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I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 21, 2021 11:28AM
Beckground:
We are finalizing two permanent home offices, and a third possible. Just the New World, so we are embracing this change.

I have wired internet, lighting (thanks to pRICE!), monitors, keyboard, mouse/trackpad, working on desks and chairs (have ok furniture), and local temperature control with small space heater/fans. Almost done with the organization/storage.

Need: good audio. I have two M1 Macs that need good speakers. I love the M1 MBA, but its speakers are far tinnier than even a 16" MBP from 2019. I hear the difference even in zoom calls. Is this a First World Problem? Absolutely. Is this a problem I hear up to 8 hours a day? Yes.

I functionally have infinite space. I can put them on the wall above the monitors. I have USB C docks with audio passthrough so have an easy way to permanently wire without plugging into and out of the laptop (not an issue with the M1 Mini of course).

Price? I know $99 speakers are not the solution. So I will entertain any pricepoint up to $500 I think - at that point, this is a real investment, might not get two right away. But at $200, I might.

I know this has been discussed in general before on MRF, but we are in 2021 and in the WFH 'revolution'. I'm thinking this issue is even more pertinent today, and that there might be newer solutions than I'd find just searching the forum.

TIA!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2021 11:29AM by sekker.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Spiff
Date: August 21, 2021 11:52AM
I have AudioEngine A1 (now A2) speakers at work. They absolutely kick butt. Clean sound, no distortion and good low end. For extra added oomph, I recommend going with their DAC as well. Gives music that extra depth. They have subwoofers if you want and you can even upgrade to the A5 speaker set.

[audioengineusa.com]

[audioengineusa.com]

Of course, this is just one option. But I really like my setup. YMMV.

Some times they have factory refurbs. I got $100 off the A1 set that I have, going that route. They are packaged like new ones, only cheaper!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2021 11:54AM by Spiff.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Fritz
Date: August 21, 2021 12:46PM
the AEs are good.
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1.
iLoud Micro Monitors
and if you have the space
JBL 305 or 308.



!#$@@$#!

If there are spelling issues, please pardon, Owen the cat is sitting on my keyboard.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: August 21, 2021 12:51PM
A dozen people will give a dozen different responses. I'm using a pair of old B&W LM-1s with an original Sonic Impact 10W amp. B&W voicing is good and really comes though with these and I want for nothing sonically, especially considering their necessary placement on a desk as opposed to an actual audiophile room placement.

The aforementioned Audioengine speakers should perform similarly but be more convenient than my setup, though mine is in theory more flexible. In reality it hasn't changed in over a decade.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 21, 2021 02:23PM
What Lew Z writes, don't make it more complicated than necessary.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 21, 2021 03:29PM
Quote
mrbigstuff
What Lew Z writes, don't make it more complicated than necessary.

Thanks all.

The most intriguing comment was the D to A converter. I assumed Apple would have excellent tech in its products ever since the iPods which had excellent D2A. And much of my audio source is compressed anyway.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Mr645
Date: August 21, 2021 04:12PM
And old receiver and decent bookshelf speakers can do wonders.

I have an Yamaha RX-V850 from he early 1990s and a pair of Paradigm Studio 40 bookshelfs. Also bought used. Sounds amazing for around $400 invested



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2021 04:12PM by Mr645.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: jdc
Date: August 21, 2021 04:58PM
Any 3 piece 2.1 speaker setup should have plenty of sound, even $99 ones.

If you want som lowend, will prob need to add a sub to bookshelf speakers. I have good things about Edifiers, and think they run half as much as A2s.

I you think you would want BT, so no wires needed for the MBs.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: August West
Date: August 21, 2021 06:10PM
I have used external DACs for many years. They are a must when considering improvement of audio coming out of your laptop. I have a "HIFI" something or other with a Sabre chip in it and an Apogee Groove.



Apologies to the anonymous forum member affected by my previous sig pic. It was my personal pic of a country expressing great grief as their leader, one of the most recognized people in the world, lay on his deathbed 8 years ago, days before he died. Like a naif, I did not realize it was offensively political, I considered it an expression of deep emotion and a reminder of the mortal coil's nature; that we all, great and small, can only hope to make a difference in our short time here, no matter the personal cost.

I'll post another pic from my work in South Africa that is, hopefully, apolitical.

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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: mikebw
Date: August 21, 2021 06:43PM
Quote
jdc
I you think you would want BT, so no wires needed for the MBs.


I would avoid going through BT at all costs. Hardwire all the way.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 21, 2021 08:22PM
I’m thinking my Panasonic shelf speakers might do the trick with a new DtoA and amplifier.

Fun times, will do some homework.

My basement surround sound from 30 years ago is as good as any current systems for a five speaker setup until I go Atmos. Bottom line - I know what I’m looking for is not fancy tech.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 21, 2021 08:23PM
Quote
mikebw
Quote
jdc
I you think you would want BT, so no wires needed for the MBs.


I would avoid going through BT at all costs. Hardwire all the way.

The entire point of a dedicated location is I can avoid Bluetooth etc.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 21, 2021 08:25PM
Quote
August West
I have used external DACs for many years. They are a must when considering improvement of audio coming out of your laptop. I have a "HIFI" something or other with a Sabre chip in it and an Apogee Groove.

Is that because the Apple DAC in laptops is poorer than what they used in iPods? I did a detailed analysis a couple years ago. The DAC in iPads was really state of the art for standard human ear volume ranges.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Spiff
Date: August 21, 2021 09:06PM
I thought just as you did about DACs in computers. However, when I got my setup, I decided to go straight to the DAC in between my computer and the speakers (don’t remember my reasoning). After about a month, I was wondering if it was really doing anything. So I bypassed the DAC. It was horrible. It was ugly. It was like listening to a piece of flat cardboard! There was no depth to the sound at all.

Now, I’m not an audio snob by any means. I don’t have the $20,000 set up in my penthouse with the vista view to enjoy it. I got three reasons under 9 years why I don’t have nice things. But I could tell the difference between DAC and no DAC. I now understand the “sound stage” that reviewers talk about. It’s real. A dedicated DAC that is quality made will add a lot to your sound system.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2021 09:08PM by Spiff.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: August 21, 2021 09:10PM
The HomePod mini speakers sound great and are useful beyond being mere "computer speakers".

[www.apple.com]
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: August 21, 2021 09:19PM
The DACs used in Apple kit have varied over the year from outstanding to mediocre.

I've never taken note of which DACs are/were used in what devices.

I currently use Audioengine A2s with the Audioengine D1 DAC.

Once getting a decent external DAC, one is in rarefied audiosphere where improved specs among DACs may exist on paper and not be resolved full or at all by the user.

But long term listening between external and internal DACs will almost always reveal an improvement in audio.

I also have the A5s (not the +) and they are terrific.

And gorgeous, in bamboo, made out of recycled ballots.

But I've shelved them temporarily until I can make room as they are much bigger than the A2s.

The Audioengine speaker line is really great sounding.

The H-K Soundsticks III I recently received are a real bargain at $100.

They have a great balanced sound, and a lot of fairly deep bass if that's how you roll, that doesn't muddy the mids.

These are truly musical speakers, for the money.

The look doesn't apeal to me so much, but the footprint is very small.

I also agree about avoiding BT if possible.

Certainly BT can ferry decent throughput for some good audio, but not nearly enough for great audio.

WiFi adapters would be a better way to go, if wires were out of the question.

Audio is subjective in may aspects, and the ability to appreciate better and better sound is relative.

Some 2.0 Creative Lab speakers I have are a disappointment.

Without what computer speaker manufacturers call subwoofer, the bass was not as deep as some would want.

As mentioned, a balanced sound appeals to me, so I don't need a preponderance of bass.

But they have a boxy sound, that disappeared after some acclimation, but returned after listening to better speakers or headphones.

So if possible, buy speakers with an audition period and good return policy.

Or get any cheap 2.1s and if you don't like 'em, relegate them to someone else's kit, or in the apocalypse bunker for last ditch use.





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Everybody matters or nobody matters.

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You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

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An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: jdc
Date: August 21, 2021 09:43PM
To each his/her own.

Convenience over whatever “audiophile” means.

BT sounds fine? Maybe an A/B test is is in order.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Rolando
Date: August 22, 2021 01:33AM
Gonna throw this in as well. How about a Soundbar/Sub with and aux or Optical in (Do Macs still do Optical out?)



San Antonio, TX (in the old city)


"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 22, 2021 09:49AM
Quote
Rolando
Gonna throw this in as well. How about a Soundbar/Sub with and aux or Optical in (Do Macs still do Optical out?)

I have an available Vizio one to try from a recent update to my living room sound system. No optical out from my Mac but will give this a try too.

EDIT: the soundbar has digital in and optical in. I realized it has Aux in on a separate area.

Update: Tried the audio out from HDMI from a USB C hub. This really did not work well at all. At one point, the Mac OS thought I had a phantom monitor. I do not have an external HDMI monitor hooked up - if you have one used that way, it might have worked fine.

So I realized I DID have AUX in. I am using that via my USBC hub, also works via analog out from the Mac. I did compare the DAC quality on my favorite test album, Norah Jones' Come Away With Me (which has tracks I can hear on my nice Bose headphones but not typically on standard computer speakers). The Vizio soundbar is clearly better than even a 16" MBP laptop - which has great speakers, for a computer. I would guess the audio in a new M1 iMac would give this a run for its money - but this did not cost me a thing as it repurposed hardware. And I will note that soundbars can be purchased for a song sometimes these days.



Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 08/22/2021 02:02PM by sekker.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: jdc
Date: August 22, 2021 03:01PM
Speakers vs headphones?

The few reviews I have seen of M1 iMac speakers give them a "meh". 2020 27" imac speakers are better...





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 22, 2021 05:07PM
Quote
jdc
Speakers vs headphones?

The few reviews I have seen of M1 iMac speakers give them a "meh". 2020 27" imac speakers are better...

I have great headphone options, I have the luxury of an independent office where I can deploy speakers. So far, the soundbar has been great on two afternoon projects. I will see if they are still great via zoom tomorrow!

As for the iMac - we have one at work. The sound is definitely rich. Whether it's balanced? I cannot say. But it seemed a nice step up above laptop speakers and my 27" 5k Intel iMac's speakers.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: AllGold
Date: August 22, 2021 07:24PM
I agree with whoever said any ~$100 2.1 computer speaker system by Klipsch, Logitech, etc. will be fine and a big improvement.



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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: jdc
Date: August 23, 2021 03:58AM
I would think good headphones would win every day and twice on Sunday. Not seeing how you can get the same isolation, or volume.

Double dog dare you to try Bluetooth with any of the options you mention... and see if you can tell the diff.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: Sam3
Date: August 23, 2021 06:00AM
The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 system is nice. I'm on my second one in 15 years or so. Got it at Costco on sale For $100, I think normally from Klipsch it's $150.



The arts are not luxuries but assets that give way more than they cost.
--Ronald Tucker on YouTube

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.
--Frank Zappa
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 23, 2021 07:38AM
Quote
jdc
I would think good headphones would win every day and twice on Sunday. Not seeing how you can get the same isolation, or volume.

Double dog dare you to try Bluetooth with any of the options you mention... and see if you can tell the diff.

I have no concerns with Bluetooth in terms of a data transmission bottleneck- once paired. But I have two considerations- 1 I’m using more than one laptop to dock and pairing a single Bluetooth device with more than one computer is still a PITA and 2) I may be unlucky, but I find apple’s computers still do not always pair seamlessly.
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Re: I know there are great audiophiles here - looking for good computer speakers
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 23, 2021 07:40AM
These are awesome suggestions everyone. Will bookmark and make a pdf for my records - many of the products posted are recurring recommendations!
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