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Desktop Audio System Upgrade - Advice Please

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I have built a desktop computer and I wanted to upgrade the audio.  I want bookshelf speakers but with that a reciever is necessary.  I would like to be able to use the audio from my desktop.  What would be some great set ups?  I looked everywhere and it seems like their is endless choices.  I just figure computer speakers are great but I think I can have something with more power and better sound.  Any suggestions!!!  I have no idea what I want to spend.  I imagine if the price of the item is justified might as well save up and get something of real quality.  Thanks for any suggestions.

post #2 of 21

You don't say much about the main purpose of this setup: is it just for music? movies? gaming? Is it for living room or a study? This is important, as your ideal setup may  be different depending on the purpose.


By "using audio from the desktop" do you mean that you intend to use the PC as a source, or that your preference is to use the on-board audio hardware?


Now to some suggestions.



A good alternative to passive bookshelf speakers and a receiver may be active speakers (often called monitors). The advantages are:

- the amplifier is built in, so less clutter on your desk

- the amplifier is very well matched to the speakers

- monitors are designed for close distance listening


For applications requiring 5.1 sound (movies, gaming) you may start looking at dedicated sound cards - they will have the necessary decoders built in, and some are pretty well shielded from all the interferences.


For pure stereo output (music) a better option would be an external DAC, ideally with its own power supply and a couple of connectivity options (USB plus optical) - that would give your analog circuits the best possible isolation from the PC, which is probably the worst source of interferences in your surrounding.


I'm not giving you any specific models as this is hard to do without knowing the purpose, how much you are planning to spend on this setup and what kind of performance are you trying to achieve. If all you want to achieve is a noticeable improvement over the motherboard's audio+computer speakers, then $300 may get you there. On the other hand if only the best will do, then you may be looking at upwards of $10,000.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Purely for a bed room and just music

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

I am thinking about a thousand

post #5 of 21

Regarding monitors my first choice would be  the Dynaudio BM5A MKII - a pair would set you back about $1200, maybe less - depending where you are located and how hard can you bargain. Looks like it's more than you wanted to spend, but quite a few people here run these and they are considered truly excellent.

A cheaper option would be Yamaha HS 80M: about $700 for a pair, while still quite impressive performance.


Couple that with the Cambridge Audio DACMagic 100 for about $300 and you're all set. This DAC has all the options you really need, covering USB/coax/toslink inputs, all common sampling rates up to 192 kHz, and 16/24 bit depth. 


Another option would be the Schiit Modi which is rapidly becoming very popular, but I haven't heard it yet. It's list price is something like $100, and coming from a reputable brand that is a good value. Mind you - it only has USB connection and is USB powered.

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestions.  I added them to my amazon wish list.  I have to research each seller who is able to sell them and allow me to have the companies warranty.  Thanks awesome truly awesome.

post #7 of 21

Hi Foolsgold,


You may want to take a look at our Audiophile Desktop System. It is an all in one package with our DACmini PX Integrated (dac/headphone amp/power amp) and speakers enclosed in a pelican carrying case.

Here is what one reviewer said:


"This is a system aimed at those willing to pay a prem­um for greatness. A truly bespoke solution for amazing audio in a pretty small package. It's the best all-in-one system we've seen, paired as well as any amp/speaker system we've seen, and offering the best overall DAC that we've tried. Available now, and highly recommended."



The retail price is $1499, but right now we have a special 30% off deal until Feb. 15th with coupon code "ADS30-13".


Let me know if you have any questions!



post #8 of 21
Originally Posted by foolsgold1986 View Post

I want bookshelf speakers but with that a reciever is necessary.

You can do passive bookshelf speakers without using a full sized receiver. For example, Emotiva makes the mini-X a-100 which has a smaller footprint than a typical AV receiver. Then use a DAC with it, such as the Schiit Modi (already mentioned) and ODAC. Pretty much any passive speaker would work fine with that amp. You might look at the Focus Chorus, Kef Q, Paradigm Mini Monitors, Monitor Audio Bronze (or Silver) to name a few.

What type of music do you listen to? If you like bass heavy music, you will want a sub. Bookshelves or even powered monitors are not going to produce those deep bass frequencies in hip hop and EDM.
post #9 of 21
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

I have a question about usb audio.  I heard the audio is really bad but all these things use usb.  I am thinking I am probably wrong because each ones use usb

post #11 of 21

It's all in how it's used. There's plenty of good and bad out there. Just keep reading reviews and for the most part the good stuff will stand out. Stick to more specialized forums and websites rather than just generic ones. 

post #12 of 21

If it helps, I REALLY love my Alesis M1Active 520USB, powered speakers with USB DAC built in. I have another setup connected to my PC, with tower front speakers, center speakers, surround bookshelves and an active subwoofer (Pure Acoustics Proxima plus JBL ES250P) with a receiver Pioneer SC-61, a setup that I really like, but most of the time I'm listening with my Alesis speakers. I love their presentation/sound signature.


The Centrance pack looks amazing. I recommended to some audiophile friends on my community here in Brazil so they can take advantage of the discount. If I wasn't as happy as I am with my speakers right now, I think that could be an amazing choice.

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

If I get that one I will just try and ship the speakers in a way where they both arrive around the same time.  It would drive me crazy to only have one.  

post #14 of 21

How much space do you have to work with?

Will these be going on a desk or literally a bookshelf?

do you need/want a sub? (this may depend on what kind of music you play)

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

They will be going on my desk.  So, space is very limited.

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