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Best powered studio monitors in the ~$300 range with unbalanced ins? For garage duty.

Trouble Maker

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#1
I'm looking for some decent speakers for the garage. My feeling is I would be happy with something in the $200-$400 range. Powered seems ideal to keep it simple and out of the way. I've got a ton of stuff in my garage well organized, but shelf and wall space is at a premium. I get a new tool for every project, so it's not ever going to get any better. So I don't want them to take up more room than necessary.

It seems like most only have balanced ins, including many of the go-tos e.g. JBL 305P
I would be connecting my phone to them from a streaming service. I'm OK with line in or Bluetooth. I would actually prefer Bluetooth for ease of use, but it seems like most in this range with Bluetooth are >$400. My phone only has USB-C, if that matters.
Or is there something I'm missing and there is any 'easy' way to connect my phone to something with only balanced ins? It seems kind of silly to spend $250 on something and spend another $50+ just to get it connected. I would also like to avoid having another box, just a pair of powered speakers with a line in seems ideal.

My priorities are good sound, and some ruggedness (looks and actual) since they will be living in a garage. I'm also wondering if a port is a bad idea with the critters/insects that sometimes live in garages. But it seems like everything in this arena has a port. I don't need them to dig too deep, but I get the port since something sealed of this size with a 5"-6" mid/woofer in this price (power and excursion) range would probably be pretty bass lacking.

High and low shelving capability built into many of the studio monitors also seem like an easy way to tame any issues due to many hard surfaces and close proximity to walls with them being up on shelves near side walls, or mounted on the side walls.

The garage is only 380 sq ft and this is really for background while working on the car or woodworking right outside of the garage, so loud is not a requirement.
 
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andreasmaaan

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#2
Regarding the port, if you simply stick some metal mesh or similar across it you will keep the insects out without affecting its functioning. As long as you don't significantly impede airflow in and out of the port, you'll be fine.

Is your budget for the pair or for a single speaker?
 
OP
T

Trouble Maker

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Thread Starter #4
Is your budget for the pair or for a single speaker?
Pair.

JBL 308p on sale? (with RCA --> XLR cables)
Again, is there something I'm missing? I thought a 'simple' cable for Unbalance→Balanced was No Good.

I'll have to check my back wall shelf height and depth where I want to put them. I think I would be happy with anything in the 30x series so I'll get whatever will fit and I'm happy with the price. I feel like I'm most comfortable around $250-$300, but would go up to $400 if it got me something amazing. The 8" in the 308 would probably be nice for low end extension.
 

escape2

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#5
You could get a pair of Adam T5V for $400:
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/T5V--adam-audio-t5v-5-inch-powered-studio-monitor

They have unbalanced/RCA inputs, although I don't know how good those USB-C to RCA adapters are. Supposedly some are decent.

Also, this setup would require you to control volume with your phone - I suppose that's OK?

Mackie MR624 is also in the same price range and also has unbalanced inputs.

My priorities are good sound,
Skip Bluetooth then.
 

daftcombo

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#6
Again, is there something I'm missing? I thought a 'simple' cable for Unbalance→Balanced was No Good.
That's how I connect my 305p to the CD player.

Of course, it won't turn the unbalanced output into a balanced one. You'll get 2V instead of 4V and perhaps a ground loop if the outlet for the speakers is the same as the outlet for the source. But sound quality will be the same.
 

SMc

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#8
The garage is only 380 sq ft and this is really for background while working on the car or woodworking right outside of the garage, so loud is not a requirement.
Since this is for a garage and not a music workstation, a wireless speaker could do the job. I'm inordinately happy with my AxiomAir although both models are above your price range. The Paradigm PW600 is half-price at the Paradigm website, has ARC and an analog input. The category is worth considering although it's mostly populated by small tabletop Bluetooth speakers or smart speakers.
 

Steve Dallas

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#13
Theorically yes, in practice hardly audible.
AptX and LDAC narrow the gap considerably. There may be measurable differences, but I cannot hear any difference between high quality BT CODECs and direct sources.
 

richard12511

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richard12511

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FWIW, the Google Nest Audio(with bluetooth) seems to measure a little better than the JBL 308p. Doesn't necessarily mean it will sound better, though I should have both of them here to compare side by side in a few days.
 

andreasmaaan

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#19
FWIW, the Google Nest Audio(with bluetooth) seems to measure a little better than the JBL 308p. Doesn't necessarily mean it will sound better, though I should have both of them here to compare side by side in a few days.
It measures better at low levels, but there will be a massive difference between the two speakers' SPL limits and distortion levels at moderate/loud levels.
 

richard12511

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#20
It measures better at low levels, but there will be a massive difference between the two speakers' SPL limits and distortion levels at moderate/loud levels.
Part of me still kinda doubts it will even sound better at low levels, but I guess we'll see.
 
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