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Do I need a pre-amp for R3

Dennip

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Hi all,

I'm looking to get some new speakers for my desk.

I was initially looking at the KEF LSX, but I can pick up some ex-display KEF R3's for £749 which feels like a good price (is it?). Are they a little too big for desk use?

I dont really need wireless/connectivity features as i will be running them via cable from the PC. However R3 means i need to get an amp/dac/pre-amp?

I'm looking at some amps (haven't decided) but, can I drive this directly from the 3.5mm on my motherboard, or will i need a pre-amp?

If yes then i would probably prefer an integrated amp - and i'm not specifcally opposed to getting a DAC either but baby steps!

The motherboard in question: rog-strix-x570-e-gaming-model

Thanks!
 

Triliza

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Hi and welcome. If you go with R3 you'll need either a dac-amp combo or an integrated amp, you can't drive them directly from the motherboard. They are big, but if you have a big desk, why not, the price you mentioned is quite good. Or just get them for your main system.

Personally I'd go for active speakers for desktop use, something like Genelec 8030, Neumann, Kali, JBL. Main reason being not needing an amp, and being more forgiving about placement, even having different modes to choose from based on where you place them. With the money you save from the amp, get a subwoofer and you are good.
 
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Dennip

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Thanks!

Yeh I know I for sure need an amp, but just not sure if i also need a pre-amp.

I was considering monitors, but then i saw these for £750, and figured the sound from the R3 will be superior with a good amp... (p.s I really dont like the look of the genelecs hah!)
 

Overseas

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For passive speakers you always need a preamp, either embedded in an integrated amp or separate pre + power amp. Some DACs also have a preamp function (volume control).
 
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Dennip

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So i can't just use volume control in windows?

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Triliza

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There
So i can't just use volume control in windows?

Thanks
It depends what mode you use in Windows to send the music on your dac/preamp. It's been a really long time ago I bothered with Windows so I may be wrong here, but some modes (Wasapi/asio) don't allow controlling volume as they send the data to the dac for processing, you can use direct sound to be able to control the volume. There are many threads about this, for example:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nding-the-windows-audio-quality-debate.19438/

Practically you don't need a preamp as most of the dacs measured here are able to function in a dac mode or dac/preamp mode. There is a small danger in doing this, because it's possible (some members here have had the unfortunate experience) for the dac when in preamp duty to "forget" it, and reset in pure dac mode, which mean that it will go full volume, and if your amp is a power amp (without volume control) it can/will blow your speakers and possibly damage your hearing. Some people suggest to have a dedicated preamp in the sound chain for this reason. Or just get an integrated amp, it will save you space and cable management is easier.
 
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Dennip

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Thanks,
I think i'm leaning towards an integrated amp, and using the DAC in the PC to start, via 3.5mm jack.

I will revisit active monitors but feel the price of the R3's is too good to pass up!

Any recommendations for integrated amps?
 

TimW

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Those KEF R3 are great speakers and should work well on a desk assuming you have the space for them. You could buy a power amplifier, which wouldn't have a volume control, and use it directly with your soundcard and windows volume. However I personally wouldn't do this since I don't trust windows to not send full output to my speakers and kill them. Also the DAC on many motherboards picks up annoying extraneous sounds from the surrounding electronics so I wouldn't want to use it. You could get an old school integrated amp without DAC bit that's going to take up even more space on your desk. There are many modern integrated amps these days designed for desktop use which include digital inputs. What is your budget for the amp and how loud will you want to listen?
 
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Dennip

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I dont need it to be super loud at all.

Budget is probably around £500 but depending on feature-set i am willing to go over if needed.

My thought behind getting a dedicated power amp was long term re-use of the produce and less risk failure (fewer components compared to a combined dac/pre/power unit)

you make a very very good point about the risk of windows randomly going 100% volume and destroying everything though, so i certainly need a pre-amp in the mix at least.

Thanks
 

JeremyFife

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Depends on your budget and a pile of other things, but Topping MX5 or Loxjie A30 are desktop friendly, integrated and measure well
 
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Dennip

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Thanks!

Budget is probably around 4-500, although happy for less. Do you think the A30 will be hapy driving the R3's?
 

rentaclaus

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You could also start with an amp with integrated dac e.g the IOTAVX Sa 3 . Later you can seperate pre amp and power amp and buy an additional power amp (if you need the power) and you can buy a seperate dac (the included one is not state of the art).


 
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Dennip

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That SA3 looks nice, but i dont need all the different input sources so wonder if something like that could be done in a tighter package.

If it doesn't have a volume knob i can hide it away but it it does then i'll need to keep it on/near the desk
 
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Zek

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Maybe something like this ...Integrated amp with DAC...
 

Overseas

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Many happy guys with A30 on this forum, me included. Probably making sense for nearfield listening.
 

TimW

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If you want to reuse this amplifier in a room setup later on, the things I would look for are does it have enough power? Does it have the features I would want like remote control and subwoofer integration? Does it have all of the inputs I might want to use? DSP for room correction would be on my list but that's basically out of the budget. Here are some options:

Loxjie A30 - Lots of features in a compact size with good measurements but limited power.
Topping MX5 - More inputs and a little more power, powerful headphone amp and nice case.
SMSL A300 - A bit more power, high and low pass for subwoofer use.
Sabaj A30a - Nice looks and the most power, has most of the features of the others.

Slightly less ideal:
Sabaj A20a - Nice looking simple amp which would require an external DAC, but could be used as a monoblock should you decide to 'upgrade'
NAD D 3020 V2 - The only thing this has going for it is its western brand name and form factor.
Schiit Gjallarhorn - Just a small power amp with low noise and distortion, low on power though.
 

Joe Smith

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Aiyima A07 would work too, if you don't need to play super loud. Amp with volume control, good specs. About $80 with the power supply. Single RCA input, if you need two switchable inputs you could always get a simple Schiit Sys or something similar.
 

Triliza

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Beside the very good suggestions in this thread, there is also this integrated amp from Audiophonics, I don't think there are any measurements for it, it looks very interesting although a bit expensive:

 

JeremyFife

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Thanks!

Budget is probably around 4-500, although happy for less. Do you think the A30 will be hapy driving the R3's?
Depends how loud you want it to go ... but for nearfield (on your desk) either amp will be absolutely fine.
 

JktHifi

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According to WHAT HI*FI:
The KEF’s sensitivity is rated at an average 87dB and nominal impedance is claimed to be 8 ohms, though a minimum value of 3.2 ohms suggest that an amplifier with a bit of grunt would be good. We use our reference £15,000 Gamut D3i-D200i pre/power combination for much of this test – its output of 220W per channel makes the KEFs sing. The Rega Elex-R (£950, 72W per channel) is something more likely to partner the R3s and does well too.

According to me:
Usually the budget between amp and speakers are 50-50.
 
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