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Looking for speaker upgrade from Audioengine A2s ($500 budget)

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I'm looking to upgrade my Audioengine A2s, which I've owned for the last three years. I actually really love these speakers; they've gotten quite a bit of backlash lately, but I do enjoy the midrange emphasis and warmth of them, even if it might not be considered hi-fi. But, I'm looking for an improvement on them, since I would like a bit less warmth and more clarity, although still with a fantastic midrange.

 

I know there are a lot of threads about roughly $500 speakers (including the one below), but I have some requests and didn't want to just steal another thread. My budget is $500 total (so either active speakers or passive plus a speaker amp). They'll mainly be used as near-field speakers on a desk in a smallish room and I mainly listen to music pretty quietly, so they don't need to put out a huge amount of sound, although having that option would be nice. I mainly listen to indie rock and do enjoy my vocalists, so being able to make out vocals is my chief concerns regarding sound signature. My final problem is that I would prefer the speaker to have multiple inputs so that I can plug in my turntable (Rega Planar 3) and my digital music (from a Musical Fidelity V-DAC II) and switch between them. That's one of the reasons I love the A2s: I don't need to fiddle with cables all the time and it automatically switches based on what's playing. I want a speaker that can play multiple inputs without me having to change cables all the time. A mixer/switcher (I think) should be a work around for this, since this request limits a lot of options, but I know nothing about them and would need a recommendation for that too if I go that route. My desk space is also not huge, so smaller would be better.

 

I was looking at the Audioengine A5+, which seems to have all the features I need, but that seems to be not the best quality speaker for the price. I also found the Aktimate Mini for a similar price, which might be an option if that's a better speaker (and it seems to be). Other options I've considered are the KRK Rokit 6, Yamaha HS80M, Emotiv Airmotiv 5, and Adam A3X (probably too high of a price for me). The Airmotiv 5 especially seems to have gotten very good reviews. However, none of them have multiple inputs can either switch or play together, so I would need a solution for that. I haven't really checked out any passive speakers, but they and the amp would need to be relatively small.

 

Sorry if that was a lot of reading and thanks for the help!


Edited by HeroicPenguin - 4/8/13 at 9:57pm
post #2 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeroicPenguin View Post

However, none of them have multiple inputs can either switch or play together, so I would need a solution for that. I haven't really checked out any passive speakers, but they and the amp would need to be relatively small.

There are inexpensive switchers. Sorry. I don't know which ones are the best. I have the Niles AXP-1, but it would eat up a nice chunk of your budget unless you could find it used.

Small receiver in your budget? There are t-amps that can do that.
post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


There are inexpensive switchers. Sorry. I don't know which ones are the best. I have the Niles AXP-1, but it would eat up a nice chunk of your budget unless you could find it used.

Small receiver in your budget? There are t-amps that can do that.

 

Yeah, a switcher of some sort would probably be great, but does it hurt sound quality. I was mostly set on the Airmotiv 5 before I realized that I couldn't switch inputs easily. Any suggestions cheaper than the Niles?

 

As for receivers/t-amps, not sure. I don't know too much about passive speakers.

post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 

Would something like this maybe work as a switch?

 

http://www.amazon.com/TC-716-Stereo-Selector-BLACK-VERSION/dp/B0001F347K/

 

Or would the sound quality be noticably worse?

post #5 of 44

If you go for passives, some T-amps now have more than one input, like this one and this one, so you won't necessarily need to pay upwards of $300 for a British or Japanese amp that will take too much space on your desk (in case that's a concern). Assuming you get the $99 t-amp, you could probably get something like the Polk Audio RTi speakers for around $400, if not less, shipping included.

post #6 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

If you go for passives, some T-amps now have more than one input, like this one and this one, so you won't necessarily need to pay upwards of $300 for a British or Japanese amp that will take too much space on your desk (in case that's a concern). Assuming you get the $99 t-amp, you could probably get something like the Polk Audio RTi speakers for around $400, if not less, shipping included.

 

Hmmm that does mean that passives are a choice. It seems like the Polks and the Wharfdale 10.1s are good values at this price. Would a passive and one of the cheap Topping amps be better than active speakers and have cleaner power? I'm not very familiar with speakers and there seem to be a lot of choices.

post #7 of 44
I use the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs for my computer setup. Ascend Acoustics is an Internet direct company that provides really good value. The 170s are fairly neutral in response with excellent midbass and very good transient response. Sounds great with my amp.
post #8 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I use the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs for my computer setup. Ascend Acoustics is an Internet direct company that provides really good value. The 170s are fairly neutral in response with excellent midbass and very good transient response. Sounds great with my amp.

 

Decent price and seems to be well reviewed. Any other inputs? I guess passive or active should be ok.

post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeroicPenguin View Post

Decent price and seems to be well reviewed.

If you want to know more about the Ascends, there's an active community of owners over at AVS forum.
post #10 of 44

Audioengine should be releasing the A2+ pretty soon...

post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeroicPenguin View Post

 

Hmmm that does mean that passives are a choice. It seems like the Polks and the Wharfdale 10.1s are good values at this price. Would a passive and one of the cheap Topping amps be better than active speakers and have cleaner power? I'm not very familiar with speakers and there seem to be a lot of choices.

 

Honestly it would be very hard to answer that with enough certainty. With an active monitor, the amp for that price is sure to be capable of driving the speakers regardless of their sensitivity; the only other component you need to worry about is whether your source is good enough.* With separates, you have to think of matching the amp to the speakers. In this case, a potentially low output T-amp that usually has a steeper distortion curve, and a speaker that may have much less than 90db efficiency.** Of course the 30wpc T-amps make sensitivy much, much less of an issue, especially when used near-field or in small rooms, but the reason why a lot of people tend to like the low-power TA2024 amps is because they are known to do imaging really, really well.

 

However there generally are advantages to the separates. First off, although equipment failure is actually rare save for those with manufacturing defects, if either the amp or the speakers fail, you can send one in for repair or buy a new one (or both, using the other one in the meantime and maybe sell the old one if you liked it better) ; if an active monitor fails, well, you have to send in the entire unit, in its original packaging (or at least save the styro padding, then use another box if you need to ship them out). Second, if you pay attention to sensitivity specs, you shouldn't have a problem if you're using them in a small room, much less nearfield - as a general reference 8watts might be good enough for an 89db speaker for most people and most music types. Third, if you only consider studio monitors which were designed for use with a console that has its own preamp, the problem with these is it won't eliminate another box in your system, because it will need a preamp. This isn't a problem if your headphone amp/DAC+hp amp has a preamp output already, but for anyone thinking they can totally save a lot of space, the individual gain controls at the rear of a pro monitor can be a problem. Not as big a problem with home audiophile monitors though as they usually have the volume knob on just one master speaker, and also the knob at a relatively easy to reach position.

 

 

*With "audiophile" monitors that are smoothed out/slightly warmer and more forgiving than studio monitors, even an iPad is good enough, although some treble peaks can be audible with similar sources, like a notebook computer

**that's why the TA2024 amps are usually rated at 8wpc, 10wpc and 15wpc - it all depends on what amount of distortion you cannot hear or will tolerate; so when buying a speaker for that, make sure its sensitivity is for the 8wpc rating; then there's the Wharfedale Diamond series, all below 90db sensitivity. A lot of people will say it's "good enough," but you never know for your own tastes. The guy happy with it may be listening to a mostly vocal track, so super low distortion (and its effect on imaging) is well ahead of power and dynamic headroom.

post #12 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

*snip*

 

That's a lot to consider. I think I'll try to make this simple and see if I can get a Niles AXP-1 for cheap and then the Airmotiv 5s, which seem to be well reviewed everywhere. I might pick up some passive speakers later, but I feel like I don't really want to jump into that world yet.

post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 

Any other inputs? I'm not completely set on the Niles + Airmotiv 5s (although that might be simplest), and definitely still willing to look at other solutions.

post #14 of 44

Can't go wrong with a pair of KRK Rokit 5 / 6, they're a little more musical than your average (cheap) monitor.

post #15 of 44

here's a couple more options in this blind listening test...

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