First off, let me introduce myself to the board. My name is Andy and I have been a growing audiophile since I got my first MP3 player- a COWON iAudio X5- many years ago. This was when iPods were becoming so popular, nobody seemed to care about sound quality, as long as they had the newest version or better of whatever Apple product was about to currently be released. Unfortunately, it seems this has not changed much over the last decade, but that is why we are here on this informative website.
I am in the process of building/upgrading my desktop audio system and would like some input from the forum. A bit more history- I am a fan of 2.1 systems, starting with a Boston Acoustics 2.1 powered system on my old Gateway 2000. Without running the whole list, I've tried Creative, Logitech, Klipsch Pro 2.1, currently running the M-Audio AV40, which are by far the best speakers I have used on my computers. I am also running a cheapish Polk sub which does the job, for now.
I recently purchased the ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 and it is a very nice sound card. So nice that it has brought to my attention the aging amp inside the AV40 speakers I have been thrashing for the last 3 years or so. They seemed to be holding up fine using motherboard supplied "HD Audio". Perhaps the AV40 are becoming tired, maybe I fried them without being able to hear it before, I don't know, or really care as it is time to upgrade anyhow. I can hear a slight crackle from the right channel when playing a good track loud that occurs with loud bass hits. It is completely unnoticeable at normal volumes and still sounds great to me for 95% of my listening purposes...it's that last 5% that makes me wonder.
I have done a good amount of online research, as not many products I have interest in are sold in stores, nor do I feel testing already abused floor models offer much more than a vague idea of how they sound when properly setup and used. The brand I have settled on for my next test subject is Audioengine. They offer a nice lineup of products, most of which receive stellar reviews online, both by individuals and publications alike. After investing $100-200 on most of my systems, I feel it is time to up my game and do things properly. The setup I have in mind is the P4 bookshelf speakers (in Bamboo, of course) paired with the N22 desktop amp. After reading many, many review on many Audioengine products, I have pretty much made up my mind on this setup, but I do have some questions and am open to suggestions. I guess the first should be- is this a good setup for $524?
The other unknown to me is running amplified passive speakers through a sound card. Typically, I find the sweet spot on the volume knob of the powered satellites, mixed with the same for the sub crossover and volume and raise or lower the sound card volume as needed. If I do choose this system, do I run the sound card at 100% and just use the volume dial on the N22 or leave the dial at a normal setting and continue to change the volume digitally? Same goes for the sub- do I run the sub off the sound card like I am now? L/R out to speakers and C/Sub out to sub, or run the sub through the N22 line out? Another thing I wonder about is constantly using a dial to adjust volume wearing more quickly than finding a setting and using the sound card volume. On the cheaper systems, I have had some crackle issues after using the dial a lot over time- most notably the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1, which is why I moved up to "studio monitors", which I doubt the AV40 even come close to. Every time I touched the volume dial on the Klipsch where they sounded best I got a nasty electric crack.
Anyway, I hope my long post didn't bore you all too much. I have spent lots of time listening and researching and researching through listening experience that I feel it's worth a hearty introduction. Much of the useful information I have read has come from this forum, which is why I am posting this here as the first audio forum I have joined. Most forums I follow are for cars, LOL. Please be nice, but feel free to be critical as long as you offer useable advice or information. I look forward to learning more about the world of sound, as I have a feeling I have barely scratched the surface.
Thanks for reading!