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Complete newbie flirting with the idea of passive speakers + DAC/AMP setup for my desktop PC. Advice greatly appreciated!

quokka

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Hello! Basically the title.

I'd like to move away from the "gaming" 1337 2.1 PC speaker setup and try out a DAC/AMP with monitors. I'm no audiophile, and don't know much about this type of equipment. I've tried to do a lot of research this weekend, and I have some questions where I'd need some help with, please:

1. I'm currently heavily favoring some wall-mounted monitors that are sleeker and can fit in slightly behind and above my displays - the Dali Oberon On-Wall and Argon Forus 5 Wall. I know that Dali is the bigger brand, but I'm struggling to find reviews for either. Would the Oberons be clearly better (with them being Dalis and all), or would the Foruses work well enough as well? Asking because there's a considerable price difference between the two, and it would be more advantageous for me to get the Forus 5 Wall speakers, but if the Oberon On-Walls are the bees knees in comparison, I can spring the cash for them

2. Is the Topping MX5 a good enough DAC/AMP to power the speakers above? I'd very much prefer either a combo that has both, or 2 separate units, that are as cheap and low-profile on my desk as possible :). I was also looking at the Cambridge AXA25, but it's so big in comparison

3. Completely separate question - I'm also considering a soundbar setup (like a Bose 600 or something), that I'd place higher and behind the displays, but I'd greatly prefer a knob on my desk to control the volume, was thinking that a DAC might also help with the audio quality, and give me the volume knob, but i'm completely unsure about what to choose and if it'll work this way. From my initial research however, I'm unsure if a soundbar is good for near-field listening, and I'm also unsure if the soundbar + DAC -to-PC setup would work or be advisable. Any thoughts on the setup or recommendations for models (both soundbars and/or DACs)?

Thank you, apologies in advance for dumb questions, and any advice is extremely appreciated :)
 

kemmler3D

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Hello! Basically the title.

I'd like to move away from the "gaming" 1337 2.1 PC speaker setup and try out a DAC/AMP with monitors. I'm no audiophile, and don't know much about this type of equipment. I've tried to do a lot of research this weekend, and I have some questions where I'd need some help with, please:

1. I'm currently heavily favoring some wall-mounted monitors that are sleeker and can fit in slightly behind and above my displays - the Dali Oberon On-Wall and Argon Forus 5 Wall. I know that Dali is the bigger brand, but I'm struggling to find reviews for either.
Generally I would advise you to be very cautious about on-wall / low-profile speakers. Many of them badly compromise the sound to fit in a certain depth / space. My strong advice is to find space for "normal" speakers on or near your desk. For $800 a pair you can even start to look at Genelecs.
Would the Oberons be clearly better (with them being Dalis and all), or would the Foruses work well enough as well? Asking because there's a considerable price difference between the two, and it would be more advantageous for me to get the Forus 5 Wall speakers, but if the Oberon On-Walls are the bees knees in comparison, I can spring the cash for them

2. Is the Topping MX5 a good enough DAC/AMP to power the speakers above? I'd very much prefer either a combo that has both, or 2 separate units, that are as cheap and low-profile on my desk as possible :). I was also looking at the Cambridge AXA25, but it's so big in comparison
MX5 should be OK for nearfield use. If you are sitting more than 1-2m away from the speakers, it may not be enough for peaks though.
3. Completely separate question - I'm also considering a soundbar setup (like a Bose 600 or something), that I'd place higher and behind the displays, but I'd greatly prefer a knob on my desk to control the volume, was thinking that a DAC might also help with the audio quality, and give me the volume knob, but i'm completely unsure about what to choose and if it'll work this way.

Should work OK, mainly you need to be clear about inputs / outputs. Most soundbars will at least have RCA in, almost all DACs have RCA out. But if you would prefer to send digital to the soundbar, you don't need a DAC but rather a USB -> Toslink or Optical output.
From my initial research however, I'm unsure if a soundbar is good for near-field listening, and I'm also unsure if the soundbar + DAC -to-PC setup would work or be advisable. Any thoughts on the setup or recommendations for models (both soundbars and/or DACs)?

Thank you, apologies in advance for dumb questions, and any advice is extremely appreciated :)
Soundbars are mostly designed for sitting further away. You may find that the sound is a bit disjointed if you sit too close to a soundbar. That said, many of them are designed for wall-mounting and some even sound good. Unfortunately there are not a lot of reviews of soundbars here.

My suggestion (if you are OK with soundbars and married to the on-wall concept) is to look at soundbar reviews as much as you can.

That said, my stronger advice is if you're willing to go for 2 speakers and a DAC/amp, to find a place to put normally proportioned, non-wall speakers.

Oh, and welcome to ASR!
 
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quokka

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Generally I would advise you to be very cautious about on-wall / low-profile speakers. Many of them badly compromise the sound to fit in a certain depth / space. My strong advice is to find space for "normal" speakers on or near your desk. For $800 a pair you can even start to look at Genelecs.

MX5 should be OK for nearfield use. If you are sitting more than 1-2m away from the speakers, it may not be enough for peaks though.


Should work OK, mainly you need to be clear about inputs / outputs. Most soundbars will at least have RCA in, almost all DACs have RCA out. But if you would prefer to send digital to the soundbar, you don't need a DAC but rather a USB -> Toslink or Optical output.

Soundbars are mostly designed for sitting further away. You may find that the sound is a bit disjointed if you sit too close to a soundbar. That said, many of them are designed for wall-mounting and some even sound good. Unfortunately there are not a lot of reviews of soundbars here.

My suggestion (if you are OK with soundbars and married to the on-wall concept) is to look at soundbar reviews as much as you can.

That said, my stronger advice is if you're willing to go for 2 speakers and a DAC/amp, to find a place to put normally proportioned, non-wall speakers.

Oh, and welcome to ASR!
Thank you for your thoughtful advice and recommendations, much appreciated! You've given me lots to think about, cheers!
 

Power Pop 23

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That said, my stronger advice is if you're willing to go for 2 speakers and a DAC/amp, to find a place to put normally proportioned, non-wall speakers.

Oh, and welcome to ASR!
Ditto
 

DVDdoug

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I might not look for a "wall mount" speaker but you may be able to put-up some shelves, and if they are high shelves, figure-out a way to angle them down. Or depending on how the speakers are constructed you may be able to attach a speaker-bracket or eye-bolts, etc. The rear speakers in my home theater system are large "floor standers" hanging from the wall above my couch with chains and angled down.

A lot of "audiophiles" are into "soundstage" and they wouldn't like the speakers (the main stereo speakers) mounted above their head. Personally, that doesn't bother me and speakers on a desktop system are also a compromise and I like the idea of getting the speakers out of the way, especially if they are large, or if there are no grills so the cones/drivers are not protected.

Active & passive speakers are marketed differently. Most regular hi-fi and home theater speakers are passive, except for an active subwoofer. Computer (and "gaming") speakers are active. Most studio monitors are active, and they tend to have a "different" appearance without a grill.
 

jooc

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Hello! Basically the title.

I'd like to move away from the "gaming" 1337 2.1 PC speaker setup and try out a DAC/AMP with monitors. I'm no audiophile, and don't know much about this type of equipment. I've tried to do a lot of research this weekend, and I have some questions where I'd need some help with, please:

1. I'm currently heavily favoring some wall-mounted monitors that are sleeker and can fit in slightly behind and above my displays - the Dali Oberon On-Wall and Argon Forus 5 Wall. I know that Dali is the bigger brand, but I'm struggling to find reviews for either. Would the Oberons be clearly better (with them being Dalis and all), or would the Foruses work well enough as well? Asking because there's a considerable price difference between the two, and it would be more advantageous for me to get the Forus 5 Wall speakers, but if the Oberon On-Walls are the bees knees in comparison, I can spring the cash for them

2. Is the Topping MX5 a good enough DAC/AMP to power the speakers above? I'd very much prefer either a combo that has both, or 2 separate units, that are as cheap and low-profile on my desk as possible :). I was also looking at the Cambridge AXA25, but it's so big in comparison

3. Completely separate question - I'm also considering a soundbar setup (like a Bose 600 or something), that I'd place higher and behind the displays, but I'd greatly prefer a knob on my desk to control the volume, was thinking that a DAC might also help with the audio quality, and give me the volume knob, but i'm completely unsure about what to choose and if it'll work this way. From my initial research however, I'm unsure if a soundbar is good for near-field listening, and I'm also unsure if the soundbar + DAC -to-PC setup would work or be advisable. Any thoughts on the setup or recommendations for models (both soundbars and/or DACs)?

Thank you, apologies in advance for dumb questions, and any advice is extremely appreciated :)

Currently here's what I'd suggest:

SMSL SU-1 DAC ($89)
Fosi V3 amplifier ($100)
Triangle Borea Bro3 speakers ($350 - $500)
optional: 8'' SW

Above will give you entry-level audiophile - but it's truly audiophile quality, and that setup right there gets you to a plateau on the performance curve that's going to be tough to beat without spending a lot more money.

The speakers will be a controversial choice here, but I've personally landed on those after trying out several pairs in the same price range - those Triangles are the most musical and beautiful-sounding while still retaining incredible clarity.
 

Joemoonit

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Hello, I have a MX5 and I think it's a great all-in-one. I tried it with my KEF LS50meta and it has enough power to get way too loud in my listening room, 12sm. In the summer I use it in our beach house, which has a very large room, with small Paradigm speakers it's able to fill the room. Also as headphone amp it is powerful (even with my Dan Clark EON!) and sounds very well. It's a swiss knife.
 

Rhamnetin

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Personally I'd go the active speaker route and omit the amplifier, with something like the ADAM Audio T5V.
 

josh6113

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If you can fit on your desk or on stands by your desk a pair of JBL 530 bookshelves and an SMSL AL 200 dac/amp combo...simple,clean and great sound.
 
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quokka

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Thank you everyone for your replies, lots of advice and experience to pull from in there, really appreciate you taking the time to help a newbie out!

I have a totally different question, after taking another day to think about it - my desk "real estate" is pretty limited, as I have 3 monitors (displays :) ) already, and would benefit greatly from slimmer speakers. I've taken a look at some of the bookshelves mentioned here and they're fairly chonky.

As such, I'm growing more and more fond of the Genelecs 8020D as an option, or maybe the iLoud Micro Monitors (although I think the 8020Ds are better?) - would you consider these a good alternative? Anything against them? To reiterate my usecase - nearfield, basically standing at my PC, "non-prosumer" multimedia, like games, spotify, youtube, netflix, etc - would they work well for this, or would you suggest something different, or trying to make the solutions mentioned above work?

And small second question - should the 8020Ds be a good solution for my context, do I need a DAC / streamer or any sort of additional equipment (as they are active speakers, I'd imagine no?), or do I just plug them into my PC using an XLR -> USB cable? (If I understood correctly, a USB port would be preferrable to a 3.5?)

Many thanks again!
 
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Rhamnetin

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The 8020D only has an XLR balanced input, so you will need something else to be able to hook it up like the Modius E DAC. Other than that, Genelec is one of the most tested and proven speaker manufacturers out there, and the 8020D's siblings have fared well in reviews here. I haven't found a good review for the 8020D anywhere but it's a pretty safe bet.
 
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