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Thread: Are pc speakers as good as a 'system' which uses an amplifier and speakers ?

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    Default Are pc speakers as good as a 'system' which uses an amplifier and speakers ?

    I have an old-fashioned 'hi-fi' 'system' , as people call it, costing hundreds of pounds,( or hundreds of dollars), incorporating 2 big speakers and a big amplifier, which are wired to my pc.
    The sound is atrocious, with lots of boom.
    I have bought new speakers, to try to rectify the problem, for around a hundred pounds from a reputable city centre shop, and the sound is still just as bad, with lots of boom.
    In the modern world, do we need amplifiers and lots of cables ?
    Is it not much better value to buy pc speakers and throw away the expensive amplifier ?
    My young son has bought pc speakers much cheaper than my speakers, for his pc, and the sound he gets is great !

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    Your problem sounds like you need to adjust the equalization, or the tone controls. The problem isn't necessarily the speakers.

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    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Convenient as it is to listen to music using my PC, (I can't surf the net with an amplifier!) I much prefer the sound quality I get from my hi-fi.

    However, I'm sure if I spent more on the soundcard (I've got an ASUS Xonar Essence) and PC speakers (I've got Edifier 5.1) I could improve the quality, though I've no idea how far I'd need to go to get something comparable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Talbot View Post
    I have an old-fashioned 'hi-fi' 'system' , as people call it, costing hundreds of pounds,( or hundreds of dollars), incorporating 2 big speakers and a big amplifier, which are wired to my pc.
    The sound is atrocious, with lots of boom.
    Exactly how is the amplifier wired to the PC? If it's an analog connection, is it from a built-in earphone output on the PC, or from a stereo audio output on a soundcard, or something else? Which input on the amplifier are you using? Or are you using a digital connection like HDMI or optical or coaxial?

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    If you are driving a halfway decent amp and speakers from your PC and using your computer audio outputs...don't! Use this device which plugs into a USB port and has its own high-quality DACs. For most computers, it will will give you dramatically better sound. For my computer, it was night and day.

    http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UCA2...7&keywords=dac
    Last edited by KenOC; Oct-08-2013 at 03:20.


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    Did you audition the speakers with your amp and front-end ahead of purchase or read any reviews etc

    You haven't said what your system is but a half-decent amplifier (such as Marantz's 6005 @ £380 plus partnering CD player for a similar price and a pair of similarly priced speakers which work well with the amp will produce an excellent sound ... it's all about balance BUT if routing a PC's sound card output then that's like hooking up a £20 CD player as the front-end or worse. A decent amp and speaker combo in such an instance will show up front-end shortcomings where a PC speaker set up such as Harmon-Kardon's soundsticks are rather more forgiving and tailored to a PC being the front-end ... GIGO applies.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Talbot View Post
    Is it not much better value to buy pc speakers and throw away the expensive amplifier ?
    See the 2nd post in this thread. You will probably not get good sound from your computer's audio outputs no matter how good your outboard equipment. An external DAC may help, even help a lot. No guarantees!


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    Senior Member Svelte Silhouette's Avatar
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    Eq and Tone Controls are an excuse of a solution ... no amp on sale worthy of it's salt has tone controls/hi and lo-pass filtration or Loudness contours, why would anyone want to tailor (ie. distort) the original - if it's crap it's crap, GIGO.

    If buying an external DAC then why not push it thru' a decent 'standalone' CD transport 'pure and simple' as whatever the PC output/soundcard it will be crap as it's a PC rather than a Hi-Fi front-end.

    If you want a PC front-ending stuff then use a Network drive feeding a Naim streamer or suchlike with that latter device as the genuine front-end.

    A computer can never be a good front-end ... I could explain why but am listening to a vinyl LP on a turntable/arm/cartridge combo costing more than a decent Mac and enjoying the experience

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    Convenient as it is to listen to music using my PC, (I can't surf the net with an amplifier!) I much prefer the sound quality I get from my hi-fi.

    However, I'm sure if I spent more on the soundcard (I've got an ASUS Xonar Essence) and PC speakers (I've got Edifier 5.1) I could improve the quality, though I've no idea how far I'd need to go to get something comparable.
    [a month later...]
    I have an ASUS Xonar Essence STX, used in my previous computer - it won't fit in the current one. The manufacturer's specs are good, and it's output at 'idle' shows a uniform low noise floor (the card is shielded). It should be good enough. The SPDIF out to a preamp's coaxial digital-in ought to be pretty clean. I used mine with headphones, though, so have no direct experience there.
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    I came into my study across the hall from my music room en route to the loo ahead of flipping to side two and almost lost the will to live. I recall a time several decades ago when Jap Hi-Fi manufacturers engaged on a spec war whilst UK, then Scandinavian and latterly US, ones focused on sound. I won't comment on specs as they mean nowt. My study PC feeds a Cyrus amp BUT is nothing other than a study source. If I'm listening to music at all seriously it ain't at my PC so side two beckons ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Svelte Silhouette View Post
    Eq and Tone Controls are an excuse of a solution ... no amp on sale worthy of it's salt has tone controls/hi and lo-pass filtration or Loudness contours, why would anyone want to tailor (ie. distort) the original
    Amps that don't have tone controls are expected to be used with standalone equalizers.

    No speaker or system, no matter how balanced it is, will produce a balanced frequency response in a person's home. Equalization and room treatment are the only ways to get the best sound out of a speaker system. If you aren't doing this, you aren't getting the most out of your stereo system.

    Vinyl is capable of sounding good, but it isn't comparable to CD quality, which has a wider dynamic range, a flatter and wider range frequency response, and lower distortion. Every CD player on the market, even the cheapest, outperform even the most expensive turntables.
    Last edited by bigshot; Nov-07-2013 at 23:31.

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    Senior Member cwarchc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    Amps that don't have tone controls are expected to be used with standalone equalizers.

    No speaker or system, no matter how balanced it is, will produce a balanced frequency response in a person's home. Equalization and room treatment are the only ways to get the best sound out of a speaker system. If you aren't doing this, you aren't getting the most out of your stereo system.

    Vinyl is capable of sounding good, but it isn't comparable to CD quality, which has a wider dynamic range, a flatter and wider range frequency response, and lower distortion. Every CD player on the market, even the cheapest, outperform even the most expensive turntables.
    Outperform is a trifle harsh
    They certainly sound " different " than an analogue front end.
    BUT is it better, thats a purely subjective question and answer
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    For heaven's sake, no-one with half a brain would add a standalone Equaliser to a decent amplifier. Quad's ethos for amplifier design was 'a straight wire with gain' ... it is that simple. Your response is complete tosh ...

    You have no idea what vinyl is capable of and need your ears syringed then a visit to a decent Hi-fi emporium

    I am not in the market to rubbish CD BUT if you think that a £20 CD player can outperform a £10,000 turntable/arm/cartridge then there would be no market for such BUT there is, numpty

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    Outperform is simply incorrect but better is subjective and reliant on the media.

    Music is analogue like my ears ... if I were a robot then I'd have digital ears but I'm not and haven't.

    Notwithstanding this, most music is digitally recorded today and a digital recording is best played digitally though without the 'benefits' of Equalisation as speakers are chosen to partner amplifiers and then sited in the best place in the listening room.

    I reiterate that no-one with even half a brain would buy a tone-control free amp and then bolt-on some distortion in the form of a Graphic Equaliser ... that idea went out 3 decades ago when people realised that a veritable plethora of knobs, switches and lights meant that cost was going on something other than the purest sound.

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    Listening to high end audio salesmen is a great way to go down a logical rabbit hole. I would suggest that one with half a brain would do better to use it by learning how audio reproduction works instead of listening to sales pitch.

    The redbook CD standard outperforms LPs on every measure of sound quality.

    A signal patched directly from source to a speaker in a living room will not result in a balanced frequency response. In studios, the monitors are always in an acoustically treated room and are EQed to a flat response. If you want to hear what the musicians heard in the studio, you need to do the same.

    Modern solid state audio equipment, even inexpensive components, are acoustically transparent. You can't hear something with a noise floor down 110 dB or more. Equalizers can only make sound better if they are properly set.
    Last edited by bigshot; Nov-08-2013 at 02:17.

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