AMP for desktop setup

Hi there,

my powered desktop 2.1 system seems to die in a bit. Any now or then, the right channel stays silent for a few seconds, but I checked: it is not the speakers fault. It is an 10 year old Bose Companion 3 system, which was picked up years before I got into HiFi & Home-Cinema.

In my living room, I am using an 5.0 setup with Nubert Nuline speakers and a Denon AVR-X3500H. I am pretty happy with that, but I think the time has come to upgrade my desktop audio experience.

What is already available?
When playing games or chatting via discord, I listen to my Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, connected to a Fiio K3, which receives the music from my desktop computer. So there is no need for new DAC. Speakers are not ordered jet, but depending on availability, price and mood, I might choose one of the following:
Q Acoustics 3020i, Klipsch R-51M or KEF Q150

Why passive speakers?
I like the idea of being able to switch components without buying new speakers OR having payed money for features that I will never use. That includes built-in DACs & connectivity things like bluetooth - there is no need for that. Nevertheless, if you see me walking down the wrong path, feel free to. So feel free to add powerd speakers to your recommendation, instead of an AMP.

What am I looking for?
At this point, I am struggling to choose an AMP to power those passive speakers. A few month ago, I tested a LOXJIE A10 and moved my rear speakers from the living room to my desktop. That worked fine, but all in all I didnt liked the look of my rear-speakers on my desktop, so I returned it.

I am mainly listening to Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal (not exclusively, but most of the time). Spotify is the medium for 90% of the time. The room is small (4m x 4m) and the speakers will be placed near the wall ON my desktop (small stands to gain some hight included). An AMP with sub-out would be perfect, yet not required at the moment. Being able to connect my headphones to the amp is a must-have.

I am living in the northern parts of Germany, so availability of some brands might be an issue. I like the concept of stacking components and would love to buy some Schiit equipment - but availability in Europe is null. All in all, I would love to have a noise-free setup. My current Bose system produces some decent amount of noise, which is extremely annoying when not playing any music.

Another question
What I hate about the Fiio K3 is the fact that it cannot switch between outputs. So when playing music via speakers, I need to remove my headphones. Otherwise the Fiio will stream music to both components. When reading / watching reviews, I found a Topping headphone amplifier which bypasses the signal if not activated. Long term, I am looking for a solution where I do not need to plug in / plug out my headphone 24/7.

Thanks for reading! If you not already ran away, I would love to read your thoughts & tips.

Greetings,
Simon

1 Like

Sounds to me like the Topping MX3 could be a pretty good fit for your use case as far as an all-in-one solution. I’ve been using mine for about a year, and it’s served well. I recently got some separate components I’ll be replacing it with, but am considering keeping it just for its size and versatility. The MX3 remembers both headphone volume and speaker volume (for each input too!), and has flexibility to output to either or both, and selects automatically when plugging and unplugging headphones. My only real gripe has been that there is no line out option and the headphone out is 3.5mm.

a fellow northern german here…
I can pick you out some good shops and local businesses.
What’s your budget?
There’s a lot of good treasure in the German second-hand market. Elac CL 82 is definitely my go-to speaker recommendation, but don’t pay more than 100€. Super smooth speaker with pleasant treble and fat Elac bass. Portplugs are required if placed against the wall.
What is your amp budget? The CL82 only reaches its full potential with something like a used Rega Mira. Cheaper amplifiers are however also an option.

@FiCurious, the Topping MX3 seems to be a good pick. I will keep it in mind when I place my order, thanks for that one.

@German_Power, up to this point, I didn’t include the second-hand market to my research. The reason might be simple: there are way too many speakers out there and it is already complicated enough to make a choice, only looking at the “new” models.

Another thing is the risk of buying unseen speakers without a chance of listening to them via eBay etc. I am living in Lübeck, near the baltic sea. If you have any recommedation for a local second-hand HiFi-shop, feel free to PM me (or let us all know and reply to this comment). I would love to check those stores out, no matter if I am going for a second-hand aproach for my deskop setup. What I could find online about the CL-82 sounds good - close to the models I pre-picked, when it comes to size. So this might also be an option here!

All in all, my soft-cap for a budget is 500€ == 500$ == 850AUD, including both, speakers and AMP. The speakers I pre-picked are around 300€ resulting in 200€ budget for an amplifier.

The reason for this limited budget is simple. My main system in the living room is the one I want to spend my money on. New center, sub etc already planned. COVID-19 & home office somehow forced me to spend more time listening to music at my desktop - but I hope the odds will change again, in favor of my main-system. I guess the budget is fair.

I would always pick up speakers in person. But Elacs pop up a lot up north.

I do not know any shops for budget used stuff. Sorry.

Price performance of active monitors is hard to beat.
I would consider simply ordering Adam T5V for 159 each from Thomann.

I am not familiar with DAC / amp stuffs in the budget area. The german made Lake People DAC C410 H would be overkill but you can still have a look. It would be a very high quality device for the DT770 and the RCA is an adjustable preamp output.

Just to let you guys know:
The topic can be closed, the project is on hold for the unseen future.

Details:
After reading some reviews about the Adam T5V - both Zeos and Steve Guttenberg liked them - I ordered a pair and tested them for the weekend. Great speakers, but I messed up with my room / computer.

First of all, the dimensions are close to critical. I use 2x 27’’ screens on my desktop and adding to speakers of that size results in a pretty crowded desktop. I might get used to that, but I guess thats a down-vote for “larger” speakers on my desk in general.

Another issue is related to the room. I get some nasty reflections in the lower ends (50Hz & 125Hz). I experimented with an equalizer and was able to reduce the effect - but still another argument to stop that experiment.

The most annoying part was the amount of noise, the speakers produced as soon as they were connected to my computer. Chain: Computer -> USB to Fiio K3 -> Adam T5V
The noise can be turned into silence when connecting the speakers to another source. MacBook to Fiio to Adam worked fine, and Raspi + HifiBerry Dac+ Pro to Adam worked fine as well.

I tried different things like removing other devices, using different usb slots, connecting the Fiio to my monitor instead of a direct connection to my computer. I know that the issue is with my computer, not the speakers, but I was not willing to invest time & money to randomly change components of my computer.

A fact that makes me wonder, is that my Fiio K3 + DT770Pro has no noise issue - perfectly silent if no music played. I might stick to my current speakers and look more into headphones. I am considering buying a (new) headphone amp + dac stack or combo. New post / topic inc.