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Old 12-18-2012, 09:22 AM   #1
Spike
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Default Replacing computer speakers

My Creative Gigaworks G500s are starting to reset themselves and becoming unreliable which means it's time for a new speaker setup. I could go the PC speaker route again but I'm somewhat tired of that so I decided to go with something slightly better. Here are the constraints:

-Small office setup for games, do not need super powerful speakers
-Surround is a must. I know a quality 2.1 is better than medium quality 5.1 but I love being able to hear people sneaking up behind me in games
-Budget is low, likely $300 unless I can talk to wife into more.
-Again, does not need to be super hifi, this is for a home office with gaming as the primary use.

With that being said I found this on newegg and am wondering if it would good enough for what I'm looking for or if I can do better in the budget.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882120200

Even if they are not the best for my needs thats about what I'm looking for, small satellites and an 8-10" sub. I have speaker wire already running around my office so hooking this stuff up should be real quick, I would just need to find a spot for the receiver...

Thanks for your help!

EDIT* How would I connect this to my pc, optical? I see optical in on the receiver and my Asrock Z68 Extreme 4 has optical out so I assume this would work for multichannel sound?
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:45 PM   #2
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http://www.amazon.com/KRK-Studio-Ref...ds=krk+rokit+5
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:02 PM   #3
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for the onkyo HTIB if you have an HDMI capable monitor, you could go with HDMI to the receiver, and HDMI from the receivers HDMI out to the monitor
otherwise you would use the DIGITAL IN optical.

Just an fyi, that might effect placement: the onkyos and most receivers use class A/B amps and produce a reasonable amount of heat.

you could also go with some energy take 5.0 or energy micro 5.0 + cheap receiver.
shoponkyo frequently has refurbs with full warranty i believe on sale. They sometimes have 30% off coupons and such.

take for ~$130
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...bles-_-na-_-na

micro for $159 dunno if coupon still available ($120AC). small, pretty, & good sounding. perfect for a small office audio setup? WifeAcceptanceFactor++?
http://slickdeals.net/f/5665026-Klip...119-shipped-AC

onkyo's club specials
https://www.shoponkyo.com/products_1...s=1&group_id=1

this way gets you some nicer satellites, though you'll maybe have to hold out on a subwoofer.
you can pick up a subwoofer later and add it on. $200 is usually the sweet spot for good budget subwoofers. The slickdeals link has a pretty decent $70 sub which should be good enough in an office setting.

monoprice happens to also sell a cheapy 5.1 set (monoprice 8247) with good reviews if you want to try them out with a seperate receiver (like the onkyo rc330).
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2
they're not as good as the energy sets though and I dunno how they compare to the HTIB speakers.

Last edited by fralexandr; 12-18-2012 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdifox View Post
Thanks for the link but

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spike View Post
-Surround is a must. I know a quality 2.1 is better than medium quality 5.1
Quote:
Originally Posted by fralexandr View Post
for the onkyo HTIB if you have an HDMI capable monitor, you could go with HDMI to the receiver, and HDMI from the receivers HDMI out to the monitor
otherwise you would use the DIGITAL IN optical.

Just an fyi, that might effect placement: the onkyos and most receivers use class A/B amps and produce a reasonable amount of heat.

you could also go with some energy take 5.0 or energy micro 5.0 + cheap receiver.
shoponkyo frequently has refurbs with full warranty i believe on sale. They sometimes have 30% off coupons and such.

take for ~$130
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...bles-_-na-_-na

micro for $159 dunno if coupon still available ($120AC). small, pretty, & good sounding. perfect for a small office audio setup? WifeAcceptanceFactor++?
http://slickdeals.net/f/5665026-Klip...119-shipped-AC

onkyo's club specials
https://www.shoponkyo.com/products_1...s=1&group_id=1

this way gets you some nicer satellites, though you'll maybe have to hold out on a subwoofer.
you can pick up a subwoofer later and add it on. $200 is usually the sweet spot for good budget subwoofers. The slickdeals link has a pretty decent $70 sub which should be good enough in an office setting.

monoprice happens to also sell a cheapy 5.1 set (monoprice 8247) with good reviews if you want to try them out with a seperate receiver (like the onkyo rc330).
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2
they're not as good as the energy sets though and I dunno how they compare to the HTIB speakers.
Interesting, so your of the mind that even with a restrictive budget I could do better building something from individual purchases rather than an HTIB? What if I was looking at a set like the Yamaha YHT-397

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...%20yht%20397bl

Which has separate tweeters on the satellites rather than a single cone? I assume all these lower end HTiB's have passive subs so buying an active sub would probably be better in the long run...

Thanks for the info, I'll look through it when I get home this evening.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:06 PM   #5
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That $150 Onkyo would probably pair up nicely with 2 pair of Pioneer bookshelves when they go on sale for $50/pair + $50 center when on sale.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:07 PM   #6
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the energy micros/takes usually sell for much more unless they go on sale (which they currently are; they go on sale rather frequently). As such, they are pretty good budget speakers.
http://camelcamelcamel.com/Energy-RC...uct/B006J0NZ6Q
They historically were around $300 for just the 5.0, which is pretty close to the price on the Yamaha HTIB. Speaker technology doesn't change too much.

The pioneers Plugers listed are also pretty good when on a low budget (though personally I would use them for a 2.0 set on a cheap 20w Lepai class T amp).
The pioneers are pretty big speakers (bookshelfs: 7"x8"x12"; center: 20"x~8"x~8"; wxdxh). I dunno where I'd put the center .

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Old 12-18-2012, 10:59 PM   #7
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topping tp21 amp + pioneer bookshelves!
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:33 PM   #8
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Energy Micros are good stuff, pair it with the Polk PSW10 that is on sale at Amazon for $79 and the Yamaha RX-V371 also on sale at amazon for $169 and you got yourself a solid 5.1 PC system.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:54 AM   #9
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Dang, now I wish I had the budget ready to go at this moment, likely I'll have to wait a few weeks before I can start buying parts

Connection wise no matter which setup I go with what is the best way to hook up the PC to the receiver? I see optical as an option, is there something better? I'm using the onboard sound on my motherboard, would going to a receiver make it more worthwhile to get a dedicated sound card?

Thanks!
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:35 AM   #10
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If you're going to use a digital output on your PC the soundcard (onboard, internal or external) won't make much difference since the DAC in the receiver is going to be doing the decoding. If you're using analog outputs an external soundcard or DAC will give you the cleanest sound. In theory digital is digital from the source to the DAC and immune to any interference or degradation, keeping the analog signal from the DAC to the amp as short as possible should give you the best sound. In the real world there is a lot of debate about the quality of different DACs, the efficiency of shielding on analog signal cables, the effects of placing magic pebbles on your interconnects, etc., you may or may not hear any difference between your onboard sound and any other option. I suggest trying the analog output on your onboard sound first since it cost nothing extra to try it, if you feel like it's too noisy (the onboard on my laptop and the desktop I use at work both pickup a lot of noise from the hdd spinning, my home desktop doesn't.) If the onboard sound isn't good enough for you the toslink out to an external DAC (or the optical input on your receiver if available) or a USB soundcard should be roughly equal in terms of what most people can hear.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spike View Post
Dang, now I wish I had the budget ready to go at this moment, likely I'll have to wait a few weeks before I can start buying parts

Connection wise no matter which setup I go with what is the best way to hook up the PC to the receiver? I see optical as an option, is there something better? I'm using the onboard sound on my motherboard, would going to a receiver make it more worthwhile to get a dedicated sound card?

Thanks!
It depends on what you got. If you have a modern Radeon GPU you can go through HDMI to the receiver if you end up getting one with HDMI. If not most motherboards have toslink or coax or both.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:02 PM   #12
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It depends on what you got. If you have a modern Radeon GPU you can go through HDMI to the receiver if you end up getting one with HDMI. If not most motherboards have toslink or coax or both.
This pc is running my 6970 so it's pretty modern. Would it matter that I don't use the HDMI out since I run 3x24" LCD's using 2x DVI and 1xDP->DVI adapter?

What is a toslink? I have an "optical" port on my mobo but nothing that looks like coax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kornphlake View Post
If you're going to use a digital output on your PC the soundcard (onboard, internal or external) won't make much difference since the DAC in the receiver is going to be doing the decoding. If you're using analog outputs an external soundcard or DAC will give you the cleanest sound. In theory digital is digital from the source to the DAC and immune to any interference or degradation, keeping the analog signal from the DAC to the amp as short as possible should give you the best sound. In the real world there is a lot of debate about the quality of different DACs, the efficiency of shielding on analog signal cables, the effects of placing magic pebbles on your interconnects, etc., you may or may not hear any difference between your onboard sound and any other option. I suggest trying the analog output on your onboard sound first since it cost nothing extra to try it, if you feel like it's too noisy (the onboard on my laptop and the desktop I use at work both pickup a lot of noise from the hdd spinning, my home desktop doesn't.) If the onboard sound isn't good enough for you the toslink out to an external DAC (or the optical input on your receiver if available) or a USB soundcard should be roughly equal in terms of what most people can hear.
Sorry, I really did not understand much of what you said here. I understand the analog to analog makes the most sense (can I run the 3.5mm cables from the front/rear/center outs on my mobo to the receiver?) and that digital to analog could cause some noise but thats about all I got.
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:03 PM   #13
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Basically how you connect the computer to a receiver depends on what connections you have available on either end. Most likely you have 5.1 analog outs on your onboard sound card, some receivers have 5.1 analog inputs, in this case the easiest connection is to use RCA cables and splitters to connect the computer to the receiver but the analog signal is susceptible to noise from within the PC; analog interconnects are last century's technology and are disappearing on AV receivers, especially where multi-channel sources are concerned. There are many debates as to which digital connection is best and where it's best to do the digital to analog conversion, a lot of it comes down to preference, religion, ego, e-peen, etc. The easiest way to use a digital interconnect is to use TOSLINK (digital optical) or SPDIF (digital coax) if your receiver has inputs for one of those formats. The TOSLINK out on your Mobo is probably as good as the TOSLINK out on a discrete soundcard or an external USB soudcard, most likely you wouldn't gain anything audible by adding hardware. The DAC (digital analog converter) in most receivers is adequate for most people, feeding a digital signal directly to the receiver means you are delivering the cleanest signal to the point that is closest to the amp before converting it to analog. HDMI is another option for delivering digital audio to the receiver, but it sounds like it's not very practical given your display setup. Again there are a number of people who believe that the digital to audio conversion should only be done in the receiver, others believe that it should only be done by an external DAC, some believe that it's okay to send encoded digital to the receiver, others believe that it should be decoded by the source first, etc. There are a lot of opinions and a lot of right ways to accomplish the same thing. I'd try whatever is easiest and cheapest first and add hardware to suit your tastes, chances are you'll be more than pleased with the simplest solution.

Last edited by kornphlake; 12-19-2012 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:13 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by kornphlake View Post
Basically how you connect the computer to a receiver depends on what connections you have available on either end. Most likely you have 5.1 analog outs on your onboard sound card, some receivers have 5.1 analog inputs, in this case the easiest connection is to use RCA cables and splitters to connect the computer to the receiver but the analog signal is susceptible to noise from within the PC; analog interconnects are last century's technology and are disappearing on AV receivers, especially where multi-channel sources are concerned. There are many debates as to which digital connection is best and where it's best to do the digital to analog conversion, a lot of it comes down to preference, religion, ego, e-peen, etc. The easiest way is to use TOSLINK (digital optical) or SPDIF (digital coax) if your receiver has inputs for one of those formats. The TOSLINK out on your Mobo is probably as good as the TOSLINK out on a discrete soundcard or an external USB soudcard, most likely you wouldn't gain anything audible by adding hardware. The DAC (digital analog converter) in most receivers is adequate for most people, feeding a digital signal directly to the receiver means you are delivering the cleanest signal to the point that is closest to the amp before converting it to analog. HDMI is another option for delivering digital audio to the receiver, but it sounds like it's not very practical given your display setup. Again there are a number of people who believe that the digital to audio conversion should only be done in the receiver, others believe that it should only be done by an external DAC, some believe that it's okay to send encoded digital to the receiver, others believe that it should be decoded by the source first, etc. There are a lot of opinions and a lot of right ways to accomplish the same thing. I'd try whatever is easiest and cheapest first and add hardware to suit your tastes, chances are you'll be more than pleased with the simplest solution.
Wow... I'm pretty sure you said the exact same thing as above but I completely understood it this time... thanks!!!

For simplicity I'd likely go with the S/PDIF connector since it sounds like your saying that would be as good as going with a stand alone audio card, or nearly so. I assume something like this would be the right cable? Though I did just notice my motherboard has both the optical and coax out... which would be better to use?

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

With that part taken care of now it's down to the speakers. At this point, baring any spectacular sales in the next few weeks, I'm leaning towards either the Yamaha RX-V371BL + Energy Micros + Polk 10"

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-V371...amaha+receiver

or the Yamaha YHT-397 HTIB

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-YHT-397...words=HTR-3065

If I go with the first setup I noticed the receiver has an RCA looking subwoofer out plug on it but the Polk sub has dual RCA looking inputs... how does this work? Why does the sub have a L/R input, it's a sub, right? And why does it appear to have a mini receiver built into it with the speaker outs? Do I need to even worry about those?

Thanks again for all the help!
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Last edited by Spike; 12-19-2012 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:10 PM   #15
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Coaxial or optical is really 6 of one or 1/2 dozen of the other. There is an argument that optical is slightly better since it's a glass or plastic cable conducting light, it's immune to RFI, the earth's magnetic poles, solar flares, etc., in real life I can't tell much if any difference between coaxial and optical. My mobo has an optical jack built into the board, to use coax I have to use a bracket that takes up an expansion slot.

Normally the sub manual will tell you which input to use if you only have 1 output from your receiver, I think your supposed to use the left only, but it shouldn't really matter if you use the left or the right, unless perhaps the auto power feature uses only one of the inputs. If your receiver has only 1 subwoofer output, presumably the receiver is summing the channels and outputting a composite signal, if your receiver had stereo outputs the sub amp would sum the two channels, either way you're getting mono out of the sub, I wouldn't worry about it. The spring terminals that look like they'd accept speaker wire are for a speaker level input. If your receiver didn't have a sub pre-out (rca,) you could connect the L/R speaker wires and the sub amp would attenuate the signal for the sub amp then pass through the speaker level signal for the speakers.

Last edited by kornphlake; 12-19-2012 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:36 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Spike View Post
Wow... I'm pretty sure you said the exact same thing as above but I completely understood it this time... thanks!!!

For simplicity I'd likely go with the S/PDIF connector since it sounds like your saying that would be as good as going with a stand alone audio card, or nearly so. I assume something like this would be the right cable? Though I did just notice my motherboard has both the optical and coax out... which would be better to use?

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

With that part taken care of now it's down to the speakers. At this point, baring any spectacular sales in the next few weeks, I'm leaning towards either the Yamaha RX-V371BL + Energy Micros + Polk 10"

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-V371...amaha+receiver

or the Yamaha YHT-397 HTIB

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-YHT-397...words=HTR-3065

If I go with the first setup I noticed the receiver has an RCA looking subwoofer out plug on it but the Polk sub has dual RCA looking inputs... how does this work? Why does the sub have a L/R input, it's a sub, right? And why does it appear to have a mini receiver built into it with the speaker outs? Do I need to even worry about those?

Thanks again for all the help!
Toslink is fiber optic S/PDIF. Also on subs with L/R the L is usually the LFE but you can always buy a splitter to use both. I will let you know on the Polk as I have one coming in today from amazon for a 2.1ch audio system for my wife with Audioengine A2's.

Last edited by gus6464; 12-19-2012 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:42 PM   #17
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Also going through HDMI on the radeon just gives you fancy audio (DTS-HD/MA and TrueHD) vs the toslink so it's not really needed. If you don't care about bluray go for toslink cable from monoprice.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:11 PM   #18
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Also going through HDMI on the radeon just gives you fancy audio (DTS-HD/MA and TrueHD) vs the toslink so it's not really needed. If you don't care about bluray go for toslink cable from monoprice.
If I don't care about bluray? I have a bluray player and occasionally watch movies on my pc, wouldn't connecting via optical/coax still allow me to have sound with the bluray like it does now? Or are you saying there are some fancier bluray sound options I won't get using the mobo? As long as I get basic surround I'm pretty happy.

I'm tempted to get those monoprice speakers for the shear cheapness of them even though the energy + polk would sound better. All I need is a good setup for gaming with enough punch to enjoy the games without blowing things apart in my ~10 x 10 office, it's not a large space at all. ~$255 for the monoprice set + yamaha receiver vs ~$400 for the energy + yamaha + polk... 40% less is a strong selling point.

Anyone think going that route is not a good idea to save cash for such a limited setup? Plus then I'm not out that much if I wanted to upgrade later on using the same receiver. Though if the monoprice speakers are not good for gaming then I would want to spend more, after all the entire setup is geared towards gaming
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:17 PM   #19
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yep, you should still get sound but as gus says you probably won't get the fancy dolby HD surround encoding.
I would personally be fine going with the monoprice stuff because I'm not too picky with audio and I'm guessing this is a personal use thing (you have a big TV/projector with HT setup already right? ), but ymmv.

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Old 12-19-2012, 06:26 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by fralexandr View Post
yep, you should still get sound but as gus says you probably won't get the special dolby HD surround encoding.
oh, well if thats the case then no biggie. This is a home office setup in a small space with gaming as the main use. I'll save worrying about the high def sound features once I have a better home AV setup downstairs and actually invest in decent speakers that won't primarily be used to convey gunshot sounds
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:15 PM   #21
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It's funny how the Monoprice "Hifi" 5.1 set looks identical to my Energy Take 5's.

If this is for gaming you should go with the cheap monoprice set. I bet you it will still sound better than the "PC" 5.1 speaker sets.
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:33 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post
It's funny how the Monoprice "Hifi" 5.1 set looks identical to my Energy Take 5's.

If this is for gaming you should go with the cheap monoprice set. I bet you it will still sound better than the "PC" 5.1 speaker sets.
Thats the way I'm leaning, get a decent entry level receiver and then the cheap speakers to allow for expansion later. My only worry is volume level. while I don't crank it by any means I do occasionally like it loud, BF3's audio effects are quite nice you know Hopefully these will allow me to still get that BOOM I'm looking for.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:34 PM   #23
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you should definitely be able to get the speakers pretty darn loud, they ARE sorta meant for an intro level home theater after all .
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:19 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by fralexandr View Post
you should definitely be able to get the speakers pretty darn loud, they ARE sorta meant for an intro level home theater after all .
ha, thanks
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:01 AM   #25
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Klipsch Energy RC Micro 5.0 just popped up for $99 shipped also.
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