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Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:39 pm
by Captain Ned
Well, based on mass alone (I haven't yet opened the boxes) the new rig works. Just the subwoofer damn near broke my back pulling it off the porch and hauling it upstairs.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:59 pm
by CScottG
Captain Ned wrote:
..I know I'm generalizing but for Millennials and younger, frequencies over 100 Hz or so are a waste of amplifier power.



-considering most of the quality of "popular" music produced in the last 10+ years, that seems entirely appropriate. :wink:

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:01 pm
by DancinJack
Captain Ned wrote:
Well, based on mass alone (I haven't yet opened the boxes) the new rig works. Just the subwoofer damn near broke my back pulling it off the porch and hauling it upstairs.

Yeah, my left A5+ (the one with the amp and heatsink) is super heavy. It surprises me every time I move it. On the other hand, the right speaker seems like a feather after touching the left one. I don't have a sub from Audioengine but I imagine they're pretty dense.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:30 pm
by Captain Ned
Well, got it all hooked up and, though it clearly needs some break-in, I am quite happy so far. Sub balancing will be the biggest trick.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:30 pm
by derFunkenstein
In light of this HomePod review EndUser's suggestion seems even more ridiculous. If it's not Apple Music or Air Play, it's not possible, and it's launching without stereo support.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:06 pm
by ludi
derFunkenstein wrote:
In light of this HomePod review EndUser's suggestion seems even more ridiculous. If it's not Apple Music or Air Play, it's not possible, and it's launching without stereo support.

Heh, yeah I read that review as well, it's far better at describing the device's capabilities and limitations than those Reddit ravings. Also, it seems the HomePod comes with a free White Ring of Death...to your Ethan Allan coffee table. (Apple says it's a normal phenomenon. I say there's something seriously wrong with that silicone rubber formulation if it's leaching oils.)

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:27 pm
by Captain Ned
When Ars disses on Apple ...

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:37 pm
by Captain Ned
OK, first pass review. Hardware is a 2.1 consisting of a pair of Audioengine HD3s and an Audioengine S8 sub. HD3s sit on Audioengine DS1 silicone rubber angled stands. All comments/evaluations made with magnetic grilles on the HD3s. The S8 is downward-firing and up against the wall under my desk, roughly around where my left foot would like to be. It's ported, and the port is pointing to the left (leaves me easier access to sub controls). I've got about 10 hours on the combo. Also critical to this is the fact I'm 54 with more than a few loud concerts on my ears.

Took some experimenting, but I'm in a good first spot. Sub input is taken from the line outputs of the HD3s and the bass reduction switch on the back of the HD3 master is in bass reduction mode. Crossover freq on the sub (it receives full-range input) is set to roughly 100 Hz (divisions on dial don't match stated range of the control) and level is at about 40%. HD3s are roughly 36" away from my ears, aimed directly at me (I can't see sides from where I normally sit), and subtend an angle somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees. On the stands, my ears are just about on the tweeter axis. Since I'm using a 3.5mm to RCA out of the AQ Dragonfly Black (DAC source) I've moved the master HD3 to the right side simply because cabling works better on that side (switched L/R on the RCAs into the master HD3, L/R verified by playing Supertramp's Better Days).

Music: Classical, rock from origin through 1990s "classic rock", lots of prog, smatterings of jazz. No rap, hip-hop, death metal (Deep Purple is as metal as I get) or other music whose sole point is to rattle the Bondo off cars. All music in WAV format played through Foobar2000 v1.3.14.

Volume: It'll play louder than I ever care to listen.

Frequency Response: Well, I haven't sprung for a pro analyzer Android app, but I think I've got the sub/sat merge 90% dialed in. Bumping the crossover freq from 90 Hz to 100 Hz was a major improvement and filled a hole that was there in the initial setup. Freq response now seems constant over the volume range. The HD3s are clearly aimed at treble lovers and really need the sub to balance that out (HD3s alone would be, I think, too bright). That said, I'm not hearing any sibilance or other annoying treble effects, just appropriate detail for the recording and a decent sense of "air".

Imaging/Soundstage: A strong central image for sure but good and realistic imaging (my touchstone is Cowboy Junkies Trinity Session) and if the room is there on the recording, it comes through. I'm hopeful that break-in will allow the image to extend past the subtended triangle. NINJA EDIT: Soundstaging declines quickly if your ears move behind the triangle's apex.

Overall: A whole lot better than I was expecting and something I will gladly listen to and tweak for many a year.

Disappointing niggle: The Amazon reviews are right. The volume knob (also on/off) on the master HD3 isn't glued on by much more than hope. A quick squirt of hot glue easily fixed that, but that's something that simply shouldn't happen at this price point.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:38 pm
by Redocbew
ludi wrote:
Apple says it's a normal phenomenon.


Translation: You're finishing it wrong!

What I've seen so far looks a little bit like the fisheye effect you can get when the finish is contaminated with silicone. Usually that happens when there's a furniture polish used that contains silicone on something which doesn't have a top coat used as a sealer. If the wood is sealed with shellac or some other kind of sealer, then you'll probably be alright.

Agreed that this is a total goof on Apple's part though. I wasn't interested in this little widget anyway, but this puts it squarely in the "do not want" category for me.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:05 pm
by DancinJack
Redocbew wrote:
ludi wrote:
Apple says it's a normal phenomenon.


Translation: You're finishing it wrong!

What I've seen so far looks a little bit like the fisheye effect you can get when the finish is contaminated with silicone. Usually that happens when there's a furniture polish used that contains silicone on something which doesn't have a top coat used as a sealer. If the wood is sealed with shellac or some other kind of sealer, then you'll probably be alright.

Agreed that this is a total goof on Apple's part though. I wasn't interested in this little widget anyway, but this puts it squarely in the "do not want" category for me.

You guys, we have to remember that Apple only tests these things on stainless steel, glass, and those solid maple tables in the retail stores. Why would you ever set it on a bookshelf or coffee table?! That's just foolish!

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:13 pm
by DancinJack
Captain Ned wrote:
...lots of words...

Good deal. I'm glad you're happy thus far.

And yeah, my DAC/AMP + Audioengine's gets way, way, way too loud. I only usually have the DAC/AMP set to ~50 for regular listening. And that's on the low gain stage.

My DAC's power on the 1/4" which is what I usually use...
Single-Ended Headphone Output
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 2500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 800mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 350mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 175mW RMS per channel

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:11 am
by Captain Ned
DancinJack wrote:
And yeah, my DAC/AMP + Audioengine's gets way, way, way too loud. I only usually have the DAC/AMP set to ~50 for regular listening. And that's on the low gain stage.

Even with the AQ Dragonfly Black at 100% I can still keep the system very quiet. I was alluding to its ultimate volume capacity. Also, I run the DAC at 100% as its internal output control is digital AND part of the DAC, implying that reducing volume essentially reduces digital resolution. The AQ Dragonfly Red fixes that by having a separate digitally-controlled output placed after the DAC, which is probably why it costs $100 more than the Black and is why I bought the Red for my office headphone rig (and moved the Black to the home office new rig).

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:07 am
by morphine
To his defense, the DAC's resolution is usually so high than you can drop the signal level pretty low and not lose much. To my surprise, even studio engineers tell people not to worry all that much about having the source tracks at 0dB. If I recall, staying around the -16dB range is perfectly fine.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:16 am
by Bauxite
Switch to USB DAC, never go back. I still have ptsd from creative days, and had a xonar xense ssssslowly die in a way that almost made me think I was losing hearing in one ear. Fortunately one quick headphone reverse confirmed it was trash hardware.

Good thread, those klipsch and jbls seem like the better buys, apple made me laugh.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:18 am
by Captain Ned
morphine wrote:
To his defense, the DAC's resolution is usually so high than you can drop the signal level pretty low and not lose much. To my surprise, even studio engineers tell people not to worry all that much about having the source tracks at 0dB. If I recall, staying around the -16dB range is perfectly fine.

Well, studio engineers see 6V (or more) on a pre-amp line and think nothing of it. The AQ Black outputs 1.2V and the Red 2.1V max.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:31 pm
by DancinJack
Captain Ned wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
And yeah, my DAC/AMP + Audioengine's gets way, way, way too loud. I only usually have the DAC/AMP set to ~50 for regular listening. And that's on the low gain stage.

Even with the AQ Dragonfly Black at 100% I can still keep the system very quiet. I was alluding to its ultimate volume capacity. Also, I run the DAC at 100% as its internal output control is digital AND part of the DAC, implying that reducing volume essentially reduces digital resolution. The AQ Dragonfly Red fixes that by having a separate digitally-controlled output placed after the DAC, which is probably why it costs $100 more than the Black and is why I bought the Red for my office headphone rig (and moved the Black to the home office new rig).

Right. I keep the PC at 100 percent, DAC around 50, and speakers fairly low. It's been the best combo I can find.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:01 pm
by Chrispy_
Do the speakers not have a 0db gain setting on their volume knob? It's a minor point but that'll be the likely setting at which the speakers are at their best.

I'd recommend using the DAC's volume control, or an inline control knob since the Dragonfly Black doesn't have one.

Assuming you have a half-decent microphone in your arsenal, have a look at something called Room EQ Wizard which is a great way to get the last 10% of your speakers if you are using a PC as the source. You'll need a digital EQ for it, and I would recommend Equaliser APO if you're in Windows, I'm not experienced enough with Linux audio to recommend a free alternative.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:07 pm
by morphine
0 dB = full blast anywhere. You don't want that on an amp for daily driving. :)

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:23 pm
by Chrispy_
morphine wrote:
0 dB = full blast anywhere. You don't want that on an amp for daily driving. :)


No, not 0dB volume attenuation, 0dB input gain. Sometimes this is called unity gain, but it just depends on how geared towards studio use the kit is, usually. I tend to think of it as a pre-amp setting. For my Presonus kit, it's listed as U on the dial and it has a little detent in the gain knobs so that they "stick" at that position. As for the M-Audio kit, the input gain knobs were labelled as -6dB to +6dB with the ideal being 0.

I'm not familiar with the HD3s, perhaps they don't have a gain control but they have a volume control instead, in which case the gain is presumably fixed at unity gain anyway.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:29 pm
by morphine
Ah, you're in the realm of studio monitors. The gain is usually minus something dB to +6 dB, and nearly all studio monitors just keep that knob at the back and rely on the interface's output as volume adjustment.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:03 pm
by just brew it!
Bauxite wrote:
Switch to USB DAC, never go back. I still have ptsd from creative days, and had a xonar xense ssssslowly die in a way that almost made me think I was losing hearing in one ear. Fortunately one quick headphone reverse confirmed it was trash hardware.

Looks like that card has user-replaceable (socketed) op amps driving the headphone output. If you still have it, you can probably fix it for about $5 worth of parts (+ shipping). I'd replace both even though only one is bad, since you do want them to be a matched pair.

In fact, it could just be a little corrosion on the socket contacts. Re-seating the op amps might be all that is needed.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:14 pm
by NovusBogus
I've been pretty happy with my Audioengine A2+ speakers. I didn't add a sub so the bass is weak, but otherwise they sound great and don't take up much desk space.

I'd also argue in favor of USB DAC, either standalone or built into the speakers. Easy to use, modular, future proof, laptop friendly, and won't force you away from a mini ITX build if it otherwise would make sense. Xonar had its day but let's face it, the PC hardware industry is moving away from expansion cards as the solution to all problems foreign and domestic.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:10 pm
by Captain Ned
Chrispy_ wrote:
I'm not familiar with the HD3s, perhaps they don't have a gain control but they have a volume control instead, in which case the gain is presumably fixed at unity gain anyway.

Consumer-grade boxen with no studio pretensions. All I got is the volume knob.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:23 pm
by Chrispy_
Ah fair enough. Almost certainly unity gain (0dB) already.

Seriously though, check out Room EQ Wizard. If your speakers are decent and even remotely level-matched to your sub, you can use it to tweak the crossovers manually, and then smooth out the remaining peaks and troughs. Room interference is significant if there are walls within around 10 feet of any speaker or you as the listener, so most rooms outside of a sizeable living room are affected.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:18 am
by farmpuma
Captain Ned wrote:
(Deep Purple is as metal as I get)

I'd be willing to bet there's some Iron Butterfly and maybe some of the first three James Gang albums in your collection. I saw Deep Purple at the Miami Snortatorium during Christmas break 70-71. At one point the keyboard player (John Lord?) tipped the Hammond B3 up on it's back edge and rocked it back and forth while playing!

It sounds like you have assembled a mighty fine PC audio system! A far cry from my little three inch Creatives from ~2000 and an Altec Lansing 6.5 inch sub from the mid 2000s. Yes, it's all molded plastic with the upward firing sub in the shape of a stubby aerial bomb standing on it's fins. A 35mm film container lid stuffed into the sub reflex port eliminated the annoying thump and overall the response is clean and flat. Driven directly from the motherboard it won't chase you out of the room, but cranked it stays clean and just gets more present. For an investment of less than $100 I've been surprisingly pleased. Being an unpaid caregiver for thirteen years will put a crimp in ones audio budget.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:48 pm
by Captain Ned
farmpuma wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
(Deep Purple is as metal as I get)

I'd be willing to bet there's some Iron Butterfly and maybe some of the first three James Gang albums in your collection.

No, and no, although fixing the lack of James Gang has now moved up the priority list (not that they were ever "metal").

Some of Ian Gillian's best work isn't on any Deep Purple album, it's on the Decca-label "soundtrack" (album was released to try to get a spot in a proper theatre) to Jesus Christ Superstar.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:37 pm
by CScottG
Captain Ned wrote:
I'm hopeful that break-in will allow the image to extend past the subtended triangle. NINJA EDIT: Soundstaging declines quickly if your ears move behind the triangle's apex.


A lot of this has to do with the response "on" vs. "off" horizontal axis. Given the small diameter of the midbass driver it should NOT be changing directivity much.. but based on the comments of the Sound & Vision review:

"The HD3 Speaker System’s listening-window response (a five-point average of axial and +/–15-degree horizontal and vertical responses) measures + 2.64 /– 3.25 decibels from 200 hertz to 10 kilohertz
Read more at https://www.soundandvision.com/content/ ... CQO3Df6.99"

..and your own comment on moving behind the apex of the listening triangle,

-there seems to be surprising change in directivity.


Because of this:


Try rotating the speakers "outward" (aka "toe-out") from your listening position and correcting the freq. response digitally (from within whatever play-back program you use) at your position. It should improve soundstage-width somewhat.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:11 pm
by Captain Ned
CScottG wrote:
Try rotating the speakers "outward" (aka "toe-out") from your listening position and correcting the freq. response digitally (from within whatever play-back program you use) at your position. It should improve soundstage-width somewhat.

I've already applied some toe-out, basically so that if I'm leaning back in my office chair, I'm now at the apex. The S&V mini-review confirms that 100 to 110 Hz is the proper crossover frequency for the sub, though it would have been nice to see full axial response curves like in full Stereophile reviews as well as a curve with the bass switch in reduction mode.

As for ultimate soundstaging, I didn't ever think I was getting "holographic" imaging from these boxen. Besides, I'm much more a rhythm & pace person over imaging and soundstaging and I'm happy so far.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:43 am
by derFunkenstein
Captain Ned wrote:
Some of Ian Gillian's best work isn't on any Deep Purple album, it's on the Decca-label "soundtrack" (album was released to try to get a spot in a proper theatre) to Jesus Christ Superstar.

Seconded. That cast is amazing, and Gillian outshines Ted Neely at every turn. Murray Head as Judas, too. My goodness, I'm going to have to dig that one out.

Re: New desktop speaker recommendations

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:03 am
by Captain Ned
derFunkenstein wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
Some of Ian Gillian's best work isn't on any Deep Purple album, it's on the Decca-label "soundtrack" (album was released to try to get a spot in a proper theatre) to Jesus Christ Superstar.

Seconded. That cast is amazing, and Gillian outshines Ted Neely at every turn. Murray Head as Judas, too. My goodness, I'm going to have to dig that one out.

There are also some seriously funky and froody bass lines on that recording as well.