Bookshelf speakers for studio apt.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by resonantFrequency, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. resonantFrequency

    resonantFrequency Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Hello, noob here. I'd like some advice on selecting bookshelf speakers.

    Budget: $500. Can stretch up to $1000 if there will be a significant improvement in sound quality.

    History: My current speaker is Mackie CR3. I thought it did a decent job for the price. But it's broke now, and this time I'd like to make an informed decision and buy something much better.

    Space: Live in a very small studio 24 x 10. Couch is on the long side of one wall and TV is on the opposite side.
    My room doesn't share a wall with neighbors, so I can crank up my volume to an extent.

    Requirements/Usage:
    Primary usage is music streamed from Spotify through my 4k TV. I watch quite a bit of movies/tv shows.
    Occasionally I watch blu-ray through Xbox.
    I'm more interested in the quality of the sound, build and longevity than any fancy features.

    Some contenders:
    Going by anecdotal experiences of users here, I have these in mind. But I've never listened to any of these before and have no particular preference.

    Klipsch RP-160M
    Epos m12 (used 400)
    Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary (500)
    KEF Q350

    For my case, what would you recommend?
    Also, should I buy an amp?

    Thanks!
     
  2. bmoregnr

    bmoregnr Forum Rezident

    Location:
    1060 W.Addison
    Hi and welcome. Just so I am hearing you right, you had powered monitors before, and you are now thinking about passive bookshelf speakers? If passive you'd need an amp unless you already have one or I am missing something. If so does that change your budget?
     
  3. jdsher

    jdsher Forum Resident

    Location:
    Plano, Texas, USA
    What are you running your source through, an AV receiver? Also, is the reason for bookshelf speakers because of space concerns? Is there a sub-woofer now? I am wondering if you might be happier with a floor stander ie ELAC?
    Jon
     
  4. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    Elac, Wharfdale 220, Q Acoustics, Audioengine... Q350 is my pick of the OP's list.
     
  5. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Keep your eye out for the KEF Q100. They go on discount regularly and I picked up a pair from Amazon for $250 and they're not much different from the Q350.
     
    CBackley and resonantFrequency like this.
  6. resonantFrequency

    resonantFrequency Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Hey, thanks! Sorry if this sounds very basic. The most recent one I had was Mackie CR3 (https://mackie.com/products/cr-series). Not sure if it had a built in amp, and if that's the criteria for being called "powered."

    In any case, I'm trying to replace the broken speaker. I also don't have an amp. Would you recommend going for a powered or a passive with amp? I don't have enough knowledge to understand the impact those choices will have.
     
  7. resonantFrequency

    resonantFrequency Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I don't have an AV receiver and sub-woofer. Until my current speakers broke, I connected them to my Android TV which streamed movies and music.

    It's a small room, but I could go for a bigger speakers but thought that might be an overkill. I was under the impression that bookshelf are suited for small room. I guess that's a wrong assumption?
     
  8. ukrules

    ukrules Professional Appreciator

    Location:
    Union, Kentucky
    To the OP...take a moment and fill out the equipment portion of your profile. Then we can understand what you have now.

    Meanwhile, looks like you live in NYC so there should be a lot of places where you can audition and purchase speakers. Ideally, you should be able to audition them for a while in your apartment as most places have a good return policy. My speaker purchase policy is one should select the best speakers they are comfortable buying...then go one step up from there (stretch the budget). Seems like you have decided that in your opening post. You can get kick-a$$ speakers for $1,000 that will last a lifetime in various setting as you move around, etc.

    Again, you live in NYC so audition speakers with an open ear!
     
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  9. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    See if you can get some Quad 9as actives . I've been blown away by mine, and you'll get a great deal on NOS pairs. On-board DAC as used in their Elite line and RCA line inputs. Terrific speakers for the money.
     
    resonantFrequency likes this.
  10. resonantFrequency

    resonantFrequency Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Forgot to add my current equipment details:
    Basically, there's none! Until my current speakers broke, I connected them to my TV. The TV has Spotify which plays my music.
    In addition I've Xbox and a Raspberry Pi connected to my TV. So basically TV is the only source of sound output.

    If you think I'd get a better experience by getting an AVR, I'm open to that idea.
     
  11. action pact

    action pact Forum Resident

    I'm a big fan of the Dentons.
     
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  12. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I'd be tempted by the M12s depending on iteration and condition. I had Epos Epic 2s and they held their own in some $2K company. As for new speakers, the widespread praise for Dentons is hard to ignore. Based on my auditions of other Wharfedale products, I have doubts as to whether they'd produce enough treble for movies/TV. I find that warmish, musical speakers tend to sound rather dull with movies.

    If you don't mind some easy assembly work, you can go the kit route and get speakers with very high quality components: Seas Loki MKII Coaxial Kit Parts Only - Each
     
    resonantFrequency likes this.
  13. bmoregnr

    bmoregnr Forum Rezident

    Location:
    1060 W.Addison
    No problem. Yes the Mackie is a powered monitor/speaker so the amps are inside. You are just taking the signal out of the computer or tv and the speaker amplifies it within the speaker itself. Any passive speaker requires a separate amp, or in your case the best bet would be an integrated amp which combines the amp with a preamp giving you volume control and input selectors.

    Question, is there a way to get digital out of your TV (which I assume is your only source). If so then you can consider an integrated amp with a DAC in it, so that it is doing the digital to analogue conversion and not your TV-- I have to think some kind of an improvement.

    I'm guessing round numbers if you need an amp and speakers you are probably around the 1,000 total range easy. Assuming you cannot go digital out of the TV and given it is streaming through a TV, I am thinking maybe it is best to just stick with powered monitors; I am interested in what others feel but unless you went the route of improving the dac side of it, maybe what is feeding that-- computer vs. tv, I am not so sure an amp speaker combo is the lock way to go-- although nothing wrong with future proofing and you could probably get a good amp speaker combo for your budget.

    If the powered monitor feels more right to you I was looking at stuff for someone, just a dac/preamp powered speaker combo for 1,500 and these Dynaudios looked pretty nice.
    Dynaudio BM5 mkIII

    You'd be at the top of your budget, but you wouldn't need anything else and you'd be in good shape if you eventually went the dac/amp route combining those with something like this Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus (Black)

    I will say I didn't see a lot in the $500 range for powered monitors that looked a lot better than your Mackies; I am sure I am missing something though that others can fill in. These always get good reviews and would probably be a pretty straight replacement Audioengine A5+ (Black)
     
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  14. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Wharfedale 225's.
     
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  15. ukrules

    ukrules Professional Appreciator

    Location:
    Union, Kentucky
    I would start using your Xbox as the source. It will play Spotify, CD, DVD, BluRay, USB, etc. Then get yourself a stereo integrated amp with a built-in DAC and connect it to the Xbox with an optical digital cable. Then hookup the speakers using some Blue Jeans cables. Raspberry PI could be connected into the mix, as well, if you don't feel like turning on the TV.
     
    resonantFrequency likes this.
  16. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SLEAZY SOUTHAMERICAN CAVEMAN

    It's not, but it's not such a small room you cannot get away with some small floorstanders and an amp. But if you were satisfied with the configurations you were using and don't feel like innovating, Klipsch have these puppies for you; they'll be a night-and day improvement over the minuscule Mackies without a significant increase in footprint.

    R-15PM Powered Monitor Speakers | Bluetooth & Vinyl Ready | Klipsch

    [​IMG]upload image
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  17. bhazen

    bhazen Fab Fourever

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Get an entry-level Yamaha amp, and some Q Acoustics 3020-series speakers. Use tone controls on the former to taste.
     
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  18. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Go used...used KEF LS50 and a used Yamaha amp. If you are lucky it may come in a little over $1k
     
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  19. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    If you are in NYC, go audition speakers. If you want to get speakers you will be happy with go hear them. I would not restrict your search to bookshelf. 24 x 10 is not a small room. 10 x 10 is a small room. I agree 24 x 10 is for an entire apartment. Here's the thing, you'll probably need speaker stands for book shelf speakers, so you aren't really saving room. Don't get me wrong there are some very fine book shelf speakers. But listen to different speakers before your purchase.
     
    resonantFrequency likes this.
  20. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Whose audio output quality is probably an afterthought. It would be a drastic improvement to connect to an optic output or HDMI and into an amp or receiver. Most TVs have optic output, but make and model is yours?

    You'd have 3 choices:
    - Get another set of powered monitors (with optic input, and a remote for volume - I don't know if such a combo exists)
    - Get passive speakers and an AVR, which generally have an optic in. For what you are doing, any model is fine, even a few-year-old model off Craigslist.
    - Get passive speakers and a stereo amp, preamp, DAC, etc etc until you go nuts.

    As a loudspeaker engineer I'm biased, but I'll stand by the assertion that speakers make by far the hugest difference to the sound. And more money does buy better sound, plus they last forever. So I'd sink as much as possible into the speakers and get the least priced Denon/Onkyo/Marantz/Yamaha I could snag that was not ancient. I also agree you should get towers for better bass unless you're actually going to put the speakers in a bookshelf or on a desk.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    resonantFrequency likes this.
  21. resonantFrequency

    resonantFrequency Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for a very detailed response which actually help me understand my options much better.

    To answer your question, my TV does have a digital out.

    I did some research on powered vs passive monitors. My biggest takeaway is that the passive route gives me an option to individually upgrade components. Also it seems like powered monitors have an edge only in the mid to high end range. So which ever way I choose to go, I think I'll spend approximately the same (at the $1K range).

    Now, the deciding factor for me is the difference in "noticeable" quality for the options at different price point.
    1. Will there be a significant difference between a passive with amp and powered monitors, assuming I'm buying them at comparable price points.
    2. Also, will there be a noticeable difference for a novice between sub $500 monitors like say Klipsch R15PM vs Dynaudio BM5?

    I know those are subjective questions and most probably I'll order few monitors, both passive and active and try them myself. But I'd like to hear opinions based on people's experience.
     
  22. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa
  23. resonantFrequency

    resonantFrequency Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    This is a terrific answer. Concise and pointing me in the right direction. Yes, my TV does have a digital out. Soon I'll be building a PC to replace my Rpi for playing movies. So it makes sense to buy an AVR, since I also use Xbox for blu-ray.

    I'd love to have good bass but worried my room setup may not be ideal. It's a studio and filled with stuff in a very small space. But I'll try to audition some towers.

    From your experience at what price point do you really start noticing improvement in sound quality in speakers?
     
  24. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    There are always tradeoffs in speaker sound quality, even in the high end realm. Towers at the <$1K price level tend to suffer from audible panel resonance, boomy/unrefined bass, and mediocre mids and highs. This is because the larger cabinets (the most expensive part of most speakers) force designers to make cost saving compromises in areas such as driver quality. Bookshelf (Standmount) speakers at the same price point tend to perform better in every regard sans bass output.

    There are a handful of largish bookshelf speakers out there that can embarrass some small towers in terms of bass, for example, Epos Epic 2s.

    If I were forced to buy towers in this range, I'd probably buy these:
    Q Acoustics 3050 Floorstanding Speakers Pair

    or these:

    Reference Premiere Floorstanding Speakers | Klipsch

    The Klispch towers weigh in at ~50 lbs each - a good sign that they have substantial cabinets.
     
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  25. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    If you've a small space, then occupying it with stereo boxes isn't a goer in my view, albeit you may have just enough room.

    The benefit of powered or active speakers with a DAC and amp gives you a neat solution and ensure you can plug your TV in direct via optical or coax (depending on which it uses). If space is key there are neat solutions that will give you great sound quality on a par with, or better than, separates for the same money.
     
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