Advice on a 2.1 separates system

Ghostpoet

Standard Member
Hi, I'm new to the forum and am looking for some advice on a new set-up for my home computer.

I've been using a Logitech Z2300 system for quite a while now but after listening to a friends separates set-up I have realised just how much I'm missing out on.

The Z2300's are OK but lack any kind of mid range or clarity.

I guess what I'm after is a good pair of speakers which are crisp, punchy and let me hear all of the music.

I'll also need a sub woofer for punchy, distortion free bass

and an amp I can connect to my computer to run it all.

I almost exclusively listen to MP3's via my PC in my living room and would like a lot of power to play with when entertaining guests !

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

I guess my budget would be about £200 for each component but if I could get away with a cheaper system that is high quality it'd obviously be better.

Thanks in advance.
 

Don Dadda

Distinguished Member
Hi and welcome.

Is £800 your total budget? can it be expanded? if not, Its not a big budget for all that you want, especially for a decent setup let alone high quality one, but something can be done if not adversed to secondhand kit.
How do you propose to connect the pc to the hifi? and how far or near will they be to each other?
Do want to use the pc to stream music or are open to a streamer and ext hdd?
What system has your friend got and what did you like about it?
 

Ghostpoet

Standard Member
I only really need an amp, pair of speakers and a sub so I figured £200 for each, so thats £600 ?

I suppose I could go higher and I'm not too fussed about used gear as long it's going to last.

I will be using my onboard card which has the following the features :

SupremeFX X-Fi built-in 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- EAX® Advanced™ HD 4.0
- X-Fi CMSS®-3D
- X-Fi Crystalizer™
- Creative ALchemy
- Supports Blu-ray audio layer content protection
- Supports 1 Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
- Supports 1 x S/PDIF out header
- Supports Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking

At the moment I'm connecting via 3mm jack

I will be solely using music that is on my PC already in MP3 format with the VERY occasional CD

The whole system would ideally be placed at/under my desk which is approximately 2 meters across and built from sturdy smoked glass.

I'm not sure what my friend had, it was just an amp and 2 large speakers though but what I liked was the clarity and the separation. You could hear each instrument separately instead of a muddle and could make out sounds and noises that you just don't get on my Z2300. It was crisp, clear, punchy and powerful. I listened to a track I have at home and it was like listening to a totally different song. In summary my Z2300 is mud !

I was looking a pair of Lars and Ivan Bobo speakers which looked quite good and got great reviews ?

Also some Mordaunt Short Alumni 2's with the Alumni 9 Sub

I'm a complete noob so I have no idea what amp I'd need to power those...

Maybe I should just go for a higher end 2.1 package all in one solution ?
 
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Ghostpoet

Standard Member
I've just had a brainwave. Would it be possible to hook up the Lars and Ivan speakers to the Subwoofer which has a built in amp via RCA connector ?

I'm happy with the sub and all I'm really after is better satellites

The speaker sets are both 8 ohms and the same wattage
 

Don Dadda

Distinguished Member
I don't know much about which soundcards are the better ones, but the spec suggest it is decent one with a good dac, so would definitely use that.

I never heard of Lars and Ivan Speakers so can't comment on them but the spec and looks suggest it will not touch what you heard from our friends, going by your, albeit lacking, description of them. They are pretty, but looks to be designed for the Lars and Ivan 'Hybrid amplifier, which is basically an ipod sound booster station. Very Art Deco. The MS Alunmi 2 and sub will also fall short imo.

I cannot find any info on the Z2300 sub but i seriously doubt the RCA connectors on the sub are for speakers and would not use them for that. If you could post a picture of the sub's connections that would be helpful.

If you are seeking 'proper sound quality' then pc type 2.1 speakers or ipod sound boosters are not the way to go.

I would also forget the sub for now and concentrate on a good amp and speakers. You may find that you do not need a sub.

You listed bookshelf speakers so i will keep to that, Here are just a few to consider,

Speakers:
Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 - £220
Superfi - ACOUSTIC ENERGY AELITE 1 SPEAKERS (PAIR) £280
Superfi - B&W 685 SPEAKERS (PAIR) £399

Amplifer:
MARANTZ PM6003 AMPLIFIER £200 - Bargain as it replacement PM6004 is £309
HARMAN KARDON HK3390 RECEIVER £250
YAMAHA AS500 AMPLIFIER £ 250- This amp also has a dedicated subwoofer output which most stereo amps do not.
There is also the Yamaha AS300. Same as above but a little less power and priced £207

Subwoofer (if neccessary and at a later date)
BK Gemini MKII - £224. This is a well regarded sub and comes from a family of Highly rated subs If you search this forums for the Gemini or any of the BK subs, there will be plenty info and reviews on them.

There is also the WHARFEDALE DIAMOND SW150 SUBWOOFER £150 - reduced. It also comes as part of a package which consist of the Diamond 9.1 bookshelf speakers - WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 2.1 SPEAKER PACKAGE £229. This combo will enable you to put more fund towards the amp.

Just a few things to ponder over
 
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Mr Pig

Well-known Member
If you buy used your budget is generous!

My son has a Firestone Audio Spitfire DAC, an old Cyrus one integrated amp and a pair of Heybrook HB1 speakers on a shelf above the desk. It sounds great, it's a real Hi-Fi system, and the total cost of that was just over £200.

The DAC was the most expensive part but he got it cheaper when they had an introductory offer on. I think it was around £150. You could run the DAC you have obviously but I still think you'd be better with an outboard one. I say that because pretty much everyone who goes from a PC DAC to a decent outboard one says that it's better. I know that when my son did it it was a lot better.

The Cyrus amplifier cost £50, which is typical. It's a very good quality amp. Quite lean but very detailed and rhythmic. It's a 'shoebox' style amp so can sit on top of your PC base unit or sit on the desk. Most good amplifiers get hot though so keep ventilation in mind. Being old, they usually look a bit tatty but we took the covers off and had them sprayed gloss black, looks much sharper now.

The HB1 speakers are great. We had to fit new foam surrounds but the up side was that, including the new surrounds, they cost about £26 !! Not bad for a speaker that would cost maybe £800 to match these days. There are lots of older speakers out there that will need nothing done to them. They'll cost a bit more but still well under your budget. In my opinion, when you consider the sort of sound quality you can buy used, you'd need to be mental to buy new.

Oh yeah, a sub...

Frankly, it's depressing. Years ago no one used a sub and now no one can be without one. Everyone thinks they need a sub or life will end. The truth is that very deep bass is the hardest and certainly the most expensive thing to get right in a Hi-Fi system and within your budget you ain't getting a sub that will do it. Even if your room will let you! The lowest bass notes have a wavelength of about fifteen-feet so reproducing them in an average room is not easy! Basically, all a cheap sub is going to give you is flabby booming that will probably upset the room, and your neighbours, and do nothing for the music. Forget it. Just buy a good pair of stereo speakers, it'll sound so much better.

Lastly, look to gradually swap all of your MP3 files to high-quality ones. MP3 is compressed, it was intended for portable players, which is why they called them MP3 players! What that means is that they take the music file and throw away a lot of the information so that he file is smaller. If I told you how much they throw away you would not believe me!

Now obviously if you throw away information right at the beginning there is nothing your nice amp or speakers can do to get it back again. It's gone. In fact, all that your amp and speakers can do is let you clearly hear just how bad your MP3s sound! Bottom line, you are not going to build a hi-quality stereo system around MP3. You're fatally crippling the sound quality right at the start and there's no way to fix it.
 

Ghostpoet

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies guys but I have to say I am now feeling a little flat ! My entire music collection (around 1000 albums or 70 gigabytes) is in MP3 format and I don't intend on buying them all again in CD format, could you imagine the cost at almost £10.00 an album ? Plus the space I would need to store them.

I guess I am going to have to do the best I can with the format I have. I'm fairly sure I can get a better sound though by using some better speakers at least as my friend also uses mp3's and his system sounds worlds away from mine.

In response to the first post, I have taken some pictures of the back panel of my Subwoofer/amp unit, I will also try and provide as much info as I can on it afterwards.

This is the back panel showing the 2 single RCA ports used to power the left and right satellite speakers :

DSC08175.jpg



And also a close up of the satellite speaker connectors (RCA ?) As you can see it is a single connector for each speaker, colour coded to tell left from right :

DSC08178.jpg


Now here is some info I managed to gather on the unit itself :

Z-2300 Specifications

Audio Quality Certification: THX certified
Total RMS Power: 200W [FTC Rated Power]
System THD: Better than 0.05% before clipping
Total Peak Power(RMS): 400W < 10% THD
Power distribution: 120 W (Subwoofer) + 2 X 40 W (Satellites)
Subwoofer: 120 W @ 8 ohms @ 10% THD @ 100Hz
Subwoofer Size (inch): 8
Subwoofer Type: Long throw
Satellites: 80 W (2 X 40 W) @ 8 ohms @ 10% THD @ 1kHz
Satellite Size (inch): 2.5
Satellite Type: Polished aluminum phase plug driver
Frequency response: 35 Hz - 20 kHz
Signal to noise ratio(SNR): @ 1kHz > 100dB
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 117db
Subwoofer dimensions(HWD): 11" X 11" X 15"
Satellite dimensions(HWD): 6.75" X 3.5" X 6"
Total weight : 15 Kg


Here is also a link to the site where I got the info : Logitech Z-2300 [ The Last of the Titans : Review] - Logitech Forums


Looking at the specs would it be possible to run a different pair of speakers from the Built in amp inside the subwoofer housing using the same connectors as on the original pair ?
 
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Ghostpoet

Standard Member
Oh and my friend just got back to me on his set-up he uses :

It's a pair of old Castle Conway 3 way 50w speakers with an old audiolite twin mono power amp and a toshiba SY-530B pre-amp.

Means absolutely nothing to me but it did sound good !
 

Ghostpoet

Standard Member
Oh one more thing, I don't think I have a DAC, it's just an onboard soundcard that can run several digital channels I think, it has no audio outputs other than a 3.5mm jack plug and spdif out.
 

steveparadox

Active Member
I wouldn't advise using different speakers with your sub. The chances are that the sub internals include a High pass filter to output to the speakers. This basically means any speakers connected to the sub will have the bass signals cut off below a certain frequency. They will work, just not very well.

If you really want to use the sub you could buy an integrated amplifier with a subwoofer output and connect your sub to that and let the amp drive the new speakers with the full frequency range.

Hope this helps,
Steve
 

Ghostpoet

Standard Member
could you recommend a good integrated amp that would fit my needs ? I'd like one as low profile as possible as I'd want the system to be fairly discreet. I'm looking at those B&W 685's too, I reckon I'll nab those on Friday in the black finish...
 
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steveparadox

Active Member
The 685s are brilliant speakers. I had a pair for 2 years before a major upgrade. I ran them off an 18 year old audiolab 8000A. B&W speakers work very well with Rotel amplifiers. Something liken the Rotel RA04 SE should work well.

Steve
 

Don Dadda

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the picture.

A yamaha AS300 or AS500 which has a subwoofer output could do the trick, but i don't think that sub could be used for anything else other than the satelites it came with and a pc.

How is it connected to the pc?3.5mm jack or something else? I have a logitech 2.1 Z??? ( can rememeber the name) and that is connected to the pc using the onboard soundcard's 3.5mm jack.

If it is using the 3.5mm output then it may be possible to connect that to an like the yamaha's using a 1x male rca to male 3.5mm jack if they exist or use an adaptor.
 

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