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(Yet again) Budget PC Speakers (~$200)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

First, I'm sorry for starting another thread on this.  I've pretty much read everything available on the web, including pretty much everything here on this topic.  Sadly I leave unsatisfied, since the recommendations are either too big, or rarer than gold.  So ignore this, or if your in charge; delete it, if I'm doing something stupid or rude by posting this (yet again).


That said...  I'm looking to upgrade my computers speakers, and I have around $200 to do it.  Right now I have a  set of Creative Inspire 5.1 surround speakers (T6100), I don't like them.  The 5.1 set-up is a pain, especially in my small office (10'x10'), I have the rear speakers mounted on my ceiling, which keeps me from owning a fan, which is something I need in a room in Arizona with western exposure.  The rear speakers are pretty anemic regardless, so I barely register their presence in the rare times they are useful.  The set is really "boomy" too, the sub is dialed down as close to off as I can get it, any higher and it drowns out everything.  The satellites are very high-happy and tinny, and the mids sorts of disappear.  In short, they are typical PC speakers. 


My main audio use case is music.  I'm not as big of a gamer as I used to be (when I had free time, alas), though I still play a bit of Skyrim from time to time.  I barely ever watch movies on my PC.  I do listen to a lot of music, though, generally while working.  If it matters, I don't listen to big bassy music like electronic or hip-hop, I'm more of a prog, and classic rock type of guy (with a smattering of blues), so I really don't feel the desire to make the walls shake.  I do listen, occasionally, to some German industrial, but it isn't my general thing.  As stated, I have a small room, so I don't really need huge volume earth-shaking volume.  My desk is rather shallow as well, so I can't have behemoths like the KRK Rokit 5's, or big Swans/HiVi pairs.  My desk is 2' deep, which, sadly, is something I need to live with.


I realize that my budget is limiting, and if I could boost it by another $100-∞ do much better, sadly I really can't.  $200 is above my original budget, and might only be doable if I cash in on Amazon gift-cards, or get REALLY excited (or can't find any other options).  I want to ride the price-performance curve to its highest point, within that limited scope, fully realizing that anything I do is a compromise.  Such is life, sadly.


So, nuts and bolts.  Like a good boy I've done my homework, and has some options.  Sadly my top choices don't exist, and thus aren't actually choices; these being the Swans/HiVi M10's.  I have a better chance of finding a living, breathing, dodo than finding these.  I was pondering the Swans M20's, but there is no information or reviews on these, and the one review I could find said that their amps overheat, so the author couldn't finish listening to Pink Floyd.  Hardly a ringing endorsement, granted with a sample size of 1, this could means nothing.  In an online only world, I really don't want to risk the PITA of returns though, especially on a complete unknown.  I also looked at the Swans 1080, and their more expensive brothers, but those things are HUGE, and probably couldn't live on my desk, much less live on my desk with enough room for them to be properly ventilated. 7"x10" is too big, unless I'm doubling them for arm-rests.  I suppose it could work, but I'd be completely blocking their rear port, which, according to my reading, isn't good.  It also is hard to get them from proper suppliers, that are either official or trust-worthy...


Moving on...  I was pondering, originally, the M-Audio AV40, but I keep getting conflicted reviews.  Some people say they are good, some say crap...  I do know they are ugly, looking like 90's boombox speakers. Aesthetics aren't a primary concern, but...  I'd rather have form AND function, than either alone.  I also worry about the complete lack of a bottom, I'm not a bass head, but I also want enough to get a full impression of my music collection.  This might be a universal concern.  On the powered monitor (light) side, these also fall into my budget/dimentions; Audioengine A2 (very mixed reviews, either very awesome or over-rated), the Behrenger MS20 (very little information, but somewhat negative), the Alesis 520 (decent reviews, but I'd probably be using my own soundcard; a Xonar DS), and on the big side the M-Audio BX5.  I'm not as interested in passives/cheap amp solutions.  More wires, more hassle, and probably more wasted space).  2.1 PC-branded solutions scare me, since PC speakers are generally bad.  I've had some supposedly good sets about a decade ago, and they still were rather wretched compared to cheap bookshelf speakers, or even bad headphones (speaking of which, no headphones, my ears get claustrophobia).  I did see some nice things about the Corsair SP2500 (these seem to have rising in price a fair amount, with reviews saying $200, but retailers saying ~$300), but I'm a bit leary, ditto with the various Klipsch systems that are bandied about...  They are good PC speakers, but are they good SPEAKERS?  I can't tell without knowing where the reviewer is coming from. 


 I can't find as much information about these later ones as I'd like.  All the information I can find is either from musicians, non-budget minded audiophiles (under $1000=suck), or from people comparing them to cheap Logitechs (I'm in this camp, but I also have had some decent audio sets, and my girlfriend's father is a snobby musician who will judge me).


So, what am I actually asking, or looking for?  A bit of advice from people who actually might know something, and who know where I'm coming from/wanting to go.  A bit of MODERN advice, since it seems that everything over a year old is garbage now, since a lot of things don't exist anymore.  And perhaps a bit of moral support, since I'm pretty boggled right now, I might get desperate and just sort by price/rating and get the number one item on Amazon, no matter how terrible it is, just to be done with this.  Seriously, I've filled two pages of graph paper, and have a bunch of measured footprints done with colored pencils.  I've been working on this for over 2 weeks, just doing research and reading threads as far back as 2007, I'm beating my head into a wall.


Thank you for your time, and sorry for rehashing something that I'm sure is very tedious.

post #2 of 17



good place to start you dont have to use daytons. any bookself speaker will do

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

We have that set-up in our living room at the moment, except with Micca speakers since it seems the Daytons took a nose dive.  I don't mind it, and it is better than the poor old giant vintage Sony's they replaced.  But the speakers are a bit large for my office, and I'm not really a fan of having more wires snaking all over the place.


I found a local place that let me take the Audioengine A2+'s for $200, so far I'm a fan, though do seem to be a bit mushy at the bottom (better than my old set, but...)  They are an improvement on most things, but one band I like sounds (oddly) worse.  


I'm still on the fence, but barring anything else that matches size, performance, and price I'll probably keep them.  Especially since I can eventually use the RCA out pop a sub on.  

post #4 of 17

I have an exact problem. So far i used cheap 2.1 PC speakers, both cheaper than 40 dollars, but when I want something better, like bookshelf speakers, then best of them either not powered and require amp. 

I understand that Microlab 6.0c is nice though. I have Microlab X1 (you don't wanna know about that) but these large bookshelf type Microlabs look good.

post #5 of 17

The main problem with small speakers is the lack of bass, but if you can manage without good bass then you can get some decent sounding ones.

I'd still aim for a 5" driver if possible though.

post #6 of 17
IMO the a2s are a fantastic deal. You would want to add a sub later, but it would kill all the other 2.1. systems. The Maudios (both) are probably the best way to go if you don't want to have to spend more later thouvh.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I made some cardboard cutouts of various footprints (yes, I'm a nerd), and the BX5s are just too big, which is sad since I found some gently used ones for 150 locally. The only ones that could sit on my desk are the A2s, Hivi M20s, and the AV40s.

I'm going to poke around and see if I can demo the m-audios locally... I'm not holding my breath though.

I'm a bit miffed that the Swans aren't doable since they seem universally acclaimed...

So another question, are the A2+s any better than the vanilla ones? The only difference I see is RCA out and a built in DAC. I can get the vanilla ones for 50 cheaper, and the only benefit I see is it's easier to add a sub later. Does it matter if if I don't get the AE sub?

This is all Greek to me. All my "decent" audio stuff has been vintage hand me downs, so I didn't have to bother.

Thanks again for the advice.
post #8 of 17

I am thinking of Bose Companion 20, rave reviews. Even the Companion 2 got rave reviews

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm not too sure about Bose, I've pretty much seen nothing but negative things about them.


My girlfriends dad (a musician and audiophile) apparently swore by Bose, until the mid-90's, when they changed their business strategy/acoustics. Obviously don't take my word for it, never heard them, and I'm far from qualified to make any objective statements on pretty much anything... From my recent research, though, it seems that the ride a bit higher on the price end of the curve, than on the performance end, cashing in a bit on the brand name and less on the actual sounds.  Just the impression that I got, I'm sure some here can say much more grounded things than me, though.

post #10 of 17

I have got a Bose shop nearby. Will go listen in person. 

post #11 of 17

Well, I'm looking for new speakers too. Forgive my bad english!

I've recived the Behringer MS20 short ago, but I'm not liking them very much, and I'm thinking about replacing them.

They do a low high-pitch noise that comes from the tweetter of both monitors. Anyways that doesn't annoy if they are far.

They sound too bright, but not much detailed.

And the bass.. how to say it (I don't know technical words), it sounds like "dzzzdzzz" instead of "drrllldrlll". This is what annoys me the most.
Also, there is not much bass.
I'm not enjoying them, so I'm looking for an alternative for less than 200€.

I'm comparing them to my Beyerdynamics DT 880, whose have a better bass IMO.
If I loud the volume of the bass from the monitor it sounds loud but not low in frequencies. It doesn't feel "liquid" and "smooth" like from the headphones.

If it's interesting, I listen mostly to some hard-rock - metal music, but I like electronic too, so I need a precise low bass.

Thank you for your time!

Edited by Tallulah - 1/4/14 at 10:16am
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm glad I'm not alone in this quest...  For what its worth, and I'm sorry not putting this well since this is all very new...  The A2s work very well (in my 5 hours of testing) for metal, even bassy mathcore like Meshuggah.  They're perfect for more acoustic rock/metal (better than some big expensive floor speakers I've heard, and better than our Lepai/Micca Motion set-up), they actually made me want to fully listen to some albums that I really forgot about, they made it them sound new (especially Grails...  these speakers were made for listening to Grails on).  For more messy dirty metal they are about on par with the Creative 5.1 system, but that might just be my ears not being used to it.  With some electronic music they do fine, very refined, clear tracks sound good.  For heavy, cluttered electronic music (like VNV Nation), they kind of suck, the bass mud eats everything.  Again, perhaps I need to wear them in, or just get used to them.  They also made me realize that one of my Rush mp3 albums is horribly mastered, and pretty much unlistenable (which sucks, but is a good endorsement for the speakers).  


They also have a VERY narrow "sweet-spot".  You need the stands, or something to get them pointing at you ears.  Otherwise they sound a bit bottom-of-a-rain-barrel-y. 

post #13 of 17

Are you talking about the A2 or the A2+ model?

I've found them at 86€ ($117 USD) which I think is a nice price. Maybe I should go for them.

post #14 of 17

I have the av40s. they are much better than the logitech z623s i had before. i dont see a better bargain for $150.

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

I don't think there is much of a difference between the A2 and the A2+, just the DAC and RCA outputs.  But either way that sounds like a steal.  I got the A2+'s because they were mispriced. They were marked for the same as the originals at a local non-Apple Mac store (MacMedia), but they seem pretty much the same.  They are too new to really find much about their on board DAC, though, so it might be worth it.  


I think I'm keeping mine, I like them enough to make driving 16 miles, to check the AV40's and perhaps buy them to test them (at $40 more than Amazon) not worth it.  I doubt, if they are better, they are THAT better.  Perhaps they are, but my girlfriend is sick of me talking about it, so...  She, as always, wins.  

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