sonnymax

Studio monitors for computer audio setup?

13 posts in this topic

Anyone using active studio monitors for their desktop computer audio system? I'm interested in replacing my 2.1 Logitech system with a 2.0 setup that offers a more accurate musical experience, albeit without the boom-boom bass from a subwoofer. There are a number of entry-level powered models from the likes of Audioengine, Swan, Alesis, M-Audio and Samson, some of which offer a USB interface for direct input from a computer or similar source. Any thoughts or recommendations? Thanks in advance.

Some candidates:

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Alesis M1 Active 520

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Samson MediaOne 4a

audioengine-a2-3.jpg

Audioengine A2

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Swan D1080 IV

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Thanks for the recommendation, kh. Do you have them set up on your desk, with stands?

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Have you been at all bothered by a faint, low hum? I've read some complaints about this problem with the PSB Alpha PS1. Someone posted a response they received from PSB which said this was common among active monitors that employ class D amplifiers, but that the average listener would not notice the hum unless their ear was 1-2" from the speaker. For this reason, I've been looking for studio monitors that rely on older, class AB amplifiers, which some people argue offer better sound quality.

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There is an audible hum that I can hear when the speakers are turned on. I can't say that I ever noticed it, or that it has bothered me, while actually listening to music, but perhaps those with better ears than mine can hear the hum and are bothered.

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I was tempted to splurge on a pair of B&W MM-1s after reading the glowing professional reviews, having already bought 3 pair of B&W Hi-Fi speakers over the years. Then I read numerous people's complaints of audible hiss/hum. Upon further investigation, I found that the MM-1s are powered by a class D amp. Rats!

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Might also want to look into KRK monitors, I've used those in studios before and were happy with their performance.

http://www.krksys.com/

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I have Audio Engine 5's, which I am happy with. They are better than the nEar 04 I had before. I use a Cambridge Audio DacMagic and lossless audio files from my computer. The only things (which I could get here in Singapore from a store) that sounded like they could be better than the Audio Engine 5's needed more space than I could make on my desk. I guess you can get better things from all that you can order online in the US.

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Hi Sonnymax,

Having read your post and the comments, it looks like nobody asks the vital question before starting this discussion : are the audio signals comin' out of your computer of a high quality enough to justify the expense of active studio monitors?

The old story dating back from the early times of hi fi has never been more valid than today : trash in, trash out...!

That means unless you have a decent sound card preferably located outside your computer and linked to it via USB or Firewire, it doesn't matter how many bucks you spend for high quality speakers, the resulting sound will be bad, distorted, noisy and muddy...

I'd start with a very good sound card and then upgrade with a good stereo amp and hi-fi speakers like most of the BW line. If you are prepared to invest in real studio quality active speakers, have a look at he ADAM 7or A7X : they have a quality-price ratio second to none.

But seriously, before spending considerable amounts of hard-earned cash into a computer audio system, check the material youre gonna feed your system with. If it's just MP3...

Edited by michel devos

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Thanks for your comments, Michel. Of course, you're right in the fact that it's a waste to invest in quality speakers if you're not feeding them a quality source. Most of the files I'll be playing are lossless or at least 320 kbit/s. This is not my main music listening station and space is limited, so I want to keep the size and cost of equipment modest (2.0 system under $300). I've been looking at budget USB DACs, and I'm pretty sure that the Schiit Modi or JDS Labs Standalone ODAC would suit my needs. However, I decided to take a chance and order the super-cheap HifiMeDiy Sabre USB DAC. It contains an ESS Technology ES9023 DAC chip, a TenorTE7022L USB chip, and a high end ultra low noise regulator (LT1763). At only $46, I thought it was worth a try.

I ended up ordering a pair of Audyssey Wireless Speakers (.75" tweeter, 3" woofer, 4" passive bass radiator). The company is primarily known for it's audio technologies, which reportedly help increase the amount of detail, improve the EQ at low volumes, and extend the bass of these speakers. I don't plan to use Bluetooth at my computer, but it's nice to have the capacity for wireless in case I want to use them on the deck or play something from another device. They retail for $299, but I got them for $185. I'll let you know how they sound.

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we'll want a followup review on that hardware..... (well, at least *i'll* want one)

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we'll want a followup review on that hardware..... (well, at least *i'll* want one)

I will prepare by reading various audiophile blogs to familiarize myself with the necessary esoteric adjectives to quantify and justify my purely subjective experience. ^_^

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