Budget sound system. Which setup? Hifi, studio monitor, etc....

Silba

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Hey guys !

Recently had the amp blow on my Logitech Z623 2.1 pc speaker system. Got an old Sony amp powering the sattelites and the sub on a random channel. A great re-purpose but just not the same. The quality is almost there and the bass is ok but its just not right.
Option 1

Budget amp for L + R + subwoofer compatibility later on
Budget bookshelf speakers

Option 2
Budget Active studio monitors with good bass

Option 3
Headphones - I've heard audio technica ath-m50x are good?

Now guys my budget is quite low at £150 which is £20 more expensive than the Logitech z623 system which im very happy with. I'm not no audiophile so audiophile quality is not needed. I just want better or equal comapred to my old setup but most important I need it to deliver the bass.

I'm telling myself that those logitechs do NOT have a £60 amp built in and the cheap ass china speakers arent going to be anywhere near as good as a pair of bookshelves for the same price all together - if im wrong about this please let me know and ill be buying the z623 setup again.

Edit: UK prices and links only please ! Dont want to pay £900 for shipping :) Thanks guys
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
are hifi/home theater speakers typically better than pc speakers? generally yes though hifi sets also typically cost more as well. http://www.cnet.com/news/build-your-own-desktop-stereo-for-under-70/ is a good choice on the cheap and can be paired with a sub-800 and i've heard theres a uk distributor but i'm not sure about availability. you could however build something similar to this using different brands though i'm not as familiar with uk brands except below:

wharfdale's diamond 10 series is highly respected and you can nab a pair of 10.0's for 89gbp. grab a decently powerful stereo amplifier and you'd be set. while you might not get a subwoofer on your budget like you would if you went with cheaper speakers, you're going to get much more out of these than you would cheap daytons or another cheaper brand. well worth looking into wharfdale since you live in uk.

if you went with headphones you would like the dt770pro paired with either a decently powerful soundcard like the creative z or a better amp such as the schiit magni. a soundcard gives you the option for virtual surround for games or movies while the external amp i suggested would drive the headphones to their max. of the dt770pro lineup... the 80 is the most bassy and the 250 is the most quality.

i personally own a m50s (straight cable). its certainly good for the money (about $120 new) but the m50x (at $170) is way overpriced for what you get. considering the dt770 price is similar (in uk the m50x is more expensive than the dt770) and that the dt770 wins on every single area its an easy choice. the dt770 has nice boomy but clean bass (and that sub bass levels you crave if youre a fellow electro fan) while still giving you fairly crisp highs. good sound isolation, a fairly wide soundstage for closed headphones and comfort. the only benefit of the m50 is that it is easier to drive from portables without an amp (though the dt770 32ohm can be used for this remember)
 

Silba

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Thanks for replying mate. those diamond 10s look pretty good. Are they really worth the price though? I don't need super good quality i just want acceptable sound also could you point me in the right direction for an amp? this sony amp im using is 20 years old !! 100w per channel and im expecting it to give up on me anytime it feels. also I've already got a 7" inch subwoofer is it possible to buy an amp specifically for this to make it a powered subwoofer? Or how else can i incorporate it?

edit: Thanks for the info on headphones and everything else i appreciate it all
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
you would want an amp between 15-75w per channel @ 6ohm to power the diamond 10.0's. this information should be listed on the amplifier. you could of course use a higher rated amp, say a 100w per channel amp at 6ohm with them but you couldnt crank the knob up all the way or you'd damage the speakers. generally its advised to not exceed the power rating on your speakers when buying an amp so that you dont have any "Oops" moments.

while i do not personally have one, or have heard them (since wharfdales are $$$$ in the states but cheap in UK) they get great reviews and are one of the top recommended brands for in the UK area. i had a guy awhile back buy a whole set of wharfdales (i think he ended up with some floorstanders and the 10.2 so a slight upgrade from what i suggested) and absolutely loved them. at a bare minimum they are worth looking into.

are they worth it? if you want a good sounding 2.0 system then sure, they are a nice pair of speakers. however, if you arent so picky then you could spend less and get something more mediocre. the logitech 2.1 sets like the z623 are so overpriced for the mediocre sound they give that its not even funny. while certainly good and useable you can often get far better sound out of hifi speakers. you may not even need a subwoofer with the wharfdales as bookshelves handle all the way down to mid-bass pretty good (but dont do sub-bass).

nto sure what kind of subwoofer you're talking about. one from a pc speaker set? (the z623?)

again, your choice which route you want to go and how much you want to spend, i'm just giving you some ideas.
 

Silba

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Yeah thanks for the info. The woofer speaker im talking about is the 7" from my logitech set, the amp inside it blew so i rewired it and screwed it back into its box and now its hooked up to my left channel on the sony amp(completely bypassing any and all circuitry to do with logitech) and i have a mid range speaker on the right channel - it sounds f%$^&g disgusting compared to how the z623s sounded but its bearable and the bass delivers when it needs to.

Does look like im going to end up getting the diamond 10s but im pretty sure i'll be needing a subwoofer. I can't imagine listening to the music i do without those ground-shaking-neighbour-hating lows. Would have to be a later purchase though which i dont mind.

I've been looking at some amps think im going to get 50w - any recommendations?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i've got a nice klipsch 5.0 satelite speaker set myself with a nice 450w klipsch subwoofer. i have to tone the woofer down so it doesnt shake the walls too much <3 . before i had a x530 set (compare with the current z506 set except its a bit better) and it was a notable improvement.

i dont think the logitech sub will really do the diamond 10's justice honestly. big difference in quality level. best i can say is to try them with and without the logitech sub to see what you think.

honestly i'm more familiar with home theater receivers and stereo receivers ($100 and up) than i am with plain amplifiers other than the cheap lepai units used for "budget" level systems (which are not good enough for the diamonds). you will want to get an amp of moderate quality (50gbp mark i'd assume) but you could always make the push into a cheap stereo receiver if you wanted some more hookup options including an easy to use subwoofer port, hdmi input, video passthrough and some 3d dolby effects. i've seen some for about 100gbp though there may be cheaper units.

i would honestly suggest something which can do 75-80w @6ohm because when you push amps too hard you can sometimes start to get static on cheaper amplifiers when approaching max load (doubt you will go that high though) and 75-80w would still be fine for your speakers (i'm talking 75w at 6ohm, this is different than say one rated for 75w@8ohm)

generally you will see comparisions such as 50w@8ohm, 75w@6ohm, 100w@4ohm and similar on specifications of units in case you were wondering how impedence normally affected the rated output in watts.

personally i very much like using a receiver since i pass hdmi straight from my pc to receiver for video and sound (video is then passed through to my tv, audio is processed by receiver). since you're dealing with a 2.0 or possible 2.1 scenario you could also use optical out on your motherboard. both will give you uncompressed sound (for 2.0/2.1... only hdmi supports 5.1 uncompressed). if you have multiple sources you can also swap between them quite easily without unplugging cables. (i use one with my pc, ps3, ps2, laptop, ipod and sometimes other sources)
 

Silba

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Thanks for all the info. Been looking into amps and recievers and cant really make my mind up but theres more searching to be done there. Any tips or any info at all for what to look out for would be great if you have any on hand :)

I do now however have a new budget of around £160 just for the speakers !! and have found somewhere selling the Wharfedale diamond 122 pair for £160 ! I've seen that they have a 6.5" bass/mid driver now am i correct in assuming that will deliver bass almost as good as a dedicated 7" woofer? or would i still need to think about subwoofer options?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
the 122 should be in the same price range as the 10.2
the build quality in the old 9.x and 10.x sets is better than the new 1xx series so i'd suggest going with a 10.x model.

to narrow down your choice of receivers, i'd first sort by brand. pioneer,denon, yamaha, marantz are all fairly high end. harman kardon. sony and onkyo also make receivers but i wouldnt consider them quite as good. next limit them down by the output rating. look at the particular speakers you want to buy, particularly the wattage at what ohm rating. compare this to the receivers. for instance the diamond 10.0 is 15-75@6ohm while the 10.2 is 20-100@6ohm. now, it may be wise to also think about your future plans and if you want to eventually pair some bigger tower speakers with the set and make a 5.1 in the future or if you are staying with 2.0/2.1. once you decide i would narrow down your choice by the wattage and what you need. next, look at connectivity, what supports the number of hdmi and inputs you need? how about price, what is in budget? next, look at features, do they have the dolby modes you want, and adjustable eq, mp3 player support or other things you may want in the future? take a look at the interface, some have an on-screen display (this is nice!) while others require you to change settings on the display. not sure if OSD is in your budget or not (i think its more common now than it was when i bought mine). last, how are the warranties on the products in your country? what about availability? once you whittle down the list based on what works and what doesnt based on the above you should have less products to choose from. you could always link a few here if you arent sure between a few models (once you decide on WHICH speakers you want and your future plans for upgrading if any)

bookshelf speaker can certainly provide some nice low end kick but arent a complete replacement for a woofer. what i would suggest since you arent sure is to get speakers first, and think subwoofer later if you feel you want some more low end kick.
 

Silba

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Sorry for such a late reply i've been quite busy...

I've found the diamond 122 pair on sale alot cheaper than any 10.2 pairs i can find. I guess i'll have to get those ! (220 pair also on sale should i consider?)

Now im just really struggling with an amp or reciever or anything to power these things !! I've even started searching without the wattage so i can just pull up anything and start comparing but im just left hopeless. Your talk about cheap recievers for $100 makes me want to kill someone, i can't find even the most basic amp for less than £100 !
I've been in to a few local shops but they have soon sniffed me out as being an audionoob and keep trying to sell me thousands of pounds worth of gear..................................................
I'm really lost now. I can get the speakers and use this anicent sony amp I have and it should do just fine... its just that its a full blown 5.1 home audio (Reciever?) thingy with a bazillion inputs and outputs and everything has blown except the L+R which im using atm.

TL;DR - Help me find an amp/reciever :pt1cable:
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
your choice but the 10.x series is higher quality than the 1xx series. i dont know much about the 1xx series besides this.

off the wharfdale spec page for the 122... 25-120w @ 8ohm (10.2 are 20-100w @6ohm).

be aware there is a 10.0, 10.1 and 10.2. the cheapest is only 89gbp/pair with the 10.1 at 140gbp/pair. the 10.2 gets into expensive territory.

not sure of the power output on your sony amp (you may want to list the model #) but you could likely power them on your ancient amp provided of course that its something half decent and not one of those amps integrated into a dvd player kind of product (and even then it might work but would likely be a low power amp)

there are most certainly "budget" level choices you could use to drive them although spending more on a higher quality amp means less distortion and more power. going with a receiver allows more sources to be hooked up. prices and availability are also a bit different in uk. while its entirely possible to make do on a cheap amp, a good one will offer better quality.

now, keep in mind the below are just from a quick search. i encourage you to fully research products on your own. prices in uk are a bit higher and you have less choices. in the usa its quite possible to get a $100ish receiver which would be perfect (sony strdh130 is 130 which is cheap and 100w x2 which is great) but sadly its expensive in uk as are most choices. i've looked on amazon.co.uk for a few things which might work below though only took a quick look.

something like this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gemtune-SA-50-TDA7492-Amplifier-Standard/dp/B00KBIV1WW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430617884&sr=8-1&keywords=50w+stereo+amplifier should drive the 10.1's for example. for a little more http://www.amazon.co.uk/SMSL-SA-98E-Amplifier-TDA7498E-Digital/dp/B00JESRNKO offers a little more power. keep in mind that cheap amps such as these can drive speakers (due to high efficiency wharfdales arent too hard to drive) but at higher volume levels can have higher distortion (cheap amps are cheap amps after all). while not ideal, they would get sound out of the speakers.

a better quality amp. like http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pioneer-A-10-K-50W-Stereo-Amplifier-Black/dp/B0082JFKPQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430618802&sr=8-2&keywords=stereo+amplifier or similar might only be 50w (which matches the cheaper above) but is likely to actually be 50w and with lower distortion at higher volume levels than cheaper amps. a better choice, though on the expensive side for relatively low power output.

most stereo amps (of good brands) looked like they started at 160gbp which is rather expensive compared to prices i'm used to seeing though likely due to uk prices being high on some items. it seems like you can save on decent speakers but paying extra for amps.....

in any case, a 50w amp might not drive the speakers to their fullest but is enough to get some decent volume levels out of them. chances are you would never listen to sound at crazy high volume levels anyways. i'd suggest you read up a little more on things like the above and similar (i just picked out a few that had decent reviews in your power range)... but generally anything in the 20-100w range is what your'e looking for. i'd aim for at least 50w x2 since it appears prices are high in UK.






 

Silba

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I clicked pick as solution by accident oops :D But i guess that post is well deserving.

Again i've been quite busy and not been on my pc much so sorry for this super late reply.
I've also been taking some time comparing amps and reading/watching reviews and a super thanks for finding me those amazon amps, steered me in the right direction and im finding tons of decent cheap amps now that arent from china :D

9/10.x is out of stock atm where i want to buy from (suuuper cheap) but the 122s are still on sale so i think im going to order them tonight and use this sony amp for a while since the price is very similar to 10.x and i cant wait no more !

New question though... My dad said he will sell me his old sony 200w subwoofer (mains powered) for pretty cheap.
So how do i go about adding this subwoofer to my system once i get my new amp? Or do i need to rethink amps to support the subwoofer?

The sony amp (100wpc str-de545) im using was paired with the sub as part of a 5.1 setup so it has the subwoofer connection but im not sure if i can get the subwoofer working in 2.1 because the mode L+R+Centre+Subwoofer. Subwoofer icon turns off for any other mode so would centre being on change anything sound wise? Like would the L and R channels be missing any audio signals that's meant for centre?



Again sorry for the super late reply and thanks for all the info. Much appreciated.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
first is the subwoofer powered (does it have its own ac plug?)

if yes, and you wanted to use it in conjunction with a setup using a stereo amp and bookshelf speakers you would need to put a splitter before the input to the amp (L/R channels) and send it to your sub (might require combining the L/R into one depending on how your sub has inputs). you might need a low pass filter as well. otherwise, simple.

if you had a stereo receiver, it would have a subwoofer out (pre-out) jack which makes things a bit simpler.

basically the system would likely get recognized as a 2.0 only however with it wired right the sub will fire correctly.

not sure whats up with the strde545 amp you mentioned. most receivers should support 2.1 fine. if its not firing due to limitations on the amp, you could always use the above splitter before the input to the receiver to manually pull it off as well. center generally handles voices, you might have an issue with some dialog but you would need to test
 

Silba

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aha, ok thanks :)
Yeah the sub is powered, thats all i know and that it's sony :D

I wont get the sub for a while so i'll see how it goes when i get it. Good to know i can split the signals and direct the bass signal to the sub before the amp. I'll do some fiddling when i get it, might have to dig for the remote since it apparently has tons more options than the amp buttons.

But im not going to be using this amp forever, its huge and old all the other channels have a broken relay. Would it be best to buy a good stereo amp and splitter or use an amp/reciever with non amplified bass signal output? (just like this sony reciever/amp thingy ive got)

Update: Bearing in mind cost, i would take 'better' as being the cheaper option.



 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
depends on your preferences honestly.

a stereo amplifier can be cheaper for budget brands. a stereo receiver is generally more expensive. some of the more powerful amplifiers from better known brands however tend to be expensive.

a stereo amplifier that you buy for cheap is generally going to be less powerful. a stereo receiver might be available with a little more power.

a stereo amplifier would require a splitter to work with a sub and is not so friendly with multiple input sources. a stereo receiver would have clean wiring and works great for multiple sources such as pc, consoles, etc without unplugging.

a stereo amplifier is just an amp. a stereo receiver often includes more options such as EQ, sound modes, media playing, radio, etc.

if your idea of better is cheaper... then an ampifier would be what you want.

 
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