Question How do I improve my PC music experience from what I have?

Dec 11, 2019
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So here’s the situation… I play my music straight from my PC for a long time now, using MediaMonkey and stored files on a separate magnetic HD.

I used to have a set of 5.1 Logitech Z-680 speakers that I always ran on 2.0 configuration and a Creative Audigy 2 ZS Platinum sound card (I later bough a Creative X-Fi that I didn’t like as much as the Audigy). That's how long it has been... :(

I’ve been moving around for several years and only settled down a couple of years ago. The Logitechs are gone and I bought a set of cheaper Edifiers and latter the S1000DB, which are cheap for what the reviews say they are. They are amped bookshelf speakers.

I also use a pre-made HP desktop PC with onboard sound… but sound doesn’t satisfy me much, especially with classic music. Those are big FLAC files and I just don't get the detail and flare I remember.

I run the Edifiers via bluetooth as my motherboard had no optical out and the out 3.5 port is taken by headphones.

I’ve looked and looked online and just got lost on so much information:
  • Some people say get a sound card - it had to be external, my HP motherboard has no slot available for anything. Plus, if I got an external sound card, I think I would have to run them wired, wouldn't I?
  • Other say don’t bother, get a DAC - but the Edifiers already have a DAC, so wouldn’t that negate anything an extra DAC would do?
  • Other people jump straight to ditch those speakers and get better ones... I honestly think they can't be the culprit, I'm sure they have to be much better than 2 satellites on the old Logitechs?
So what do you guys recommend in this situation? I’m no audiophile but apparently I do notice a different... (Oh and previously I bough a Creative Roar that I though was rubbish and upgraded to a much praised Audiopro T5 which I also though was rubbish.... not a happy bunny)
 
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Audio31

Commendable
Feb 10, 2017
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I use a Bluetooth receiver on an old hifi system, it turns it into a Bluetooth speaker, 2 x 200w speakers & a 400w subwoofer.

PC speakers just lack in sound quality and loudness.

The adapter was €20.
 
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you could get a nice DAC with preamp out. even a $99 Schiit Audio Fulla, using preamp out to your powered Edifers would sound fantastic, and allow you to plug headphones into it in the front if you should want to do so.

https://www.schiit.com/products/fulla-1
  • Use it as a great music DAC/amp. You don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate the quality of Fulla 3.
  • Use it as a DAC/preamp. Connect to powered monitors or speaker amps using the variable outputs on the back.
  • Use it as an amp. Connect your phone (or any other analog source) to the convenient front jack.
  • Use it with phones, tablets, or computers with low-powered USB ports. We’ve included a second USB port for power input. Plug in your phone charger (or any other 5V DC source with micro-USB output) and Fulla 3 tells your source it doesn’t need any power.
 
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DeauteratedDog

Honorable
Dec 11, 2013
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Get an A/V receiver to connect your sound card to, whatever you can afford.
This is the solution I use. It is definitely an expensive way to go - I think I spent around $1000-$1500 on some pretty good speakers and another $300 or so on an AVR; you obviously can go much cheaper, but it is not going to be cheap. I feed mine through an optical link, but the AVR can also use its Ethernet or HDMI connections to receive music. And it sounds great.
 

cyberlost07

Reputable
Jul 29, 2015
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I've got a vintage Kenwood KA7100 amplifier...some nice pioneer speakers......a sub woofer in the corner.....I am also using an Asus essence sound card.....probably spent around $500. ..... Amplifiers can be found cheap. Just be aware that the older ones use rca jacks. Modern ones come with all kinds of connections.
 
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Corwin65

Admirable
I've never found BT speakers to really provide the best sound. Get yourself an audio interface and connect them via wire.

I have multiple PC's at home that I use for gaming and music production. I'm using Pioneer DM-40's for speakers which are similiar to what you are using but I have them connected to either a Focusrite 2i2, Behringer UM2, or a Focusrite Solo with great results for music, gaming, and general use.
 
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stonecarver

Upstanding
Nov 18, 2019
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I have never used MediaMonkey so no advice there. I also have no love for all in one mini speakers. Had the Logitech Z-680 speakers and yes they got loud No love there either, wife got them for me for Christmas one year.Months later I pack them up walked across the street knocked on the door and made neighbors day.

Here's the thing Music is still the same as it was 30yr's ago. There's just more toys to get it to your speakers and ears.

Like you I too took a break listening to music, or well had to put my real toys away and use whatever I had laying around.

Music was just a wall of pressured sound. Low volume, high volume just crap.

I have about 17 Amplifiers from vintage 1962 Tubes to our most powerful Carver TFM75 1200 watts 4 ohms.
More sets of speakers than I care to count.


Why mention my junk. I have an love for music. I know what your talking about when you said sound doesn’t satisfy you much, especially with classic music. But the Magic is still there we just need to help you dial it in.

I have a Niles A-B switch to run main Audio System from my computer when family is out but I have found a little wonder off Amazon that I rolled my eyes at for a long time. It's a little Lepy amplifier. Is it high power Nope. But it sounds great. And It's feeding my speakers on the left over there in my signature. I just use the Lepy when everyone is here.

So I will say speakers are the make or break link in a music system, am I saying go buy speakers like mine hell no. I'm just as happy going to the used store and finding a treasure or used on line somewhere local. I also have a set of Kenwood LS P1000 that get crapped on as being junk. They actually have a sound that is smooth and buttery. Not a wall of pressure.


I'm sure with your current speakers you have played with Bass and Treble to dial in speakers.

Just as a test looks like your speakers tilt up on the baffle try rolling a towel under bottom back of speakers to see if not beaming off the ceiling helps with sound. I use VLC Player when playing music off computer simple and works great. Mini pin off computer to mini pin to Lepy Amplifier and out to speakers. No Dac's no USB to whatever. Just simple.

So mess with Bass and Treble, tilt of speakers. Maybe just try VLC no compression being added. Moving speakers to find the perfect spot. You might not have to spend a dime and maybe we can help you out and VLC is free as well.
 
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Dec 11, 2019
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I've never found BT speakers to really provide the best sound. Get yourself an audio interface and connect them via wire.
That's a long suspicion I have too... particularly after the experience below.

Just as a test looks like your speakers tilt up on the baffle try rolling a towel under bottom back of speakers to see if not beaming off the ceiling helps with sound. I use VLC Player when playing music off computer simple and works great. Mini pin off computer to mini pin to Lepy Amplifier and out to speakers. No Dac's no USB to whatever. Just simple.

So mess with Bass and Treble, tilt of speakers. Maybe just try VLC no compression being added. Moving speakers to find the perfect spot. You might not have to spend a dime and maybe we can help you out and VLC is free as well.
Thanks for the long post! I tried what you've suggested playing one of my favourite tracks, the opening of Bach's St John Passion conducted by Frans Brüggen. It's a particular tough track because of all the complexity, plus it's one of those period instruments interpretations.

I usually run the speakers as I always run anything +2 bass, +2 treble. I maxed both out and boy, what a mess it was!!!

Here's my subjective experience, if that might tell you anything... still no spacial depth but some details missing do show up in a very strange way. High notes of instruments that I was not hearing pop up out of nowhere to be lost again. Happens more with stings and less so with wind instruments. Choir should be in front of instruments but they are all lumped in the same level. The strangest thing was listening to what threaten to be some crackling, although I wasn't playing it high. Not the limite of physical drives, it seems some sort of distortion.

I rechecked using headphones that are connect via a 3.5 jack to see if it might be track. It's not. I don't have really high end headphones but what I like to think of semi decent Sennheiser HDR 175. At least they keep me happy.

A nice summery is this... with speakers, no goosebumps. With headphones, same goosebumps I had for the hundreds of times I've listened to this particular track. Ended up being a pretty sad experience really, the stuff I'm missing from my music!! :( I definitely need more depth, dynamics and detailed sound :(

Oh, and tilting didn't do anything. I now have them sitting at my head level but I used to have them on the floor. Lack of detail and depth is about the same.
 
Dec 11, 2019
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  • Use it as an amp. Connect your phone (or any other analog source) to the convenient front jack.
  • Use it with phones, tablets, or computers with low-powered USB ports. We’ve included a second USB port for power input. Plug in your phone charger (or any other 5V DC source with micro-USB output) and Fulla 3 tells your source it doesn’t need any power.
Oh, thank you so much for this! Made me try playing the same track through my phone. It's a Huawei Mate 20 Pro and it has this Dolby Atmos thing that makes a huge difference with my otherwise rubbish stock car system.

Speakers just come alive when playing through there with that equaliser on! Turning it off makes for much duller sound but way more correct than playing through my PC. And that's with a BT connection. It detects aptX capability, which I think the computer is not.

So yes, the speakers are nice, they just need something else behind them!
 

stonecarver

Upstanding
Nov 18, 2019
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Here's my subjective experience, if that might tell you anything... still no spacial depth but some details missing do show up in a very strange way. High notes of instruments that I was not hearing pop up out of nowhere to be lost again. Happens more with stings and less so with wind instruments. Choir should be in front of instruments but they are all lumped in the same level. The strangest thing was listening to what threaten to be some crackling, although I wasn't playing it high. Not the limite of physical drives, it seems some sort of distortion.

You just described a set of speakers I bought years ago. They were a brand called "Period". A handsome Oak side pane real wood setup. I was so excited to get them home and hook them up and what a let down. You about covered it with your reply almost word for word. I tried everything to get them to sing and in the end I had to move on from them. I think I let the wife sell them for $20.00 they were just so bad.

By the way there is an Equalizer in VLC on the bottom of the menu when your using it. Good Idea using your phone to test as well.

Do you have anything around the house to test and see 100% the speakers are the issue or the computer. Maybe an old CD player?

Just an FYI when using VLC and you have music playing make sure you click mouse on desktop somewhere as VLC uses your mouse wheel as a volume control and if your not thinking about it you can turn up VLC to 200% and get distortion on speakers.
 
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Dec 11, 2019
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Do you have anything around the house to test and see 100% the speakers are the issue or the computer. Maybe an old CD player?
Interesting results... I tried several things but what stands out the most is that 3.5 to RCA gives me way much better music quality. Corwin65 was right, it's the Bluetooth connection that makes everything sound bad. I couldn't try optical but with RCA I can't tell the difference between PC, phone or CD Player.

What is also interesting is that when playing through phone (which I liked the best with BT and the Dolby thing on), music sounds the way it should sound when wired AND with no sound effects on (Dolby thing off). Dynamics, separation and details are all there, the Edifiers sound like a very nice pair of speakers to my ears.

So it seems to me I need some sort of external switch hub/DAC/sound card anything. It's the connections that seem to matter. Any suggestions?
 

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