Looking for Desktop Speakers for $100

Deus Gladiorum

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Hey so I'm primarily a PC gamer and am nowhere near what anyone could consider an audiophile, but I am looking for good budget speakers. Perhaps 2.0 or 2.1, I don't really have the room for anything more than that, and I think I'd be leaning towards the 2.0 spectrum since I don't have too much room for a subwoofer either. But anyway, I'd jus like good speakers for around $100 so things can sound nice (and loud) when playing games. My budget can be extended to $150 AT MOST, but I seriously want to keep it closer to $100. Also, could you guys explain why whatever speaker you recommend is particularly "good"?
 

random stalker

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As for the sound card: Since you are primarily a gamer, you should go for the Creative Labs SoundBlaster series as they have the clearest sound. You can get ExtremeGamer/ExtremeMusic series for less than $50, or you can go all the way for Sound Blaster Z, but that is about $100 investment. It's worth its every penny, but it may be too much of an overkill...
Also, there is Asus Xonar DX - a great card somewhere in the middle of those two. Has excellent audio quality /which will force you to redownload all your mp3s as flac or at least 320kbps/. Gaming wise it is better suited for RPGs than any other genre, and if you play primarily those types of games it will be a great investment... /Also there is this rumour it is in war with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - so, if you play that one game a lot, hands off the DX/

As for the speakers: Exactly those :D

As for the placement: Woofer on the table /I prefer left side, but whichever side it's free is good enough/, satellites are are best in ear height, but, then again, putting them on the table won't exactly hurt them either :D

As for connecting: These speakers connect the same way as regular 2.0 speakers. See here for more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak4rzfXFBCE
 

Deus Gladiorum

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@random stalker, I'm very new to this and as such, I'm also curious as to why one speaker system is superior to another. So for example, why do you recommend Swans M10 over some other speaker? I'm interested in understanding why it's objectively better. If I were to look up these aforementioned speakers, would something in their tech specs designate that they're superior, or is it a little more about just keeping up to date with what's good like it is with graphics cards, where people typically just look at benchmarks rather than tech specs to determine if a product is worthy?
 

random stalker

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Well, let's say there are many things to consider>
- frequency, or the frequency range of the sound they can produce - arguably: the larger, the better.
- accuracy or better to say 'colour of the sound' /aka, the speakers will play different frequencies at different volume/ - the ideal is no colour /everything plays at equal volume/ - a flat line across the whole frequency spectrum - which is impossible to achieve... At least for now.
- materials - the speaker will try to flex at a certain frequency, which is unwanted as it distorts the sound... So better materials are needed to circumvent that...
- crossover chip - which dictates which sound will be played by which driver - bass to woofer, etc... A good speaker set has the chip perfectly matched to the drivers...
And a good mix of all that creates a good speaker set. Kinda like magic, kinda not :D

Ad recommendation:
Well, let's say it's my favourite 2.1 speaker setup for about $100. Also there are many positive reviews about that speaker set, f.e. you can go here> http://www.head-fi.org/products/swan-m10/reviews

Bottom line>
Buying the speakers is much like buying a monitor, keyboard or a mouse - you have to listen to them for a while and decide if they are worth it or not. It's mostly because everyone has different 'hearing' and everyone has different preferences - one likes more bass, the other likes clear sound...
Also - the position of the speakers is very important - these should rest at the table not under it....

PS: You know - these types of speakers will force you to consider a decent sound card, because as accurate as they are, they will point out all the faults of integrated on-board audio, and they will be very brutal about it :D
 

Deus Gladiorum

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Hmm, it seems intriguing. I'm currently reading the sticky in this section of the forum and it's both helpful at some points and confusing at others (needs more clarification of terms for the layman, i.e. ohms and such) but this is all very interesting stuff.

The speakers you recommended seem like a really nice starting point for my first "real" sound system. My current sound solutions up until this point have included standard apple headphones, an iP9 Model iHome, and the built-in speakers to my ASUS VX238H monitor, and to be honest, they've always sounded fine to me. But then again, I haven't had any prior experience with any other noticeably better sound setup so I can't exactly judge now can I?

As for the sound card, that's unfortunate, haha. I currently have a GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 (rev 3.0, iirc) motherboard which has an onboard Realtek ALC889. But since I didn't shell out $400 for this thing (the price was $120 when I bought it, I don't know why Newegg now lists it for over $200) I'm guessing it's not the most capable sound card. Could you also recommend a good sound card I could pick up down the road? I'm guessing they'll be around $100 as well for a decent one, right?

I'm really considering the Swan M10s (based really upon nothing except your recommendation) but considering my current sound setup it'll be leagues better. However, just a couple questions about that:
First, this is the one you're talking about, right?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?gclid=CPjhkKbtj7sCFepQOgodXUMALQ&Item=N82E16836140006&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-_-pla-_-Speakers-_-N82E16836140006&ef_id=UoU5TgAABFaqfwXb:20131201202306:s

Second, (warning, this is a super noobish question) will this connect to my current onboard audio ports? And third, I've never had anything beyond a 2.0 surround setup, so where should the subwoofer go? I've heard of people putting subwoofers anywhere from right in the middle of the two speakers to under their desks, to a bunch of other places. I'm guessing because the dials for the M10 exist only on the subwoofer, putting it under my desk might be inconvenient.

Also, thanks a lot for the help so far!
 

random stalker

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As for the sound card: Since you are primarily a gamer, you should go for the Creative Labs SoundBlaster series as they have the clearest sound. You can get ExtremeGamer/ExtremeMusic series for less than $50, or you can go all the way for Sound Blaster Z, but that is about $100 investment. It's worth its every penny, but it may be too much of an overkill...
Also, there is Asus Xonar DX - a great card somewhere in the middle of those two. Has excellent audio quality /which will force you to redownload all your mp3s as flac or at least 320kbps/. Gaming wise it is better suited for RPGs than any other genre, and if you play primarily those types of games it will be a great investment... /Also there is this rumour it is in war with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - so, if you play that one game a lot, hands off the DX/

As for the speakers: Exactly those :D

As for the placement: Woofer on the table /I prefer left side, but whichever side it's free is good enough/, satellites are are best in ear height, but, then again, putting them on the table won't exactly hurt them either :D

As for connecting: These speakers connect the same way as regular 2.0 speakers. See here for more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak4rzfXFBCE
 

Deus Gladiorum

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Awesome! I won't be getting a new sound card anytime soon, though. It'll be many months down the road at the earliest, but I'm excited for these new speakers. I currently download all my music at MP3 320 kbps, but I'm not quite sure why as the difference (if there is any at all for my speakers) is negligible. But I'm hoping that my current sound card won't create a bottleneck for these new speakers. I'd love to be able to hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC without buying anything else just yet, or at the very least the difference between MP3 320 kbps and MP3 192 kbps. Do you think I'll still be able to do so?
 

random stalker

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Yes you will hear the difference, because the lower the bitrate, the more flat the song sounds... The more range /lower bass - higher heights/ the song has, the noticeable the effect /especially in metal or in opera.../

Also, you will notice the 'second boost' in audio quality, once the speakers break in - which happens at about 100-200 hours. Everything will sound way clearer...

And the 'third boost' will come from the dedicated sound card - you will hear sounds you never noticed before :D It will be like magic :D

I like to exaggerate a little bit by comparing the sound directly from a speaker to a speaker covered with a cooking pot :D And I like to use that example on anything audio related /low VS high bitrate; mp3 VS vinyl-ripped flac; on-board VS dedicated soundcard, sub par VS great speakers/, because it usually fits :D
 
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