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post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

    Wouldn't you get better sound quality for the price if you buy passive speakers since you aren't shelling out the money for amplifiers at the same time? I've seen a lot of active monitors touted here on these threads but figured I'd get better overall bang for my if I go passive.

 

As much as the tendency is to pay for as little parts and be able to assume they're each better than another product at the same price range where you pay for other parts too, active monitors have a few things going for them. First, the amp built into them was designed specifically to drive those speakers, and in professional monitors as well as some consumer monitors, you get four channels of amplification, one for each tweeter and woofer. Some of them have asymmetrical channels where you get a lot more power to the midwoofers than the tweeters. So for example you compare a professional studio monitor for $600 vs a passive speaker for $400 and some Class A/B amp for $300. That studio monitor very likely has a Class A/B amp with 50watts on the tweeters and 75watts or more to the midwoofers while the $300 amp has maybe 25watts to 35watts. It's not just about raw power either, as the THD at the rated wattage tends to be comparable; however, the active speakers have another tiny advantage in having active crossovers: it splits the signal (actually it's more accurate to say "trims") to each woofer and tweeter before they get amplified, so each amp only works on a smaller frequency range. This has a tiny advantage in managing impedance swings that result in needing more current, especially when you compare them to 4-ohm passives or even some 8-ohm midwoofers that swing wide off the nominal impedance.

 

Second, active monitors were designed and voiced for nearfield use. That doesn't mean that all passive speakers will suck nearfield, or all active monitors will suck if used from 2m away, but still the crossovers, driver dispersion, and cabinet design (if the baffle is shaped to act as waveguides) were all designed and tested at 1m away. Passive speakers are only rated for efficiency at 1m away but listening for its imaging is done sitting farther away.

 

Third, for some it's a matter of convenience - it's one less box or just a smaller box on the desk which has a monitor and peripherals on it as well. The only problem with active monitors in this regard is how to control the volume in a pair of monitors with an amp in each speaker if you don't have a console. For home users, and particularly on this site, that means a HPamp, DAC, or a DAC-HPamp with a preamp output, nearly all of which are a lot smaller on the desk compared to any speaker amp barring Class D.

post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

I've been looking to replace a pair of horrendous Altec Lansing desktop speakers I've been using (as little as possible) for the past two years. I went ahead and did some research and found the Audioengine A2+'s and bought them a couple days ago off of Amazon. I had seen a lot of comments on their bass and so went ahead and tested them using "Oi-1" by Biosphere and they, for lack of a better word, fluttered. So, I don't know if my pair are defective or if all A2+s have this issue but they're going back and I'm going to take my dad's advice and go for passive bookshelf speakers. Also, as I noticed in reviews the A2+s tended to be a little heavy on the bass and overpowered the lyrics on "Take it Easy" by the Eagles (side note, I know I didn't give these speakers much of a chance to break in having only had them for 4 days but the flutter on the low end is horrible and I just can't imagine it will magically go away). Also, my dad pointed out to me that I might as well go with some larger bookshelf speakers since I have room on my desk.

 

Anyway, I already have an amp I'm planning to use. It's an old Harmon/Kardon 330c which only has RCA phono inputs and I think has a maximum output of 50 watts. I'm looking to hook it up to my computer either using a 3.5 mm to RCA converter straight from the mobo line out or possibly through a USB DAC if there's a decent one out there that isn't going to cost me too much. I plan to use the setup to listen to music, watch movies, and play the occasional videogame. I listen to a really wide variety of music, including classical, pop, country, R&B, metal, and classic rock. I'm looking to spend around $300.00 for the speakers and, if possible, under $100 for a DAC if I need one. 

 

So far I've been looking at the following speakers:

-- Tannoy Reveal 601P Studio Monitor - $220.00/pair on Amazon
-- Audioengine P4s - $250.00 on Amazon
-- JBL Control 1 - $164.00 on Amazon (I like the small size but wonder if the sound quality will suffer)
-- Klipsch RB-41 II - $299.00 on Amazon

-- Mica MBX42 - $79.99 (I've seen them suggested multiple times on the threads around here)

 

 

I'm somewhat leaning towards the Klipsch as I've had several of their in-ear headphones and been satisfied with them (and have no experience with any of the other brands excepting Audioengine) but saw a post here on head-fi that indicated they may not be good nearfield speakers. As far as DACs go I've looked at the Behringer UCA202, the Audioengine D1, and the Hifimediy saber DAC (through I'd prefer RCA outputs). I'm a little wary of Audioengine right now thanks to my experience with the A2+ s but am willing to consider them.

 

So, thoughts?


Hi,

 

You should consider Infinity Primus P163 (P162 successor)

http://www.stereophile.com/content/infinity-primus-p162-loudspeaker-page-2

 


Best Luck!

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

OK, guys you have all been awesome and I really appreciate you taking time to make suggestions and educate me on what is and is not good! I've been auditioning speakers at some local places to get a feel for good audio and I was about to leave the last place when the sales guy found last year's floor model B&W 685s (the ones with the name beside the tweeter instead of under it) and offered them to me for $450.00. I found a couple posts on them on the AVS speaker forum that suggested this was a great price for some fine speakers, and I loved the sound, and thought the tweeters were a little muted which I gather is good for near field. So I went ahead and bought the pair (I really like the cherry cabinets too). Anyway that means I've pretty much blown my budget for both speakers and a DAC so I'm going to hold off on getting anything more. 

I never really considered using a sound card. I have an old Creative Sound Blaster Audigy (Pro?) 2 laying around, would that by just as good as going after a Xonar DX?

Wikipedia has this to say about it:

My only question is about the 3.5mm line outs. Are they going to output the same sound quality as a USB DAC with RCA Phono line outs? I saw that some cards, like the ASUS Xonar  Essence STX have RCA phono outputs, would that be a better future buy (if I can find it cheaper than the listed $200) than the DX/D1, or would it be better to shell out some money on an external DAC?

 

The SB Audigy (Pro or other) would not have as good a DAC chip as the DX/D1.

You have bought what I'm assuming are some nice sounding speakers and I'm assuming the store that demoed them had them hooked to a fair good DAC of some type.

Spend an extra $60 for a decent DAC (or sound card) is something that I would really recommend, I'm far from a audio "expert", but I would assume anyone with a worthwhile opinion on audio would agree with me.

Chances are your motherboard comes with a really low costing DAC chip.

 

Technically RCA outputs are better then 3.5mm outputs, I guess you could say the RCA outputs are more "Professional".

With the hardware you are working with, will your ears be able to tell an audio quality difference between a 3.5mm jack and RCA jacks? No.

 

Unless you have a need for a sound card with a dedicated headphone output (with built in headphone amplifier), you really do not need to spend the extra for the Essence STX.

Technically the Essence STX's PCM1792A DAC chip is better then the DX/D1's CS4398 DAC chip, but for the cash your willing to spend for the STX would be better spent on an external DAC.

Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC $57+shipping.

Schiit Modi DAC (USB or optical), $99 (+tax/shipping)

ODAC USB DAC, $150.

post #19 of 32

Modern onboard is getting much better, unless you can hear peaks and dips in the frequency responce, noise , disortion or timing errors the onboard will serve you fine.

 

Theres no difference between rca and a 3.5mm jack sound quality wise, the only difference is rca has a different cable for each channel.

 

 

2 properly designed dac chips aren't going to sound different, and longs the rest of the circuit is properly designed and made the dac the chips in will still sound transparent to our ears.

 

 

Good pc soundcards like the essence stx measure and perform better than some extenal dacs, unless the grounding or power circuits in your pc are screwed up which would effect the performance, buy which ever 1 suits you best feature wise.

post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 

As I mentioned in my previous post, which got delayed thanks to hyperlinks, I went ahead with the Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) 685 S1s which were a demo model they were trying to get rid of and so offered to me for $450.00. 

 

After listening to them for two days (they're already broken in thanks to being demoed for customers) I really like them.  They're definitely better placed at least 6' apart and 5-6' away and got a little fatiguing when brought up to within arms length, literally (I think that's the right word fort the highs being a little too dominant close up and certain sounds, like piano notes, are a little too loud when all of the other instruments are at a comfortable listening volume).  However, these speakers will let me hook up the woofers and tweeters separately (are there external crossovers/amps with built-in crossovers for this kind of speaker?) and doing this really brings out the bass on these speakers and makes them sound better overall (I'm assuming this is because my 50 watt amp provides better definition with two channels to each speaker for a total of 100 watts vs 50 watts total).

 

I plan on moving this to my desktop soon and doing a little research to see whether the on-board sound processing or the old Sound Blaster Audigy 2 I have has better output, grab a decent RCA to 3.5 mm cable and use whichever sound card is better, for now at least. As for the future, I'll keep the DACs you all have kindly mentioned to me in mind and I'll have to do some research as to whether it would be better to use the HDMI out from my computer to an AV receiver which would take over for my amp, buy a USB DAC, or invest in a good sound card. Right now I'm thinking the DAC would be the best way to go since I'm really happy with my amplifier and the bass on these speakers so I don't plan on adding a sub (no sub out on my amp) or upgrading my amplifier anytime within the next 4-5 years unless something blows and I have no choice.

 

Anyway, thanks again for all of your comments and input!

post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

However, these speakers will let me hook up the woofers and tweeters separately (are there external crossovers/amps with built-in crossovers for this kind of speaker?) and doing this really brings out the bass on these speakers and makes them sound better overall (I'm assuming this is because my 50 watt amp provides better definition with two channels to each speaker for a total of 100 watts vs 50 watts total).

 

No, they already have crossovers behind those binding posts. The only way to use an outboard active crossover like in pro audio set-ups or car audio processors also means you have to rip out the passive crossovers, otherwise the passives are still determining how the frequencies will be distributed to each driver. You also won't get 100watts out of a single 50watt amp because the amp, even with double the wires, will still see the same 8ohm load, and depending on the amp, hooking it up to 4ohm speakers won't necessarily produce double the power; in some cases, any 4ohm rating might be for dynamic power, not for continuous power, which means you can cause the amp to overheat. The only way to have 100watts going to those speakers is to use two amps, with each channel producing 50watts. The only advantage here is that if it's an integrated amp on the tweeters and another on the woofer, you have two volume control knobs, so you get gain control and tame the tweeter output relative to the midwoofer like in fully active crossover set-ups in cars, but aside from custom gain, the other reason for doing this is to allow for time alignment processing by adding a custom delay to each tweeter and woofer. In a set-up like that at home, the hassle of having to move both knobs to mix it again when you do end up needing to change the volume (instead of just hitting pause) isn't worth the hassle (car audio processors still rely on the receiver's or processor's preamp to control the volume, and gain has to be properly set at the amps first).

 

Why then do they come with such binding posts? Because some people believe that bi-wiring - using a separate cable on each binding post coming from the same amp (some amps also have two sets) - actually works. In reality what you're really doing is just doubling the thickness of the cable. Some speakers like even the largest Dynaudios don't have such terminals. If anything, sometimes they come with jumpers (those metal parts that connect each pair) that have less copper content (or the outer coating isn't as conductive, just corrosion resistant), so the better experiment to try is to use thick speaker cables that aren't terminated from the factory (buy from a spool, they'll cost less - you can find retail lengths on eBay or even some HT shops) and then cut out an inch, and use them in place of the jumpers. In nearly all speakers I tried that trick with the bass was a little bit deeper and more audible than with the jumpers, and it's technically free (since you'll need that same run of speaker cables anyway, you'll just use the last couple inches or so as jumpers).

post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

Why then do they come with such binding posts? Because some people believe that bi-wiring - using a separate cable on each binding post coming from the same amp (some amps also have two sets) - actually works. In reality what you're really doing is just doubling the thickness of the cable.

Agreed. The only benefit to bi-wiring is that it allows the speaker cable companies and hifi shops to sell audiophiles more expensive 4 wire bi-wire cables and make more money.
post #23 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

No, they already have crossovers behind those binding posts. The only way to use an outboard active crossover like in pro audio set-ups or car audio processors also means you have to rip out the passive crossovers, otherwise the passives are still determining how the frequencies will be distributed to each driver. You also won't get 100watts out of a single 50watt amp because the amp, even with double the wires, will still see the same 8ohm load, and depending on the amp, hooking it up to 4ohm speakers won't necessarily produce double the power; in some cases, any 4ohm rating might be for dynamic power, not for continuous power, which means you can cause the amp to overheat. The only way to have 100watts going to those speakers is to use two amps, with each channel producing 50watts. The only advantage here is that if it's an integrated amp on the tweeters and another on the woofer, you have two volume control knobs, so you get gain control and tame the tweeter output relative to the midwoofer like in fully active crossover set-ups in cars, but aside from custom gain, the other reason for doing this is to allow for time alignment processing by adding a custom delay to each tweeter and woofer. In a set-up like that at home, the hassle of having to move both knobs to mix it again when you do end up needing to change the volume (instead of just hitting pause) isn't worth the hassle (car audio processors still rely on the receiver's or processor's preamp to control the volume, and gain has to be properly set at the amps first).

 

Huh, I thought that amps supplied a specified wattage per channel? The HK I have has terminals for connecting four speakers so I went ahead and connected two channels to each speaker and separated the woofers and tweeters to speaker set 1 and speaker set 2 which allows me to cut output to the woofers or to the tweeters selectively (just for fun) and upon testing it, it does work.

 

Based on what I've been reading, I should be putting 50 watts to each woofer and each tweeter separately. Also, I guess my question should have been whether you can get an amplifier which will allow you to control the gain on the tweeters and woofers separately and also have a master volume. From what you posted, I gather that you can get an amplifier which will let you do this but you would have to use your computer as the master volume?

 

So I think my set up has gone from A to B (see attached photo):

post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post

Huh, I thought that amps supplied a specified wattage per channel?

Stereo receiver manufacturers specify how much wattage is provided into 2 channels driven. When you hook up more speakers, it's just taking it from the overall output for 2 channels and sharing it for four speakers. So you are splitting the wattage.

There's not a benefit to bi-wiring. This is PROVEN. No amount of trying to discover a rationalization for how it might work is going to change that wink.gif
post #25 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Stereo receiver manufacturers specify how much wattage is provided into 2 channels driven. When you hook up more speakers, it's just taking it from the overall output for 2 channels and sharing it for four speakers. So you are splitting the wattage.

There's not a benefit to bi-wiring. This is PROVEN. No amount of trying to discover a rationalization for how it might work is going to change that wink.gif

Ok, I didn't know that was how the output was specified (from what you're saying amp output is specified as max output period). So there's absolutely no reason for the dual post configuration other than a marketing gimmick. Is there any disadvantage to leaving them hooked up with the four cables I've already cut, tinned, and plugged in?


Edited by Kevindr - 5/11/14 at 3:45pm
post #26 of 32
No harm in leaving them that way smily_headphones1.gif
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

 

Huh, I thought that amps supplied a specified wattage per channel? The HK I have has terminals for connecting four speakers so I went ahead and connected two channels to each speaker and separated the woofers and tweeters to speaker set 1 and speaker set 2 which allows me to cut output to the woofers or to the tweeters selectively (just for fun) and upon testing it, it does work.

 

Based on what I've been reading, I should be putting 50 watts to each woofer and each tweeter separately.

 

Just to add to cel's post, you are confusing having a four channel amp or halving the impedance with bi-wiring. Again, like I previously posted, it is not a four channel amp, it is still stereo, and regardless of whether you wire them normally or bi-wire, your amp will still see an 8ohm passive crossover as its load (not to mention a 4ohm load might actually harm your amp, or at least it can't perform as well), and still sends out power out of two channels into that 8ohm load. What bi-wiring effectively does is doubling the wire gauge, which is something you can do off a normal terminal using a thicker cable, but note that while using a quality 12ga copper cable (which is still pretty thin as far as binding posts are concerned, but the limit for cheap push terminals) vs a 22ga cable of the same copper purity can make the system sound a hair louder (and the perception of the bass "better" without playing around with the volume knob), it doesn't mean there will be any difference in using an 8ga power cable vs the 12ga.

 

And yeah wiring them up that way will "work," in the sense that both tweeter and woofer will get a signal. If you are getting double the power by however way you think you would, the speakers should be much louder.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post

 

lso, I guess my question should have been whether you can get an amplifier which will allow you to control the gain on the tweeters and woofers separately and also have a master volume. From what you posted, I gather that you can get an amplifier which will let you do this but you would have to use your computer as the master volume?

 

Using the computer as a mater volume, and with that much power in a small room, means using Windows digital volume control will mean you will also cut bits and therefore dynamic range. While 16bit is for the most part all one really needs, there were 14-bit players before (do not confuse these with Panasonic's 1-bit MASH DACs and Sony's 1-bit high-oversampling SACDs), but chances are using Windows volume control can take you well below 10bits.

 

If what you really want is to just control the tweeter and woofer gain separately, get a preamp, like Schiit's SYS passive preamp (which is affordable and tiny), then get an integrated amp identical to your amp now. Use one of them per side, then use the L-R Balance control to bias for the tweeter and woofer. The problem with using vintage amps in this manner? If you don't have a tech near your or you can't fix them yourself, some wear and tear can mean one amp might not be performing at the same level as the other amp, and you've just added a lot of clutter to your small room.

 

Again, that's why I mentioned active speakers in the first place - a lot of them don't just have a crossover that lowers the input power going into the tweeter, it actually would have an amp that has less power going into them, likely with an active circuit prior to amplification that reduces the gain on the signal going to the tweeters. In a lot of ways this is why car audio has more in common with pro audio than home audio: my car's system has a processor that sends out a 2v signal through six channels, with a digital crossover splitting the signals (instead of a passive crossover, like what you will find behind a home speaker's terminals), but the tweeter signal I set to -6db with the midwoofer at 0 (as in zero adjustment). All this goes into an assymmetrical four channel amp, again like a pro audio amp, that has 75watts for the tweeters and 150watts for the midwoofers, and the tweeter channel's gain is at zero (as in minimum) and the midwoofer channels' gain is at around 10:00 on the dial.

 

Note that this level of control in pro applications, whether in a concert or with someone competing in EMMA or IASCA (or not competing at all), is all necessary because there are just too many parameters that can cause room modes - in other words you are using the speakers in conditions that are far from ideal. Take a car cabin - unless you have a McLaren F1, you will be sitting off to one side, something you don't do in a home audio set-up (or even if you were listening with a buddy, you are sitting far back from them that it doesn't really matter). The real reason why I need separate signal to each tweeter, midwoofer and subwoofer from the processor? I'm applying time delays on most of them so the sound from all of them arrives at my ears at the same time, centering the vocals on the center of the dashboard, raising the soundstage to the level of the dashboard (despite midwoofers in the doors), and putting the bass in front (despite having the sub back in the trunk). You do not have all these problems in home audio, and while you might still have room modes, there are other fixes to them that will not require fussing around with  complex network of electronics with complex settings. The first of these is that in home audio you have more freedom to choose speakers, whereas in car audio, just buying the most expensive Focal Utopia and not doing a custom install or using time alignment processors means that the guy using $400 Focal Polyglass can have a better sounding system closer to the Utopia at home than the improperly installed Utopias in the car. 

 

Now if you can't change speakers, look up positioning tweaks (and hardware that will allow for these, like speaker stands) - before you get into separate gain on the tweeter and midwoofer, and since you're past the choosing the right speakers for your tastes part, then for all you know a different toe-in angle or height relative to your ears are the real problem, or sitting a bit farther from them (these are all the things custom car installs and time alignment settings do when you have severe limitations to moving them around physically).

post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

Now if you can't change speakers, look up positioning tweaks (and hardware that will allow for these, like speaker stands) - before you get into separate gain on the tweeter and midwoofer, and since you're past the choosing the right speakers for your tastes part, then for all you know a different toe-in angle or height relative to your ears are the real problem, or sitting a bit farther from them (these are all the things custom car installs and time alignment settings do when you have severe limitations to moving them around physically).

 

Thanks, I have been playing around with their position but I honestly think the problem was that the bridges from the tweeters to the woofers aren't as good as cable and so when I had the speakers plugged in only through the tweeter input with the bridge carrying the current to the woofers, the tweeters were getting slightly more power and hence were fatiguing.  With the system bi-wired that is no longer the case. I think they sound much better and am completely happy with them now.  The only thing I might be tempted to try, just for fun, is to place the bridges back into the circuit and power the speakers from the woofer terminals; i assume that would tone the tweeters down even further (which I don't think I want at this point but am curious to see what difference it produces).

post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

 

Thanks, I have been playing around with their position but I honestly think the problem was that the bridges from the tweeters to the woofers aren't as good as cable and so when I had the speakers plugged in only through the tweeter input with the bridge carrying the current to the woofers, the tweeters were getting slightly more power and hence were fatiguing.  With the system bi-wired that is no longer the case.

 

Actually I would not be surprised if the cables (as jumpers or bi-wire) probably conduct more power than the jumpers, considering there is likely more copper in the cable, whereas you can't use pure copper exposed like on the jumpers. That's why when anyone hears the difference in bi-wiring it's likely just the elimination of the jumper, which otherwise can be done so by using a section of the speaker cable used as a jumper instead of a longer run to the bi-wire terminals on the amp.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kevindr View Post
 

 

The only thing I might be tempted to try, just for fun, is to place the bridges back into the circuit and power the speakers from the woofer terminals; i assume that would tone the tweeters down even further (which I don't think I want at this point but am curious to see what difference it produces).

 

That won't make a difference - as long as the jumper is the same (ie the stock jumper or a short run of speaker wire) it doesn't matter whether the cable coming from the amp is connected to the woofer or tweeter terminal. They're both connected to the same passive crossover which attenuates the tweeter the same way, the amp still sees the same load and you still send the same amount of power, which again is attenuated by the crossover for the tweeter. Hooking it up closer to one or the other does not affect how much either of them get unless the jumper doesn't get enough to the other. It cannot even make for enough time delay when the delay of the passenger side tweeter vs the driver side tweeter is already in microseconds, and that's moving through air, which while enough to affect the sound in a car, does not mean that the trillionth of a second delay passing from one terminal through a jumper and into the other driver will mean you will actually heara delay that will cause sibilance, much less getting less power into the woofer.

 

If you hear any difference here it will be from using the stock jumper over the bi-wire set-up, the benefits of which - again - can be gained by cutting a short run of the same good quality speaker cable and hooking it up as jumpers instead of buying double of the same run of speaker cable.

post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 

Sorry Protege, I don't mean to come across as an idiot. I agree completely with what you're saying and was only trying to say that I think that the lower copper content plus the fact that I had my speaker wire to the tweeter posts caused them to be fatiguing (maybe that's the wrong term? It sounded like the highs were too loud before and aren't any longer). As for my little experiment, I am only curious to see if I could reduce the gain on the tweeter by plugging my cable into the woofer posts and then using the stock jumper with its lower copper content, since, as you suggested, it seems to have lowered the output of the woofers when i had my cables running to the tweeter terminals with the stock jumper was installed.

 

In addition, I understand that the only reason the bi-wire is doing me any good is the improved conduction through the wires vs the stock jumper and that I could make a jumper from speaker wire which would be just as good. However, I've already made up speaker wire with the length I want and tinned the ends while I was at my parents house and so, rather than doing more work to make jumpers, I'm going to just leave them bi-wired, at least until I get some banana plugs. 


Edited by Kevindr - 5/11/14 at 10:46pm
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