Best speakers for listening to music from your Mac

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
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Deep Space
My HiFi died, including my nice JBL speakers.

I currently listen to music from my Mac. I'm not sure if I want to go back to a dedicated HiFi.

I'd rather plug speakers into my Mac.

That said, what are my options?

I just received a nice write-up in regards of studio monitors by B&H.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/find/newsLetter/Monitors-and-Placement.jsp

I wonder if the neutral sound of studio monitors makes them still a good choice for music listening, or if I'm better served with dedicated HiFi speakers.

How do you hook this up? Do you need to go from an USB 2.0 port to a receiver and from there to speakers? Or can you plug in two speakers right away?

And how about these sets for home theater, like from Bose (whose speakers I like).

I heard they aren't that great for music listening (and I don't need a subwoofer. I listen to Jazz and classical and some pop and rock, nothing with drum machines/loops).
 

thegoldenmackid

macrumors 604
Dec 29, 2006
7,777
5
dallas, texas
This is a tad bit all over the place, but I'll try to answer this best.

Getting the sound out of your Mac:
There are a lot of options at varying costs. Of course you can add on DACs and other amps to the equation, but in terms of getting the sound out of your Mac, I'll highlight the options I know of.
1. Via standard audio out (1/8" jack) – This option will work for plugging into a computer speaker system (2.1) or a boombox/iPod dock. It's by far the cheapest and is probably the most used.
2. Via toslink – Similar to the above option, but uses a toslink connection which is a much more advanced audio signal. Only certain systems support this option, but it allows for one wire connection to more advanced audio systems.
3. External sound card - This is the USB (or Firewire) connections. Thre are numerous advantages to them, including better sound quality, better output options, etc. This is however the most expensive option. These devices can start at $20 and cost into the thousands. Ultimately, this is what I would recommend unless your system supports toslink.​

Monitors are for professionals, not for personal enjoyment. That said - they can be used for the latter, but they aren't the best solution. Many find them sometimes painful to listen to for long periods of times. I love my KRK collection, but I can't recommend them for the average user.

If you are just listening to music and nothing to bass heavy, I'd just get a receiver and some bookshelves (or whatever your preference) You can hook these up a variety of options (the cheapest being a simple 1/8" to RCA audio). I wouldn't get Bose, but... it's what makes you happy and your budget allows for.

If you are looking for computer speakers, check this post.
 

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
2
Deep Space
This is a tad bit all over the place, but I'll try to answer this best.

Getting the sound out of your Mac:
There are a lot of options at varying costs. Of course you can add on DACs and other amps to the equation, but in terms of getting the sound out of your Mac, I'll highlight the options I know of.
1. Via standard audio out (1/8" jack) – This option will work for plugging into a computer speaker system (2.1) or a boombox/iPod dock. It's by far the cheapest and is probably the most used.
2. Via toslink – Similar to the above option, but uses a toslink connection which is a much more advanced audio signal. Only certain systems support this option, but it allows for one wire connection to more advanced audio systems.
3. External sound card - This is the USB (or Firewire) connections. Thre are numerous advantages to them, including better sound quality, better output options, etc. This is however the most expensive option. These devices can start at $20 and cost into the thousands. Ultimately, this is what I would recommend unless your system supports toslink.​

Monitors are for professionals, not for personal enjoyment. That said - they can be used for the latter, but they aren't the best solution. Many find them sometimes painful to listen to for long periods of times. I love my KRK collection, but I can't recommend them for the average user.

If you are just listening to music and nothing to bass heavy, I'd just get a receiver and some bookshelves (or whatever your preference) You can hook these up a variety of options (the cheapest being a simple 1/8" to RCA audio). I wouldn't get Bose, but... it's what makes you happy and your budget allows for.

If you are looking for computer speakers, check this post.
Thanks for the info.

With the 1/8" you mean the headphone jack? (I'm on a 24" iMac, white).

Your note with the receiver would mean a receiver connected to either the audio jack or the external sound card? Which one would be a decent one?

Bose was just an example. Or Yamaha. I'd really have to research what speakers I'd buy.

I use the Harmon Kardon Soundsticks II




Woof, Woof - Dawg
I heard they are pretty good.

thegoldenmackid, there's really good info in that single post you linked to!

But I guess what I need are bookshelf speakers and an amplifier.

Maybe something like the swans for the computer desk...

(goes into reflective mode)
 

thegoldenmackid

macrumors 604
Dec 29, 2006
7,777
5
dallas, texas
The 1/8" jack is the headphone jack. I would suggesting going an external sound-card that support RCA as the way of connecting.

It seems like the best solution is bookshelves. Those allow for you to have maximum flexibility and choice.
 

JoeG4

macrumors 68030
Jan 11, 2002
2,663
167
Bay Area, Ca.
Depends on what you want:

if money is no object, and you're impressed by europeans:
*Beosound something or another here..

if you're not impressed by europeans, but money is still no object:
* Some other speakers with a funny name that cost 10x more than anything else for no apparent reason.

PS: don't forget the monster cables.

Otherwise, there's a few good, cheap choices:
* Logitech Z2300
* Klipsch 2.1

also:
* Logitech Z5500 if you want 5.1.
* HK soundsticks if you want pretty and still ok

I keep hearing about Swans speakers, I remember when every PC building forum had a fanboy with the ugly 2.0 version that was made of fake wood or whatever and had a black angled front.

It appears one of those people made their way here and started spamming about the funny looking white speakers with the "mid woofer".

Those may be your thing too, I personally find them awkward.

In my experience, logitech has a great warranty and support, but Klipsch speakers have clearer (albeit less boomy) bass. I have a set of Klipschs and a set of Logitechs, and love them both.
 

Saundito

macrumors newbie
Jan 7, 2010
1
0
New Orleans, LA
If your looking for a digital out and do not have a TOSlink on your mac Xitel used to make USB -> TOSlink converter that was packaged with Sony MD players for recording from computers around 2001 (originally retailed for $59.99). These are hard to find now (no longer listed on Xitel's website) the product numer is: MD-PORT DG2.

I've used one with by MacBook 12" G4 for years most recently to connect to a Denon AVR-3806 with B&W 602's. Great crisp sound quality even over long USB cable runs.
 

RubbishBBspeed

macrumors regular
Aug 1, 2009
231
0
I've posted this snippet before and like some replies have mentioned they do need a bit of setting up. Have a look at the Yamaha HS50's or HS80 monitors. They're powered monitors and can plug directly into the headphone jack. No amp required, you can also plug in the base bin too. These are the same monitors used by professionals in recording studios (well some or most pros).

The advantage is the near field sound projection is you really can listen to these things for hours everyday and not find your ears fatigued plus they will last for years.

They're not to everyones taste but don't rule them out without having had a listen first.
 

naid

macrumors regular
Mar 13, 2008
114
0
Been using Swan M200MkII for over a year now, they are excellent (especially for the price). Theaudioinsider still has them, and now M200MkIII is out too.

 

ildondeigiocchi

macrumors 6502a
Dec 30, 2007
695
0
Montreal
I suggest either Bose Companion 2 or 3 series. Bose offers great products. I have mine hooked up to my Mac Pro and the sound quality is impeccable.
 

Kenzembo1

macrumors 6502
Dec 22, 2008
361
0
Youngstown, OH
I personally use the JBL Creature III speakers (subwoofer and satellite speakers speakers) and they're great! I had the Creature II's for many years and passed them along to my dad when he got his new iMac and got the Creature III's for Christmas...needless to say, my dad loves them and I'm impressed that they were able to maintain the same sound quality (even improve on it slightly), while improving the design (crafting a smaller subwoofer and more powerful satellite speakers).

Also, in black they look great with my cinema display and MacBook Pro! They're only available online at the Apple store at the moment, but JBL is supposed to release them in white sometime early this year (first quarter). You should definitely check them out! Whatever speakers you're leaning towards, I suggest venturing on YouTube and checking out some videos before you make your purchase ;)
 

elfxmilhouse

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2008
579
97
Northeast USA
I personally use the JBL Creature III speakers (subwoofer and satellite speakers speakers) and they're great! I had the Creature II's for many years and passed them along to my dad when he got his new iMac and got the Creature III's for Christmas...needless to say, my dad loves them and I'm impressed that they were able to maintain the same sound quality (even improve on it slightly), while improving the design (crafting a smaller subwoofer and more powerful satellite speakers).

Also, in black they look great with my cinema display and MacBook Pro! They're only available online at the Apple store at the moment, but JBL is supposed to release them in white sometime early this year (first quarter). You should definitely check them out! Whatever speakers you're leaning towards, I suggest venturing on YouTube and checking out some videos before you make your purchase ;)
i use a set of jbl creatures at work and they are great also. you can probably find the older models for cheap now since they have been on the market for a while.
 

apfhex

macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2006
2,682
4
Northern California
one of my friends did ask me why I had speakers shaped like male body parts on my desk.
THAT never crossed my mind regarding their design, but they are looking a bit dated. Fit well with G4-era hardware. Now? Eh. But as long as they sound good. :cool:



Still happy with my FX6021's but I think they're getting a bit scarce. Not sure what model Altec Lansing has that's mean to succeed them.
 

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
2
Deep Space
The 1/8" jack is the headphone jack. I would suggesting going an external sound-card that support RCA as the way of connecting.

It seems like the best solution is bookshelves. Those allow for you to have maximum flexibility and choice.
I think so, too.

So, it's now a sound card, not a receiver.


a propos bookshelves: there are so few stores where you can actually listen to them. How do you research this?

In my experience, logitech has a great warranty and support, but Klipsch speakers have clearer (albeit less boomy) bass. I have a set of Klipschs and a set of Logitechs, and love them both.
Good note. I don't need a boomy bass with classic music, jazz, and some pop.

I suggest either Bose Companion 2 or 3 series. Bose offers great products. I have mine hooked up to my Mac Pro and the sound quality is impeccable.
There's a "La Panera" on Ventura blvd in Studio City.

They play jazz music in the men's room.

Voted best sounding men's room in LA.

:D

The sound quality of their restroom music was better than most what I found in even better stores.

They were using small, round Bose speakers.

I personally use the JBL Creature III speakers (subwoofer and satellite speakers speakers) and they're great!
I have old, regular JBL speakers. Just died. But they were great.

Got to check out what JBL is doing nowadays.
 

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
2
Deep Space

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
2
Deep Space
If you are going to go the monitor route and are in the U.S. head to a local Guitar Center and go test a bunch of models.
I'm going to West LA music on Santa Monica blvd to see what other options I have.

Today I saw the Bose PC speakers at the Apple store. What a crap! $250 and it sounds like you flushed the speaker down the toilet.

I will probably not buy a PC speaker. If the M-Audio AV40 sounds flat, too, I'll go the amplifier/receiver way.

Just have to find out how I can plug them into my Mac. Almost no receiver has FireWire, and the earphone connector doesn't look like it's able to transmit good sound.
 

Nostromo

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 26, 2009
1,358
2
Deep Space
Why can't you go USB? And what's your budget?
I can go USB. Is this a good way to go? Do receivers have usb ports?

My budget is flexible, but I'd say I shouldn't, at this time, spend more than 350 to 400 dollars.

One thought I have in mind buying something that I could upgrade to a home theater system (but with four real speakers, not the tiny wall thingies)