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PC Audio Setup Help

Toast

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I've been enjoying the below setup for many years but recently my DAC has stopped outputting power equally which has lead me down the rabbit hole of 'Audio Science'. Normally I would just replace my DAC to keep my setup alive but my birthday is coming and family insists I replace and/or simplify my setup. So here I am, learning DAC's, amps and growing more or less confused. I've determined that I prefer a warmer sound and not trying to thump my house with bass. Budget would be ~$1,000ish? Would be willing to replace my speakers, amp, DAC, sub... if you determine that my setup is outdated or just get a DAC/AMP combo - i dont know. Apologies ahead of time for such an open ended question but would like to hear what you folks suggest - thank you for your time.

Headphones
Verum 1
Open back, planar magnetic
82 mm membrane
116 dB\V or 96 dB\mW sensitivity
8 ohms

Speakers
Monsoon MM1000
System frequency response: 50 Hz to 20 kHz +5 dB in workstation environment
System time response: Less than .25 ms dispersion to -20 dB
Maximum SPL at 1 meter: 102 dB RMS using EIA 426B noise

Sub
Acoustic Audio 6.5
Power Rating 250w
Efficiency 96dB
Impedance 8 Ohm

Sub Amp
S.M.S.L SA-98E
2 x 160w

DAC
Schiit HEL
R.I.P
 
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sweetchaos

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I would get a DAC/headphone amp combo for around $200. Topping makes a few, already reviewed by Amir.
Then $800 for speakers.

Active Speakers Under US$800/pair:
RecommendationPSPSwSubLFX
JBL 308P MKII (Amir)5.87.536
Kali LP-6v2 (Erin) (RL)5.87.739
Klipsch The Fives (Erin) (RL)5.67.948
Kali IN-5 (Erin) (RL)
Kali IN-8v2 (Erin) (RL)
5.4
5.4
7.3
7.2
41
39
Genelec 8010A (Amir)5.17.967
Adam T5V (Amir)4.46.748

From my thread.
 
OP
T

Toast

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Thank you sweetchaos for the the suggestions and the great thread - still going through it and getting great info.
I have looked at several of those speakers and like the idea of getting rid of my sub/amp but ruled most out due to size.
It's hard to fit them and large monitor on my standup desk.

Was wondering if anyone has hands on info with iLoud MTM 100w, I like the size and that they are self powered.

Confused on DAC's as several reviews say that Topping lies about their specs.
I feel like they are the Honda Accord of DACs, highly recommended and cant go wrong with one but doesn't quite please ones soul.
 

staticV3

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From what I can remember, Topping have never lied about their specs.
Would you mind telling me which review(s) claimed that they did? I'm curious if perhaps I've missed something.
 

DVDdoug

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I have an "extra" laptop connected to my AVR with the regular-old analog headphone-line out. "No complaints" but I have "someday plans" to repair another laptop that has an HDMI port and a Blu-Ray player so I'll be using the DAC in the AVR (and I can use it for video).

I've had soundcards with audible noise but not the one in the laptop.

I don't own a separate DAC and I don't feel the need for one... And, I have a shelf-full of video concerts and most stand-alone DACs can't decode any of the surround formats.

I've determined that I prefer a warmer sound
Soundcards don't have "warmth" (or cold). I guess you mean a slight bass boost? A DAC won't have that unless it's badly defective. You can use EQ or maybe just turn-up the khob on your subwoofer. To me, "warmth" used to mean a slight mid-bass boost so boosting the sub wouldn't be exactly right. To some people warmth means slight "pleasing" distortion so now I don't know what it means and I try to say more-specifically what I'm talking about. ;)
 

sweetchaos

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Was wondering if anyone has hands on info with iLoud MTM 100w, I like the size and that they are self powered.
They were reviewed by Amir and recommended.
Tonality (Preference) Score is 5.4 and would be 7.5 with a perfect subwoofer.
LFX of 45hz.

I have these and love them. :)
Not many speakers have this small of a footprint that can be recommended.
 

Jarrett

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I'd skip the sub too and find some speakers that go to 40 hz. Sub power can be annoying living with others
 

Ryeno

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How big is your room? If you have a small room, I would ditch the subwoofer or add 2 subs. 1 subwoofer has issues with reflections and interference and so the volume level can change if you move your head a few centimeters.
 

ZolaIII

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As already suggested get a better speakers would be obvious path to spend most of your budget and still keap the sub. If there is no room for such on your desk consider a wall mont it will give you more space on the desk for sure. As it's a desktop PC setup see if SBX G6 fit's your needs regarding DAC/AMP (along with availability and price where you live), otherwise I would suggest something with remote. Keep in mind how Creative isn't great regarding drivers but at least has a long lasting support regarding such.
 
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Toast

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How big is your room? If you have a small room, I would ditch the subwoofer or add 2 subs. 1 subwoofer has issues with reflections and interference and so the volume level can
I'm in the corner of a 12' x 14' room.

They were reviewed by Amir and recommended.
Tonality (Preference) Score is 5.4 and would be 7.5 with a perfect subwoofer.
LFX of 45hz.

I have these and love them. :)
Not many speakers have this small of a footprint that can be recommended.
Thank you sweetchaos
Did you calibrate them - This article was recommending Focus Fidelity Software but haven't gotten that far yet?
Did you add a sub, in that thread someone used a Eris SUB8 with balanced TRS. Didnt know sub's were balanced, feel like such a noob?
Skimming reviews and overall the iLoud MTM's seem positive for near-field (hope im using that term correctly).
So they are still on my list but curious what else I find.

I'd skip the sub too and find some speakers that go to 40 hz. Sub power can be annoying living with others
I would be happy to skip but seems that the tradeoff for speakers that go low enough is size and im trying to keep them on my desk.
 

sweetchaos

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Did you calibrate them - This article was recommending Focus Fidelity Software but haven't gotten that far yet?
I tried the included measurement mic with ARC, but I remember the results were something like mentioned by audiophilestyle post:
image28.thumb.jpg.5f862dec293af79f9f2df7f4ff35ad44.jpg

In other words, Arc didn't fix the peaks in the bass.
I think most of the correction was above the room transition frequency, where ARC was trying to correct the speakers.
If I remember correctly, it lowered the output by a few dB above 1khz, to make the in-room-response less bright.
Not that I noticed that the speakers were bright in anyway, but that's what I noticed ARC was doing.

I've moved the speakers to a different setup (used with a TV) in a different room, so right now, I'm using them without EQ.
I was frankly disappointed by ARC.
If this was on the computer, I would have used Equalizer APO to correct the bass anyway.
 
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ZolaIII

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Seems like that might be geared toward gaming.
I am more interested in music, flamenco, blues, rock, jazz.
It's rather all around device with not really great ADC and with Dolby digital decoder (lossy and downmix to stereo), DAC is CS43131 and still performs good (not great or state of art in this implementation) and amp ain't bad and sufficient enough for most dynamic driver's hedaphones and it has a half useful DSP (& EQ). Hard to beat package for the price.
Put your effort and money towards speakers and convenience of use not towards DAC with couple dB more SINAD. And hang the speakers on the wall if desk space is an issue.
 

Tom C

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I've been enjoying the below setup for many years but recently my DAC has stopped outputting power equally which has lead me down the rabbit hole of 'Audio Science'. Normally I would just replace my DAC to keep my setup alive but my birthday is coming and family insists I replace and/or simplify my setup. So here I am, learning DAC's, amps and growing more or less confused. I've determined that I prefer a warmer sound and not trying to thump my house with bass. Budget would be ~$1,000ish? Would be willing to replace my speakers, amp, DAC, sub... if you determine that my setup is outdated or just get a DAC/AMP combo - i dont know. Apologies ahead of time for such an open ended question but would like to hear what you folks suggest - thank you for your time.

Headphones
Verum 1
Open back, planar magnetic
82 mm membrane
116 dB\V or 96 dB\mW sensitivity
8 ohms

Speakers
Monsoon MM1000
System frequency response: 50 Hz to 20 kHz +5 dB in workstation environment
System time response: Less than .25 ms dispersion to -20 dB
Maximum SPL at 1 meter: 102 dB RMS using EIA 426B noise

Sub
Acoustic Audio 6.5
Power Rating 250w
Efficiency 96dB
Impedance 8 Ohm

Sub Amp
S.M.S.L SA-98E
2 x 160w

DAC
Schiit HEL
R.I.P
You mention your family insists you replace or simplify your setup. What are the issues you are trying to address? Is it ease of use, so that others can enjoy the system? Or are there other concerns?
 
OP
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Toast

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It's rather all around device with not really great ADC and with Dolby digital decoder (lossy and downmix to stereo), DAC is CS43131 and still performs good (not great or state of art in this implementation) and amp ain't bad and sufficient enough for most dynamic driver's hedaphones and it has a half useful DSP (& EQ). Hard to beat package for the price.
Put your effort and money towards speakers and convenience of use not towards DAC with couple dB more SINAD. And hang the speakers on the wall if desk space is an issue.
Thank you for elaborating, I ordered a Sound BlasterX G6 and will put my efforts into speakers now.
Will also expand my options toward a bigger speakers that 'go to 40 hz' and mounting or using stands to put on my desk.
If I'm understanding this should eliminate the need for a sub.

You mention your family insists you replace or simplify your setup. What are the issues you are trying to address? Is it ease of use, so that others can enjoy the system? Or are there other concerns?
Ease of use, Monsoon's sub and amp died years ago, I wired a separate amp to sub and L/R monsoons.
When switching inputs on DAC from monsoons to headphones you get a very loud 'feedback' unless you turn amp off.
Thinking PC -> DAC -> L/R speakers that have a headphone jack and standby. Perhaps with software/usb/bluetooth connection to computer that will sleep speakers with comp. Haven't researched enough speakers to know if this is possible, but that's tonight's thoughts.
 

Madlop26

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One year ago I put up a PC set up at my office with the Genelec 8010As, paired with a small sub with balanced inputs and outputs under the desk, oh boy, from all the thousands and thousands of dollars I have spent on audio gears all these years this is one that has paid the most, the quality of my daily routine is up, most of the time they are at low volume and still sound amazing. paired them with a headphone dac/amp combo with Bluetooth capabilities, and you won't be disappointed
 

ZolaIII

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@Toast keep the sub and you have proposals for active speakers in second post and scores to Harman without/with sub in second post. See what's available from those where you live and if some are on discount right now. The Genelec 8010A's should be a stellar choice for around 700$ if available there where you are.
 

Tom C

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Trying to wrap my brain around where you are and where you’d like to go….
Sounds like the Sound BlasterX gets you a DAC. And a microphone input, if you need that.
functionally, I think it will be similar to the Schiit.
Your subwoofer does have it’s own internal power amp. Is that still functioning? From what I can gather, the amp for the Monsoon died, and was replaced with the SMSL.
The Acoustic Audio sub can be operated as a powered sub or a passive sub. Your choice. It also has line level inputs, a built-in crossover, and speaker level outputs. So, if you wanted, you could get passive speakers to connect to the sub’s speaker outputs. From an ease-of-use standpoint, especially for the family, this would be the simplest way to go. Your sub has an auto-on feature, so it would turn itself on and off. When you want to listen to music, you just power on the PC and the SoundBlaster. The Sound Blaster will still have to be turned on manually, and for switching between headphone and speakers, the listener will have to go into the PC software to do so. Will that fulfill your requirements?
 
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Toast

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Sounds like the Sound BlasterX gets you a DAC. And a microphone input, if you need that.
Ordered Sound BlasterX, and haven't need a mic input but nice to have.

Your subwoofer does have it’s own internal power amp. Is that still functioning?
Yes, my 6.5" subs amp is working.
Specs:
  • 250 WATTS PEAK POWER - Integrated high efficiency power amplifier, 30 - 250 Hz with 96dB at 8ohm, Auto ON/OFF and 0 - 180 degree Phase control switches, Gain and 50 - 150 Hz Crossover control knobs
the amp for the Monsoon died, and was replaced with the SMSL.
Correct
So, if you wanted, you could get passive speakers to connect to the sub’s speaker outputs
This is what I am currently doing with my passive monsoon speakers.
PC -> SMSL amp -> Subs Hi Level Input\From Amp -> Monsoons
(Note: not sure why but this setup will not work without external amp)

My goal is to get a better sound and if possible a simpler setup.
The 8010a's PSwSub score of 7.9 is very good for $, I am leaning toward getting 8010A's and pairing them with current sub.
 

Tom C

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Yes, Genelec is absolutely first rate, world class excellence. Should be a very nice system.
Sounds like you’ve got it pretty much nailed down. Let us know how things turn out.
 
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