Question Quality PC Speakers

punkncat

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Back in December of '14 I "treated" myself to a set of Logitech Z506 "5.1 Surround" PC speakers. I put that 5.1 part into quotes as they have never actually worked properly for 5.1 surround. I did find that connecting all the speakers, but only the main connector from the PC itself resulted in a pretty decent sounding simulated surround mode build into the set. These have never been truly good sounding speakers. They do the job acceptably well and have stood up to some abuse over the years, but it is time to put these out to pasture, pass down, something.

I have been looking at powered speakers lately. My low end consideration is the Klipsch Pro Media 2.1. I read some really good reviews on them for the money, but also a LOT of reviews about various failures including the sub driver and a balance issue between the mains. The sheer number of refurbished available for sale indicates that over the many years these have been sold there has been a relatively high number of them with issue. The newest set of these to come out are sub $100 and no longer THX certified, but all reading indicates they are the same system that the cert wasn't paid for. Even if I had to return a set (or maybe even two) the price is really attractive. I am a fan of Klipsch in general. My home theater is built out with Klipsch Reference speakers.

The other consideration from that brand are the R-15PM. I actually use the unpowered version of these in the system listed above. I like the sound of those and the PM model comes with a 50W amp as well as connection for a powered sub. I have also looked at the Audioengine based upon very good reviews. Both of these systems are around the top of what I would like to pay and of course stepping up in quality that far leaves the sub to be purchased separately. The bigger issue in my eye is the size of them. Even the Pro Media set is right on the verge of as large as I would 'wish' for, but also realize the limitations of a cabinet that small.
Once upon a time JBL sold a set of speakers that were about as big as a couple cigarette packs stacked along with an integrated sub. The size on these is right on but not only do they appear to be discontinued now, they would require I purchase an amp to drive them and I would also like to avoid that.

What truly good sounding set of speakers are y'all using?
 

jeremyj_83

Distinguished
Back in December of '14 I "treated" myself to a set of Logitech Z506 "5.1 Surround" PC speakers. I put that 5.1 part into quotes as they have never actually worked properly for 5.1 surround. I did find that connecting all the speakers, but only the main connector from the PC itself resulted in a pretty decent sounding simulated surround mode build into the set. These have never been truly good sounding speakers. They do the job acceptably well and have stood up to some abuse over the years, but it is time to put these out to pasture, pass down, something.

I have been looking at powered speakers lately. My low end consideration is the Klipsch Pro Media 2.1. I read some really good reviews on them for the money, but also a LOT of reviews about various failures including the sub driver and a balance issue between the mains. The sheer number of refurbished available for sale indicates that over the many years these have been sold there has been a relatively high number of them with issue. The newest set of these to come out are sub $100 and no longer THX certified, but all reading indicates they are the same system that the cert wasn't paid for. Even if I had to return a set (or maybe even two) the price is really attractive. I am a fan of Klipsch in general. My home theater is built out with Klipsch Reference speakers.

The other consideration from that brand are the R-15PM. I actually use the unpowered version of these in the system listed above. I like the sound of those and the PM model comes with a 50W amp as well as connection for a powered sub. I have also looked at the Audioengine based upon very good reviews. Both of these systems are around the top of what I would like to pay and of course stepping up in quality that far leaves the sub to be purchased separately. The bigger issue in my eye is the size of them. Even the Pro Media set is right on the verge of as large as I would 'wish' for, but also realize the limitations of a cabinet that small.
Once upon a time JBL sold a set of speakers that were about as big as a couple cigarette packs stacked along with an integrated sub. The size on these is right on but not only do they appear to be discontinued now, they would require I purchase an amp to drive them and I would also like to avoid that.

What truly good sounding set of speakers are y'all using?
In terms of size and performance the Bose Companion 2 Series III is really good. Lots of reviews have it listed as the best overall computer speaker. Do note it is only a 2.0 setup.
 

Lutfij

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Moderator
Out of curiosity, what was the make and model of your soundcard and did you use the 3 analog inputs for the subwoofer or did you use the RCA connectors? You could look into a soundbar but I'm actually thinking, if you're coming from a 5.1 setup, you should stick to a 5.1 setup or at the very least look at a similar costing bookshelf speakers/studio monitors setup. I would also argue that you would need to get your speaker placements right if you want to maximize the audio coming from them. I personally know people who have burned their sets of speakers due to running the sub at a high level or that they blasted the volume beyond what was acceptable by the satellite speaker's diaphragm(over a prolonged period of time) and all that while plugged into an ALC887 equipped chip from an el cheapo motherboard - yes the soundcard's circuitry and implementation can and will change your audio experience as well.

What am I running? I still have a set of Creative Cambridge Soundworks DTT2200 5.1, which is hooked to an EVGA Z97 Stinger(the one equipped with Creative's Core3D soundcard/chip, not the WiFi version) in a room that's about 150 square foot. The volume control on the contraption tends to die out, so I made sure I got more than one potentiometer to solder on.

I still have a set of Creative's Cambridge Soundworks FourPointSurround 1000, 1600 as well as PCWorks(which is a 2.1 setup, now in my little brothers hands)...yes they all are in functioning order, I just tend to take care of my speakers and had made sure to use ferrite chokes where the analog connections are made and using high quality speaker wire for the satellites. I'm a sucker for minimal/cute satellite and subwoofer setups :/
 
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punkncat

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In terms of size and performance the Bose Companion 2 Series III is really good. Lots of reviews have it listed as the best overall computer speaker. Do note it is only a 2.0 setup.
I had not come across these yet. Are you using them? How is bass delivery?

I have some experience with Bose products from headphones to the wave radio and a much older set of small cube type speakers. All of them performed really well for me, if not so much a reflection on the price. I see this system you recommend on sale for $150.
 

punkncat

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@Lutfij - No dedicated sound card. The last one I can actually remember the model of was the onboard sound from the Taichi X370 which had 3.5 connectors for the various aspects of the surround. The Logitech set itself only comes with (3) of those connectors. Any time you plug it up with all (3) connected it would play stereo. Period. If you disconnected (2) of the 3.5 and leave just the "front" connected the system does a simulated surround which is workable. I don't view movies at this position very often since I have a good TV and media center in the living room that doubles for casual gaming. My main focus in regard to the replacements is finding something that sounds realistic and properly spatial for music.

All the wifey's shows are coming back into the new season so I will be having to reserve time in there....lol.
 

Lutfij

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Moderator
Any time you plug it up with all (3) connected it would play stereo.
That sounds a lot like the soundcard was the issue all along, though stereo output was fine since the subwoofer was able to go for stereo upmix(front speakers audio is also played back on the rear speakers). You could've also tried and seen if you can adjust the front speakers to output less than your rear if the rears output subtle background/surround audio.

I edited my prior post, thought I'd include as much info as I could.

that sounds realistic and properly spatial for music

Seems to me you need a dedicated soundcard+studio monitors to feed that intention
 
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punkncat

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Any time you plug it up with all (3) connected it would play stereo.
That sounds a lot like the soundcard was the issue all along, though stereo output was fine since the subwoofer was able to go for stereo upmix(front speakers audio is also played back on the rear speakers). You could've also tried and seen if you can adjust the front speakers to output less than your rear if the rears output subtle background/surround audio.
I could run the speaker test within Windows and all the speakers would make a sound, and could also get sound from the THX test site. I know that browsers typically don't support surround anyway, but the Netflix app does. Never would work.

The motherboard I am currently using is mITX and doesn't have the capacity to add in a sound card alongside the GPU. In its case there is only one output as well.
 

punkncat

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Realtek ALC1220P Codec+mitx, no option for a PCIe riser cable for a soundcard, hmmmm, now that budget is making more sense :/
Yeah, I mean if I want to listen to better reproduction the current home system is good enough alongside my hearing loss. I have owned systems that put those specs to shame but just don't really consider myself an audiophile any more due to my tinnitus. Just the same, the current speakers are flat on mid, lacking on highs, and muddy on the lows. Even something as relatively humble as the powered speakers listed above will be a YUGE step up in reproduction over these.

I have to say that the Bose suggested above have my curiosity peaked. They make some really good products that are often under-rated for the performance. Many times, the name itself tends to run the price up, so even more curious.
 

neojack

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Apr 4, 2019
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I was like you before, I used a Creative Megaworks THX 550 5.1 sound system, but with a good sound card (Audigy ZS)
It was sooo good !! early 2000s Creative was all about quality, now they have declined.
They typically don't support drivers for more than 2 years now. makes sense or else i would still use my audigy ZS 15 years later.


Anyways those times has ended for me being a dad and playing at night.

If good headphones are an option, i can't recommend enough the Philips Fidelio X2.
TBH they are the only headphones that can hold the comparaison to my former megaworks system. And I tested a lot of headphones, all the models usually recommended.
On top of that with the years they have droped in price, last time i checked they were like 150$ new

If i can describe the experience, it doens NOT sound like headphones at all. It feels Natural, like it's coming from the room. Sometimes when I hear something far i don't know if it's coming from IRL or from the headphones.

but you need a sound card to make the most of them. Some goods models are USB (Sennheiser GSX 1000 PRO , Sound blaster X3, etc)
 
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Lutfij

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alongside my hearing loss.
That bit there, reminded me of the movie, It's All Gone Pete Tong...you should definitely watch it!

Bose Companion 2 Series III
^ that and the Creative T40 Series II's were on my to-buy list until I tossed multiple coins as to how I'd want my audible space to be. Later decided to just do the maths, make sure I got the satellite + subwoofer placements on point with regards to my listening position(and acoustics in a small room), then the sound card and then finally the wiring. I've sadly had a very tough time trying to find speakers that put excitement and joy in the music I'd listened to about 2 decades ago, now in 2022 when looking for something in the 100USD range. Pretty much anything is an overpriced plastic box(a term specifically reserved for Bose gear about a decade ago) or a sub par LDF encased sub...as opposed to the stuff found way back when with beefy subwoofers(Altec Lancing was one brand that got ruined with merger after merger).

I just recalled having a pair of Creative I-Trigue L3800's as well(need to repair the audio puck), sorry, I'm not a Creative brand ambassador, just that I had access to it more easily in my country while everything else was overpriced and warranty was non-existent on the other brands.

@neojack NOICE, my memory of the Megaworks was that the sub could blow a full bottle of water off to the side due to the air coming out the duct on the subwoofer. Man that thing cost an arm and a leg. Like you, I also managed to get the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum, the sole reasoning behind that expensive purchase was to hook up musical instruments to sample...music. Another over ambitious project of mine that went 50%.

makes sense or else i would still use my audigy ZS 15 years later
If you still have that soundcard+you have the appropriate slot, hah, you could install the driver in compatibility mode, maybe...?
 
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emitfudd

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I use the Klipsch Pro Media 2.1. I really only use it for gaming. I have listened to some of my music on it and it sounds good but nothing like my full Bose 5.1 with Bic America powered subwoofer for my entertainment center. The base during gaming is very good and I have never had any issues with the speaker balance. I would recommend them for 2.1 but if you are used to 5.1 it will be a downgrade.
 
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jeremyj_83

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I had not come across these yet. Are you using them? How is bass delivery?

I have some experience with Bose products from headphones to the wave radio and a much older set of small cube type speakers. All of them performed really well for me, if not so much a reflection on the price. I see this system you recommend on sale for $150.
I have never used the personally but I used to be a computer sales associate and the company I worked for sold those. I would semi regularly listen to the music demos available in the computer speaker aisle and the best sounding were the Bose and Klipsch 5.1 setup. The Klipsch ran double the price of the Bose but outside of deep bass from the subwoofer they sounded very similar. Here is a professional review from Tom's Guide. https://www.tomsguide.com/reviews/bose-companion-2-series-III
 
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ien2222

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What truly good sounding set of speakers are y'all using?
I'm running some Swans M10, excellent sound for the price and would take it over most items mentioned so far. The problem is that it's discontinued and has been for a bit now, however every once it a while I come across it still in various specialty stores. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort to spend time looking for a set but if you happened to see it for under $110, it's worth considering.

Otherwise I'd suggest the JBL 305P MKII, probably the best monitors under $300/pr plus JBL has regular sales on various products and I've seen them for a lower price.

However, I will say that if you are happy with the Klipsch speakers you own, then the powered monitors should be a very strong consideration for you as you already know what they will sound like.
 
Most of mine is older stuff. So would have to be found on the used market today.
The Klipsch 2.1 are great for a smaller space.
But so are Haman Karden HK395 and the Altec Lansing ATP3. Which I also have. The Klipsch win out though.
But most computer speakers are built at such a low price point ,they do not perform well.

My wife likes the Bose system but I find the upper bass muddy and exaggerated and true highs completely lacking.
Now I do not claim to be an audiophile , but I am picky on how my systems sound.
I have sound systems in every room of my home and one outside on the day room.
My favorite set I have is older than a lot of the members here. Sansui SP 3500 set of 4 with a Kenwood center and sub at our cottage. (wife says they are too big for our home decor.)

In our recording studio we use a pair of Mackie MR824 and MRS10 powered speakers. The MR524 also sounds nice for a smaller footprint.
Your taste seems a little higher than a set of computer speakers. But you also have not stated a max budget.

For the size the Mackie MR524 set is a good "Studio monitor" quality speakers, the CRX series is closer to your budget with sub, but a step down from your Klipsch home setup.
Choices/ tradeoffs:smilingimp:
 

punkncat

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They still sound and look great today. Almost completely flat response. just a little lacking on the bottom end.
Some years ago I had scored a set of JBL L80T. They were a tremendous set of loudspeakers with a nice smooth sound and super crisp highs, even in a fully carpeted and furnished room. I had them paired with a Carver M400A and an NAD preamp. It was a wonderful setup for years. Eventually the speaker surrounds on the subs deteriorated and I had a great deal of trouble attempting to find someone to repair them. When I did, I sent them in for the repair and upon them returning found that I must have done something to the crossover setup inside the cabinets as they would not make a sound afterward.
I ended up putting them away in storage and humidity got to them and peeled the beautiful wood veneer away from the cabinets so they eventually went in the trash.
 
Some years ago I had scored a set of JBL L80T. They were a tremendous set of loudspeakers with a nice smooth sound and super crisp highs, even in a fully carpeted and furnished room. I had them paired with a Carver M400A and an NAD preamp. It was a wonderful setup for years. Eventually the speaker surrounds on the subs deteriorated and I had a great deal of trouble attempting to find someone to repair them. When I did, I sent them in for the repair and upon them returning found that I must have done something to the crossover setup inside the cabinets as they would not make a sound afterward.
I ended up putting them away in storage and humidity got to them and peeled the beautiful wood veneer away from the cabinets so they eventually went in the trash.
😢
 

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