Interesting feedback on the A2s. I had thought the A2's represented a real step-up, but I get that big, neutral sound can't come from a small package. I don't like the bloated bass, harsh highs, and recessed mids that seem endemic in small, powered speaker systems. I'd rather have no low-end, but with decent mids and highs and accept the so-so SQ. That being the case, it probably makes sense to just get the T20s. Honestly, I'll probably only use them for occasional listening and Amazon Instant Video. If I want good sound, I will use my headphone rig. Besides, I'm planning on getting good portables in the spring, probably Beyerdynamics dt1350, so a smaller purchase now will make that more feasible.
Headphone amp as a preamp for active speakers? Headphone amp powering passive speakers? Help! - Page 2
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Try and look up Swans too. The M100MkII is relatively compact still and has bluetooth I think. Real wood cabinets and a larger driver might give you more impact on the upper bass than the T20s, and if not absolutely lower reach in the bass, at least probably flatter or better controlled.
Edited by ProtegeManiac - 2/14/14 at 6:56pm
So after going around and around on this, I ended up where I started. I got the M-Audio av40s. The price is right, and most people have reported good experiences with them. I worry a little about quality control issues, but if they die, so be it. I figure they will sound nice with the Asgard as a preamp. Seems like there is an opportunity in this segment, $100-150 powered bookshelf speakers aimed at audiophiles. Seems like most of the offerings are either really nice computer speakers (which aren't so great) or studio monitors that aren't really aimed at consumers. Kind of a void there, especially compared to the great headphone offerings in that range.
Well, just because Swans/Hi-Vi calls them "multimedia" speakers it doesn't mean it's just a slightly nicer set of Logitechs or Sound Blasters. They just don't call them "pro" monitors because
1) They weren't designed with an extremely flat response
2) They have an asymmetric design like the Audioengines. Instead of two active monitors, these speakers have one "Master" speaker where the amplifier is and one "Slave" speaker connected to it with a long speaker cable. That simplifies wiring in a lot of ways: only one volume control, only one power cable running to the surge protector, you can have your source/DAC closer to the master speaker and run a relatively shorter cable.
3) There isn't yet a real term for it. Consumer monitors aren't actually used but that's an accurate term; calling them "audiophile monitors" as distinct from "studio monitors," coupled with a not too transparent sound, makes it seem like "audiophile" means it is more "euphonic" than it is "high fidelity," so it really is a marketing conundrum so they just ended up with "Active Speakers" for most brands and Swans just put everything in the same category, "Multimedia," even if the construction and driver size has more in common with standmounts and studio monitors than any plastic Sound Blaster.
Yeah, I get that it might simply be a marketing issue. The Audioengine A2s are the right idea, but I couldn't stomach that price tag for speakers that have to make compromises on SQ due to their size. For $130, I'd snatch them up. The Swans seem great, but they aren't available anywhere I could find. I really prefer to go through Amazon, because my shipping costs can easily equal 25% of the cost of the speakers. The more boutique producers don't have much in the way of distribution, which inherently makes them less consumer oriented. Seems like most of the products out there are from studio monitor producers, but with a price-tag and tuning more oriented toward consumers. That's cool, but I'd like to have more options. It'd be nice to see more products to satisfy this particular market. I don't know much about the biz though, so I could be off base.
No, not far off-base. Swans' distribution network is a bit too small - there was a time last year that even Audio Insider barely had any in stock for some reason. Even I was surprised there was one here in my city, and small as the distributioon system is, I was able to get mine repaired easily (had to drive over to the warehouse to drop it off but then again it's not like we just ship everything on the cheap here to begin with). Then again a larger distribution network with larger retailers usually means larger profit margins for the dealers, which is probably something Swans wants to avoid, since price is they are very competitive.
I just checked Audio Insider and they still don't have the M100; only teh M50 which is the M100 satellites paired with a 6" active sub and the larger D1010 monitors.
Edited by ProtegeManiac - 2/15/14 at 2:01am
I doubt there's much market for that. People into speaker audio already know that $100-$150 is not enough to design, market, and sell something with much quality. You have $350 worth of DAC/headphone amp, but expect <$150 with small speakers with amplification to give you great sound? Sorry. Your expectations are way off. That's like saying there is a <$40 audiophile DAC/headphone amp market, when there's really not.
Besides, best deal for SQ in the < $150 range is to find a good deal on passive speakers with larger drivers and then get a t-amp.
Edited by cel4145 - 2/15/14 at 6:52am
Also, does anyone know how the Asgard switches between preamp out and headphone out? Does inserting a headphone jack into the the amp automatically override the preamp? Thanks.
The quickie way we do it with car audio (receiver's preamped output with gain control on amps) is to set both to zero gain first. Then, set the primary preamp - in this case the Asgard2 - to roughly 75% of the knob movement* then slowly work your way up the A2's knob until you hear distortion. When you do, pull back until the distortion is gone, then pull back a little bit more.
*it's not a full 360deg movement on the knob so just improvise; in car receivers this is easier because of the digital display of the output
Thanks Protege. Any other suggestions on setting the volume on the A2's?
Anyone know how the interface between preamp and headphone amp on the Asgard 2 works? If headphone's plugged in and the preamp output leads to active speakers, will the Asgard activate both? Preference the headphones?