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just brew it!
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Thu May 24, 2018 4:13 pm

ludi wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I'm not sure if motherboard designers have gotten better at doing audio, or if the move to more motherboard PCB layers is responsible for the improvement. Probably some of both.

On the source side, audio solutions in general seem to have peaked in the past 10-ish years. Factory car stereos, motherboards, mobile devices, etc. are almost always "good enough" or better.

Yeah, I had noticed that the last two cars we bought had "good enough" factory stereos, unlike everything prior. And I've been quite impressed with the audio performance of my current phone (an LG G4), as long as I use a wired connection (the Bluetooth is a little glitchy, unfortunately).
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Chrispy_
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Thu May 24, 2018 4:20 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
As for soundcard quality, a lot of problems with the onboard realtek implementations stem from poor grounding and EM interference from other stuff in the PC. You will notice a significant improvement in SNR levels and general quality by just switching to a $10 USB DAC or using the built-in DAC of your monitor, assuming it has speakers/headphone-out.

While this was generally true in the "bad old days", things have improved quite a bit. I'd say the onboard audio on contemporary motherboards from the better manufacturers is generally on par with most discrete solutions from ~15 years ago. These days, noise pickup is as likely to be from a poorly shielded front panel audio wiring harness as it is to be from the motherboard.

I'm not sure if motherboard designers have gotten better at doing audio, or if the move to more motherboard PCB layers is responsible for the improvement. Probably some of both.

Yep, I think it's even simpler than that;

If your motherboard has isolated PCB area for audio, it's going to be as good as any sub-$50 DAC. At 100% windows volume, the SNR levels of these solutions are more than adequate for my unashamedly-modest audiophile tastes.

Sadly, plenty of modern motherboards from 'the better manufacturers' limit these isolated audio solutions to their overpriced, over-blinged G4M3RZ range. Here's a popular B250 board from Asrock that's notable for being a decent, affordable, feature-rich way to get all the Covfefe-Lake benefits without splurging silly money on RGBLED controllers or cosmetic bling like TUF armour and anodised slabs of logosink.

Should you be in the unfortunate position of needing to use analogue audio out from the motherboard in this instance, you'd be better off buying one of these. In hindsight, it would have been better to spend the extra $15 up front to buy a board with isolated audio traces on the PCB, but nobody is going to rebuild their entire PC just for that, and at $6 you can just plug in a C-Media DAC that's good enough for Xonar sound cards, so it's not going to be the weakest link in most audio chains.
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Thu May 24, 2018 4:31 pm

Even a USB audio solution will still need to deal with noise coming in on the power rails. I wouldn't bet on a $6 external DAC handling that decently.

With one exception, the onboard audio on the last half-dozen or so desktop motherboards I've bought have been deficient in only one specific area: ability to directly drive headphones to reasonable volume levels. From a fidelity perspective (frequency response, distortion, SNR) they've been fine. And we're not talking about fancy motherboards which advertise "audiophile grade" audio... I tend to buy mid-range boards.

(The one exception was a motherboard with a VIA codec instead of Realtek... it had acceptable fidelity and had no trouble driving headphones. I wish there were still motherboards with VIA audio chipsets on them, but Realtek seems to have completely dominated the market for cheap audio solutions.)
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jihadjoe
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Thu May 24, 2018 11:41 pm

DancinJack wrote:
jihadjoe wrote:
Also, active speakers with a built-in DAC (like the KEF X300A or LS50W) can make very good computer speakers.

$2,199.98

Yeah, I'd hope so for 2200 dollars.


Despite the expenses involved audiophilia is a very pleasant rabbit hole to fall into. Sound recording and playback is basically a solved problem, so you know that 10 years on those $2,200 speakers will be as relevant as the day you bought them, unlike a $1000 CPU or GPU.
 
Airmantharp
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Sun May 27, 2018 12:55 pm

My ASUS Z170-AR has a sound implementation that can easily drive my 300Ohm Sennheiser HD600 headphones without noise; well, it sounded 'good enough', driving to high volume without noise. That was a Realtek-based solution.

However, I've moved to a DAC/Amp that takes optical TOSLINK and provides single-ended as well as balanced outputs for headphone and pre-amp, which powers headphones and my pair of LSR-305's.
 
pink_flower
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Tue May 29, 2018 4:23 am

Maybe you should look into Audioengine A2, it's like 30 bucks above your budget but I think it will work excellent.
 
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Tue May 29, 2018 6:59 am

pink_flower wrote:
Maybe you should look into Audioengine A2, it's like 30 bucks above your budget but I think it will work excellent.


No, the A2s are actually terrible.

Here's my opinion on Audioengine in general:
Chrispy_ wrote:

Audioengine make great speakers but they're rather poor value for money. If you're on a budget I would recommend avoiding Audioengine because whatever you pay for an Audioengine, you can afford to jump up to the next driver/amp/quality class with other brands like JBL, Pioneer, Presonus, M-Audio etc.

They are the Apple of active studio monitors. Good, but overhyped and overpriced. If you can get them at a significant discount then go for it!


And here's a professional audiophile reviewer exposing how awful the A2s are:
http://noaudiophile.com/AudioEngine_A2_Plus/

Without DSP correction (which you'll need to setup yourself, since the A2 and A2+ don't include any) they are horrendous. Once corrected for DSP, the review concludes "They don't play really loud, they don't image very well, but they are at least tonally neutral and play into the 48Hz range when positioned in a corner. These speakers cost a good bit for what they are, and should only be considered if you have absolutely no room for anything even slightly larger on your desk".

TL;DR = very expensive rubbish that needs a lot of extra work and selective placement to make them even sound okay. Spend less money on something far better!
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ludi
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Wed May 30, 2018 12:11 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
And here's a professional audiophile reviewer exposing how awful the A2s are:
http://noaudiophile.com/AudioEngine_A2_Plus/

That plate amp's heatsink construction, yikes. They should have just mounted the chip amp directly to the rear plate, since that's the only place where convection can occur. Guess it's just being used to add mass for that expensive feeling when you unbox the units.

The crossover network at least looks to be legitimate although a bit of cost cutting there.
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Chrispy_
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Wed May 30, 2018 3:22 pm

I know, right?

I think the A2 series are just Audioengine cashing in on their higher-end reference monitors by exploiting their brand name. Perhaps with the white they're targeting MBP owners who think expensive=good. They even have a product shot either side of an MBP, ffs ;)

I was shocked at the poor quality of the components inside the A2+ when that reviewer opened them up. I'd feel like I'd been cheated even if they were half the price Audioengine are asking. At $280, you get deeply flawed speakers that sound like garbage out of the box, whilst the excellent M-Audio AV32s for $90 sound significantly better. I have to wonder if some $65 Cerwin Vega XD3 wouldn't be superior to the Audioengine A2+, and based off the complete loss of significant portions of the frequency response in that review, I'm willing to bet that some of the no-name 2.1 sets on Amazon are in the same league as the A2+

I *know* that the Audioengine A5 are nice-sounding 5" monitors. Whether they're worth the premium over the competition from M-Audio, JBL, Pioneer, Presonus etc is another question and my 37-year old eardrums are no longer sensitive enough to answer that with any conviction.
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:13 am

well, they work fine with me.
 
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:21 pm

So, I ended up getting a pair of these. It has Bluetooth, optical in, and usb in, but I just hooked them into the RCA line-in output. They were a bit over my budget but at $350 dollars I can say I'm not disappointed. Loud, clear, and I could get a sub for these but I think they have plenty of bass already. https://www.klipsch.com/products/r-15pm ... d-monitors
 
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:11 am

confusedpenguin wrote:
So, I ended up getting a pair of these. It has Bluetooth, optical in, and usb in, but I just hooked them into the RCA line-in output. They were a bit over my budget but at $350 dollars I can say I'm not disappointed. Loud, clear, and I could get a sub for these but I think they have plenty of bass already. https://www.klipsch.com/products/r-15pm ... d-monitors

Good choice. Hard to go wrong with Klipsch.
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jihadjoe
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:31 am

Good choice! Now you can have fun comparing analog output through your ZxR, then using the speaker's internal DAC though optical and USB.
 
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Re: Good speaker for ZxR

Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:42 am

jihadjoe wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
jihadjoe wrote:
Also, active speakers with a built-in DAC (like the KEF X300A or LS50W) can make very good computer speakers.

$2,199.98

Yeah, I'd hope so for 2200 dollars.


Despite the expenses involved audiophilia is a very pleasant rabbit hole to fall into. Sound recording and playback is basically a solved problem, so you know that 10 years on those $2,200 speakers will be as relevant as the day you bought them, unlike a $1000 CPU or GPU.


My 35 year old Kef's are starting to show their age now.................

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