My expensive Creative AWE 7.1 surround system had died. Crap.
That got me to thinking: I'd never really liked the Creative surround sound system all that much. No matter how I adjusted it, the sub woofer always produced lows that were just too boomy, and the mid-ranges were harsh.
I mulled over what to do throughout the rest of the day, and then started searching for an alternative that evening. Here's what I came up with. Since I only use the sound on my office system to play music from my archive of ripped CDs (purchased over the last 20 years -- I have lots of music), RadioParadise, and the local NPR station, and maybe to watch some news video and a little Youtube, I decided to go with a plain old stereo sound this time.
I dug around a bit and found this, the Pyle PVA2 amp. It's only rated at 60 watts, but that should be plenty for how I intended to use it, and it only costs $54 at Amazon.com! It's got decent specs, so I figured it would sound ok.
- Power Output: 2 x 12w (8 Ohm, RMS), 2 x 24w (4 Ohms RMS), 60w max peak
- 2 microphone inputs
- DVD VCD-CD tape karaoke input selector
- 2 mic volume controls, treble/bass controls, and master volume control
- Frequency range: 20-20khz
Now, what about speakers? I know! I have these wonderful old '90's vintage Celestion 9 speakers that have been stored away for about the last 8 years. These Celestions are still some of the best speakers I've ever listened to. So I dusted them off and parked them temporarily on my desktop.
My home-built workstation is running Mint 12 and has an Asus M3N78-VM motherboard in it with a VT1708B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio chipset - that's what will drive the system.
I plugged it all together, and wow! Do those Celestions ever sound good! I hope they never break, because they haven't been made for years, although a quick check showed that replacement parts seem to be available.
The system sounded so good, that it got me wondering: how much of the quality is the speakers & amp, versus the on-board audio chipset? To find out, I bought another 3.5mm - to RCA stereo cable, and hooked up my little Acer Aspire One netbook.
Pardon the messy desk.
I already had Clementine installed on my workstation, so I installed it on the netbook as well and quickly had it scan my music collection. Clementine is a clean fork of the old KDE Amarok 1.4, back before the folks at KDE garbaged up Amarok 2.x with a bunch of unneeded features and a clumsy, un-intuitive interface.
Then I set up a side by side comparison, where I started the same playlist on both systems, and switched between input sources on the Pyle.
I could not tell a difference. So, bottom line: if you want a low-cost, good sounding stereo music system, here's one option. But you'll have to find your own Celestion 9 speakers.