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What speakers should I go for for my PC and do I need an amplifier

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

AaylaSecura

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Greetings! I have to say I have very little knowledge on the topic of audio systems (and electronics in general), and to be honest I don't have the time for thorough research. So I was hoping I can get some advice for my specific needs and to clear some of my confusion. I'd like to build a moderately loud (100dB for a 5m x 8m room with tiles on the floor), good quality 2.0 or 2.1 setup that will connect to my PC. I have an ASUS X99 PRO motherboard which boasts some very high quality sound capabilities (8-Channel Realtek ALC1150), and apart from the usual analog output it has optical S/PDIF digital output, which I'd like to make use of. The specs also list "High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output (Line-out at rear) and 104 dB SNR stereo playback input (Line-in)" and "High-fidelity audio OP AMP(s)", don't know what that means or how it is relevant.

Is my understanding correct that:
Power rating in Watts on speaker specifications refers to max safe input power and does not directly relate to the sound pressure level (SPL) in dB? But is this only relevant if connected to a 3rd party amplifier or does it refer to the internal amplifier? What does it tell me if I want to connect it to a 3rd party amplifier?
Sensitivity is the SPL 1m away for 1W of input power? The problem is that most speakers omit the sensitivity in the specifications so how can I tell what the maximum SPL in dB I can get out of the speakers is? Can I connect any speaker set to an amplifier to make it louder and how do I match the power rating of amplifiers and speakers so that it is safe for both the amplifier and the speaker?

I just returned a pair of Microlab Solo 8C since the left speaker developed crackling noise. I noticed that they would get kind of hot if I'd leave them on (even without feeding any sound to them) for a full day and they would also stop working from time to time (it looked like it may be some failsafe built into them). So I wonder what caused them to fail, was it incompatibility between them and my sound card's amplifier? Is it possible to damage my sound card by connecting it to low impedance speakers? The specs for the speakers state that the "amplifier power" is 55W RMS per channel and the input impedance of each driver is 4ohms. I'm not sure what to make of that. Does that mean I can connect them to an amplifier rated for at least (but not much more than) 55W per channel at 4ohm load? I found the speakers to be too quiet sometimes, so I would often turn them to almost max sound, but then I'd hear some distortion--does that mean the power input to them was too high or that they were trying to draw more current than what the amp could provide?

Bottom line: For my motherborad and room, what speakers should I go for and do I need an amplifier?
 

kcnanand

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If you buy an amp then you are not dependent on Pc.
To run directly off the PC and to keep it simple and small budget i would suggest Swans mk50 for desktop listening. or a Swans Swans M200MKIII or MkII for room listening.
Or you may go in for a studio monitor like the Tannoy reveal / JBL LSR . M-audio BX and later on add a active sub.
Options are a plenty. Google up
 

afj

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whats your budget and room size. what sort of music do you listen to. the sound card you have will be in lieu of a dac. what you will need is speakers and an amplifier. if you;ve got a larger budget you can go with a separate integrated amplifier and a pair of speakers. if youre budget is not that much, the active speakers (speakers that have an inbuilt amp) will be best. again there are 2.1 computer speakers as well that perform quite well
 

AaylaSecura

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May 22, 2016
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If you buy an amp then you are not dependent on Pc.
To run directly off the PC and to keep it simple and small budget i would suggest Swans mk50 for desktop listening. or a Swans Swans M200MKIII or MkII for room listening.
Or you may go in for a studio monitor like the Tannoy reveal / JBL LSR . M-audio BX and later on add a active sub.
Options are a plenty. Google up

Thanks for replying! I'd really like to understand the whole deal about amplifiers though, part of my question was: can I connect any speaker set (active, passive) to an amplifier, and if so, what do the power ratings in the specs tell me. Take for example the Swans M200MKIII you recommended: the specs say they include an amplifier for each driver which supplies 60W RMS per channel, and it also says that the system can handle 10-80W. So can I, if I wish to, connect it to another amplifier and what power ratings should that amplifier have?
Another question is about the maximum SPL: these speakers do include their sensitivity in the specs: 87dB at 2.83V/1m with a nominal impedance of 4ohms, which converted to dB at 1W/1m, using the convention that this refers to an 8ohm load (is this correct), this should be 84dB at 1W/1m. Meaning at 60W this should be around 102dB max SPL at 1m, correct? I guess this is the minimum I'd be ok with, since the room is large and I'd like the sound to fill all of it.
 

AaylaSecura

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May 22, 2016
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whats your budget and room size. what sort of music do you listen to. the sound card you have will be in lieu of a dac. what you will need is speakers and an amplifier. if you;ve got a larger budget you can go with a separate integrated amplifier and a pair of speakers. if youre budget is not that much, the active speakers (speakers that have an inbuilt amp) will be best. again there are 2.1 computer speakers as well that perform quite well

Thanks for replying! The room is approximately 8m x 5m with a tiled floor and I'd like the sound to fill it, so I guess ~100dB 8m away. So what you're saying is that active speakers can but need not be connected to an(other) external amplifier or they cannot be?
 

afj

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Thanks for replying! The room is approximately 8m x 5m with a tiled floor and I'd like the sound to fill it, so I guess ~100dB 8m away. So what you're saying is that active speakers can but need not be connected to an(other) external amplifier or they cannot be?

for a 40 sq mt room you'd require a decently powerful setup. if you want to fill the room and listen to it at higher volumes. if you have active speakers, you do not need an external amp. it has its own built in amplifier. im not sure if you can bypass the internal amp to use an external amp - may depend on the features of that particular model. whats the budget youre looking at
 

AaylaSecura

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for a 40 sq mt room you'd require a decently powerful setup. if you want to fill the room and listen to it at higher volumes. if you have active speakers, you do not need an external amp. it has its own built in amplifier. im not sure if you can bypass the internal amp to use an external amp - may depend on the features of that particular model. whats the budget youre looking at

I think this clears some of the confusion for me, although if I want to learn if I can/how to bypass the internal amp, I'd need more research. I've seen some specs say that speakers accept e.g. 10-80W with the internal amp giving them e.g. 50W, I guess it's in those cases that would be useful to try to do such a thing, but I'm not going to.
I guess I should have mentioned that although I'm using a PC, it's not a "desktop" setup, i.e. I'm sitting on a sofa (with a table in front of it) that is 2-3m away from the speakers and the large monitor, so it's more like a home theatre I guess. My target budget was or originally 300-400 AUD, and I found some stereo speakers for that price that MAY be loud enough for me, such as: Swan M200MKIII, KRK ROKIT 5, Polk TSx220 or the 2.1 Swan M50W. Then I found some floor standers (which is what I wanted to get my hands on in the first place) for less than 700 AUD such as the Wharfedale Atlantic AT-400 and Polk TSx330, or the slightly more expensive Jensen X-5 and Wharfedale Atlantic AT-500. I'd need to read some reviews for them--I'm sure they'd be loud enough, the question is about sound quality and clarity. As I want bass to be present but not to be overwhelming and muddy as I find with most speakers I've listened to. I'll mostly use them for movies, but music too such as rock, symphonic metal, classical.
 

afj

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I think this clears some of the confusion for me, although if I want to learn if I can/how to bypass the internal amp, I'd need more research. I've seen some specs say that speakers accept e.g. 10-80W with the internal amp giving them e.g. 50W, I guess it's in those cases that would be useful to try to do such a thing, but I'm not going to.
I guess I should have mentioned that although I'm using a PC, it's not a "desktop" setup, i.e. I'm sitting on a sofa (with a table in front of it) that is 2-3m away from the speakers and the large monitor, so it's more like a home theatre I guess. My target budget was or originally 300-400 AUD, and I found some stereo speakers for that price that MAY be loud enough for me, such as: Swan M200MKIII, KRK ROKIT 5, Polk TSx220 or the 2.1 Swan M50W. Then I found some floor standers (which is what I wanted to get my hands on in the first place) for less than 700 AUD such as the Wharfedale Atlantic AT-400 and Polk TSx330, or the slightly more expensive Jensen X-5 and Wharfedale Atlantic AT-500. I'd need to read some reviews for them--I'm sure they'd be loud enough, the question is about sound quality and clarity. As I want bass to be present but not to be overwhelming and muddy as I find with most speakers I've listened to. I'll mostly use them for movies, but music too such as rock, symphonic metal, classical.

it all depends on how loud you want to play your music at. if you want it really loud, then go with a pair of floorstanders such as the wharfedale diamonds. if you want better SQ and a decent volume, try out the likes of kef q series, quads etc. these are all passive speakers. you will need an amp to power them.

for your amp to match, you should look at the speakers continuous output wattage. generally you would want to be in a range of 20% + or -. and for better SQ, you'd rather be in the plus side since once at amp passes 80% performance, it starts to fatigue and SQ would suffer
 

AaylaSecura

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May 22, 2016
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Location
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it all depends on how loud you want to play your music at. if you want it really loud, then go with a pair of floorstanders such as the wharfedale diamonds. if you want better SQ and a decent volume, try out the likes of kef q series, quads etc. these are all passive speakers. you will need an amp to power them.

for your amp to match, you should look at the speakers continuous output wattage. generally you would want to be in a range of 20% + or -. and for better SQ, you'd rather be in the plus side since once at amp passes 80% performance, it starts to fatigue and SQ would suffer

Thanks for the tip. It turns out that I can find better deals on eBay than in any of the local stores in AU, so I'll go for eBay. What I found was:

$750 for a full 5.1 set of Wharfedale:
a pair of Crystal 30.4 Floor Standing Speakers
a pair of Crystal 30.1 BookShelf Speakers
Crystal 30.C - Centre Speaker
SW-100 - Active Subwoofer

$800 for a pair of Wharfedale Quartz Q7

$700 (+ unknown postage) for a pair of Wharfedale Atlantic AT-500; though I am reserved about these ones since they only have 3 months warranty, whereas all the rest have 5 years

$500 (+ unknown postage) for a pair of Wharfedale Xarus 4000

$450 for a pair of Wharfedale Atlantic AT-400

~$550 for a pair of Pioneer SP-FS52; although these also have only 3 months warranty...

I read very good reviews for the Pioneer ones, not sure how they compare to the Wharfedale ones. There were also a pair of Infinity Primus 363 but I read they are pretty similar in performance to the Pioneer, but were around $200 more expensive. I am really tempted by the 5.1 package, it almost sounds too good. Need to research more on the Crystal line, but any advice would be appreciated!
 
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