Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Budget Rig for home
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Budget Rig for home

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi there.

 

Basically I want to set up a decent audio setup for my room. What I want:

  • Stereo speakers (a multichannel setup would be nice, but I don't think my budget would allow for it).
  • A media player/receiver (or a way to play CD/SACD's and media files).
  • Amp (Can be ditched if the player/receiver does a good work driving the speakers).
  • Audio Interface for PC (or maybe a little amp, like the Fiio E7), or a way to plug the PC to the receiver without losing audio quality (does HDMI would do the trick here?). Another thought in this one, because of jitter, what would be better for playing files, from the computer or directly from the player? Most of my listening comes from the computer, but if there's a real diference, I can copy all my files to my ext hard drive for proper listening.
  • Also being able to use my headphones (I've got some Etymotics HF-5 right now).

 

So, in short, being able to listen music (Loseless CD Rips and some 24 bits stuff) from a decent pair of speakers or headphones. Also, being able to hook up the XBOX would be a nice plus.

 

Now the funny part, I would like to spend no more than $150. I don't even know if that's a realistic budget, but I would like to see what can I get in a tight budet.

 

So, what do you recomend, fellas?

post #2 of 19
Do you have the Xbox360? If so I'm pretty sure (as in I've witnessed this done) the Xbox can act as the "media center" device for streaming files and playing CDs, but it will not do SACD (but we'll get to that).

To the rest - I wouldn't worry about jitter or anything of that sort with what you're describing; it won't matter if it's from the PC's internal disk or an external drive. Playing back the CD straight-up from the PC (or the Xbox) will be higher quality iff the rips you have are poorly made, but that's easy (and free) to correct - just re-rip the music at a reasonable quality, and if you're especially paranoid, use EAC (also free) to do it. smily_headphones1.gif

The remaining questions I have include:

- Tell me more about your PC.
- Tell me more about the size of your room.
- How open for shopping for used equipment are you?

Within $150 you won't get very much, you can get an SACD player, *OR* a receiver, *OR* speakers. But not all three. If you majorly cheap out on the amplifier and/or speakers you could probably do both (I'm not really "hip" as to what's current with multimedia speakers - I know ~5-10 years ago there were some seriously good performers on the market for $60-$250, but most of those companies no longer exist (I think Klipsch and Bose are the only two that are still holding on), and now we've got this "computer audiophile" jag that's pushing (relatively) more expensive speakers; I haven't really followed it). However if you go dig around at a thrift shop, garage sale, etc you might be able to score a complete receiver for under $50, and then save up your pennies for a better pair of speakers down the line.

No idea what to tell you about SACD - a lot of newer BD players (I know the ones from Yamaha, Oppo, and a few from Sony for certain) will play it, but none of them are "cheap" - it's kind of a premium feature. I'd ask how much you actually care about or need SACD; I've considered the format a few times myself, and the two factors that always turn me away:

- Inability to play it on my PC
- I've yet to find an album I actually want to own, that's on SACD

I know a few years ago Creative was promoting DVD-Audio for PC, the Audigy series cards (and I would assume the Extigy as well) include software drivers for DVD-A playback, but they're getting up there in years, and that's always a serious concern. I don't know if Creative's software will allow *ripping* of DVD-A discs though.

Basically what I'm envisioning is dumping the SACD feature (or at least shelving it for now), going after a decent (and decently working) used receiver, and then finding a pair of speakers down the road. Use the Xbox and/or PC for media streaming, the receiver to drive your headphones, and if the PC's current audio hardware is dumpy, address that (however, again, a lot of the more inexpensive multimedia hardware seems to be vanishing in lieu of majorly expensive "computer audiophile" parts).
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

About the questions

  • - Tell me more about your PC.

A macbook (altough Im not keeping it for a long time) and a Lenovo Y500 series laptop. This means Im going to need a proper way to send audio out. I could use hdmi in the Lenovo for output or getting an external soundcard (If it already has a proper amp for speakers/headphones that would be great).

  • - Tell me more about the size of your room.

A squared 4.0 x 4.0 m room. At the bottom there is a wooden closet, and on the wall in front a big window. At the sides, bed in one, TV and a little desk at the other. Here's a quick diagram

 

 

  • - How open for shopping for used equipment are you?

I have no problem with used gear, the real problem is finding used gear in México, but I can look under Used in Amazon or eBay if they happen to ship worldwide.

 

Other Thoughts. While I could use the XBOX for media playback (for CDs it would work perfectly), the number of formats it will play is rather limited (no FLAC, no ALAC. I would need to reencode everything to WAV). I would invest on a proper amp/PC interface to play any format and maybe use the XBOX for CD playback.

 

I can forget about SACD or DVD-A, it would be nice, but not really necesary (I can get a decent player for that when I but a proper BD player in the future).

 

As for the rips. Right now everything I own is made with EAC (I've got the FLACs and I also reencode them to ALAC for iTunes, iPod compartibility vía XLD for Mac), except for my latest CD purchases, which for simplicity I ripped directly to ALAC vía iTunes (I haven't heard a lot from iTunes encoder, so any thoughts on this would be valuable).

 

So, it all comes down to plug the PC to the speakers (vía receiver/amp/audio interface) bypassing the crappy sound card it comes with. I would like a receiver with a decent amp so I can plug the XBOX too, but if the budget goes too high, I can live with just the audio interface and speakers. I just want, moneywize, the best posible audio output through a decent speaker set. The speakers are mandatory I guess; as for the rest, don't really know where should I invest first.

post #4 of 19
If your computer has optical output, then your best option for a $150 budget is to look for a used audio/video receiver with optical input and a cheap pair of passive speakers. Start with that. Then you can plug in your Xbox and your computer. Build your system out from there.

Your Etys likely won't sound that great with an AVR. They are low impedance earphones designed for use with portable devices, and AVRs typically don't have a headphone amp that supports that low impedance well.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

No optical output, but I got HDMI. That should work too, isn't it?

Can anyone drop some names I should be looking for receivers with decent amp?

Also, what about power? It's a small room, so how many watts should it be?


Edited by Hito kun - 3/4/13 at 10:39am
post #6 of 19
Yes. HDMI will probably work fine.

With your budget, you can't be too picky. Don't worry about wattage. Look for Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer, Harman Kardon, Yamaha, and even Sony.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

What do you think of using a USB DAC with optical inputs like the Topping TP-D2 or the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB? The first one I think is already amp'ed, so I could plug the PC via USB and the XBOX vía Optical. Then I just need to attach some speakers, or the amp is just for headphones? Is there any other DAC I should look into?

post #8 of 19
I agree with what cel said. On the USB soundcard thing, the X-Fi has a headphone amp and line out if I'm not mistaken, so that's most of your needs already. I don't know if it works for mac though. You might also look at the E-MU 0404 (which has a better chance of having Mac drivers).

And then I'd just shop a receiver used and find speakers. If you get an AVR, chances are it'll do 5.1, and you can just expand to that later.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Yeah. Im just gonna keep looking for a decent audio interface to bypass the soundcard.

 

As for the Receiver, Im I losing a lot by connecting (be it the audio interface or the XBOX) to the RCA plugs instead of using a digital input. This is because Im having a hard time finding a receiver with digital inputs chep enough (Something like the Sony STRDH130 or the Sherwood RX-4105). There was a used Yamaha RX-V463BL 525 for $90 bucks, but the center channel was busted.

 

As for the Speakers, I was seeing something like this: Dayton Audio B652 Bookshelf Speaker

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

And then I'd just shop a receiver used and find speakers.

 

Yeah, agreed.  I think the key to this thing is dropping the SACD requirement.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hito kun View Post

 

As for the Speakers, I was seeing something like this: Dayton Audio B652 Bookshelf Speaker

 

If you wanna go that route, try http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-652, which will give you $10 more for the receiver.

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hito kun View Post

Yeah. Im just gonna keep looking for a decent audio interface to bypass the soundcard.

As for the Receiver, Im I losing a lot by connecting (be it the audio interface or the XBOX) to the RCA plugs instead of using a digital input. This is because Im having a hard time finding a receiver with digital inputs chep enough (Something like the Sony STRDH130 or the Sherwood RX-4105). There was a used Yamaha RX-V463BL 525 for $90 bucks, but the center channel was busted.

The DAC built into an AVR should be better than what your computer has.

That Yamaha would be a great deal to get started. You could always run it with 4.0 until you get better speakers for the front. Offer them $80. But even at $90, that's not bad.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a good deal on Craigslist, you gotta follow it for a week or so, checking it a couple of times a day, so you can jump on the best deal.The best go quick.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'll keep digging. Craiglist is not an option for me since I'm in México, but let's hope I found a decent deal on eBay or Used in Amazon. About the DAC on the AVR, the issue is not the quality (which Im sure will be better than the ones on my laptop), but the loss of quality using analog inputs for the receiver (for example laptop -> USB DAC --> AVR via -> Speakers vs laptop -> USB interface -> AVR via Optical/SPDIF).

 

The critical issue here is wheter I can get an AVR at a decent price (Something less than $200 USD would be great). If not, I'll need to look for a powered USB audio interface (or getting also a cheap amp like the LP-2020A+ Lepai Tripath) to drive the speakers. The interface will also need a couple of digital inputs for the XBOX (Thats why the Topping TP-D2 or the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD sounded like a good deal to me).

 

Which of the two paths would you recommend?

post #13 of 19
No - no huge quality loss (if any) using analog from a soundcard. I'd get the X-fi or 0404 assuming mac support. And go analog to the receiver.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hito kun View Post

Craiglist is not an option for me since I'm in México

 

http://geo.craigslist.org/iso/mx won't work?

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Not really. Craiglist is not popular at all here in Mexico.

 

I little concern about the audio interfaces. Those will only work while plugged to the PC? So, for example, to use it with the XBOX I'll need to have the laptop on ?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Budget Rig for home