Either My Situation is Unusual or I am just not familiar with Possible Solutions

I came to the forum before when I needed headphone guidance and everyone was amazing and I learned so much. Now, I have a different “need” and I keep running up against the same walls.

Currently I live with my elderly father in approx. 130 sq. foot space and I miss listening to music in general. No headphones. I know quality sound and appreciate it - a lot.

In my current situation I’m stumped as to how to approach what to buy. I would prefer to keep it super simple - like - all in one, no extra power or anything required with MAYBE the option of wireless…in maybe the $300 range - with flexibility.

  • I would rather not own a speaker who’s main boast is how well it floats.
  • I would rather not own a speaker that’s “smart” in addition to just shutting up and playing music.
  • I would rather not need a Roadie to help me maneuver something into place due to it’s size.

Does something for my situation exist? I thought I should be looking at “Bookshelf” speakers but that doesn’t appear to necessarily be the case.
I’m not sure about Computer Desk Speakers…
Tower Speakers would be a tight squeeze due to limited floor space.

I realize nearly everything sounds so much better with a sub but is there any scenario where you can obtain that full sound without the larger or multiple pieces of equipment?

I’ve been looking for some time…any guidance and I would be so grateful!

Sound wise, I prefer to go light on the top end with a full everything and as much as I love bass - I do NOT like muddy bass. Mid or Lower.

Thank you so much!

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welcome back cheese!

may I ask the reason your heart is set on a speaker solution rather than a really good headphone?

also, is the 130sqft your room or…? I lived in a bachelor pad that was 300sqft and it was damned small, but for me it was just fine, so if you are indeed sharing 150sqft between the two of you, speakers don’t make much sense unless your dad likes the music you play and it won’t be him tolerating your noise until he just can’t take it anymore.

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I am surely no expert, but I can start with some of the preliminaries-

Do you have a source, or do you need a whole chain for $300?

With the budget constraint, how do you feel about used gear? You’ll likely get MUCH more bang for your buck with used gear than new.

A space that small could easily be filled with a decent pair of bookshelf speakers and a simple stereo receiver. If you already have a desktop DAC with RCA outs, powered monitors could also be a decent option. However, the lower cost budget powered speakers (such as sold for computer use) generally don’t hold up to either passive bookshelf speakers or powered studio monitors, and tend to be disappointing in sound quality.

If you need the whole chain to fit into $300 and you’re after good sound, you’ll likely need to scour craigslist. Look for a speaker that is front ported or sealed, since it can go closer to a wall without ruining how it sounds so much (rear ported speakers really should be placed a good foot plus from a wall behind them). You shouldn’t have any trouble finding units from JBL, Acoustic Research, Cambridge Soundworks, Boston Acoustics, or (if you’re lucky) Advent. I see offerings as low as $40 for a pair for speakers that get pretty good marks over at AudioKarma (for their price - they’re not going to compete with brand new $500 speakers). If you need new, and inexpensive Sony SSCS5’s seem to get a lot of love from reviewers for speakers in that price range.

A stereo receiver from the early to mid '90’s can sound fantastic and can be had for a song. I am partial to Yamaha for the variable loudness control which helps tame the mid-forward sound when playing at lower volume, but any of the major brands (Sony, Panasonic, Harmon-Kardon, etc.) had offerings in that timeframe that sound way better than their current price would indicate - the cheaper plastic construction and fairly ugly “black box” look to the early '90’s gear is a real turn off for many, but for “sound quality returned per dollar spent”, these are hard to beat.

If you want to hook up a receiver to your computer to play sound from your computer on your stereo speakers, you will need a way to send the audio signal to the receiver. This is most simply solved by getting a separate DAC. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and SMSL M100, or Schiit Modi, or Topping E30, there’s no lack of $100 DACs that will do the job.

The chain would go like this: computer USB port → DAC → stereo receiver → speakers.

This would also let you expand, customize, or upgrade later. Want a CD player? No problem, plugs right in to the receiver. Tape deck? Same. Play music from your phone instead of computer? Shouldn’t be an issue, just plug it into the DAC USB in. Later on, want a more powerful amp? Integrated amps and upgraded receivers aren’t hard to find, though they can certainly get costly. Better speakers in a couple of years? No problem, just replace the speakers and keep everything else, and so forth.

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I would recommend bookshelves and since you want a simple setup you may want to look at powered speakers. JBL, Kanto, Edifier, Swans would be good options. I do agree with poster above that front ported or sealed would be better since your room is small and you will most likely put the speakers in a non ideal location.

If you are in the US, look at the JBL 530 that are on sale right now. You will an amp but it might be worth it.

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A “one and done” system on that budget is going to be a challenge. Your best bet is maybe to look at the Denon micro systems though I’ve no idea of their availability in the US.
Bought my other half one and it’s pretty good though the speakers are usually the weakest link but that’s easy to rectify.

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I would go with powered speakers for the beginning and a simple DAC if your laptop doesn’t have a HP out, so you can invest most of your budget into speakers the mentioned JBL 530 are a good option but also something like Adam t5v or something like edifier RB 1700 or 2000 can get you decent sound in a small space

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By “One and done” do you mean like a self contained radio? The sort of unit that carries its own internal source, power, and built in speakers? Like a boom-box, or tabletop radio?

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I would get a good bluetooth speaker. The new one from Bose (sound link flex) is well under budget, you could almost buy two and pair them. They do float, but I wouldn’t say it’s the main selling point. I was about to buy one last week and only the staff at PC World kept me waiting like 15 minutes while they tried to locate it out the back. They still hadn’t located it, but there was also no one to ask about what was going on, so I left.

Other than that, you could easily blow past that budget on passive speakers + amp.

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Yes, I that is sort of the idea of what I mean, yes. I’d rather not have a “radio” on board or anything…but power & everything self contained - if possible

My wife likes her bose wave radio/ CD player. It’s not for me, but I’m a control freak, so, there’s that. A lot of people say it sounds “bigger than it looks”, personally, I think it sounds like its in a box that is bigger than it looks.

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If you could stretch to $400 or wait for a sale I’d say the edifier s2000 pro if you can stretch it just a bit more to 450 I think I’d say the R2850, for 300 I mostly know of small nearfield monitor type stuff and small bluetooth speakers tbh…


I would take it on a product-by-product basis. Make up your own mind, go listen to one. There are plenty of reviews online, some include frequency response. My recommendation was in consideration of your budget.

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Oh, that wasn’t a criticism of your recommendation.

I was just curious…I actually had a Bose system in a 2003 Altima and it was fantastic for what it was. I never blew the speakers (and yes, that has happened to me in the past :roll_eyes: ) I don’t know if it was the layout in the vehicle, the power or what but it was a surprisingly immersive experience - road noise aside.

I am far from an expert, but I feel like I know the shoes you are standing in. When building my first computer I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on the audio portion. But I wanted some quality speakers I could grow with. With that said I needed them to be small enough to fit on a compact desk if my screen ever grew (which it did from 27" to 32"). My current room is 138 sq ft. I also live in an apartment complex.

(Not a flex, just a story. If you want to bypass, look at the last paragraph for the details)
At the beginning of 2020 I googled and then watched videos for powered desktop speakers. That’s when I came across ZReviews. I watched his reviews on the ones that caught my eyes. Since I couldn’t hear them I took his word for it. I couldn’t afford to buy a separate dac and speakers at that time. So besides being small enough to fit on the desk, it needed to have at least a 24 bit 96khz built in dac as well as usb in, subwoofer out, and Bluetooth capabilities. For my budget I had in 2020, I found the peachtree M24 powered desktop speakers, that came with built in 24bit 96khz dac, sub woofer out, usb in, rca in, phono in, optical in, and powered 2 X 50 watts. May not be that impressive to some. But it has grown with me. Within 6 months I picked up a Polk Audio 10" 100w powered subwoofer to add to those m24. I now have some depth. One and a half years later I was ready to get me a dac amp combo. I just started getting them these past few days. I had a good year of work with lots of OT. I watched a lot of reviews.

(My 2 Cents)
Like everyone who looks for a new car, we all have our own wants, needs, and expectations. With that said I can’t tell you what product is a good for you. While it is sometimes tough to hear something before you buy, make sure you can return it if you don’t like it. Getting what you want at a price you can afford is out there. It may not be new. I would look at opened boxes, refurbished, and used items that are like new. Usually open boxes and refurbished offers warranties and might be just enough of the discount you need to get your one and done at your price.

(Last Paragraph - Most Important to finding happiness in what your looking for)

  1. I would make a list of what features you know you would like and a list of what ones you could live without. If you post those lists on here, you might get better recommendations as they have a better understanding of what you’re looking for.
  2. Does your system need to be able to grow with you when you want something better or is it just for now?
  3. Watch lots of reviews. Your looking for the pros and cons as well as the features. Remember nothing is perfect, but it maybe good enough for you.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to just one place for information. Internet is booming with reviews and info. Look for audio stores that you can walk in and hear what you maybe interested in or to discover some of the new features that are available.
  5. Most importantly have fun doing it.

(Fun Fact)
Ilikedairy - my cholesterol doesn’t :grin:

  1. It depends on where you live.

  2. A powered speaker will at the very least have a built-in amp. Assuming there is an analog audio input (3.5mm jack, or maybe a pair of phono inputs). If the speaker is powered with a USB input or bluetooth input it will have a dac and amp.

  3. It depends on the speaker. If you are using an mp3 player to feed a powered amp you will be relying on the internal dac of the mp3 player (and likely the internal amp in the mp3 player will also be in the chain). DAC means Digital Audio Converter, it takes the digital signal (1s and 0s) as an input, and outputs an analog audio signal. It is a necessary part of all audio chains where the music source is digital (mp3s, streaming services, etc).

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What headphone(s) have you tried that led you to this conclusion?

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In the US, for your budget Amazon is a great place with a return policy. You can also look on Craigslist for used gear. Crutchfield will have decent stuff. Try Adorama website.

Powered speakers will have an amp and sometimes a DAC included. For these you will just need to plug them to the outlet and plug in your source like your phone and it will play music.
Passive speakers, sometimes referred to as Bookshelf speakers, are just the driver and so will require an amp and maybe a DAC depending on your source.

It will simplify your search if you know what will be your source: Bluetooth from phone, USB from laptop, 3.5mm Jack, …etc.

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Thanks for asking. It wasn’t actually a pair of headphones that led me to that conclusion. It was more of a kind of self reflection. Asking myself what I REALLY wanted as relates to a listening experience. What I have enjoyed about different experiences in the past and what I haven’t. Things like that.

I would also add that I don’t think one is better than the other. Just different. I guess it’s just really hard to describe.

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I forgot to add - who’s cholesterol DOES like cheese… :roll_eyes: :smile: :smile: :smile:

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Klipsh make a computer speaker system with a pair of monitors and a ported sub box. All in one system thats simply plug and play.

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