Author Topic: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music  (Read 561 times)

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Offline ralfy

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I currently use a JVC EX-A5 with a Jamo subwoofer in a 24 m2 room to play classical music. Sometimes, I connect a pair of Sennheiser HD 518 headphones or a FiiO X1 music player, which I also use when I go out.

There's a photo here of the JVC:

https://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/feature-comex-2007-full-monty/jvc-kingston-and-kjc-booths

and the JAMO:

https://www.jamo.com/products/sub200

and the FiiO X1:

https://www.amazon.com/X1-Resolution-Lossless-Music-Player/dp/B00PQ2UVHY

The JVC was recommended by an audiophile when I asked for a budget bookshelf player. I added the subwoofer later to increase the bass.

Now, I'm thinking of using my desktop PC or laptop to play music. I did some research online and found the ff:

About the DAC:

http://www.favorite-classical-composers.com/digital-audio-converter.html

About the DAC and computers:

https://www.crutchfield.com/S-PFK7WvGcbQ4/learn/homeaudio/computer-music.html

For the powered speakers:

https://www.lifewire.com/best-affordable-bookshelf-speakers-3135104

Did I get this right? All I need is a good PC with tweakable music players, lossless music, a USB DAC, and some good powered speakers?

I thought about this because I figured a digital format has the best sound, and I can easily replace components or use others because they work independently (the PC or laptoc, the USB DAC, and the powered speakers).

What's the best and cheapest set up for the DAC and the speakers for a 24 m2 room?


Offline Daverz

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 09:11:33 AM »
I don't really trust the Lifewire site.  What is the criterion for their selection?  It just seems a random list.

I wouldn't buy speakers without seeing some measurements showing reasonably flat on-axis and smooth off-axis frequency response.

You might consider a DIY yourself speaker kit.  This would involve some soldering and gluing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yozUh8xBfk

For a DAC, I would look at the offerings from Topping or SMSL.  For reviews with measurements see:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/master-index-of-audio-hardware-reviews.8184/

 

Offline ralfy

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2019, 07:43:52 PM »
Thanks. My budget is $100 for the USB DAC and another $100 for the active speakers. I'm not good at DIY.

I plan to connect the USB DAC to my PC or laptop (costs around $1,000 apiece) to play classical music either from the DVD drive or lossless music files, to a pair of active speakers.

I don't know what to get for the DAC (I've never used one, apart from the one's that built in to the sound card of the PC), and the ones I see cost around $160 to $300. For the speakers, I'm thinking of one of the Edifier models.

Finally, if there's a large difference in sound quality, and it will cost some more (say, $150) for the DAC or the speakers, I'll consider it.

Offline Daverz

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2019, 09:48:27 PM »
Thanks. My budget is $100 for the USB DAC and another $100 for the active speakers. I'm not good at DIY.

I have a Topping D10, which is a great little DAC for $90.  It only has USB input, though.  It's USB powered, so does not require a separate power supply.  It has the same DAC chip as my Auralic Vega that sold for $3500 in 2014.  A similar alternative is the SMSL M100 for $80 (sorry, Amazon links don't have pics for electronic items)





I have no idea about powered speakers at the $100 price point.  That's a really tight constraint on the quality of parts in a speaker.

Quote
I plan to connect the USB DAC to my PC or laptop (costs around $1,000 apiece) to play classical music either from the DVD drive or lossless music files, to a pair of active speakers.

That should work fine with any USB DAC.

Quote
I don't know what to get for the DAC (I've never used one, apart from the one's that built in to the sound card of the PC), and the ones I see cost around $160 to $300. For the speakers, I'm thinking of one of the Edifier models.

Finally, if there's a large difference in sound quality, and it will cost some more (say, $150) for the DAC or the speakers, I'll consider it.

I don't see any point in paying more than $250 or so for a dedicated DAC except for extra features (like volume control, DSP, more channels, built in headphone amp, etc).

Offline ralfy

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2019, 07:10:07 AM »
That's great! Thanks for the suggestions. I will choose one of the two DACs.

For the speakers, I checked the back of my present unit and read that it has an output power of 30W each:

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/257744/Jvc-Ca-Exa5.html?page=46#manual

while the subwoofer has a rated output of 200W.

https://bcc2479de3c817356f4e-1bbe459354cb22c942d9efbc3d6dacbf.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/product-manuals/SUB200_OM_ADM.pdf

I removed the front cover of one of the speakers and saw a large and small cone. I'm guessing that the big one is the "woofer" mentioned in the manual and the smaller one the "tweeter." There's an outlet at the back for a subwoofer and a setting in the hi-fi system to activate it. I remember getting the subwoofer because the music sounded "tinny" and needed some depth.

The room has a floor space of around 24 m2 (around 258 sq ft).

May I know what the best budget speaker system would be for such a room and for listening to classical music? I think I will need active speaker systems, although I don't know if they consists of a separate subwoofer or if it is one of the cones in the speaker boxes.

Offline Holden

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2019, 01:55:36 PM »
Can I suggest a change of plan regarding the DAC. If you want any speakers to work properly then you need an amp to drive them efficiently. This brings in the idea of a DAC/Amp. There are any number of options from the likes of Fiio, Schiit, etc. I use a Burson PLAY. It has an extremely powerful amp made up of Burson's own Op amps and a high quality DAC. This transformed the sound of my headphones and also the Edifier speaker system that is attached to my iMac. It costs around $250 so if that is too expensive maybe something like the Schiit Fulla for $99 will do. It won't be as good as the Burson but it will still be good.
Cheers

Holden

Offline ralfy

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2019, 04:44:16 PM »
Got it. I will go for the Burson Play unless I can't find it locally. I think some stores nearby have FiiO. Do they have a model that's good enough?

Also, several Edifier models are available locally. Which one would you recommend with a DAC/Amp?

Finally, do these speakers do well without a subwoofer? I remember having to buy one because the sound from the current hi-fi system didn't sound deep enough.



Offline Daverz

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Offline Holden

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2019, 12:28:48 PM »
My Edifier has a subwoofer and I feel that it would sound rather lame without it.
Cheers

Holden

Offline ralfy

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2019, 06:03:47 PM »
Thanks to both of you for the help.

If I'll need a subwoofer, then I'm guessing that I will need either one separate from the speakers (which means the DAC will need a subwoofer out) or comes with them (which means an active speaker system, and for which I may or may not choose a DAC that doesn't come with an amp but either way won't need a subwoofer out).

I plan to visit some nearby audiophile stores, see what's available, and ask for a demo.

Offline Holden

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Re: Looking for Budget Computer Audio System to Listen to Classical Music
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2019, 06:42:46 PM »
My Edifier came with a subwoofer that was hardwired to the rest of the system.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 06:45:26 PM by Holden »
Cheers

Holden