Advice needed for TV speaker options for a SMALL house, please?

Discussion in 'What Speakers Should I Buy?' started by Jesthar, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. Jesthar

    Jesthar
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +1
    And when I say small, I MEAN small - I have friends with kitchens bigger than my entire open plan downstairs floorspace!

    Total downstairs footprint is roughly about 5m by 3.5m, and due to the small porch and stairs the living room area is closer to 3x2.5m. Distance from my TV to the sofa is about 2.5m - from the TV to the other side of the kitchen counter is another meter to about 3.5m. Hope that makes sense!

    Current permanent TV setup is an old 21 inch LCD TV (small, I know, but plenty big enough for the space and still going strong, so no excuse to replace it!), a freeview box (told you the TV was old!) and a Sony S570 Blu-Ray player. I've also got a Wii and a PS2 which come out to play from time to time. I used to use some elements of an old Logitech 5.1 surround sound computer speaker set with the TV, but they upped and died on me a while back. So I've been living with just the TV speakers, but I do miss the extra oomph of a separate speaker setup - I'm just confused by all the choice out there!

    I suppose it makes sense to break it down :)

    What I am looking for:
    • Small footprint sub, might have to cope with not being central as I don't have much floor space to play with. It could potentially go in one of the TV unit ground level cubby holes, but would need to be under 30cm each dimension to manage that.
    • Decent, but small footprint, main speakers. Not sure where I'd put rear or side speakers, to be honest! Rear ones would have to go on the floor behind the sofa to be safe from the cats, and cables would be an issue as they might get chewed!
    • Decent sound, but it doesn't have to be top draw, I'm not the world's pickiest audiophile ;)
    • Variety of input options - BluRay player has HDMI, but nothing else does!
    • Relatively cat proof - I have two, one of whom is a very lively youngster! Lots of trailing wires or speakers with covers that invite scratching would be best avoided.
    • Will last a while - both build quality and technology wise
    • Relatively easy to set up.
    • Possibly potential for expansion in the future. Possibly.

    What I'm NOT looking for:
    • Earth trembling, window shaking power! With a tiny space, two cats and semi-detached neighbours with a baby, a dial that goes to 11 would never be used. Taking it to 8 or 9 once in a while would be fun, though ;)
    • The most breathtaking audio money can buy - I don't have that money! I'm after bangs per buck value wise - I'd prefer to spend under £300, especially for a non-expandable option. If there's a good reason to go a bit over that, you'll have to sell me on it! ;)
    • Massive speakers - space is a real issue here
    • Wall mounted speakers - I know someone who would definitely try and climb them!

    So... any ideas, anyone? :) All reasonable suggestions welcome! Any questions, please ask :)

    ~Jes :)
     
  2. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    22,352
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,211
    To some extent it depends on the output options available from the TV. If your TV has Analog (meaning not digital) AUDIO OUTS, then life is simple. If the TV has a Headphone out, that is also a very easy means of connecting.

    So, how did you connect your old Speaker System to the TV?

    Though my preference is for good 2.0 stereo speakers, rather than 2.1 speaker sets. The 2.1 speakers sets with Subwoofer, don't really go that deep. They exaggerate the bass to make it seem as if it were deep, but in reality, a good bookshelf will equal one of the low cost 2.1 systems. But, that is just my own opinion.

    Further, your requirement points to the need for small wall mounted speakers, but it is not that hard to wall mount a modest bookshelf speaker.

    First likely you need an Active 2.1 system, meaning the speakers have to have their own amps in them. There are probably a few good systems. Though at that price range, none spring to mind, though I'm sure they are there. However, there are really good high quality Studio Monitors, say with 5" bass drivers, that would give excellent quality, and could within reason be wall mounted.

    One that I am found of for absolutely excellent sound quality is the Mackie MR5 Studio Monitor -

    mackie MR5 - Google Search

    These are not huge speakers and are price (EACH) well within your price range. They would certainly have decent enough bass, and far higher quality bass than the typical droning 2.1 system.

    But, these speakers have no remote control. Which means most likely you would have to connect them to the Headphone out of the TV. The Headphone out will change volume when you use the TV remote control.

    The Audioengine A5+, also with a 5" bass driver, is highly rated, comes with its own remote control and is right at our budget limit.

    audioengine a5+ - Google Search

    These are both exceptionally high quality for the money, likely higher quality that you ever thought your budget could buy you.

    As to 2.1 system, I would look at computer speakers. They are most likely to have the very small size you need, and will come with a Subwoofer.

    Though beyond the usual suspects (Creative Labs, Logitech, etc...) I don't have any specific recommendations.

    The key is how you are able to connect the speaker system to the TV - Audio Out, Headphone, Digital Audio Out, SCART??? Once that is resolved then we would know for sure what recommendations to make.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  3. Jesthar

    Jesthar
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +1
    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the detailed reply, looks like things have advanced quite a lot since the last time I went AV hunting! To be honest, if bass quality can be had in other ways the thought of doing without a sub is quite appealing, one less thing to find a place on the floor for.

    The computer speakers were connected to the TV via the headphone socket (3.5mm mini-jack), and having hauled the TV out tonight this appears to be the only audio output option - this is a moderately priced early HD ready era TV (must be getting on for 9/10 years old), and consequently has a good array of inputs but not minimal in the outputs department. I guess hindsight is 20/20, but the budget was tight enough back then. I used to have the PC speakers and sub set to a general level, then use the TV remote volume control during use.

    Needless to say, when the time comes to replace the TV I'll be paying more attention, so speakers that would work with either headphone jack or stereo L/R (or other options, though I have to confess I'm not really familiar with them) would be nice.

    Thanks again,

    ~Jes :)
     
  4. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    22,352
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,211
    The Analog (Red/White RCA Phono-style) AUDIO OUT, typically do not respond to the TV volume control. They are FIXED output, though in a few rare TVs, the Audio Out can be set for Fixed or Variable. Depending on what speakers you get, Variable would probably be best, assuming the powered speakers do not have their own remote control.

    The Audioengine A5+ assuming you like how they sound are very good speakers, and they do have their own remote control. These could be connected to the AUDIO OUT inputs, and that would allow you to use the Speaker Remote Control to control the volume. Though in my case, I simply bought a Logitech Universal Remote control that controls my TV, Stereo, and BluRay. Very versatile. You connect it to USB and program it on-line. I've set the Instant ON to turn on the the TV and Stereo with the push of one button and reassigned the Stereo volume control to the TV Volume control, so whether TV or Stereo is selected, the Remote set the Stereo volume. These are about £20 to £30.

    If you continue to use the Headphone out, then the Mackie MR5 are stunning speakers. As I said a quality of sound far in excess of 'compute speakers'; crystal clear with deep bass for a bookshelf.

    There are other options at higher or lower prices. But I think, just my opinion, the sound quality from these speakers is far better than the typical computer Sat/Sub system.

    Just passing it long.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  5. Jesthar

    Jesthar
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +1
    Cheers again, Steve.

    As my current TV only has headphone out, I guess I'll still be using that for a while (until the set dies or I can find a good enough reason plus the budget to replace a decent and working TV), though the BluRay does have analog L/R out. I don't even have headphones as there's only me in the house, so there's no competition for the port. If I did get a new TV with audio out at some point, though, would using the headphone out lose me anything quality wise over audio out?

    I've never heard either of those speaker types in action, so I'm kind of kind of relying on other's opinions here unless I can find a way to hear them for myself. I see the Audioengine A5+ come as a pair, but the Mackie MR5 as singles, so do I guess correctly that with the Mackie's I'd need a 3.5 to RCA splitter to run a pair in stereo? Or am I missing something blindingly obvious? (always possible at this hour! And I'm primarily a computer geek) Oh, and are we talking the Mk2 or Mk3 Mackies, and how do you adjust the volume on the individual speakers? I've looked at several pictures, but can't see an obvious volume control...

    So I suppose it basically boils down to sound quality and general practicality in the long term. I don't have any particular plans in mind long term beyond using them for the TV, and I'm not planning on shifting things around as there's nowhere else to put the TV, but it would be good to know what flexibility each option offers if I ever wanted to add further elements to my AV setup. If it comes to it, I'll take definitely better sound quality over having to put in a bit extra effort at expansion time, though.

    Thanks again for bearing with me and all the questions :)

    ~Jes
     
  6. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    22,352
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,211
    Your Headphone out is stereo, most likely a Stereo 3.5mm plug which splits out into to individual Mono RCA style connectors.

    Depending on the type of 3.5mm/RCA cable you buy, you just split the RCA connector wires apart so they will reach to the individual Mackie speakers.

    As to shifting to some type of Surround Sound, that is pretty much out. You can do it, but the active speakers are not going to work well in that situation. The output of your TV is Stereo, just stereo, so unless you are interested in investing a lot of money, you are stuck with Stereo. Though that is not that bad. I would rather have a good stereo than a so-so AV system.

    As far as a new TV, as long as the TV you buy has a headphone out, you will be fine. If the TV has Audio Out, then your speaker system needs its own remote volume control. The RCA Audio Outputs are usually fixed.

    With no headphone or RCA, then you need to go digital. You need to connect and AV Amp or a DAC (digital to analog converter). An AV Receiver will allow HDMI connection of movies with surround sound, and likely an optical connection so you can listen to non-disk TV sound.

    A DAC, will allow a connection from the TV Digital Optical Audio Out to any amp or active speakers. But again, this method does not allow you to use the TV Volume Control. Either the external amp or the external active speakers must have their own volume control.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  7. Jesthar

    Jesthar
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +1
    Hi Steve,

    Thanks again. I've played with cable splitting before, albeit in PC terms, so that's no problem. I have no intention of trying for surround sound in this space, wouldn't be any point in my place.

    So, if I understand correctly, as long as any TV I buy in the future possesses a headphone jack, I'm fine either way. If it has only stereo outputs, the AudioEngine would be fine, but the Mackies would require a little extra work. Any other outputs would require extra work too.

    I had a scout around, and I haven't yet found any TVs in my size range (up to 32") which don't have a headphone out, so I guess we're back to sound quality and which would work best in a long, thin room, as I don't mind look of either of them.

    ~Jes :)
     
  8. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    22,352
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,211
    The tricky part of adding the most basic stereo sound system to at TV hinges on the Volume Control. If you are literally sitting right in front of the TV they way you would a Computer Monitor, having a Remote Control is not such a big deal.

    However, in any other situation were a remote control of the volume is desirable, things become more tricky. You must find an output on the TV that will change when the TV Remote Control Volume is change, or you must have an external devices that has its own Remote Volume Control, such as an external stereo amp, or speakers like the Audioengine which come with their own remote volume control.

    1.) The Headphone Out - This will respond to the TV's remote volume control, so for a low-tech low-cost solution, this is the simplest.

    2.) The Analog (meaning not digital) Audio Out - This is typically FIXED, meaning it doesn't change withe the changing of the TV Remote Volume Control. This absolutely requires the external device, whether amp or active speakers, to have its own Remote Volume Control.

    However, there is one rare exception. I have had TVs, though again this is very rare, where the AUDIO OUTS could be set to either FIXED or VARIABLE. If you can set the Audio Out to VARIABLE in the menu, then that output will respond to changes initiated by the TV's Remote Volume Control.

    3.) Digital Audio Out - This is the most common on modern TVs. The connection is typically Optical. But, this typically requires an external DAC of some type. A good DAC can cost about £150 to £200, though you might find a few in the roughly £50 range. The Digital Out, because it is simply a series of numbers, is FIXED in output volume just as the Analog Audio Outs are. Meaning, you need some means of externally controlling the volume, such as using the Volume Control on your external amp or your speakers.

    In your case, fortunes and circumstance might change, but for now, there is no problem using the Headphone out of the TV. That is certainly going to be better than the TV internal speakers. Because you are using the Headphone out, you don't have to worry about this external Remote Control issue, just keep using the TV remote as you always do.

    As far as I know, any sound that goes into the TV, will come out the Headphone outs. You can connect with HDMI, and listen to movies. You could connect a computer or personal music player or CD to one of the analog input channels on the TV, and listen to music. And normal broadcast or cable TV will also be heard from the Headphone Jack.

    Of course, if you have a Stereo amp (£150 to £230), then you can connect Audio Only devices to that (CD, MP3 Player, Computer, etc...).

    I think that perhaps, most Active speakers have two input, a Main and an AUX, that might be something to investigate if it is of interest to you. However, you can get a Line Level Switch Box for very little money if you want to connect multiple devices to the Active speaker. I think this would cost about £15 to £25 (from memory).

    So, the short version is, in general, yes, the Headphone out will work fine.

    What I would do is get a sense of how loud you typical have the TV volume control set when you are listening to a movie (for example). Typically this shows up as a numbered scale across the bottom of your TV screen. Remember that number.

    Connect the speakers, bring the TV volume up to the number you commonly use, then turn the speakers up until what you hear from the external speakers seems consistent with the Volume Setting on the TV. That should set a pretty good and reasonably consistent volume range on the TV Volume Control.

    If you are using the Headphone out, then either the Mackie, or any one of many other Active_Speakers/Studio_Montors, or the Audioengine A5+ will work fine.

    Here is a review I did of the Mackie MR5 Studio Montors, but in the review I mention several other brands as well.

    Mackie MR5 Active Speaker mini-Review | AVForums

    For a listening speaker, because they are a little more bassy, the KRK Rokit speakers can be good, but they are not especially Tiny. The KRK Rokit RP5 (5" bass) and the considerably larger KRK Rokit RP6 (6.5" bass) are in your price range. Because I prefer a more balanced sound, I would go for the Mackie MR5.

    Hopefully that was helpful.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  9. Jesthar

    Jesthar
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +1
    Hi Steve,

    Probably more helpful than you expected actually - I have a pro sound engineer friend who is slowly training me in the more advanced ways of flying my Church sound desk (well, more advanced than the 'push slider up, sound gets louder' stuff I've doing that for longer than I care to remember!) and other related sound stuff, so the setup process and future options makes perfect sense. The review is very helpful, too - I'd found it via google last night, but you saved me a re-search there :) The tech spec stuff is the part whch is still largely a mystery to me, but you're doing a stellar job of setting it out in understandable language, for which you have my thanks!

    I'm not a big fan of heavier bass output, either (anyone else ever dream of inventing 'doof doof car' seeking missiles? ;) ), so I think the Mackies appeal more than the Rokits.

    I noticed the Mackie MR5s are widely available in Mk2 and Mk3 versions, but I'm struggling to find many reviews of the Mk3, or work out what the differences/improvements are (if any) - any ideas on that front?

    ~Jes :)
     
  10. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    22,352
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,211
    I think my review was of the MK2 version. There isn't going to be a big change, the MK3 are simply the latest version. Probably minor refinements to the Crossovers.

    If you have a musician supply store near you, that is probably the best place to see and audition the Macke MR5 MK3 in person.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  11. Gareth45

    Gareth45
    Novice Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2014
    Messages:
    27
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Location:
    West country
    Ratings:
    +1
    Hi have a look at the audiopro addon t12 Scandinavian company getting good reviews good sound with built in amps
     
  12. Jesthar

    Jesthar
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +1
    Hi Steve,

    Sorry for going quiet, Real Life rearing it's head again...

    I have to be honest and admit I'm struggling to track down anywhere to listen to either the Mackies or the AudioEngine, so I may have to take the plunge on faith unless anyone knows of any places not too far from the Reading area?

    I'm currently very much leaning towards the Mackies, as I'm happy with continuing to use the headphone jack, I like what I see in the sound profile reveiws, and other reviews I've read also make them sound ideal for my typical viewing distance and room size. Didn't think to ask if they would be OK with their backs pretty close to a wall, though - as in only a few inches away, space limitations again - or if that would make other options a better choice?

    Gareth, thanks for the suggestion, but those would definitely be out my price range :)
     

Share This Page

Loading...