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Tomovich
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iMac music system

Hello

Next week I

struts
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Re: iMac music system

Hi Tomovich,

Welcome to the forum!

Firstly, you can do two things (if you haven't already) which will help maximize your listening enjoyment and both of them are free:
- In iTunes under Edit/Preferences/Advanced (Importing) set 'Import Using' to 'Apple Lossless Encoder'
- Then, further down on the same screen make sure 'Use error correction when importing Audio CDs' is checked.

Search through the archives here and you will find plenty of explanations of what these settings mean and why they are important.

The minijack output of your iMac is at what is called 'line level' so it is suitable for plugging into an amplifier but is too weak to drive passive speakers directly. This means you will either need an amplifier as well or 'active' speakers with a built-in amplifier. The latter is almost certainly cheaper.

Most cheaper active speakers designed for connecting to computers are not really designed with high fidelity music reproduction in mind (this may or may not be true of your Harman Kardons, I have no experience with them). One model I can certainly recommend at your target price-point is the Audioengine A5 which is widely available from about $325 online. If there is anything out there offering better musical bang for the buck I certainly don't know about it. I use the slightly smaller A2s ($199) and I have to say, for the money I am delighted with their performance. If you order direct from Audioengine you will pay a few bucks more but they offer a 30-day return policy which would enable you to compare with your current setup. Your money, your choice.

This is the best way I can think of to end up with a "quality music system" given your starting point and budget. Good luck and please let us know how you get on.

Tomovich
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Re: iMac music system

First and for all, thanks for the warm welcome!

All music I have is ripped as .flac files which are then converted to V0 .mp3 files because at the moment iTunes can

andy19191
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Re: iMac music system

> Should I just buy some quality speakers and connect them to the computer or do
> I need to buy some other things to put between them? If so, what do I need?
> Concerning the budget for these "extras" I'll decide it once I know what I all
> need.

Probably.

Sound quality is effectively determined by the quality of the speakers. The other components have zero to small impact in comparison. At $300 you are very much on the steep part of the curve where sound quality improves at lot with wisely spent money.

For $300 you cannot buy a reasonable 2.1 active system (i.e. one with amplifiers included) and so you are likely to be better off buying a reasonable 2.0 system and then adding a woofer later when funds permit. Reasonable active 2.1 systems are about double the price.

Although I have not heard them, I would not disagree with the recommendation of the Audioengine speakers. However, these are copies of the design of active monitors on sale in music shops to monitor recordings so there are plenty of other models to choose from at your price. To see examples browse the active monitors section of an online music equipment site or go to a music shop and have a listen.

I have a portable Mac and the analogue circuitry is noticeably deficient when played back through the hi-fi. I doubt it would be noticeable through computer speakers but I have never checked. It only takes a few dollars to build good enough analogue circuitry but the built in audio circuitry in aggressively priced computers seems to get allocated only a few cents.

The solution is to take the digital signal out of the computer and connect it to a digital-to-analogue convertor in a box built with audio quality as a significantly weighted parameter. Examples might be external sound cards, squeezebox-type devices, some audio receivers and even some active speakers. I would be careful at your price point to avoid media/computer speakers which are likely to use the same overly cheap audio circuitry as a computer.

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Re: iMac music system


Quote:
All music I have is ripped as .flac files which are then converted to V0 .mp3 files because at the moment iTunes can
Tomovich
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Re: iMac music system


Quote:
Sound quality is effectively determined by the quality of the speakers. The other components have zero to small impact in comparison. At $300 you are very much on the steep part of the curve where sound quality improves at lot with wisely spent money.

For $300 you cannot buy a reasonable 2.1 active system (i.e. one with amplifiers included) and so you are likely to be better off buying a reasonable 2.0 system and then adding a woofer later when funds permit. Reasonable active 2.1 systems are about double the price.

Is it possible to show me such a reasonable 2.1 active system? I

RGibran
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Re: iMac music system

It would be an interesting shootout between the Audioengine A2 and say the M-Audio Studio Pro 3 as well as the larger Audioengine A5 and say the M-Audio Studiophile BX5a

In both cases the M-Audios are approx a $100.00 or more less than the AE's. How low can you go and still get quality sound? I mean, 99 bucks for a pair of powered speakers...pretty amazing! Anyone heard them?

RG

struts
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Re: iMac music system

Wow, great catch RG! Those BX5as look like one helluva bargain at $199 IF they sound good. M-Audio certainly makes good products but I have only used their electronics myself. Mmmmm.

andy19191
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Re: iMac music system

> Is it possible to show me such a reasonable 2.1 active system? I

Tomovich
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Re: iMac music system

Thanks for the information and explanation. I'll take a look at what's on the market and post my findings here. Are there other active speaker you can recommend (except the AE A2 and A5)?

Thanks!

Btw, is "powered speaker" the same as "active speaker"?

Elk
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Re: iMac music system


Quote:
Btw, is "powered speaker" the same as "active speaker"?


Yes.

If you are willing to spend more, the Adam A7s ($500/each) have a wonderful sound and have garnered many positive reviews in the pro press. Adam has just released a smaller version, the A5, but I have not heard them.

Tomovich
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Re: iMac music system

Does someone know a site where you can search for "powered" or "active speakers"?

andy19191
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Re: iMac music system

This might be of interest since it is in your price range:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=65699

Behringer also make a matching subwoofer in your price range:

http://www.behringer.com/B2092A/index.cfm

This is not a recommendation just an indication of the kind of equipment that can be found with your budget if you look in the right place. Behringer equipment is aggressively priced and so offers a lot for the money. It is for you to decide if it is on the right side or wrong side of the quality threshold for your purposes.

Powered speakers and active speakers are vague terms but both refer to speakers containing amplifiers but the arrangements can be different:
- powered computer/media speakers will often have 2 amplifiers and 2 passive crossovers in one speaker, no amplifiers in the other and require a lead connecting the speakers. This is the cheapest way to do it and is not recommended at your budget level.
- powered speakers with one amplifier and a passive crossover in each speaker. Probably best avoided because it is not the best way to do it.
- active speakers containing an active crossover and 2 amplifiers in each speaker. This is what you probably want to look for. Sometimes called active biamplified speakers.

There are many sites selling music equipment (use google on some brand names). Some examples:
http://www.thomann.de/gb/studio_monitors.html
http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/shop/browse/category_id/21e5a16c7dd3cffdfa60512e65cd1e01
http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/studio/studio-monitors/

Tomovich
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Re: iMac music system

I

andy19191
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Re: iMac music system

> I

Tomovich
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Re: iMac music system

That's totally correct what you say about looks but the CM-Series of B&W are high quality speakers which, to me, look very good too! The same for the Epos M12.


Quote:
It allows you to buy an external sound card, include a subwoofer and move up a bit in quality. Alternatively, you might buy an amplifier plus passive speakers in order to improve other factors that you may consider important.

What would you do? With the "knowledge" I have up untill now, I would go for the amplifier. But is this a possibility, I mean: connect the amplifier on the pc?

Thanks for the help so far!

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