Rizzle da Don

PC Stereo do-over

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Hi everyone,

For a pretty long time I've been playing with a Harman/Kardon HK 990 amp and LA Audio S-310 loudspeakers on my PC, with an Asus D2/PM as DAC. The problem has always been that it took up too much space on my desk and I need something smaller, a lot smaller. I think it's time for a new DAC maybe a Schiit Modi 2 and some active loudspeakers. Maybe the Audioengine A2+ or even the A5+. I've also been looking at the Abacus C-Box, but there are few English reviews online (apart from the one from 6moons). Is there more that I should take into consideration for around 400 gbp? Or maybe a different DAC?

Oh for the form factor I'd want small, the A5+ might be too large for me even. I'm still deciding on that.

Edited by Rizzle da Don

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The joy of modern digital amplification is that it is small, powerful and often includes SPDIF and even USB inputs so you have a decent amount of freedom to choose suitable passive speakers. The HK amp is a decent one so take care to select something as good. Alternatively a good DAC-pre plus actives is worth exploring. 

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The KEF speakers seem very nice, I wasn't aware that there was a X300A version that wasn't wireless, which I still prefer because we have too many devices connected to wifi already. Active studiomonitors aren't my first pick because of their (often) bulky looks. And neither is a passive loudspeaker. Seperates are great for in the living room but right now I want a system that is easy to use and if needed portable. I also like the built-in DAC of the KEF's.

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Stay away from the Audioengine speakers; IMO they're not that good and I've owned all incarnations! 

The KEF X300As are lovely speakers, not that big but sound bloody amazing. The Eggs are a joke IMO and a waste of £££, nowhere near as good as the X300s!

The JBL LSR305s I've just sold are superb IMO and not expensive at all, just ideally suited to using an interface to feed them rather than unbalanced cables, they sound better that way!

One cheaper idea would be the EPOZ Aktimate Mini's if you can find them 2nd hand, the newer ones are good, but not worth their asking price IMO

These: https://www.amazon.co.uk/EDIFIER-EDFR2000DB-Home-Audio-Speakers/dp/B00O3K7GP0/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1473414264&sr=8-7&keywords=edifier

and these: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edifier-R1700BT-loudspeaker-loudspeakers-Built/dp/B00MXY21LW/ref=pd_sim_147_5?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=3MV43HJW62WAM8H7AT5X

are great sounding speakers, not active, but powered (like the Audioengine / EPOZ speakers) and for their price-tag, there's hell of a lot of bang for your buck!

They looks quite well I think ;) 

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^Hmm, I think the Audioengine A5s and A2s are both brilliant products in their class and both offer VFM, plus are expandable with DACS, subs etc.  I have been running both model since 2008 in various configurations around the house, and consider them to be great 'fun' to own and listen to.  For a while, whilst we were refurbish, the A5s on stands, with DACMagic and Squeezebox Classic was my main system.    I was a terrific-sounding system admired by many. 

Post 14 on My collection of active powered speakers shows them occupying the mid fi ground chez nous.   

If you really wanted to keep it clean and simple, my recommendation (and my desk top choice for most of my listening these days) would be the often ignored B&W MM1 desktop speakers.    They contain a small amp plus come with and inbuilt DAC.  USB connection is easy for PC sourced and also simple for iPhones and iPads (with CCK).  After 4 years with these I still really enjoy playing everything from YouTube to Spotify and Quboz hi res toons through these, and find the sound thoroughly absorbing for listening.   Some added factory DSP, that many frown upon, really helps to swell the sound and give an amazing spacious wide and deep soundstage for such small coffee jar sized speakers.  GBP319 from B&W outlet store.   Classy IMO.

B&W MMI

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It's horses for courses with this stuff.

The A2s I found shallow sounding, the A5s artificial and bass reliant.

However, the Epoz Aktimate Maxis and Minis I had were chalk and cheese in comparison! But, they were a blend of Creek & Epos IIRC, so a bit more audiophile and you could tell IMO 

Agree re the MM1s, they're belting little speakers and great for a desktop system.

Edited by d_a_n1979

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I see good response on the MM-1's I might just go for these, high ease of use. Might still audition the Abacus C-Box 3 but pretty hard to find, I once heard the Ampollo amp of theirs and that left a serious impression. I just sent an e-mail to B&W to ask if they are planning to update the MM-1's soon, probably wont get any info out of it but you never know, it's been out for a good 6 years now.

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Okay, I went for the X300A wireless version, even tho they're a tad too big for my taste the price dropped down to what would be 390 GBP in my country so I couldn't let that go to waste.

Edited by Rizzle da Don

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On 25/09/2016 at 19:43, Rizzle da Don said:

Okay, I went for the X300A wireless version, even tho they're a tad too big for my taste the price dropped down to what would be 390 GBP in my country so I couldn't let that go to waste.

Let us know what they're like.   Would love to know if you're happy with them!

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First of all, they look absolutely gorgeous. I have the gunmetal finish and it looks amazing, they are a lot lighter (almost silver) in sunlight, I haven't seen a pic that does justice to the finish. And in a lot of review they complained about the size, to me they're quite small. But previously my desk was the home to speakers that were 2.8 times bigger and an amp that weighed 44 lbs so that might have had some influence. I actually need to buy new desktop stands because the ones I have right now are too large for the KEF's.

The sound is great, they sound as good as my previous (and quite a bit more costly) system of the bat. Different, but better. There is much more detail in these KEF's, I was playing a game (for the 1000th time) and I was noticing ambient sounds I've never heard before, crackling and little sinuses, I actually thought the speakers were broken or something else was wrong but it turned out to be the game, I never expected to hear a difference like that during gaming. The bass is quite impactful, I'm probably missing the lowest octaves but I don't really care about having the deepest (or most thunderous) bass. It should loosen up over the coming days. All in all, amazing speaker. Very easy to set-up as well.

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