Need advice: on speakers (computer or bookshelf?)
May 31, 2002 at 5:55 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 45

PianoBlack

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Hey all,

First of all, I completely appreciate any advice I can get on this concern of mine.

Okay. So this is me:
1. No car. Chances of getting a car this summer 20-30%.
2. Tons of stuff in storage. As a college student, I have too much stuff that don't stay in one place for long.
3. Want good speakers that will be mainly hooked up to a computer.

Do I want a Denon 370? With some Alpha Minis? Hell yeah. But in terms of carrying stuff, I'm already straining all my relationships with friends who drive...without adding speakers and delicate audio equipment to the mix.

So what should I choose for non-headphone music listening?
1. Do I go the easy but poorer quality route and get a computer speaker set? (Are 4.1 speaker sets bulkier than a pair of bookshelf speakers?)
2. Or do I splurge on a pair of Alpha Minis? Or Alpha Mites (5-3/4 x 9-1/8 x 8-1/8 inches)? Or Alpha Intro (even tinier!)?


Any other recommendations?

thanks...
 
May 31, 2002 at 6:26 AM Post #2 of 45

Nick Dangerous

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Go for the best 2-channel setup you can. Setting up speakers all around your head is goofy... I have no idea why these ridiculous setups are sold for desktop PC environments. Next people will be wearing a 8.1 giant woven beach hat with speakers knitted into the brim and sub on your head.

I'm going the 'cheap but good' route: Monsoon Sonigistix MM-1000. Two tiny planar speakers w/sub. It gets the job done for $140. Anothing nice choice might be a couple of minipods.
 
May 31, 2002 at 6:30 AM Post #3 of 45

carlo

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pianoblack,

you'll need an amp to drive any of those psbs. if you can swing it you should have a nice setup (if funds are an issue go for a vintage receiver from your local goodwill or salvation army).

good luck,
carlo.
 
May 31, 2002 at 6:58 AM Post #4 of 45

PianoBlack

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thanks carlo and nick...

I was just drooling over by the yawaonline page and their selection of PSB Alpha Minis. I was hoping to pay less than $150 for the whole thing (going for the whites), but I need a receiver as well???

urk too lazy to hit the search button...so what's a good receiver that might as well have a multi CD changer? could go the NAD L40 route but is there anything cheaper?

minipod mmm-mmmm... too bad they're about $300 (on ebay) and $400 direct.

I had a set of Monsoon once. The sub kept kicking out, but I don't doubt the sound. I'm just intrigued by non-computer speaker setups though. If the sound quality tradeoff between computer speakers and bookshelf speakers (within a price range) is minimal, then I'll focus on computer speakers.

if I'm seduced in just the right way, I'll probably get a receiver + speakers + car (and license) this summer.
 
Jun 1, 2002 at 2:14 AM Post #5 of 45

Calanctus

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Quote:

Originally posted by Nick Dangerous
Go for the best 2-channel setup you can. Setting up speakers all around your head is goofy... I have no idea why these ridiculous setups are sold for desktop PC environments.


2 simple ideas why: movies and gaming. Obviously that's not what the original poster is interested in...but that's why they are sold.
 
Jun 1, 2002 at 4:49 AM Post #6 of 45

thomas

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There are a few very compact recievers/cd players that would work well in a dorm room, though used/pawn shops are the only places you can go to stay within your budget....

The alphas are a good speaker, but for compact size/low budget, the diva swans m200's look like a better choice. They are active speakers, so you won't need to buy an amp, and most reviews put their performance a notch above the Alphas... IMO any "real" speaker will blow away all of those "2.1 subwoofer-satellite" systems- as calantus said, they're made for games rather than serious music listening, and have a terrible boomy one-note mid bass, and uninvolving mids/treble.

Here's the link to the swans, they are currently on sale for $199
http://www.av123.com/diva_m200.shtml

and here's a review by enjoythemusic:

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...1/swanm200.htm
 
Jun 1, 2002 at 6:19 AM Post #7 of 45

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by thomas
The alphas are a good speaker, but for compact size/low budget, the diva swans m200's look like a better choice. They are active speakers, so you won't need to buy an amp, and most reviews put their performance a notch above the Alphas...


That said, I have yet to see the Swans reviewed by a reputable "audio" reviewer -- most of the time they're reviewed by people in the computer or "multimedia" industry. This is the same industry that claims the Klipsch ProMedia and Sirocco speaker systems are "high-end" when they both sound pretty crappy compared to stuff like the PSBs, Paradigms, etc. (I've never been impressed by EnjoyTheMusic, btw.)

I would agree with thomas that if you're on a really tight budget ($200 or so) you may not be able to find an amp plus speakers for less than the Swans. But for $300 you can get a pair of Alpha Minis from Yawa for $99 and a used NAD integrated amp for around $200 and have a system that is more flexible and probably much better sounding than the Swans.
 
Jun 1, 2002 at 6:35 AM Post #8 of 45

Polygon

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I would take a nice source amp with a good pair of speakers over these computer speakers anyday, but if price is a BIG concern I would say get a nice 2.1 maybe 4.1 setup and save some money if that is the case and after college build youself a killer rig.
 
Jun 1, 2002 at 7:39 AM Post #9 of 45

TheeeChosenOne

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http://www.tivoliaudio.com/pM2TPE.htm

The Model 2 is/was designed by the late audio genius Henry Kloss.

Read up on the pro reviews. It has a FM receiver that rivals those of kilobuck systems. The sound is awesome quality and will beat the pants off any boombox, PC 2.1 system, etc. It has a DELICIOUS sound that's non-tiring.

It works with the PC perfectly (has its own power) and you can vertically stack it on your desk if you're short on space. As a separate system in the bedroom, you can also add a portable CD/MP3 playa, then you're really in business. Tivoli is supposedly coming out with a Cd player for their speakers this month....should be good stuff.

If you want a fuller sound, get the subwoofa they offer. It's all good for $240. Buy it at www.crutchfield.com. They will pay return shipping within 30 days if you don't like it. Shipping is $10.99.

Thus, it's a no-brainer to try.

===============
P.S. I tried the over-hyped Swan Diva M200 speakers. Big, muddy, untight sound all-around. They are beautiful, however. Other people were happy with them--so go figure. Great customer service.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 2:23 AM Post #10 of 45

PianoBlack

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Thank you for all your help. I was too pooped researching all the choices yesterday to leave a post yesterday, but here goes:

There is a stubborn seed in me that just cries out for the NAD Music System setup (for about $300 cheaper at yawaonline.com). The oft-seen reviews at Stereophile..etc. do seem a little non-comparative (besides the general "almost as good as $100000 speaker systems" hyperboles) but I do get the sense that this is a 'legitimate' great-sounding starter system. Do I know where it stands with the Diva and the Model 2? No..

Common sense dictates that the only parameter I can apply then would be on size. And heck, the other two speaker sets are smaller than the NAD L40 + PSB Alpha Minis.

But would I be satisfied with using my computer or my PDCP as source? That is simply a 50-50 chance. There is much to say for not having to pack and carry 30++ lbs of stereo equipment every nine months. But I do want the full sound that the PSB Alpha Minis promise.

I hope my sales go well here on head-fi. Then I'm going for the NAD system--but in the possibility that I don't sell in time, I'll wait until the Tivoli full system gets out (and gets reviewed).

Thank you again for your advice...though I think I'm still queasy about all this.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 4:29 AM Post #11 of 45

slindeman

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Just two weeks ago I bought some NOS PSB Alpha A/V's for $140, which I have paired with a vintage Marantz 2238 receiver I bought on ebay a few months ago for $140. I have this hooked up to my soundcard at work. This is a very enjoyable system, and has been getting as much listen time as my HD580 + Marantz CD-63SE + DIY Amp that also sits on my desk. This setup is in a whole other league compared to all of the reasonably priced self-powered setups I have heard, and destroys my $200 Aiwa Micro-system I have at home.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 6:35 AM Post #12 of 45

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by PianoBlack
There is a stubborn seed in me that just cries out for the NAD Music System setup (for about $300 cheaper at yawaonline.com). The oft-seen reviews at Stereophile..etc. do seem a little non-comparative (besides the general "almost as good as $100000 speaker systems" hyperboles) but I do get the sense that this is a 'legitimate' great-sounding starter system. Do I know where it stands with the Diva and the Model 2? No..


That system will blow away both the Divas and the Model 2. I own both the NAD Music System and the Model Two... the Model Two has a phenomenal tuner, and sounds very good for its size, but it can't hold a candle to the L40/Alphas, considering the price difference and the fact that the L40 gives you VERY good NAD componentry in a compact design. I highly doubt whether the Divas using a computer or PCDP will sound anything near as good as the L40, which uses a great CD player with great amplification. Plus the L40 has a very good headphone jack
wink.gif
As for the Model Two with CD... I love my Model Two, but the Alphas are head and shoulders above the speakers in the Model Two, the amp in the L40 is head and shoulders above the amp in the Model Two, and I suspect the CDP in the Model Two with CD won't be nearly as good as the L40's.

So if you can swing it, grab the Music System -- I doubt you'll be disappointed.


Quote:

But would I be satisfied with using my computer or my PDCP as source? That is simply a 50-50 chance. There is much to say for not having to pack and carry 30++ lbs of stereo equipment every nine months. But I do want the full sound that the PSB Alpha Minis promise.


Nine months? That's nothing. You're talking one component and two small speakers. Think about the nine months in between when you'll be enjoying much better sound.
 
Jun 2, 2002 at 3:34 PM Post #13 of 45

JMT

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I have to jump on the PSB recommendation bandwagon here. I just set up my Alpha A/V's and my Alpha Intros into my HT setup. Keep in mind, I was not all that unhappy with the little satellite speakers that I was using when watching DVDs through the HT. However, for audio only they "bit the big one." The A/V's, for the price, sound pretty doggone incredible to me. I even hooked up the Intros as mains to hear what they would sound like for audio only, and they sounded pretty darn good. I am running them through a Yamaha integrated, some bulk Transparent speaker cable, and am perfectly content (at least for now) with the audio set up. Since I don't use my speakers often, I didn't want spend outrageously. I auditioned some B&W's that cost more than twice the A/V's. I was impressed, but the Alphas sound 95% of the B&W's.
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Jun 3, 2002 at 9:30 PM Post #14 of 45

TheeeChosenOne

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MacDef,
Thanks for that comparison clarification between the PSB & Model 2's. I guess that put things in perspective.

So what % of sound difference between the two? I know this is subjective, but I'm interested in your opinion.

Did you use the subwoofer with the Model 2's--that brings the sound a 1/2 octave down.

BTW, me thinks if I were in the market for that NAD receiver, I'd get Axiom speakers like the $275 M3 or M2 over PSB. The M3 pro reviews put it as Product of the Year (soundstage.com) (said to compare with $1000 speakers). Comparisons of this speaker size between Axioms to B&W, PSB, Mission, Paradigm from reviewers on boards hand their preference to Axiom. I'm just reporting--don't shoot the messenger.

Also, about that NAD receiver, for it's price, I think I'd go separates as you can get some awesomely well-taken care of used equipment from audiophiles at audiogon.com than buying an NAD all-in-one.

Just my 2 bits.....

P.S. Read up on the reviews on the NAD L40 at www.audioreview.com. They're not that glowing (flimsy CD tray, cd playa skips, problem driving other speakers in case of upgrade, etc). It was rated as having a good FM tuner, but no AM tuner? Not having heard the NAD, I'd be highly skeptical if it could approach the Model 2 in the radio regard. Yup, I'd definitely go used separates.

Macdef: any input here?...
 
Jun 3, 2002 at 10:19 PM Post #15 of 45

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by TheeeChosenOne
So what % of sound difference between the two? I know this is subjective, but I'm interested in your opinion.


That's a tough thing to quantify. Let me put it this way:

1) When you listen to the Model Two, you are immediately surprised at how good he sound is for such a small system. The only glaring fault is the pronounced lower midrange; however, as I mentioned in several short reviews I've posted on the M2, for most radio listening this actually makes listening less fatiquing.

2) When you listen to the Alpha Minis *next* to the Model Two, you are immediately surprised at how much better the Alphas sound
wink.gif



Quote:

Did you use the subwoofer with the Model 2's--that brings the sound a 1/2 octave down.


I use the Model Two without the sub. I've heard the sub, and while it's not really a true sub, it does add a bit of upper bass. However, it doesn't really take much of the lower-mid emphasis away, so I didn't really think it was a bit improvement.


Quote:

BTW, me thinks if I were in the market for that NAD receiver, I'd get Axiom speakers like the $275 M3 or M2 over PSB. The M3 pro reviews put it as Product of the Year (soundstage.com) (said to compare with $1000 speakers). Comparisons of this speaker size between Axioms to B&W, PSB, Mission, Paradigm from reviewers on boards hand their preference to Axiom. I'm just reporting--don't shoot the messenger.


No problem
wink.gif
However, when you consider that the Axioms are $250 - $300, while the Alpha Minis are $99-$132, I don't know if you'll find that the difference in sound (assuming you prefer the Axioms, which is not a sure thing), to be worth the extra money. In my experience, you really have to go up to $400-$500 to get something that makes you go "wow, these are way better than the Alphas." In my opinion, in this range (sub-$300 speakers from NHT, Axiom, PSB, etc.), the differences tend to be more personal preference than "clearly" better or worse. PSBs tend to be very detailed with a nice, warm sound; NHT tend to be very detailed with a colder sound; others tend to fall somewhere in the middle, with some having less detail.


Quote:

Also, about that NAD receiver, for it's price, I think I'd go separates as you can get some awesomely well-taken care of used equipment from audiophiles at audiogon.com than buying an NAD all-in-one.


If you're paying full price for the L40, don't mind the space of separates, and are willing to do some research and shop around, you can definitely get a great setup for around the same price. But the person above was asking for something small and easily moveable.

However, if you can get it on sale ($380), you'd be hard pressed to find something better via separates -- you'd have to be VERY lucky. Consider that this is basically an NAD 310 integrated amp, an NAD 412 tuner, and an NAD 500-series CD player, all in a single enclosure (with the convenience of a remote
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). If you can find better separate components for that total price, even used, more power to you.


Quote:

P.S. Read up on the reviews on the NAD L40 at www.audioreview.com.


My first comment is to ignore many of the reviews at AudioReview. I've seen glowing reviews of crap there, as well as horrible reviews of some of the best equipment ever. The reviewing is just horribly inconsistent, and you can't tell anything about the background or experience of the reviewers.

That said, check out the reviews of the NAD Music System:

http://www.audioreview.com/Mini,Syst...7_2749crx.aspx

All 5/5, no real weaknesses.

Quote:

They're not that glowing (flimsy CD tray, cd playa skips, problem driving other speakers in case of upgrade, etc).


Here's where I question what the reviewer was smoking
wink.gif
The L40's CD tray is actually one of the sturdier ones I've seen in a CD player of this price range. It's never skipped on me, even when playing crappy CD-Rs. And I've driven a bunch of other speakers with the thing. I have a VERY difficult time giving validity to claims of problems driving other speakers. First of all, this is a 20W amp. It's a mini-system! Anyone trying to treat it as a 100W separate is clueless. But even so, this is an NAD amp -- NAD amps have HUGE power reserves, and can easily drive more difficult loads than most other 20W amps.


Quote:

It was rated as having a good FM tuner, but no AM tuner?


Correct. It's based on the 412, which is an FM-only tuner. I have no problem with that, since the audio quality of AM is so bad, I usually want to hear it on a small, mediocre system anyways
wink.gif
In fact, the Model Two is the first decent AM tuner I've owned in years. My other tuner is an early-80s Techniques analog FM tuner (back when they made higher-end stuff).

Quote:

Not having heard the NAD, I'd be highly skeptical if it could approach the Model 2 in the radio regard. Yup, I'd definitely go used separates.


Well, owning both, I can tell you that the tuner on the Model Two is a bit better, but not by much. We live about half a mile from a major transmission site -- we constantly get dual reception problems with our TV -- but neither tuner gets much crosstalk (the selectivity is excellent on both). In addition, they both have excellent sensitivity (ability to receive very distant signals). I would say that the slight increase in sensitivity on the Model Two is offset by the RDS digital tuning features on the L40: you can store a bunch of presets and use RDS or text input to name them. It's kind of a toss-up. I've never really said "this one is better than that one."

Again, keep in mind that most reviews of the Model Two are not comparing it with component-quality tuners; it's being compared with the Bose and CSW table radios, and other small radios. A high-quality separates tuner should have better performance than any table radio.

Hope these comments help
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