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post #11 of 13 Old 10-23-11, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Re: Looking to build budget 2.1 system

GranteedEV wrote: View Post
I don`t think the JBL sub is a very good deal. It`s expensive, but only uses a 10" driver and has no bass below 30hz despite being vented.

Besides online dealers, try calling around your local instrument/pro audio shops. The internet's not the only place to shop!
I seem to have quite a bit of trouble using JBL's website to locate a close dealer to me. Also why not the JBL sub? the price seems about what I want to spend and I would assume it is designed to compliment the speakers as it is from the same series. Basically it seems like the ideal sub for the price to me, I really do not want to end up with a sub that sounds out of place with my speakers, and if I choose this setup, I also need one that will work without a receiver unit.
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post #12 of 13 Old 02-21-12, 02:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: San Francisco, CA
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Re: Looking to build budget 2.1 system

Hey Ian, like you I'm also a student. I've got a 2.1 system that cost about $2000 to build, which I realize is about double what you want to spend, but there are a few inexpensive components in the system which are worth you're consideration.

First of all, I'm using an Emotiva XDA-1 DAC, which is really an awesome piece of gear and only costs $300 (occasionally marked on sale for $250). See this thread where it competes admirably against a DAC that costs more than ten times that amount! (http://www.hometheatershack.com/foru...a-xda-1-a.html) If you plan to play digital content, the quality of your DAC is really important. The DAC that is built into your mp3 player or your computer is pretty poor compared to most any separate DAC that's on the market, and you'll hear a big difference in the detail of your music once you bypass your computer's built-in DAC and use a separate. (There are 4 ways to do this that I know of -- (1) if your DAC has a USB or Firewire input, connect the DAC to the computer using a USB or Firewire cable; (2) if your computer has a mini-optical out, as current Macs do, run a mini-optical to optical cable; (3) if neither, get a soundcard that has an optical or digital coax out; get an Apple Airport Express and play your music wirelessly, discussed below.)

Second, I've listened to several budget high performance subs, and in my opinion Outlaw offers the cheapest that can still compete against the big boys. One of the previous posters mentioned the Rythmik F12, which is is actually the sub that I'd like to upgrade to eventually once I've saved up the money, but if you're trying to make every dollar count, I'd say pick a sub from Outlaw's lineup that meets your budget. Although they aren't quite is musically pristine as Rythmik, they still sound really good playing both music and movies, and they have plenty of power. Dr Hsu (the designer of Hsu subs) has consulted for Outlaw, so several of their subs bare a marked resemblance to Hsu subs. I agree with a previous poster that I don't think you are getting your money's worth with JBL. Not that JBL subs are bad -- far from it -- but you are paying for a name brand.

Third, if you'd like the ability to play content wirelessly, such as from a smartphone or a laptop, the Apple Airport Express has become hugely popular with audio enthusiasts. It is a wifi router/network extender that also has the ability to provide transport for digital content via a mini-optical port using. It outputs a 16 bit / 44.1 khz PCM signal, so as long as you have the Airport Express hooked up to your DAC with a mini-optical to optical cable, you can play digital music over your home wifi network using "Airplay", and the sound quality is as good as if you were playing music from your computer using a soundcard with an optical out. The two drawbacks are (1) bit rate / sample rate are limited to 16/44.1, so you can't use it to play hi-res music, and (2) it requires that you use iTunes to play your music, although Apple has made the Airplay spec available to developers, so its possible that there are 3rd party applications that are Airplay-compatible that I'm not aware of. You can find an Airport Express for $60-80 on eBay, or $99 from an Apple Store.

Lastly, a previous poster also mentioned Audiogon. I agree that this is definitely a good place to pick up used gear for a reasonable price. They have several policies in place to protect both buyer and seller, and they have features that allow you to negotiate with sellers.


Last edited by Thunder240; 02-21-12 at 02:44 PM.
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post #13 of 13 Old 02-21-12, 04:12 PM
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Re: Looking to build budget 2.1 system

+1 on Stereophile and Audiogon. I'm using powered monitors (mains and center), and I wouldn't consider my system to be beer budget. I have Dynaudio monitors and LOVE them.

The only caveat I would add if using powered monitors is to make sure that they are acceptable for music/movie playback. Some (and I am not familiar enough with the JBLs to comment) can be quite dead/analytical sounding as they are primarily designed to be used in a recording studio. What a recording engineer wants to hear may not be to your liking.

Someone mentioned Emotiva. +1 on their amps, too. They have good subs at a good price, too. They also sell speakers (and may have released their powered monitors by now) but I have NOT heard the speakers.

Last edited by wgmontgomery; 02-21-12 at 04:15 PM. Reason: added Emotiva
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