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Entry level speakers: Wharfedale 10.1, 10.2 or Audioengine A5 or P4


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#1 abhiroopb

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 11:20 AM

Hi All!

There is such a crazy range of choice for speakers I had no idea where to begin. I thought it was hard choosing a pair of headphones, but that was nothing compared to choosing a good set of speakers!

Background:
I currently own the following:
Sound Card: Asus Xonar Essence STX
Space Audio 2.0 Satellite Speakers (handling power 150 watts, frequency range 200hz-18khz)
JBL Power20 Amplifier
KOK Subwoofer - 16Hz - 160Hz, 6.5", 30W (RMS) 60W (Max)

I recently upgraded my PC and installed the ASUS soundcard and now I want to upgrade my sound system as well.

My budget is an absolute maximum of SGD 1,000.

I am not interested in getting a USB DAC at this point as I think the ASUS ought to be sufficient, of course this may change in the future, but right now my focus (in order of priority):

1. Speakers
2. Sub-Woofer (if needed)
3. Amplifier (if needed)

Speakers
Initially, I was quite happy with my Space Audio satellite speakers, however I had a chance to listen to other entry-level speakers and decided to upgrade the full thing and get a brand new 2.0 (maybe 2.1) system.

With that in mind it seems that the two best options are either the Wharfedale Diamond 10 series (specifically either the 10.1 or 10.2) OR the Audioengine A5 or P4.

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 or 10.2
I am a little unsure as to the cost of these speakers in Singapore, but from what I can tell the 10.2 is better than the 10.1. Of course this most likely comes with a premium on the price as well. With that in mind I intend to listen to both and if I find that the 10.2 is significantly better (so as to justify the price) then I would be interested in getting that one.

A helpful salesman pointed them out to me and they looked and sounded gorgeous. I only had a brief test of them so I still want to do a thorough test before deciding, however I really really liked them!

These two sets of speakers would require an amp and so regarding that please see my “Amplifier” section below.

Audioengine A5 or P4
The A5 has been recommended to me by a LOT of people as a simple and uncomplicated system that sounds amazing. I have read a lot of reviews and this truly seems like the set of speakers to get. If I like the sound of these then I think these would be my number 1 choice. Further, it has been suggested that using passive speakers with bad amplifiers are generally worse than getting a good powered speaker.

Having said that I have also heard that, generally speaking, active speakers are overall not as good as passive ones. I’m obviously not well versed in the issue but I would like some input on this. Essentially would it be better for me to save the money on the A5, buy the P4 and use my JBL Power20 Amp? I mean as I already have the amp then I would essentially be saving money, buying a set of speakers that (from what I gather) sound virtually the same as the A5. Naturally, the JBL amp was not made to specifically work with the P4 so the integration between the A5 and its built-in amp and the JBL and the P4 is going to be different, however the saving in cost may be worth it. This is just something I want to throw up there and get some feedback on. I don’t really want to compromise (much) on sound, so if the P4 with JBl amp will most certainly sound a LOT worse than the powered A5 then I don’t think I’ll be going for the P4.

Finally, would it make sense to connect the A5 to my JBL amplifier? Would it improve the sound? Again bear in mind if I cannot sell the amp and I do buy the A5 it will just be lying around. I don’t want to force it down the throat of my new speakers but at the same time I don’t want to throw them away!

Subwoofer
I have had a lot of input suggesting that these bookshelf speakers do not require any subwoofers. However, reviews suggest that while the bass is “clean and tight” it doesn’t give you the raw thumping that can be heard and felt. I generally listen to rock, pop and hip/hop and sometimes to jazz and classical. Anyway I have seen what a difference buying a relatively cheap subwoofer can do to my music, essentially allowing me to hear the things in a song I had never heard before! With that in mind I am very keen on buying a subwoofer to match either the Wharf or the Audioengine.

Both companies make their own models of subwoofers (Wharf: SW 10, Audioengine: S8). However, there don’t seem to be any conclusive reviews on these models, although they seem to be universally liked anyway.

So, my question is whether it is worth getting the sub if I really want the thumping sound and feeling and if so are the two options I mentioned the ideal ones to get?

If the Wharf and Audioengine costs about SGD 400 – 500 that should leave me with about SGD 500 to buy a subwoofer (providing I don’t need an amplifier).

Amplifier
This is a rather difficult problem for me. I have a JBL Power20 amplifier which costs about SGD 300, which I bought about 2 years ago when I first acquired the Space Audio satellite speakers and I needed a relatively uncomplicated amplifier to power the two speakers. Right now I am unsure of what to do with the JBL Power20 amp. Someone has mentioned that as it is a “power amp” it should be sufficient to drive the Wharfs or Audioengine’s. Obviously, the A5 does not even need an amp anyway.

My query is this: can anyone figure out WHAT this amp is exactly and whether they would be suitable for the passive speaker options (i.e. the Wharf 10.1/2 and the P4).

Basically, I do not want to spend money on an amp unless I can find something that fits into my overall budget (SGD 1000). Also I don’t want to simply throw my current one away. So, I would like to somehow utilize it in my new setup.

Sound Card
Bearing in mind I do not want to buy any more hardware at this point (including a USB DAC), what is the best way to connect up the speakers from my ASUS sound card?

Right now I have a RCA output from my sound card to my subwoofer’s input. The subwoofer has an output to my JBL amplifier and my JBL amplifier has two outputs to the satellite speakers.

I have heard of “pre-amps” and the like and I was wondering what the ideal setup would be? Again don’t want to spend exorbitant amounts of money but if there is a relatively good way of improving the sound then I would like to know.

Listening Tests
I know the first thing everyone will say is “go listen and then decide”. I fully intend to do that tonight and I plan on spending a few hours in Adelphi, auditioning the four sets of speakers I have mentioned. If anyone can name any specific shops that they have had good experience with regarding these speakers please let me know (even if they are NOT in Adelphi).

Summary/Questions:

1. Between the 10.1 and 10.2 which is more recommended (bearing in mind I do not have an unlimited budget)? Essentially, is the price difference (nb: I don’t know the prices yet in Singapore) worth it?
2. If my JBL Power20 amp works WELL with the Audioengine P4, should I get it instead of the A5?
3. Should I get a subwoofer? If so which one?
4. What is the best way to connect up all the equipment from my sound card?
5. Any good shops to try out these speakers?
6. What kind of prices am I looking at for the Wharfedale 10.1, 10.2 and SW-10 and the Audioengine A5, P4 and S8?
7. Any suggestions for speaker stands?

Any other speaker/subwoofer/general suggestions? Someone has mentioned Swans to me but I was unable to find any dealer for them in Singapore.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this unnecessarily long post! I will update after I have auditioned a few sets tonight.

#2 Tan kee wee

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 11:53 AM

For wharfedale look for Mervin of city electronics in sim lim square

#3 abhiroopb

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 11:58 AM

QUOTE(Tan kee wee @ 17 Mar 2010, 11:53 AM) View Post

For wharfedale look for Mervin of city electronics in sim lim square


Thanks, that's exactly where I went. Any ideas on price? I'd like to know before I walk in!


#4 abhiroopb

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 10:22 PM

Update: Went to Adelphi today.

Unfortunately, CD Acoustic was shut so couldn't try out the A5/S8. They seem to close quite early so the only way I can see them is over the weekend. Incidentally, are there any other shops in Singapore that sell the A5?

I had a chance to listen to a pair of Dali Lektor, Epos (don't remember the model), Wharfedales, Heco and Focal.

I got quite a big spectrum there from the lower end Wharf to the SGD 1000 Focal's.

My thoughts on bookshelf speakers are that I basically have to spend quite a bit (i.e. more than the 10.1 Wharf) to get really deep thumping lows. Obviously the more I pay the better the speakers will sound, but I really missed the sub by itself. After it was connected it was as though something was taken out of my ears and I could hear properly.

Now the problem is that unless I buy a very expensive active subwoofer I don't see how I can connect up a sub and two speakers to my JBL amp (which only has two speaker outs).

In summary I think based on how the A5 sounds I will be getting it together with the S8.

Any comments?

#5 blacklistor

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 02:07 AM

you might want to try posting at xtremeplace forum too.

#6 abhiroopb

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 09:29 AM

Thanks will check it out!

#7 abhiroopb

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 01:13 AM

Just bought the A5 and the S8 sub. Sounded incredible with most of the songs I threw at it. However, it wasn't that great with more "technical" songs. However, it still blew my socks off, especially with the sub.

Thanks for all the help!

I'm just on the look out for some speaker stands now, so if anyone can help I'd appreciate it!

#8 Guest_crumple_r_*

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:10 PM

QUOTE(abhiroopb @ 21 Mar 2010, 01:13 AM) View Post

Just bought the A5 and the S8 sub. Sounded incredible with most of the songs I threw at it. However, it wasn't that great with more "technical" songs. However, it still blew my socks off, especially with the sub.

Thanks for all the help!

I'm just on the look out for some speaker stands now, so if anyone can help I'd appreciate it!


Could i inquire as to wear you purchased said A5 from? I would appreciate the price you paid for the speakers as well. Please do drop me a PM if inconvenient to reveal on the open forum.


#9 abhiroopb

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:43 PM

QUOTE(crumple_r @ 20 Nov 2010, 09:10 PM) View Post

Could i inquire as to wear you purchased said A5 from? I would appreciate the price you paid for the speakers as well. Please do drop me a PM if inconvenient to reveal on the open forum.


I bought it from:

CD Acoustic Equipment Pte Ltd
1 Coleman Street, No 04-02
The Adelphi, Singapore 179803

Price for the A5 was SGD 500

#10 Guest_crumple_r_*

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 12:08 AM

QUOTE(abhiroopb @ 20 Nov 2010, 09:43 PM) View Post

I bought it from:

CD Acoustic Equipment Pte Ltd
1 Coleman Street, No 04-02
The Adelphi, Singapore 179803

Price for the A5 was SGD 500


Wow! Thanks for the prompt reply mate! Will head down next week for a closer look/listen! biggrin.gif