Best option to integrate JB3 and sub for computer audio--Nuforce Icon?
Dec 17, 2009 at 2:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

jim1274

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I am struggling with the best way to integrate my John Blue JB3 speakers and a Velodyne sub as a desktop computer system. Since I have an Audigy 2 zs sound card (with front break-out panel) and a DAC on the shelf (Lite DAC-AH), do I use the Audigy digital out to the Lite DAC and look for a small integrated amp with a sub out? If so, what are the best options? (not many small desktop integrated amps have a sub out, unless I am just not finding them)

Or should I sell the Lite DAC and just get a Nuforce Icon which does it all?

Are there better alternatives to either of these options for similar cost? Since the Audigy card has a digital out and I don't really need the USB function, are there non-USB DAC/AMP combos with a sub out that might be preferable to the Nuforce?

Or am I missing some option? These seem to be the 3 routes I could take.

Suggestions? The Nuforce is pretty compelling, and if I sold the Lite DAC, I'd have a solution for a net cost of maybe $150. I would spend a little more to get notably better performance, but the Nuforce seems to be the best value going from what I can tell.
 
Dec 17, 2009 at 7:04 PM Post #2 of 16

Armaegis

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I recently searched for something similar and found the Icon was the only thing that fit that niche. There are a couple other miniature amps (Firestone Big Joe, Travagan Red or Green), but neither has a line for sub out.

Me, I opted for the cheaper but not miniature option and stuck an old receiver on my desktop
biggrin.gif
 
Dec 17, 2009 at 7:28 PM Post #3 of 16

xuxu

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I have an Icon and I don't see a sub out. It has stereo miniplug line-level out for sending signal to an external amp though. Since you have a decent sound card, why not use its subwoofer output?
 
Dec 17, 2009 at 9:55 PM Post #4 of 16

Armaegis

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The Icon lineout can be used to feed a sub, depending on what kind of connections you have on the back of the sub.
 
Dec 19, 2009 at 2:20 AM Post #5 of 16

jim1274

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Quote:

Originally Posted by xuxu /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have an Icon and I don't see a sub out. It has stereo miniplug line-level out for sending signal to an external amp though. Since you have a decent sound card, why not use its subwoofer output?


I would think any line level preamp out would work for a sub out. Quote from the Icon website:

"Line Out (for Subwoofer) connection"

I'm not sure if both the digital out and a line level out can both be selected and "hot" at the same time (?) on the Audigy 2 zs sound card, but that is worth investigating. I've had it hooked-up via digital outs on the card to the Logitech 5.1 rig since day one and never looked at other options/settings.

If that is possible, I could start out with the Audigy dig out to the Lite DAC AH feeding an original T-Amp on hand to the JB3's for starters. The T-amp was considered a very good cheap amp at the time, but not sure if it is competitive with the current crop of small integrated amps. Actually, I was going to give that combo a try this weekend. I recall not being very impressed with it, but that was several years ago and don't recall the source and speakers used to test it out.
 
Dec 19, 2009 at 3:46 PM Post #6 of 16

jim1274

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Armaegis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I recently searched for something similar and found the Icon was the only thing that fit that niche. There are a couple other miniature amps (Firestone Big Joe, Travagan Red or Green), but neither has a line for sub out.

Me, I opted for the cheaper but not miniature option and stuck an old receiver on my desktop
biggrin.gif



I did find another option---AudioSource AMP-100. It has a line level out pass-through on input 2.

The reviews seem to be mixed on the amp, and I'd still prefer a smaller form factor amp for a crowded desk.
 
Dec 19, 2009 at 10:01 PM Post #7 of 16

Operandi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Armaegis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The Icon lineout can be used to feed a sub, depending on what kind of connections you have on the back of the sub.


That would leave the speakers playing full range which defeats a big point of adding the sub in the first place.

For my system which is still a work in progress I plan to pickup a Reckhorn F1 which serves as the crossover for both the speakers and sub. Such as setup will allow you to use any amp, speaker, and sub combination that you want.
 
Dec 19, 2009 at 10:58 PM Post #8 of 16

jim1274

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Quote:

Originally Posted by xuxu /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have an Icon and I don't see a sub out. It has stereo miniplug line-level out for sending signal to an external amp though. Since you have a decent sound card, why not use its subwoofer output?


This appears to be the only option. I contacted Nuforce and they advised that the Icon was probably underpowered for the JB3's:

"That would be borderline. Icon is designed primarily to work with Nuforce speakers."

I did find one other amp, that while higher priced, did have sufficient output power and a sub out, the Virtue Audio One. Problem is, they are sold out and they are not going to be available until at least February.

I'm still surprised there are so few products in this category with a sub out.
 
Dec 19, 2009 at 11:07 PM Post #9 of 16

jim1274

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Operandi /img/forum/go_quote.gif
That would leave the speakers playing full range which defeats a big point of adding the sub in the first place.

For my system which is still a work in progress I plan to pickup a Reckhorn F1 which serves as the crossover for both the speakers and sub. Such as setup will allow you to use any amp, speaker, and sub combination that you want.



I actually considered adding a crossover, but thought the JB3's could just be run full range and allowed to naturally roll-off on low end, and tweak the sub low pass frequency to get a good match. That is not that uncommon of an implementation in a sub/satellite configuration.

The idea of a Reckhorn F1 sounds worth investigating for sure, but one problem: Went to the Reckhorn site and they are "Sold Out".
 
Dec 20, 2009 at 1:45 AM Post #10 of 16

Operandi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jim1274 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I actually considered adding a crossover, but thought the JB3's could just be run full range and allowed to naturally roll-off on low end, and tweak the sub low pass frequency to get a good match. That is not that uncommon of an implementation in a sub/satellite configuration.

The idea of a Reckhorn F1 sounds worth investigating for sure, but one problem: Went to the Reckhorn site and they are "Sold Out".



CSS (Creative Sound Solutions) has some left. I believe Reckhorn is phasing the F1 out for a new/better model.

You could just go with a natural roll off....

I'm not familiar with the "JB3s" do you have a link to them?
 
Dec 20, 2009 at 1:37 PM Post #11 of 16

jim1274

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Operandi /img/forum/go_quote.gif
CSS (Creative Sound Solutions) has some left. I believe Reckhorn is phasing the F1 out for a new/better model.

You could just go with a natural roll off....

I'm not familiar with the "JB3s" do you have a link to them?



Thanks for the link. At that price, at least trying the Reckhorn seems like a no-brainer...BUT....I'm still leery of putting anything else in the signal path...

Less is more?

As for the JB3's, I just discovered them by chance and bought a pair based on the reviews. I was looking for a GOOD computer desktop system, and these seemed to fill the bill. This may have been the best audio purchase of my life. These things are AMAZING. Here is the manufacturer link--check out the review links. They ARE as good as the reviews state, IMHO:

Åwªï¥úÁ{John Blue Full Range
 
Dec 21, 2009 at 5:46 AM Post #12 of 16

Operandi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jim1274 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thanks for the link. At that price, at least trying the Reckhorn seems like a no-brainer...BUT....I'm still leery of putting anything else in the signal path...

Less is more?

As for the JB3's, I just discovered them by chance and bought a pair based on the reviews. I was looking for a GOOD computer desktop system, and these seemed to fill the bill. This may have been the best audio purchase of my life. These things are AMAZING. Here is the manufacturer link--check out the review links. They ARE as good as the reviews state, IMHO:

Åwªï¥úÁ{John Blue Full Range



Yeah less is more I guess. From what I've read most people are pretty happy with the Reckhorn, many of them are using it with some pretty high-end gear. It seems the biggest weakness is how the crossover works; in order to adjust levels it attenuates the mains signal 6dBA to mix it with the sub level (seems like an odd design choice). HERE is a really good indepth review.

Actually now that I have seen them again I have looked at the JB3's before. Looks like a pretty nice simple full range system, I'd be curious to know what driver they are using in that system. I've pretty much gone all DIY in terms of speakers I actually built something similar with a Tang Band 4" Ti driver; the Lineup F4. The amount of detail and depth of the sound those little speakers can create is pretty remarkable.

To the JB3's though... I think you might just be able to stuff the ports in them and like you said rely on the natural roll off. I'm sure those speakers don't have much in the way of bass anyway and with the ports stuff they probably start rolling off around 120HZ or so. Just about perfect for a sub.
 
Dec 21, 2009 at 6:08 AM Post #13 of 16

jim1274

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I'm still not sure I will need the active crossover. Since I won't be pushing the JB3's TOO hard in a small room close near field setting, just letting them roll off may be fine. since the amp I'm getting has a buffered sub output, I don't really need to split the line level out coming from my DAC. I'm not ruling it out, and given the modest price, may very well give it a try.

As for the JB3's, they use their own custom made driver. It is pretty high-end from what I read, being a step beyond the better raw drivers available on the market.

OK, so there's a tiny driver, but look at the picture of the driver removed. This is simply exquisite - a tiny speaker that strongly reminds me of Jordan's designs for the Goodman's Company - the 401 for example. The difference being that the 401 is a 12" driver. See that gorgeous aerodynamic cast alloy basket and the big double magnet, the bullet shaped phase plug, the beautiful paper cone with its whizzer. This, for all it's diminutive size certainly looks like a very serious driver, a bijou Lowther, certainly not a cheap OEM full-range 3" driver as found in so many computer and mini-stack systems. It even puts real hi-fi 3" drivers like the Fostex 103 to shame. To get even close to the quality (from a construction point of view) the Fostex 108EZ is required and that isn't a cheap driver. I use this comparison mainly because I couldn't find a driver quite like the one in the JB3. Usually such drivers are OEM or modified commercial units - this is, as far as I can find, unique to JohnBlue.
[John Blue JB3

The driver should have no problem reaching high up the frequency range, in fact I wondered if the whizzer was overkill - cones this small rarely have them. The downside is of course that such a small driver can never shift much air - so base response is aided by a long narrow port, and the X-max (how far the cone moves in and out) is unusually large as far as I can see when playing bass workouts.


The bass is better than you'd expect from the driver size and cabinet volume:

These are tiny speakers lost in a big room and they are going to sound thin and weedy and really hopeless, to expect otherwise is unfair. But, But... Without breaking any rules of physics, the result, especially at lowish volumes was quite surprising. Being tiny, a near point-source and solidly made makes for great imaging and the JB3's produced some expansive soundstages both in depth and width (in fact especially depth). The biggest surprise was the bass which was warm and bouncy, obviously a large part of this would be a little illusion from a port induced bass hump (circa 100 Hz?) but nevertheless a very pleasing result was produced.

The little lightweight cones provided almost headphone levels of detail, and managed it without sounding too pushy, there was a slight softening of sibilants, often found with dual cone speakers, but I could spend many a happy evening listening to the little beauties singing away in the background for if nothing else they were extremely musical.

But ultimately bass extension is limited and much more importantly the JB3's are never going to shift enough air to give realistic macrodynamics - with limited maximum volume well below party levels everything gets compressed pretty soon. The upshot is that for 1/3 the money you could buy a better all-round speaker to use in such a situation". That said, even here the class-leading imaging and musicality at lowish levels would still show a clean pair of heels to such designs if the buyer only ever listened at very moderate levels. But thats a tiny niche.

What isn't a tiny niche (well I suppose it is really...) is the demand for a speaker you can put between stacks of books, or which will give true quality to a PC based system.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Operandi /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yeah less is more I guess. From what I've read most people are pretty happy with the Reckhorn, many of them are using it with some pretty high-end gear. It seems the biggest weakness is how the crossover works; in order to adjust levels it attenuates the mains signal 6dBA to mix it with the sub level (seems like an odd design choice). HERE is a really good indepth review.

Actually now that I have seen them again I have looked at the JB3's before. Looks like a pretty nice simple full range system, I'd be curious to know what driver they are using in that system. I've pretty much gone all DIY in terms of speakers I actually built something similar with a Tang Band 4" Ti driver; the Lineup F4. The amount of detail and depth of the sound those little speakers can create is pretty remarkable.

To the JB3's though... I think you might just be able to stuff the ports in them and like you said rely on the natural roll off. I'm sure those speakers don't have much in the way of bass anyway and with the ports stuff they probably start rolling off around 120HZ or so. Just about perfect for a sub.



 
Dec 22, 2009 at 6:54 AM Post #15 of 16

Operandi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jim1274 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm still not sure I will need the active crossover. Since I won't be pushing the JB3's TOO hard in a small room close near field setting, just letting them roll off may be fine. since the amp I'm getting has a buffered sub output, I don't really need to split the line level out coming from my DAC. I'm not ruling it out, and given the modest price, may very well give it a try.

As for the JB3's, they use their own custom made driver. It is pretty high-end from what I read, being a step beyond the better raw drivers available on the market.



Yeah I think I would just use the natural roll off with something that small. Plugging the port will not only make the roll off smoother but also clean up the bottom range of the speaker by keeping it's xmax in check, so def plug the ports!

It may be a custom driver but odds are its built by one of big manufactures, to JB specifications. Tang Band or Hi-Vi probably build it. Who builds it though isn't the most important part, tis who designed it; it would be interesting to hear it and see measurements.

That driver used in the F4 is actually one of the best 4" mids anywhere, there are a couple that are better but all of them are vastly more expensive. If you ever want to try a DIY speaker that would be one to go for, it would make for an interesting comparison.

Quote:

Originally Posted by sawindra /img/forum/go_quote.gif
the jb3 has low sensitivity, you need at least 30W to get them to sing.A friend of mine has paired his JB3 with Dayens ampino.


Most small full range speakers are going to low sens. but you don't need a ton of power when you are talking about nearfield.
 

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