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Upgrading my home audio setup. Studio reference speakers.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Been using some Audioengine A5+ speakers for a while and I decided after much discussion to upgrade to a pair of JBL LSR308 speakers.  Fits the budget nicely and with the warranty JBL has on their products, we feel this is the next logical step.  Our existing hardware consists of a Polk Audio PSW10, which is a low powered 10" sub, and my Asus laptop.

 

Much of our personal music collection is in the 320kbps MP3 format, and I am just starting to look into the FLAC format.  We don't always listen to music critically and often still enjoy Youtube playlists for the convenience factor. 

 

What I'd like to be able to do with the new setup is to get everything balanced to the room and to match it with the sub, assuming it adds any tangible sound value that the JBl's don't provide.  Would like to be able to have a volume control that sits next to the laptop and if possible have multiple outputs for the 2 JBL channels and my sub.  There is a distant possibility that I'd consider an extra pair of channels to act as surrounds, but that is not a priority honestly.  So I'm not really familiar with what is needed, I am hoping to get some input on what else I'd need to get a nice balanced setup without breaking the bank.

 

Thanks for your advice and time!

post #2 of 19
For best sub integration, I recommend getting this Denon receiver and then passive speakers. An AVR has bass management that allows you to select different crossover points for integrating speakers and sub. Without bass management, you'll have to set the sub to the low rolloff of the speakers. Plus, the AVR would allow you to build out to 3.1 or 5.1 if you so choose.
post #3 of 19

Normally in a 2.1 setup one feeds the L/R into the sub and connect the monitors to the line out of the sub. The sub filters out the lowest frequencies and feed this signal into the monitors.

 

As the Polk is intended to be used with a receiver, you don’t have this option.

 

You might try (assuming a 2 channel source) to use a RCA splitter and feed both sub and monitors the same signal.

Not the best possible solution (impedance mismatch, signal level) but dirt cheap.

A better solution is a multi-channel audio interface e.g. a DAC with a minimum of 4 line outs or more if you plan to go the surround way.

 

As there is overlap in the bass between the sub and the monitors, you have to balance them.

You might try by ear by controlling input sensitivity and filter settings.

Another option is to use a microphone and measure the frequency response

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roseval View Post

Normally in a 2.1 setup one feeds the L/R into the sub and connect the monitors to the line out of the sub. The sub filters out the lowest frequencies and feed this signal into the monitors.

+1

Right, and most subs do not do that. Many subs only have a RCA or speaker level input and can only low pass filter the sub. Then only some with line in and line out have a high pass filter to take the low pass frequencies before passing to the speakers. And the reason is that many subs are definitely designed to go with an AVR where you don't need the high pass filter functionality.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

We only briefly looked into the passive speaker and receiver route, but felt that it would be beyond our budget to get something comparable to the reference speakers.  Having bass isn't as important as clear mids and highs, and nearly anything would be an improvement to how we have our sub currently setup.  The sub receives full signal from the RCA outputs on the Audioengines and I fiddled with the cutoff, phase reversing and room placement to an acceptable level.  I'm no expert with getting the sub dialed in, but felt I was able to get 'em to match the long and narrow living room.

 

Would a receiver and passive speakers be any match to the active JBL's within the same price range?

post #6 of 19
I have not heard the LSR308s, but I would bet that there are other passive speakers that can compare when coupled with that AVR. Plus the AVR would give you the flexibility to go 3.1, 4.1, or even 5.1. Does your laptop have HDMI out?

As for speakers, I can recommend the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs. Ascend is an Internet direct brand, so a better value than passive speakers same MSRP that you find in stores.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

The laptop is a fairly nice model (G74SX) and does indeed have an HDMI output.  We use a dual screen setup with the extra 22" monitor next to the laptop and have the speakers on either side of the monitors on top of some end stands.  Those speakers look alright, but without being able to listen to them, or the JBL's for that matter, I'm pretty much shopping in the dark.  I'm going off of reviews of people that have similar experiences with the Audioengines, and looking to see what they upgrade to.  Most seem to opt for some KRK Rockets or some other studio reference speaker like the Mackie brand.  This is why I've only seriously considered the JBL LSR308; well that and I have had a positive experience with the brand in car audio.

 

JBL LSR308 link:

http://www.jblpro.com/www/products/recording-broadcast/3-series/lsr308#.U2XLjVdltXB

post #8 of 19
With an AVR, you can run the HDMI to the AVR to carry full 5.1 digital audio if you ever wanted to. The thing that I would recommend is that if you ever want to build a surround sound HT setup, an AVR with passive speakers is the best way to go. To use powered monitors for an HT setup in more than 2 channels, you would need a computer soundcard that outputs analog into 5.1 channels.

Some people will say you can use an AVR to hook up to powered monitors for building an HT setup, but that sort of defeats part of the purpose of the AVR, which is that it can power the speakers (you'd be paying for amplification that you don't need). Plus, the necessary line outs for hooking up powered monitors to an AVR only come on mid-fi and high end models--ends up being very costly to go that approach. Or, sometimes people use these multi channel processors with powered monitors, but they are expensive as well.

So I would suggest figuring out where you might want to go next. If the LSR308s and your sub are the limit, then you are fine. If you are thinking HT, then you might post over at the AVS speaker forum (they specialize in home audio) and ask them for recommendations in your budget for speakers better than the Audioengines you have.
post #9 of 19
Funny you mention Audioengine and the JBL LSR series as I just went from A2's and PSW10 to the LSR305. I am putting together a new 2.2 system consisting of the following:

JBL LSR305
2x DIY sealed Infinity 1262W subs

As far as source I am debating between two different routes:

AVR
If this is case I will be going with a Marantz NR1604 as it has preouts for the fronts and then I can go 5.2 later if I want to

DAC/Pre route
Probably going with the Matrix mini-i and miniDSP combo if I go this route.

I have owned quite a bit of passive speakers in the past and let me tell you that you have to spend quite a bit more than what the JBL LSR cost to best them. I have listened to the Ascend CBM line and it's just no match for the JBL. Sure the Ascend can play louder but the size of soundstage the JBL puts out is fantastic because of the waveguide. The CBM's are more of a movie speaker.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

Just received the JBL's today and am starting to get acquainted with everything.  Picked up a USB audio interface from Tascam (model: US-366) to handle audio processing and provide some 1/4" balanced outputs.  I'm no expert, but I figure a standalone DAC may not be worth the cost and to only have limited outputs and no ability to control the reference speakers without adjusting each independently.  The USB audio interface seemed to have all the features that I was looking for, quality balanced outputs to each speaker, and plenty of extra options/settings.  Plus an internal amp for my headphones!  Figured with the file types that I was using a premium single purpose DAC would only be a partial solution and a poor gain from the file types I will be using. 

 

So far I got the speakers placed and installed the audio interface and got my pc dialed in- still waiting on an order that has the TRS balanced cables.  Initial impressions of the JBL's is that they are large and seem to be nicely built.  The weight of the cabinet is somewhat deceptive as the cabinets are quite large and they feel as though they should be heavier.  I am still going through the many settings on the audio interface, but it has 6 outputs (some digital) and I am sorting out how to best control an output to the sub. 

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post

Funny you mention Audioengine and the JBL LSR series as I just went from A2's and PSW10 to the LSR305. I am putting together a new 2.2 system consisting of the following:

JBL LSR305
2x DIY sealed Infinity 1262W subs

As far as source I am debating between two different routes:

AVR
If this is case I will be going with a Marantz NR1604 as it has preouts for the fronts and then I can go 5.2 later if I want to

DAC/Pre route
Probably going with the Matrix mini-i and miniDSP combo if I go this route.

I have owned quite a bit of passive speakers in the past and let me tell you that you have to spend quite a bit more than what the JBL LSR cost to best them. I have listened to the Ascend CBM line and it's just no match for the JBL. Sure the Ascend can play louder but the size of soundstage the JBL puts out is fantastic because of the waveguide. The CBM's are more of a movie speaker.

Well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But size of the soundstage is not the only factor (for me) in speaker choice. Plus, it's myth that speakers are "movie" speakers. Speakers that are good for movies are good for music and vice versa. Wave guide speakers can, indeed, have a bigger soundstage. But they are also pickier about placement and have a smaller sweetspot.

And incidentally, you will not be able to go 5.2 with the Marantz using the LSR305s for fronts because you won't be able to use a matching center with only front pre-outs. That will pretty much mess up your front soundstage for multichannel usage.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post

Funny you mention Audioengine and the JBL LSR series as I just went from A2's and PSW10 to the LSR305. I am putting together a new 2.2 system consisting of the following:

JBL LSR305
2x DIY sealed Infinity 1262W subs

As far as source I am debating between two different routes:

AVR
If this is case I will be going with a Marantz NR1604 as it has preouts for the fronts and then I can go 5.2 later if I want to

DAC/Pre route
Probably going with the Matrix mini-i and miniDSP combo if I go this route.

I have owned quite a bit of passive speakers in the past and let me tell you that you have to spend quite a bit more than what the JBL LSR cost to best them. I have listened to the Ascend CBM line and it's just no match for the JBL. Sure the Ascend can play louder but the size of soundstage the JBL puts out is fantastic because of the waveguide. The CBM's are more of a movie speaker.

Well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But size of the soundstage is not the only factor (for me) in speaker choice. Plus, it's myth that speakers are "movie" speakers. Speakers that are good for movies are good for music and vice versa. Wave guide speakers can, indeed, have a bigger soundstage. But they are also pickier about placement and have a smaller sweetspot.

And incidentally, you will not be able to go 5.2 with the Marantz using the LSR305s for fronts because you won't be able to use a matching center with only front pre-outs. That will pretty much mess up your front soundstage for multichannel usage.

My room is small so I can do phantom center no problem. Should have really said 4.2.

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post #13 of 19
Go listen to some Klipsch RF's and then let me know if you can listen to music for long periods of time on them.

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post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post

Go listen to some Klipsch RF's and then let me know if you can listen to music for long periods of time on them.

Why would he want to do that? He already got the JBLs??? confused.gif
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post

Go listen to some Klipsch RF's and then let me know if you can listen to music for long periods of time on them.

Why would he want to do that? He already got the JBLs??? confused.gif

I was responding to your comment about movie only speakers being a myth.

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