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Headphone amp as a preamp for active speakers? Headphone amp powering passive speakers? Help!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I have a Schiit Modi leading to Schiit Asgard 2. I am looking to buy some bookshelf speakers. I am considering three options, but it's hard to know which option is best.

 

Option 1. Asgard 2 powering passive speakers.

 

Option 2. Asgard 2 to active speakers.

 

Option 3. Computer straight to active speakers.

 

I would go Modi to active speakers, but the Modi only has one output, and that needs to go to the Asgard. My budget is really low (around $100). I'd like to get nice sounding speakers, but I'm realistic about what can be had for that little money.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 28

You could use these RCA cables to get 2 outputs from your Modi. The Modi's output stage is quite strong, it should handle it.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3450791

 

Check out these speakers:

http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-b652-6-1-2-2-way-bookshelf-speaker-pair--300-652#lblProductDetails

or if you can spare the cash

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E7H8GG2/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3I4WX1LU26YLD&coliid=I2EKWV27O1OOAQ

 

 

Pair one of those with this

http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-dta-100a-class-t-digital-mini-amplifier-50-wpc--300-383

or maybe this, depends on what you want to spend again

http://www.amazon.com/Upgraded-LP-2020A-Lepai-Amplifier-Shipping/dp/B00C2P61FO/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1392307499&sr=8-14&keywords=topping

 

I have not used any of these speakers or amps, but they are all highly rated. 


Edited by pulchritudejim - 2/13/14 at 8:13am
post #3 of 28

One option would be to sell on the Modi, possibly even the Asgard, and get a proper audio interface which will meet your requirements in a single box.

 

MOTU, Focusrite, Native Instruments & Roland (among many others) make excellent interfaces which will be within your budget.

 

How old is the computer you plan on using as source and what is the audio codec used.

 

http://stephan.win31.de/music.htm#onboard

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions. I just got the Asgard 2 and Modi, and I like them very much. The speakers are a secondary consideration, so I'll definitely be keeping the Schiit. Splitting the Modi output seems like a good option, as long as it doesn't degrade the sound coming out of the Asgard. Schiit website says that Asgard 2 is intended to serve as preamp for active speakers, so that should work out. It has RCA output.

 

I may just get a nice computer 2.0 set, run them out of the Asgard 2 output, and live with the so-so sound. The cheaper monitors seem a little suspect to me. M-Audio av40s gets decent reviews, but a lot of them appear to fail after a year or so. I'm also not wild about the desktop space consumed by monitors, even smaller ones. The Audioengine A2s are more than I want to spend. I'd rather get another nice set of cans for that money.

 

I like the LP2020 to Micca suggestion. That's quite a good value.


Edited by supercub - 2/13/14 at 1:12pm
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 

Oh and the computer is a five-year-old iMac with Snow Leopard OS. I use mostly ALAC.

post #6 of 28

I forgot about the Asgard 2's preamp output, that's the best way to go.

post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 

No way the Asgard to power passive speakers though, right?

post #8 of 28

No, some headphone amps can do that, the Asgard 2 is not one of them. It's simply not powerful enough. The Lepai is what I would go with.

post #9 of 28
I use the Asgard 2 as a pre-amp. Works well because then my headphone amp is right there in front of me, too.

But pulchritudejim is right. The Asgard 2 is not designed to power speakers. Even the Lepai 2020 will do better.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by supercub View Post
 

I have a Schiit Modi leading to Schiit Asgard 2. I am looking to buy some bookshelf speakers. I am considering three options, but it's hard to know which option is best.

 

Option 1. Asgard 2 powering passive speakers.

 

You cannot power speakers using the Asgard. It has no speaker output. What it has is a preamp output in the rear, near the inputs. You hook those up to an amplifier which is then hooked up to passive speakers, or...

Quote:
Originally Posted by supercub View Post
 

Option 2. Asgard 2 to active speakers.

 

...you hook them up to active speakers (technically you're hooking them up to the amp, which is built into the cabinet). I'd rather do it this way, so there won't be another box taking up space where the Asgard and Modi (and mouse, keyboard, monitor, etc) are.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by supercub View Post
 

Option 3. Computer straight to active speakers.

 

I would go Modi to active speakers, but the Modi only has one output, and that needs to go to the Asgard.

 

That would be a waste of the Asgard you already have since that was precisely why they added a preamp output to it. If you use the computer, you either use the digital volume on Windows as a convenient but probably bit-reducing volume control, or you have to stand up and get to the knobs on each monitor (if you use pro studio monitors). Not to mention that a computer's analogue output section is a compromise between headphones and (speaker) amplifiers, and chances are it's not good with either, especially when you have the Modi's DAC with a good line-level analogue output and there's the Asgard with a real preamp output.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by supercub View Post

 

My budget is really low (around $100). I'd like to get nice sounding speakers, but I'm realistic about what can be had for that little money.

 

Monoprice has studio monitors for $167; Swans also has some for around the same price. You'd be surprised how much better the active speakers are at that price range compared to computer speakers or cheap studio monitors whose definition of "flat" response is dynamically uninspiring and the drummer couldn't find quality replacements for the surfaces the sticks have pounded beyond use.


Of course there are passive speakers and relatively cheap T-amps as an option.

post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I've decided to go Asgard to active speakers. I'm trying to decide between Creative T20s, which are $70 on Amazon, or Audioengine A2s. Obviously the A2s are a much better product, but they also blow my budget up. Based on my research, the $100-150 range doesn't seem to have a lot of great options, with the exception of a few offerings. Swans m10s are out of stock everywhere, and I fear the shipping costs. Shipping to my location is often very expensive, so Amazon Prime is my much preferred buying mode.
Seems like $200 is the magic number for a significant step up.

Do I keep it reasonable and get the T20s, or do I go for broke with the A2s. Something tells me I already know the answer...
Edited by supercub - 2/13/14 at 11:19pm
post #12 of 28
You'll hate me for this, but as one Asgard 2 owner to another, skip the Audioengine A2s, and spend a little more for the JBL LSR 305s on a buy one, get one 1/2 off special. Do some research, and you'll find that these are comparing favorably to $500-$600 powered monitors. The LSR 305s will put you in a speaker class where you will be very happy with the sound. Spending less is going to be a big compromise for someone that likes nice sound like the Modi/Asgard 2. For example, here's a review: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57615555-47/jbl-lsr305-resetting-sound-expectations-for-desktop-speakers/. It's practically impossible to find any testimonials where people do find them to be an incredible value for the money.

Plus, the A2s are not so great for bass output because of the small driver. Audioengine tries to get around this with a boost in the upper midbass region. That's a hack, and it's just a limitation of trying to produce good bass with a 2.75" driver. Just not gonna happen. The JBLs have 5" drivers and will do MUCH better in that regard.

If you absolutely have to stay around the cost of the A2s, get the Lepai TA2020 and a good pair of passive bookshelf speakers.
post #13 of 28
Looks like Amazon has some for even cheaper than Sweetwater. See the Amazon reviews here.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

You'll hate me for this, but as one Asgard 2 owner to another, skip the Audioengine A2s, and spend a little more for the JBL LSR 305s on a buy one, get one 1/2 off special. Do some research, and you'll find that these are comparing favorably to $500-$600 powered monitors. The LSR 305s will put you in a speaker class where you will be very happy with the sound. Spending less is going to be a big compromise for someone that likes nice sound like the Modi/Asgard 2. For example, here's a review: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57615555-47/jbl-lsr305-resetting-sound-expectations-for-desktop-speakers/. It's practically impossible to find any testimonials where people do find them to be an incredible value for the money.

Plus, the A2s are not so great for bass output because of the small driver. Audioengine tries to get around this with a boost in the upper midbass region. That's a hack, and it's just a limitation of trying to produce good bass with a 2.75" driver. Just not gonna happen. The JBLs have 5" drivers and will do MUCH better in that regard.

If you absolutely have to stay around the cost of the A2s, get the Lepai TA2020 and a good pair of passive bookshelf speakers.

 

If the A2 had been the price of the Creative T20 and they didn't try to squeeze too much bass from a 2.75" driver, I'd recommend it if just for use mostly when one has to rest from using headphones and then listening to mostly vocals or ambiance music. Problem is, it's neither.

 

Other options include Newegg/Fry's specials on Polk Audio and Klipsch standmounts plus a $50 T-amp.

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

If the A2 had been the price of the Creative T20 and they didn't try to squeeze too much bass from a 2.75" driver, I'd recommend it if just for use mostly when one has to rest from using headphones and then listening to mostly vocals or ambiance music. Problem is, it's neither.

Yeah. People just don't realize how much driver size makes a difference. I think the Audioengine A2 are a decent choice if someone has to have a small speaker at $200. It's just a compromise in SQ, like any of the other small speakers in that price range. Definitely would be OK for when one doesn't want to use headphones for just background listening or watching a youtube video, but then again, the T20s could work as well just for that.

In that <$200 price range, I'd probably go for the Monoprice 5" driver studio monitors for a powered speaker, except they are now on backorder.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

Other options include Newegg/Fry's specials on Polk Audio and Klipsch standmounts plus a $50 T-amp.

Definitely follow Newegg and Frys. About a week ago, Frys had the Energy RC-10s on sale for $199, and they are an excellent speaker for the price. Newegg fluctuates from week to week on having the Polk Monitor series on sale. Klipsch would not be my favorite for nearfield use because of their reputation for being somewhat fatiguing.

The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR are a very good value at $100 a pair.
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