the Lepai amp and Dayton Audio bookshelf speakers. I really think it's a bargain that's hard to beat for the price. Feeding the system from a DAC really gives incredibly great sound for cheap. See Steve Guttenberg's comments about the sound quality in the CNET link at the top of my post.
Of course, I'm not counting the cost of the laptop or the FiiO E17, but I had those already for headphone listening.
I tilted the FiiO E17 with the L7 line-out dock upwards for the pictures...