recommendations for computer setup, any help appreciated
Apr 27, 2015 at 7:56 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

mrcjwagner

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I had hoped to post this to computer audio but as a new member I am limited to here I guess.
 
I need some basic advice on a computer audio system.  Here is what I want to do:
 
1.  I have a new desktop computer with a relatively new Realtek HD onboard soundcard, it's apparently vintage 2014.  I am not sure of the codec number.
2.  I want to connect to speakers not for desktop use, but for use on a shelf on the other side of the room; when listening I will be about 10 feet away.
3.  I am by no means an audiophile but  am relatively sensitive to sound quality.  I listen to mostly classical jazz folk and standards so no need for major bass.  I listen at a fairly moderate volume so performance at low volume very important.
4.  My budget is, say, 500 give or take but would prefer to spend less unless it is going to make a huge amount of difference sound-wise.
 
So here are my questions.
1.  Do I need an external soundcard or can I just go with the Realtek HD? 
2.  Am I better off using powered speakers, or should I go with a combination of an amp (or mini-amp) and passive speakers?  As a footnote some of the powered speakers seem quite small to me, I am concerned they might not pick up detailed sound but that may be ignorance. 
 
Of course specific recommendations welcome in addition to general answers.
 
Thanks to all in advance.
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 8:01 PM Post #2 of 20

cel4145

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The Realtek HD is supposed to be very good. I would put my money into speakers now.

Powered speakers and passive speakers + amp each have their fans. If you want something easy to hook up, go with the powered. If you want a more expandable/upgradeable system--later you want to change out the speakers or the amp, or maybe you want to build a surround sound setup--you might want to go with passive and an amp.

The disadvantage of smaller driver speakers is typically they don't have good bass extension down low, and will not do as well at producing bass to fill a room. Even classical has some bass content, so you might not want tiny 3" driver speakers.

With your budget, you might consider the Emotiva 5S. They are an Internet direct brand who provides very good value. However, they do have rear ports (look at pictures of the back), so if on a shelf, they would need several inches behind them so the port can breath.
 
Apr 27, 2015 at 8:43 PM Post #3 of 20

PurpleAngel

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  I had hoped to post this to computer audio but as a new member I am limited to here I guess.
I need some basic advice on a computer audio system.  Here is what I want to do:
1.  I have a new desktop computer with a relatively new Realtek HD on-board soundcard, it's apparently vintage 2014.  I am not sure of the codec number.
2.  I want to connect to speakers not for desktop use, but for use on a shelf on the other side of the room; when listening I will be about 10 feet away.
3.  I am by no means an audiophile but  am relatively sensitive to sound quality.  I listen to mostly classical jazz folk and standards so no need for major bass.  I listen at a fairly moderate volume so performance at low volume very important.
4.  My budget is, say, 500 give or take but would prefer to spend less unless it is going to make a huge amount of difference sound-wise.
So here are my questions.
1.  Do I need an external sound card or can I just go with the Realtek HD? 
2.  Am I better off using powered speakers, or should I go with a combination of an amp (or mini-amp) and passive speakers?  As a footnote some of the powered speakers seem quite small to me, I am concerned they might not pick up detailed sound but that may be ignorance. 
Of course specific recommendations welcome in addition to general answers.

What is the make and model of the motherboard (or computer)?
 
5 inch studio monitors (self-powered) sold in pairs
Monoprice 5", $171
JBL LSR305, $265
Emotiva Airmotiv 5s, $350
If your a real bass head you can pay more and get the 8" version of the studio monitors.
 
I'm thinking you should run a digital cable (USB ,optical, coaxial) from the computer's on-board audio to where the studio monitors will be.
Have a DAC (end of digital cable) right near the studio monitors and run a short analog cable from the DAC to the studio monitors.
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 6:07 PM Post #5 of 20

mrcjwagner

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Any thoughts on how the Airmotive 5s would compare to, say, using a T amp such as the Dayton DTA-100a plus one of the highly rated bookshelf speakers in the $200 range?  Or am I overthinking this? 
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 6:33 PM Post #6 of 20

cel4145

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You could go with the HSU HB-1 MK2s or Ascend CBM-170 SEs, and then a Lepai t-amp. It wouldn't be as powerful as the Airmotiv 5s, but I have no doubt it would compete well on sound. The reason to go the passive route is that you can repurpose them to build an HT setup, or decide to upgrade your amp or your speakers.
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 9:23 PM Post #8 of 20

cel4145

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They are very good for the ~ $100 to $125 passive speaker price range. At $200-$225, the Wave Crest HVL-1 and EMP Tek R5Bi are better. The HB-1's and CBM-170SEs the next step from there.

I would not take the Pioneers over the Airmotiv 5s or the JBL LSR305 powered speakers.
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 9:47 PM Post #10 of 20

cel4145

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Klipsch are a love 'em/hate 'em kind of speaker. They have an aggressive sound, which is one reason for their popularity--they demo well in stores compared to other speakers which might sound a bit more demure. But . . . many people end up finding the aggressive sound to be fatiguing. So I would never recommend them for nearfield use at a computer where they would be even more prone to be fatiguing unless you can try 'em out yourself in that kind of setup for a bit.
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 9:53 PM Post #11 of 20

mrcjwagner

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Thanks.  I'm actually going to have the speakers in a cabinet, not on the desktop, and would be more like 10 feet away when listening, but I hear you on the aggressive sound.  The other recommendations look great.  The EMP speakers are really nice looking; any particular distinction between them and the Wave Crest?  Again, I am going to be listening to mostly classical, vocals, jazz, no heavy rock or anything terribly loud.
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 10:04 PM Post #12 of 20

cel4145

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The Wave Crest would be easier to work with in a cabinet since the port is on the front. If you put a rear ported speaker in a cabinet, you need to make sure it's got plenty of room to breathe. Normally, the idea is to have the speaker out from a wall 2 or 3 times the width of a port. But in a cabinet where things can be closed in, you probably need to make certain you have plenty of room on each side, too (not sure).
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 10:12 PM Post #14 of 20

mrcjwagner

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From the specs the EMP is about 8 inches deep.  My enclosure is 13 plus inches deep and also has a 1 inch diameter hole at the back (with another several inches to the wall) so I could get 5 inches of clearance.  By the way thanks so much for all your help!!
 
Apr 28, 2015 at 10:41 PM Post #15 of 20

cel4145

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Glad to help.

Good that you have the hole already for running speaker wire.

When you setup your speakers, you want the front edge of the speaker at the front edge of the cabinet shelf. Otherwise, you'll get reflections off the inside of the cabinet which will typically make them sound worse. If nothing else, it could muddle what soundstage and imaging you would get.
 

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