Love my headphone setup.Should I try speakers?
Feb 24, 2008 at 6:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12


100+ Head-Fier
Jun 12, 2004
After a multi-year journey I have found satisfaction. lossless music>vlc media player>OMZ>MPX3>HD600. There isn't anything about my music that I feel a need to 'fix.' However, I don't love always having to wear headphones and I'm a little curious what kind of quality I could find for an office speaker setup. My headphone journey probably cost me about $1500-$2000 all in. (including all of the equipment that I bought and sold for a loss.) So, where would I start? Can I use my DAC or amp with a speaker system? Would I want to? Like my headphone journey, I'd prefer to start with about $500 and move up as necessary. Any ideas?
Feb 24, 2008 at 7:27 PM Post #2 of 12
I think you should start by defining your needs, such as size of speaker and placement. This will narrow down your choices. From there you can get a better idea of what type of speakers to look for and research. You will be able to use the same DAC, but you will need a speaker amplifier if you want to use passive speakers. Or you could purchase active (self-powered) speakers and that would be that.
Feb 25, 2008 at 1:22 AM Post #3 of 12
Audition before you buy and tell the shop to hook everything up to the kind of equipment you'd use at home or their entry high end. Lots of great used stuff on audiogon too and I'm sure a lot of sellers in your area are willing to let you audition their gear if you're interested in buying.
Feb 25, 2008 at 3:10 AM Post #4 of 12
IMHO, you are going to be massively disappointed until you get to something like a $5k to $10k speaker rig......with HD600's, you're hearing much more inner detail than any lesser speakers can typically reveal in most rooms, and getting the room right is going to take a lot of effort on top of it all.
Feb 25, 2008 at 3:34 AM Post #5 of 12
without turning this into a headphones v speakers debate i will have to respectfully disagree with the above post because detail isn't everything with regards to sound presentation. It is true that speakers are much harder to consistently match or better headphones because of room dynamics and generally speaking, price. However, speakers offer several things that headphones can never match, viz. soundstaging in a more "realistic" sense. For me personally, i will and do choose my modest desktop rig of some decent polk bookshelves powered by a marantz 1060 over headphones because they play loud and throughout the room.

If we are talking about sitting down and critical listening, then as long as the presentation of headphones vs speakers isn't a factor and we're talking about detail per dollar and consistency in any given room, then headphones are superior. This isn't to make you shy away from speakers by any means but to alert you to the different expectations you should have.

That being said, i second the suggestion to audition. I also recommend checking out various internet venues with generous return policies (perhaps even free return shipping as with Aperion on all speakers and av123 on their xls bookshelves). And also, look into used.

Concerning the internet speakers and buying speakers you haven't heard, people often throw around that everything we hear is perception and only you can decide what sounds good to your ears and so on and so forth but i disagree. if you have enough opinions (which there isn't a shortage of in internet forums) and they all tend to say the same thing, you can assume its a pretty safe bet that you'll perceive more or less the same thing.

audioholics and avsforum (i prefer the crowd over at audioholics) are both really good other forums to check out. also, audiokarma if you're looking for more vintage gear.
Feb 25, 2008 at 4:38 AM Post #6 of 12
For your office? A small office? Get a T-Amp (from Sonic Impact or other T-Amp makers), a pair of relatively inexpensive (but high-quality) bookshelf speakers, and use your current sources (or even a basic CD player or DAP with high-quality rips). You'll be stunned by the high-quality sound, and it will cost well under $500.
Feb 25, 2008 at 4:45 AM Post #7 of 12

Originally Posted by sejarzo /img/forum/go_quote.gif
IMHO, you are going to be massively disappointed until you get to something like a $5k to $10k speaker rig......with HD600's, you're hearing much more inner detail than any lesser speakers can typically reveal in most rooms, and getting the room right is going to take a lot of effort on top of it all.

It doesn't have to be that expensive. A few years back, I built a pair of ribbons for $300-$400 or so and they detail like headphones. You can get a Magnepan MMG for $550 that does pretty well, too.

For the OP, you might want to look into the various singledriver speakers out there. They have coherency and simplicity like headphones do. I don't know if your headphone amp could drive a pair, but you can find a fleawatt amp that will also power headphones. You can get into the really cool tubes (at least I think so) like the 2A3, 300B, and all the other esoteric triodes.
Feb 25, 2008 at 3:29 PM Post #8 of 12

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik /img/forum/go_quote.gif
It doesn't have to be that expensive. A few years back, I built a pair of ribbons for $300-$400 or so and they detail like headphones. You can get a Magnepan MMG for $550 that does pretty well, too.

I took the OP's request to mean that he wanted to spend no more than $500 on amplification AND speakers. He also mentioned an office rig--so that would pretty well disqualify any planars, I think.
Feb 25, 2008 at 4:14 PM Post #9 of 12
I recommend vintage Sansui for an amp or receiver. The AU-717 can be had completely recapped and cleaned for less than $300 on ebay, as for speakers well I have a pair of Polk Audio LSi7's matched up to that Sansui and it sounds amazing. I only paid $200 for the Polks so I pretty much got a windfall deal on those, but with extreme patience and thorough searching you can find a similar deal on speakers. Also another alternative to ebay for good vintage gear is Thrift Stores, just make sure when you go you have a list of recognizable and valuable brands in mind. Sansui, Marantz, some Pioneer and Kenwoods. Also if you do plan on going vintage do some studying up on audiokarma.
Feb 25, 2008 at 5:01 PM Post #10 of 12
Thank you for all of the responses. To answer a few questions--I have a home office and the desk is in a corner. It would not be a problem to set up speakers to be at 'head height' and in the triangular placement that I've read about. The speakers would probably be about two feet from my head. It is extremely unlikely that I would ever play music loudly. I have always assumed that I would need to spend many thousands of dollars on a speaker system to get a reasonable approximation of my headphone rig--but I never really considered speakers for my office, so I'm hoping that having a much smaller room and sitting so close to the speakers might make it easier to make it happen for a much smaller investment (recognizing that it would still be an order of magnitude different from a full room full power audio system). I would prefer to see what kind of quality I could have with a $500 investment. However, I don't want to spend $500 and end up unhappy. If I need to spend $1000 or $2000 that would be important information. Given that I overwhelmingly listen to jazz I would also like to know if there are any particular speakers that would be appropriate. As for auditioning, in my experience the people on this forum have tried just about everything. There are many people who either express their personal preferences very well or it is pretty easy to read between the lines to see what kind of sound they prefer so I can adjust appropriately. If I can save myself some time and zero in on a few appropriate choices that would be my preference. My time is typically in short supply, so the shortcut of benefitting from the experiences of the people here is a good choice for me. Finally, I would love to eventually own some of those cool tubes. I've been drooling over 300b's for a long time. One more question--how important is the amp to the quality of the sound? With my headphones the amp is vitally important. Is there a similar relationship? Thank you.
Feb 25, 2008 at 7:42 PM Post #11 of 12
Your situation is really a bit more problematic than you might expect.

Actually, most folks want speakers so they can sit back to get a better image. There are few (if any?) speakers designed to work properly at that distance other than computer speakers. You should read up on nearfield monitors--they are the only non-computer speakers designed for use at relatively close range, as used to monitor recording mixes. Dynaudio Acoustics (the professional side of Dynaudio International, who also makes home/audiophile speakers) makes quite a few highly respected nearfield monitors, and still I believe they recommend at least 5 ft from speaker to ear! The problem is that the dispersion of the sound from the tweeter isn't always so uniform that close to the speaker baffle. Speaker frequency response measurements are always made at least 1 m from the baffle to get the true nearfield response.

Maybe some of the small single-driver speakers would work OK, but I have no experience in that arena.

As with headphones, one can flavor the sound of speakers via tube rolling if you use a tube amp. Some might claim that the overall sound signature of a speaker rig is determined in exactly the same way as a headphone rig: transducers first, source second, amp third....presuming that the amp is working properly and designed to drive the impedance presented by the transducers. However, that doesn't take into account the speaker/room interaction, which can be even a larger factor than the speakers themselves.

I rarely listen to my Paradigm Studio 40v3's in a properly treated room--why? Because I have become so accustomed to the more natural bass response that I get from my HD600's--you can't beat the physics of sound reproduction, and virtually all listening rooms in living spaces have dimensions that result in lumpy bass response. Virtually all those who claim otherwise have never put a measurement tool on their systems to see just how bad their bass response varies from flat!
Feb 26, 2008 at 1:19 AM Post #12 of 12
You can pick up excellent speakers for around $500, too many. Not to mention budget speakers like Infinity Primus P162, which you can pick up for like $150. They're excellent for jazz and you'd never know they're so affordable just by listening to them. It's weird how not too many people know about these... read this following review:

Stereophile: Infinity Primus P162 loudspeaker

If you do classical music listening a lot, too, PSB Alpha B1s are great. You can also pick up NHT Classic 3 on Audiogon for way less than $500. A lot of options.

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