Speaker Recommendations for $400 (incl Amp)
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lojay

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Yes, I know this topic had come out quite a lot of times, still.....
I need a speaker system for my E-MU 1212m, can be either PC 2.1 or 5.1 speakers, or a bookshelf.
Bookshelf would have to be mounted as there isn't enough desk space.

I live in a corner of a room shared between 4 roommates, so low volume play is sufficient.
Main purpose would be for music (casual listening), ocassionally for movies, rarely for games.

Music In Order of Preference:
Pop/ Rock; Jazz; Classical; Hard Rock/ Metal; Electronica;...everything else

I love Grado's/ Ety's punch and attack, but I'm not a basshead - if I love the Ety's I guess the bass problem isn't really a problem.

My impression is bookshelves are big and expensive, so prove to me that bookshelves are superior if you advocate them.

Budget $400 max for everything, best $300.
 
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Jasper994

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Consider some powered studio monitors. In this price range the bang for buck can't really be beat. I have a pair of M-Audio BX8's and am very happy with them. IMO they're much better than any consumer products I've heard costing 2x the price. I picked up the pair for $400 including taxes so they should be in the neighborhood of your price range. Event SP8's are also very nice in this price range.

Of course if space is truely at a premium and you don't mind losing some of the bottom end, the 5-6" offerings are also quite nice. You can always add a subwoofer later (M-Audio BX5's paired with the SBX for example).

As an added bonus, you can keep your system balanced by going with studio monitors.
 
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JWFokker

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I just saw those M-Audio speakers for the first time the other day. I had no idea the sold them. Though they're probably not actually made by M-Audio.

I think you should get a Sonic Impact T-Amp and pair it with good quality speakers. You're not going to beat the T-Amp for audio quality below several hundred dollars and since ear destroying volume isn't one of your specifications, I think it's a perfect match. You're not going to have much (decent) sound below 40hz with any reasonably priced 2.1 or 5.1 setup, so I don't think the low bass rolloff of the amp is anything to worry about. The speakers you basically described are something along the lines of Logitech or Klipsch PC speakers, and to be honest, they're just okay. You can do a lot better for under $400.

I suggest you check out the Axiom M3ti for $300 here:

http://www.axiomaudio.com/m3ti_main.html

They're excellent for the price range. You could probably get Paradigm speakers in that range too, but they're hard to come by on ebay and I personally think the Axioms are better. Of course, $400 can buy you some REALLY good speaker drivers if you're willing to DIY, but that's a bit more work than just placing an order online. But if you can build a box out of MDF, it's really not that hard. Google "Cyburgs Needle" if you're interested in DIY for cheap. Two $20 drivers and $15 worth of MDF (and a couple bucks of caps and resistors for the notch filter) gets you some seriously good quality sound down to around 50hz. The soundstage and imaging are especially good.
 
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lojay

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What NHT or Mission bookshelves would compare to the M3ti? These are the only ones mentioned on head-fi before that I can get my hand on in a shop near home where I could audition.
 
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AndrewTosh

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Not sure if you have craigslist in Hong Kong, but you might be able to get some good deals locally. I picked up a pair of B&W 602 S2s for $200 including a pretty nice Onkyo receiver that the owner threw in for free. They're pretty nice.
 
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I also recommend getting powered studio monitors, especially from Event.
Sweetwater.com would be a good place to get active monitors--thier customer service is amazing!
In consumer audio products, you might consider Sonic Impact T-amp with small monitors like Athena AS-B1, AS-B2 or Axiom M3ti. In fact, if you get T-amp and AS-B1, you will be spending less than $200. The only limitation is that you can't drive ordinary speakers to ear-splitting levels with T-amp.
 
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JWFokker

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Considering he'll be using these for near field listening, depending on how efficient the drivers are, he could definitely do some damage to his hearing. I know I can't turn my T-Amp up past 50% with my Fostex's before they get unreasonably loud.
 
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lojay

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So I've been reading some posts on near-field listening, esp. saint.panda's.

Are studio monitors like from M-Audio going to be more suitable than consumer bookshelves such as the Axioms, Missions, NHT's or Paradigms mentioned? Do I need the T-amp then? (I'd be glad to buy one anyways, the price tag is waaay too attractive)
 
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Mr.Radar

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Studio monitors are generally designed for near-field listening so they're also usually a better choice than consumer bookshelves (designed for listening several feet back) for PC setups (where you're usually sitting 1-2 feet away from the speakers). Some studio monitors are "powered" or "active" which means that they have built-in amps and don't require a separate one. Other monitors are "passive" or "unpowered" and require a separate amp (like the T-Amp or a home theater receiver). If you go with passive monitors you'll probably want a pretty powerful amp (50+ watts) because most passive monitors in that price range are 4 ohms and pretty inefficient. The T-Amp might be able to supply enough power to drive some, but it probably won't go very loud (it's only 9 watts max at 4 ohms and to get this you'll probably need the external PSU).

I myself am shopping for studio monitors right now in the $200-$300 pricerange and I could post some impressions after I audition some (at the nearest Guitar Center) this coming Saturday.
 
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JWFokker

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Studio monitors might be the way to go, but there's really not much difference between them and Axiom or Paradigm bookshelves at this price point. I wouldn't go with the M-Audio's over Axioms just because they're monitors, unless someone can honestly say that they're hands down better. M-Audio is not a speaker building company. They were most likely sourced from some third world manufacturer of unknown quality. I wasn't even aware M-Audio sold speakers. I'd put my money on a company that's known for their speakers, not their soundcards. I'm not saying they won't sound good, I'm just not sure they'll sound as good as a speaker designed by a company that's known for building speakers.
 
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Old Pa

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lojay
My impression is bookshelves are big and expensive, so prove to me that bookshelves are superior if you advocate them.

Budget $400 max for everything, best $300.



I would look at one of Cambridge Speakerworks (Henry Kloss' last business) for their self amped satellites with subwoofer. I've had their Model 12 for several years and it is wonderful. Very natural and musical with all genres. The sats will sound better if you get them some stands ($30 the pair at PartsExpress) and keep them out of corners and away from the wall. You will be impressed.
 
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lojay

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Quote:

Studio monitors might be the way to go, but there's really not much difference between them and Axiom or Paradigm bookshelves at this price point. I wouldn't go with the M-Audio's over Axioms just because they're monitors, unless someone can honestly say that they're hands down better. M-Audio is not a speaker building company.


Exactly what I was thinking. However who has heard and can judge that studio speakers are really better for near-field listening?

To Mr.Radar, I suppose passive monitors would be less expensive, as the M-Audio MX-8 is quite expensive for $1,000 a pair, but can I really not get the volume from a T-amp in 1-2 feet of listening for a 4 ohm monitor?
 
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Sonic Impact amp or TEAC A-L700P depending on power needed.
Paradigm speakers, eg Mini Monitor?
 
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Mr.Radar

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lojay
To Mr.Radar, I suppose passive monitors would be less expensive, as the M-Audio MX-8 is quite expensive for $1,000 a pair, but can I really not get the volume from a T-amp in 1-2 feet of listening for a 4 ohm monitor?


To be honest, I'm not sure how much volume you'd get. You will probably get enough volume, but I really can't say. You'd also need to watch out for clipping on big transients which can kill speakers (especially tweeters).
 
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