After a deep dive into reviews and whatnot, I decided to depart from the 2.1 setup I was used to, and try entry-level powered studio monitors instead for my computer desktop audio… desires. If the speakers alone don’t fully satisfy me, it’s possible to add a subwoofer to the setup later on so with that option in mind, I ordered some shiny new stuff… and try to be patient while I wait for it to arrive. 🙂
First, having some sort of volume/audio controller seemed advisable, so I went with an AudioEngine D1 digital-analog-converter (DAC) that connects to the computer via USB. It’s like an external sound card, instead of the computer’s built-in DAC (moving the digital to analog conversion out of the interference and frequency battlefield of the computer itself generally seems like a good idea to me). It’s a small external enclosure with a volume knob, RCA output to speakers, and a 3.5mm headphone connector too. The reviews sound promising — ideally, it will improve the perceived sound quality but even if not (which probably means that I can’t hear it, not that the device is lacking😜), it will be useful to have it as a volume controller and headphone plug on my desk, just like it was with my old BlueSky 2.1 system.
Since I’m a “system” kind of person, I ordered a pair of AudioEngine A5+ speakers along with the DAC. Those were also reviewed favorably on various audio/hifi sites. Unlike “true” studio monitors where each speaker has its own power supply, here the left speaker has an integrated amplifier and various input/output options (essentially, what the subwoofer in my old system used to be) while the right speaker is passive, connected to and driven by the amp in the left speaker. Means less cables, which I like.
Last not least, I ordered some silicone stands along with them to set them angled onto my desk. The speakers will be bigger than my old ones, so I’ll have to see how that will work.
UPDATE: I returned the D1 a few days later (described here) and also the A5+ speaker set because after five days, it began to emit a very audio, high pitched hiss from the tweeters.