Looking to upgrade. What should I upgrade first?

TLDR: I want to upgrade my speakers and possibly other parts of my setup or optimize them for around $500 and would love advice or recommendations for what to get or not to get.

Currently have micca mb42x w/ smsl sa-50 and polk psw10 running off a miniDSP HD and am really loving the control the miniDSP gives me. Wanna upgrade but not sure what would be best (speakers, amp, sub) I’m thinking speakers would give me the biggest upgrade and not sure what to go with if I go that route. Its a PC desk setup and the room is an odd shape so I could probably do some work in the room as well. I have considered rearranging and am currently considering a new desk so maybe I could also get speaker stands if needed. I have them currently on handmade shelves since the desk I use now is too small for all my stuff, but that means they are a bit too high up for ideal listening experience. The sub is probably bigger than I need but it was cheap and I had to be within a budget at the time. Kinda want a better amp but really only want to spend about $500 so I feel like my money should go elsewhere if possible.

Thanks in advance for any replies!

PS: I would not include upgrades to the space in my $500 budget. Things like a new desk/speaker stands would be extra and I don’t mind spending more to get that kinda stuff.

So basically its like you said speakers are going to make the most difference, just need to decide what direction you want to go. Figure out what you like and don’t like about your current speakers and then go from there.

Room treatment can help but it’s less important in a nearfield desk setup as most of the room is negated the closer you are to the speakers. Definitely getting proper stands with tweeter at ear level will help and if the speakers are rear ported try to get them as far from the wall possible. 12-16in is good, but the further from the wall the better.

A good amp upgrade would be nice but with your current budget most things that would be worthwhile would eat up a significant portion of if not all of your funds. I would recommend spending the money on good speakers and later on get a better amp. New speakers along with efforts to improve your space should do wonders.

You could also go active/powered and not worry about the amp upgrade later. Instead maybe a good dac would be more worthwhile at that point.

Would I be able to connect a DAC in the chain from my miniDSP > amp > speakers?

I do want to get my speakers and desk in a better position so that they are away from the wall since right now they are really close and rear ported. Like I said they are too high up and I have a feeling its making a difference in the quality.

I do like having an amp with passive speakers but would be open to active ones if it would be a good upgrade.

I belive you can use a separate dac with the minidsp but I’m not 100 on that, I’ve never used one myself. As for passive over active, I’m also a fan of passive but active can be very convenient at times. If you stick with passive your upgrade path imo should be speakers > amp > dac. As for the sub I personally wouldn’t bother with one in a desk nearfield environment as most quality speakers at that distance should provide a good amount of bass, also placement in a desk setup for a sub is kinda wonky at times imo.

I just love having that extra kick and with a miniDSP you can make a sub sound a lot better even a crappy one. IMO its still worth having one in the setup otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered buying a miniDSP for $200.

I also have the measurement mic and can do room correction with miniDSP and REW

Oh for sure you already have it so might as well use it, I would just maybe recommend working on the rest of the chain first before looking at better subs. But that’s my preference and everyone has there own way of doing things.

I agree with you on getting other things first. I would just hate to get nice speakers and then ruin it with a cheap sub. If I went passive speakers do you think my current amp is decent or should I maybe up my budget a bit and get a new one? What price range do amps start being worth the upgrade compared to my SA-50?

Thanks for the fast replies!

Neumi BS5.

I see those are front ported and passive, would you think that would solve some of the issue of them being close to the wall? Also is my current amp good enough for them? They say up to 100w per channel and my amp is 50w per channel.

I have considered getting a Topping PA3. Right now they are about $90 on amazon! Any thoughts on the PA3?

Also should I maybe start another thread for the amp in the amp category?(seems to be plenty of threads to look at for this so I think I will just stick to this thread)

Have looked at getting the next step up from the MB to the RB42s but just don’t know if its gonna be much of an upgrade and thought maybe I should just go with something better instead of doing a little upgrade.

Getting both the PA3 and RB42s would only be about $240 so I think I could get more for how much money I am able to spend for an upgrade.

Zeos recommended in his review of the BS5 if you cant get the RB42 the neumis are a good alternative. The reviews on the BS5s all report they get more low end when you push then up against the wall. I got a set and they sound great for 90 bucks. Ran them with my reciever also with the smsl AD18.

Members recommend the PA3, thinking picking one myself for a backup amp. I hear the RB42 like power so maybe other posters can weigh in on RB42/PA3.

And you know the saying squeaky wheel gets the grease. So ask away in the amp section.

Thanks for the reply I think I will end up making a post about the amp if I decide not to go with the PA3 since I don’t have many other ideas for what to get in that department. Would you say for being close to the wall the BS5s are better than the RB42s?

That i dont know, i got RB42C/BS5/RP/0o0 . From reading past threads lot of members run RB42s so im sure someone will chime in.

Maybe pick up the amp now and wait for black friday when jamo and klipsch RPs go on clearence.

That’s not a bad idea, I will be upgrading my pc soon as well when new AMD cpus release so might just do a big all in one desk/pc/audio upgrade which would change my overall budget quite a bit. Might grab the amp for now since its a good price and just wait on the speakers as I think the amp upgrade would even benefit my current pair of MBs.

The E30 is 110.00 now you could go with dac/amp. Doing the same setup for a 2.1 dac/miniDSP/amp.

I don’t think that can be put in a chain with the miniDSP HD 2x4 and putting it in front of the it would negate the effect of the DAC I think.

E30 > miniDSP > Amp > Speakers wouldn’t be possible anyways as there is no digital output on the E30

PS: I think the E30 would be ideal for active speakers

Sorry, im drifting off thinking 2.1 tv setup. :grin:

I went D10s because its a digital passthrough and I use the DAC for a headphone amp I already have.

I don’t know if I can add a DAC into the chain with the miniDSP at all really

For anyone confused this is what I mean: PC>D10s>miniDSP HD>SA-50>MB42x is my chain and i want to know if DAC can be between miniDSP and SA-50 to improve upon the built in DAC of the miniDSP

The D10s is already serving its purpose as being the sort of HUB where my other things are connected so that I only have one output on my pc and it also serves as the DAC for my headphone amp. Improving that side of things is not really a concern of mine ATM.

sorry for the late reply, I just got home from work.

Depending on what speakers you go with you would probably want more power then the sa-50 can provide. Also it’s more a quality power concern as well, I would recommend something not class d as ime class a/ab sound better and offers higher quality power for your speakers. I would start looking in the $200 and above range, some good stuff to start out with would be a Emotiva basx a100 or a Parasound Zamp v3. My preference is the Parasound. A little higher up would be a Parasound new classic 275v.2 which would be pretty nice.

So even front ported speakers still get some benefit from being pulled of of the wall, just to a lesser extent. I run KEF Q100 that are front ported on one of my desks and they do enjoy a little space. I’d say at least 9-12 inches.

It’s good for what it is and would be a bit better than the SA-50 I think, but ultimately still a Class D measurement based design. Which some people like but it would be more similar in performance to what you have already than not. I think if you really want something higher quality you would want to look at some class a/ab amps like the ones i mentioned above.

I have the RB42s on one of my desks and they are a fun little speaker that has some decent low end in nearfield. Just something that i like to run on my workbench with a cheap smsl bluetooth amp and not worry about SQ. If you are looking for something more impressive than what you already have I would look higher.


Wow thanks for the super detailed response and I see you have already seen my other thread about the amp. I am starting to think that I should go class A/AB like you said the more I research amps. Also good advice on the front ported speakers I will keep that in mind for sure.

Do you have experience with any speakers in the $400-$500 range?

Will have to further respond to anything tomorrow as this is a new account and I have hit my limit on replies for the day!