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Audio setup for desktop (speakers, not headphones)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hello, So I am a bit confused with setting up my first DESKTOP audio system. I'm not trying to blow off $3k, I only have about a $1k budget and I don't want to spend every single dollar.


I know that with passive speakers an amp is required, and with an amp, it is recommended to get a DAC or a sound card (DAC seems more preferable).



 If I were to get passive speakers like the Klipsch RB-51s or Wharfedale 10.2s, I should connect them to an amp. Are there any recommendations for desktop amps around $200-250?

 I like the Audioengine N22, as it is sleek and simple. Nuforce looks nice, but most of their solutions seem to be headphones:( If there is a good amp for the Klipschs, please comment.



I was looking at the top DACs as well to get my list up recently.

But my main interest before and now, is still the Schiit Modi. Beautiful and simple with a nice silver touch.

Another top rated product is the Audioengine D1. More pricier, and has a useless knob(to me but useful for headphone users).

Once again if you have another recommendation under the $200 tag, comment.


With the Audioengine N22, it says it provides 22 watts per chanel. If I were to get them, will they be sufficient for passive speakers like the Klipsch RB-51s or will I need a stronger amp that puts out more watts?


EDit: Just saw the Maverick Audio stuff. Looks great, and some products have a amp/dac.

is the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus DAC w/ OPA627 OpAmp & GE5670W Tube  good?



1. Amps for Klipsch RB-51 that are as good as the N22 or even better? Not to exceed $250.

2. (Optional) DACs or soundcards that perform the same or better than Schiit Modi?

3. If I were to buy the N22, will that amp have enough power for my future Klipsch RB51s?

4. Anything missing for the set up? I know I'm missing subwoofer but that's later.


I like the wharf 10.2s but they have 4 plugs and I was researching and found out a bi wire thingamajiggy IDK how to work that, that's why I didn't mention it.


Please answer the questions, as they are the second thing from holding me back from the set up.

Edited by geogga - 10/14/13 at 10:50am
post #2 of 20
Sorry. I used my own numbering scheme smily_headphones1.gif

1) Bi-wire plugs on a speaker come with connectors so you only need to run one speaker wire to them. Bi-wiring speakers like that is a gimmick anyway.
2) Unless you are familiar with the Klipsch sound, not a great choice for desktop use. Many people find them fatiguing even in a HT setup, which makes them even more likely to be fatiguing for nearfield use. I suggest looking into the ARX A1b and Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE speakers. These are Internet direct speaker companies that provide a really good value (I have the 170s).
3) I have the TubeMagic D1 (not the Plus) and the ODAC (considered comparable to the Modi). The TubeMagic D1 Plus would be an excellent choice if you want its features, and you would have a very good headphone amp to use if you ever wanted to buy some nice headphones. Otherwise, go with the Modi.
4) I've never been that impressed by what I've read about the Audioengine N22. Seems like a lot to pay for a small digital amp and headphone amp, although maybe the headphone amp is really good (have not heard). You can get a Topping TP21 or Indeed TA2021 t-amp that will have plenty of power for desktop use for ~$75. Or for a little more than the price of the N22, the Emotiva mini-x a-100 analog power amp.
5) With the Modi, one of the t-amps I listed, and a ~$300 set of speakers, you could get a kickass sub to go with it, the SVS SB-1000. Great sub that also has a high pass filter on the line out of 80hz, making it easy to integrate the sub with a set of speakers. You could start with that setup without the sub and then decide if you want one.
Edited by cel4145 - 10/14/13 at 5:10pm
post #3 of 20

How about some active speakers?




These JBL's are touted to be pretty good for the price. You don't need external amp. The drivers and integrated amplifiers (2 per speaker!) are matched together, so forget everything about worrying about synergy. 


They are also made especially for nearfield listening in mind.

post #4 of 20

Also if you wanted something higher end, you could consider for example the Adam Artist 5's. They have integrated DAC too.

post #5 of 20
I agree with the Headzone. If you have 1000to spend then Adam Audio's near field monitors will be good choices. I am more towards Adam A3X which is 600 a pair. They are active speakers. They are intended for music production, so their response is quit flat and good for all music genre. Then you only need a dedicated DAC to complete the set up.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thank all of you.

I have read about those small little amps but thought, hmm, it seems so cheap, how will it power $400 speakers? and kinda avoided them but nonetheless that emotiva is nice.

Is the ARX A1B passive or active? Can't seem to find the details at audioinsider. They have amazing ratings and reviews. might get that.

That emotiva amp looks very nice as well, but how do I connect them to the emotiva? It seems that the emotiva has 2 outputs for each speaker? And would the emotiva connect to the Modi via RCA?


I also know of the adam artist, reviews say they sound very nice, but I like to look of the arx more :p


Thank you all again.

post #7 of 20
Price of the speakers has nothing to with whether or not a t-amp can power a pair of speakers. Look to speaker sensitivity to understand how much power a speaker needs and how far away you will be when listening to them. The CBM-170 SEs I have are rated with an 89db anechoic sensitivity with 1 watt of power at 1 meter a way. At approx. 3 ft away, I measured them with pink noise hitting 100db with a little bit of headroom left on the amp. That's really loud. smily_headphones1.gif

Not sure what you mean about the Emotiva and speakers. It has sets of positive and negative terminals for the left and right speakers (the t-amps have the same thing). That's the norm. Then yes. Plug a DACs output into the RCA inputs on the back.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
How would I connect the speakers to the emotive?
post #9 of 20
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
And using banana plugs will work too right?
post #11 of 20
With passive speakers, yes.
post #12 of 20
Yes. But they are purely for convenience. No SQ benefit.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

I know, its also a bit of more convenience so you don't mess up the wires more. Also, if getting the ARX A1B is 12 AWG good for desktop range? just want a confirmation.

P.S. Thank you again!

post #14 of 20
12 gauge is way more than enough. See the table for speaker wire length and gauge on this page (scroll down a little).
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

oh wow lol, read that someone was using that on a video when the speakers were pretty close to the amp...

And seems that I saw that website b4, just randomly and now you pooped that up. thanks!

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