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Disco
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Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:39 pm

Hey Sound Experts

I'm looking for a new speaker setup for the computer. I have some great Cambridge Soundworks speakers from 15(?) years ago that have done really well over the years. But the volume knob makes the sound cut out (one channel or the other) unless I turn it 'just so', and it also creates a lot of static when I touch it. Obviously something is worn out in there.

I only have a couple stipulations. What I'm looking for will have:

- external volume remote (wired or wireless) - speakers sit a bit below and behind my screens, so it's a pain to reach in to adjust volume.
- relatively small size for primarily speakers - Less than 4.5" high if possible - otherwise they will be blocked a bit by the screens.

No other real prerequisites, other than sounding AWESOME!! They will be hooked up to my asus xonar soundcard.

The Logitech Z906 surround system has great reviews, but I don't need/want any extra speakers. If they had a 2.1 version I would buy that (although I'm not sure of the speaker height).
There's the Logitech Z623 or the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 systems, but neither have a remote volume control. The corsair 2500 2.1 setup also looks good (reviewed on Tech Report many years ago) but seems to be out of stock.

I look forward to any and all recommendations!!

dave
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:05 pm

Before you go ditching the current setup, turn if off and swing the volume pot back 'n' forth really quickly to try and wipe off some of the grime on the contacts. You'd be amazed at how well this can bring back flaky pots.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:09 pm

OK I'll try that.

Also, I just noticed (should have searched first) the recent forum posts re: good 2.1 setups. I'll browse through that discussion first and then report back here.
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:15 pm

Thanks Captain Ned!!

I can still hear a little bit of static when I adjust volume, but it is much MUCH better than it was. And no loss of either channel in the process. Thanks for the great tip!!

dave
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:47 pm

Is it these by any chance?

Image

They were some of the only decent PC speakers from an era when most companies were churning out rubbish.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:54 pm

Disco wrote:
Thanks Captain Ned!!

I can still hear a little bit of static when I adjust volume, but it is much MUCH better than it was. And no loss of either channel in the process. Thanks for the great tip!!

dave

There are times when the old-style percussive maintenance works. Grungy volume pots is almost always one of those times. The more you do it, the cleaner it will get.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:07 pm

Stole this picture from the internets. this is what I have, but have no need for the extra satellites. They sound great and are so tiny! I love how little space they take up. You can see the troublesome volume knob (that has now been fixed! Thanks again Captain!!) is also there in the picture.

http://www.njuskalo.hr/image-bigger/zvu ... 804768.jpg

Edit: OK. It just posted the link. How do you get the image to show in the message itself?

Edit #2. I just noticed that the Captain and myself have been on the forums together for almost 13 years. Although he posts slightly more often than I do!! :)
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:09 pm

Disco wrote:
Edit: OK. It just posted the link. How do you get the image to show in the message itself?

You need to have an image-hosting account somewhere, then use the Img tag around the image URL.

EDIT: Looking at that remote volume control, the groove halfway up implies it might be gently wedged open without too much damage. If so, a quick spray of electrical contact cleaner (with box switched off, of course) would take care of any remaining issues. Even if the box doesn't go back together perfectly, that's what clear packing tape is for.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:24 pm

Oooh, I had a set of those when I was doing my engineering masters!

The rear speakers came with the most pathetic plastic tripods I'd ever encountered but I remember playing half-life in surround sound with EAX on those things and I was blown away.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:26 pm

"The Kragle" works to re-assemble things like that, too, Ned.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:17 pm

I still have my 1999 Altec Lansing ACS48 set. Those were pretty sweet at the time thanks to satellites that could actually reproduce a fairly wide range of frequencies and a not too shabby wooden-enclosure sub.

But my 2005 Klipsch Promedia 2.1 set is a lot nicer. They are still selling some incarnation of these. Nice sound stage, and decent frequency response all around for computer speakers.

Really you gotta go to a store with a demo display and pick whatever you like. That's the only way to speaker shop.
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:09 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
"The Kragle" works to re-assemble things like that, too, Ned.

Heh. As long as I don't have to step on them at 3AM letting the dog out for a pee.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:59 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
The rear speakers came with the most pathetic plastic tripods I'd ever encountered but I remember playing half-life in surround sound with EAX on those things and I was blown away.


I completely agree about those goofy tripods (never used), and half-life in surround was part of the reason I bought those speakers in the first place. I bet you can still hear all the sounds that crowbar made when it was banged into different surfaces/bodies. I know I still can... :)
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:09 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
Image

I get mad whenever I see those speaker sets. Not because the speakers themselves were bad, but because Creative used a proprietary digital-out codec for many years which was only decipherable with their own Cambridge Soundworks speakers. With any other set, the best you could get was PCM stereo. :evil:
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:19 am

Ah, screw digital, everything was analogue still back in those days ;)

As for Half-Life with EAX, my OMG moment was the glock underwater in the sewers with bass, reverb, distortion etc.
I was upgrading from something probably quite similar to these:
Image
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:51 am

I've been twisting my knob back and forth quite a lot now ;-)

All the static sounds are gone when I change the volume and it's like new!! Thanks again Captain Ned. I can't believe I have been putting up with the 'deteriorating' condition of my speakers for years...
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:41 am

I own two sets of Klipsch Promedias. One is a supposed design improvement of the other, but it died even faster. Would not recommend.
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:10 pm

If you have the room for it, look for a decent bookshelf and small sub and receiver solution instead of computer speakers. You have a ton of choice there.

After my Videologic Sirocco Crossfire's (4.1) arguably better then Klipsch promedias, got old, I used my bedroom system instead since I never used it there and can't be happier. Then I added bits of an old HT system to get a full 5.1 setup. Basically it's a small HT, although the receiver is pretty decent and the mains are B&W 685. For a while I used a 12" sub, but the amp has a factory fault so when it died the second time I just left it out.
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:37 pm

I prefer the sound of bookshelf speakers or monitors to any satellite+sub options, the gap between a 2" driver and the subwoofer is way too much and it results in awful midrange. It's easy to say the sound is okay because the bass is rich and the treble is crisp, but it just sounds empty and wrong to me.

My BX8's aren't gaming speakers though; Even at 8" there's no sub to make explosions and Michael Bay moments really involve me. A cheap 2.1 setup with a ported subwoofer and 2-way satellites is probably going to make games sound better for under $100. For that matter, my (possibly wrong) opinion on high-end 2.1 setups is that they're all worthless if their satellites don't have seperate silk/metal dome tweeters alongside the main drivers. To my ears these dirt cheap Creative satellites from a sub-$50 set (T3000)
Image
...sound better than these T4 satellites costing 10x as much:
Image

The difference between the two sets is maximum volume, but what's the point of making it loud if it always sounds bad? I'll take better sound at moderate volume, thanks.

So, uh the "best 2.1 system" for a computer would probably be a nice set of 2-way bookshelves (or studio monitors) in the 5" range with a sub for fun. The M-Audio BX5's always crop up as a good option for the money, as do the AudioEngine A5's. Add the respective subwoofer in and you've got yourself a killer desktop setup.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:49 pm

http://www.antec.com/soundscience/Product.php

I have these and when I'm not using headphones I'm quite happy with them. They get decent to great reviews and sound great with games. You can connect via toslink so that is a bonus.
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Fri Dec 12, 2014 2:26 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
I prefer the sound of bookshelf speakers or monitors to any satellite+sub options, the gap between a 2" driver and the subwoofer is way too much and it results in awful midrange. It's easy to say the sound is okay because the bass is rich and the treble is crisp, but it just sounds empty and wrong to me.

My BX8's aren't gaming speakers though; Even at 8" there's no sub to make explosions and Michael Bay moments really involve me. A cheap 2.1 setup with a ported subwoofer and 2-way satellites is probably going to make games sound better for under $100. For that matter, my (possibly wrong) opinion on high-end 2.1 setups is that they're all worthless if their satellites don't have seperate silk/metal dome tweeters alongside the main drivers. To my ears these dirt cheap Creative satellites from a sub-$50 set (T3000)


So, uh the "best 2.1 system" for a computer would probably be a nice set of 2-way bookshelves (or studio monitors) in the 5" range with a sub for fun. The M-Audio BX5's always crop up as a good option for the money, as do the AudioEngine A5's. Add the respective subwoofer in and you've got yourself a killer desktop setup.

Chrispy, I completely agree that decent stereo speakers and a sub added on later if needed will trump most consumer 2.1 systems. Have the BX8a Deluxes here and coming from Logitech Z2300 it's not eve close in actual sound quality. The Logitech's were loud and had a great subwoofer, no doubt about that. But after coming to monitor everything from basic system sounds, music, gaming and movies was cleaner and was able to get loud without distortion. This was all providing the monitors are setup correctly and you are sitting in the sweet spot.

OP, I would suggest looking a getting a class t amp, something with around 50watt per channel (RMS) and then a set of good bookself speakers. If you are going to want true low end you're going to need a sub, but if not 6-8" woofers on bookshelf speakers should be able to satisfy you. (Depending on speaker of course) You can always add a sub later on if you feel necessary. If you know you are going to want one then get some solid bookshelfs, like Micca mb42x and sub. Let us know if you're thinking this route, more than happy to put something together.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Fri Dec 12, 2014 4:20 am

I'm using Microlabs FC330's and they're absolutely brilliant, sound quality is excellent.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Microlabs-FC330 ... B0040N3BQI

Image

I previously had a separate amp and some bookshelf speakers but were taking up a little too much room, I've not noticed much in the way of difference and sound quality is incredible.
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:50 am

The other thing about 2.1 computer setups is the convenience of having a wired remote with volume, bass adjustment and a headphone pass-through socket in addition to the reclaimed desk space.

My rule of thumb is that all 2.1 PC speakers sound bad because the compact satellites are obviously trading their frequency range for physical compactness. If you're going to get bad sound anyway, look for convenience features that you want and save your money. There's is the possibility that you don't *care* about the diminished and uneven frequency response of compact satellites and you just want a powerful set that delivers this sort of performance at loud volumes. In this instance the "high end" 2.1 PC speakers do very well. Klipsh, Creative T-series, Logitech Z-series and any number of other well-made 2.1's from Antec/Corsair/Bose etc. Those Microlabs are almost exceptions to the rule because they're not actually that compact - Each satellite is a 2-way, wood cabinet with relatively large 3" drivers. They're closer to bookshelf speakers than the tiny plastic single-driver satellites that I'm hating on!

My biggest problem is that once you spend time with good speakers, it's very hard to go back and be happy with bad speakers - I've said it before that ignorance is bliss ;)
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Sat Dec 13, 2014 2:57 pm

Yeah it's definitely a choice of compactness vs quality. No replacement for displacement with speakers if you are after good frequency reproduction.

But to me a 2.1 setup at the computer is a different kind of experience than a home theater. Just as good headphones are another kind of experience.
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:17 pm

Here's a bargain through Club Onkyo:
$144 refurbished Onkyo TX-SR313 home theater receiver with 1-year warranty
I bought one of these for my parents a few years ago. It's an older model (HDMI 1.4a vs. the HDMI 2.0 found on something like the $349 TX-NR535), but I believe that it is a better quality receiver than anything else that you are likely to find for under $200.

Club deals are here:
https://www.shoponkyo.com/products_15.c ... group_id=1
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:59 am

Disco wrote:
Hey Sound Experts

I'm looking for a new speaker setup for the computer. I have some great Cambridge Soundworks speakers from 15(?) years ago that have done really well over the years. But the volume knob makes the sound cut out (one channel or the other) unless I turn it 'just so', and it also creates a lot of static when I touch it. Obviously something is worn out in there.

I only have a couple stipulations. What I'm looking for will have:

- external volume remote (wired or wireless) - speakers sit a bit below and behind my screens, so it's a pain to reach in to adjust volume.
- relatively small size for primarily speakers - Less than 4.5" high if possible - otherwise they will be blocked a bit by the screens.

No other real prerequisites, other than sounding AWESOME!! They will be hooked up to my asus xonar soundcard.

The Logitech Z906 surround system has great reviews, but I don't need/want any extra speakers. If they had a 2.1 version I would buy that (although I'm not sure of the speaker height).
There's the Logitech Z623 or the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 systems, but neither have a remote volume control. The corsair 2500 2.1 setup also looks good (reviewed on Tech Report many years ago) but seems to be out of stock.

I look forward to any and all recommendations!!

dave

I like that you have old Cambridge Soundworks speakers from 15 years, I though just about everyone had those old Creative computer speakers back then :wink: Anyway, Logitech has dominated this market for quite a while and still do. For 2.1 speakers, I really think you should go for the Logitech Z623 that you mention. Just look at the ratings it has received http://www.engadget.com/products/logite ... stem/z623/ and http://www.consumertop.com/best-2-1-speakers/

About the Microlabs FC330 - I've tried those, but just to warn you that they produce quite a bit of "noise" when they aren't playing anything, but still on (you know that "wisping" sound").
 
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Re: Best 2.1 system for computer setup

Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:26 am

Wireless speakers are mostly a gimmick. They still need power, which means you have to have a large, thick mains power cord visible, and you're forced to choose speaker placement near mains outlets, rather than placing them where they sound best.

By comparison, "wired" speakers just need speaker wire which is far smaller and easier to hide. You can run it along the skirting board or under the carpet without any problems and you can even buy speaker tape, which is white adhesive tape to stick to your wall that contains a couple of speaker wires.
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