Cheapish Speakers

time

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I'm looking for some speakers (and amplifier) under about US$400 to enhance the sound of a couple of TVs.

I've looked at secondhand home theater systems, but people seem to offload those when something is broken or they're just crap. New, everything under $1000 appears to be crap, but it might be the limited selection and high prices down under.

I'm wondering about using high-end computer speakers instead (I don't really care if it's 5.1 or 2.1). The only set I can see that might be OK is the one from Corsair.

Any thoughts?
 

Stereodude

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Do your TVs have variable audio output? Or do you need speakers that have remotely controlled volume?
 

Mercutio

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You might look at a soundbar as a compromise option, if you can find one that supports at least HDMI input (e.g. Yamaha YSP-2x00). You certainly can get low-end receivers with HDMI support for $200 (here in the US, they show up on woot.com fairly regularly), and then it's just a matter of cobbling together whatever speakers you feel you need, but I'm also aware that the wife-acceptance factor on the single component is often a lot higher than the full home theater.

My go-to for cheap, decent speakers are these Genius 2.1s. They're hideous but they do sound great.
 

CougTek

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Good speakers make a greater difference than a good amplifier. In your budget, I would try the Paradigm Atom Monitor. They are available at Audio Active Australia (here's a place where you can spot them on Australia's map). Their store is in the Northern Territory, right next to your area. So next time you have a few hours of free time, just ride there and ask if you can listen to those.
 

time

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You might look at a soundbar as a compromise option, if you can find one that supports at least HDMI input (e.g. Yamaha YSP-2x00).
Regretfully, I've just about given up on soundbars; the Yamaha YSP-2500 sells here for US$660 + tax ($AU$895).

My go-to for cheap, decent speakers are these Genius 2.1s. They're hideous but they do sound great.
Unfortunately, supplies of Genius products have dried up in Australia. I managed to get a 5.1 wooden enclosure setup about 21 months ago and it was great value (although it's only used as a 2.1).
 

time

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I have to give joint points to CougTek and sdbardwick for ultimately targeting a store about 10 minutes away from where I work. But Coug, if that map was accurate, it would take days of plane-hopping travel to get there (as you well know).

In fact, they're about 1125 miles (1800km) away by road, so it might take more than a few hours to "ride" there. :)

In any case, a quick look at sellers around Brisbane who really do sell Paradigm show that it's considered a "boutique" brand that commands a very hefty premium in pricing. That's how things work here, even Volkswagen positions themselves as a "premium" brand, and as for Audi ...
 

time

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Constrained by what I can source here, I settled on a pair of Microlab Solo 8C. I favored them because the midrange driver is 4" instead of 6.5" as it is in the next model up, the Solo 9C.

They sound reasonable, but I can't get any sign of life out of the optical input. I can see red light at the end of the cable from the Sony TV, but the speakers remain unimpressed. Is there anything I should know about S/PDIF optical connections? I'm already worried about what happens when you attach a BluRay player to the TV, but my understanding is that you only lose surround sound -not all sound.
 

time

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Yes, the manual clearly labels it as an optical output.

The light source only turns on when you switch between "TV Speaker" and "Audio System" in the TV menus.

The speakers are set to "Optical" input.

Sounds like the speakers need to go back, thanks.
 

time

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Unfortunately, no. I've been debating whether or not to borrow a receiver to double-check.

And a quick check of my recent motherboards shows no S/PDIF port, so I can't cross-check that way either. :(

My Blu-ray player has a single HDMI port and a LAN port and that's it.
 
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