Setting up Audioengine A2+AS8 (2.1) system for iMac? Questions! Hi, this is probably a lame n00b question but I'm not that familiar with the sound outputs of my new iMac (2011 27" i7 2600k, etc), as I've used PCs for a long time and got used to dealing with opening the boxes up and wrastling with the sound card, drivers, etc.
The iMac actually has *OK* sound, that is if you don't crank it up or are allergic to bass. I had a Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 system for my last few PCs and man that sucker sounded awesome and lasted forever... well ok not forever because it recently died, but it lasted like 10 years.
I'm now looking for quality speakers for my iMac. I'm not a musical genius but I'm not stupid either, and I'm not cheap but I'm not Bill Gates either! So, I've had my eye (ear?) on the Audioengine A2 bookshelf speakers... self-powered (amp is in the left speaker I think), real wooden box, kevlar woofer, silk dome tweeter... they sound like real speakers, not "computer speakers" made in China with shiny black plastic by a computer company like Logtitech who does not come from an audio background. And not overpriced but mediocre stuff for yuppies like Bose or Harmon Kardon. Just want GOOD sound for $200-$600, somewhere in that range.
I'm kinda picky about that stuff... I used to have a 1000W McIntosh amp in my trunk pushing four sets of MB-Quart 6.5" separates (kick-pads and rear deck), AND 2 x 12" JL Audio subs in a custom box w/a plexiglass window... and a little bit of room for groceries. I obviously had crossovers, I had a friend made a custom fader knob for just the subs in case I didn't want everyone in California to hear me. And so on... not bragging because I spent way too much on that system and I don't have it anymore anyway, but I learned to like good sound. Also have Sennheiser HD650 headphones and keep wishing I had the money for the 800s or some Grados... Lol... down the rabbit hole....aaaah....
Ok so anyway, I've heard lots of good things about the A2s and of course their big brothers the A5s (but those are a little too big for the space I want to put them in + I don't need that big of sound, as neat as the thought is). I understand they chose good crossover points and there is clear separation between vocals and various instruments... an actual soundstage. But a few people complained about lack of bass. Bass was "good for the size" or "monitor-like, not overpowering". Ok, I'm all for REAL bass as in, no boomy, overpushed tricks or anything that's gonna mess up, say, a smooth jazz song or classical music, but I gotta admit I also like my Chris Cornell and 2Pac and I'm afraid there just won't be DEEP enough, TIGHT enough thump in my rump when I play that stuff.
Then I saw the AS8 8" powered subwoofer, which matches the A2s or A5s very nicely in looks and presumably complements them soundwise... But now here's my question:
My Mac has ONE mini jack for audio out, right? If I bought say a pair of A2s and the AS8 sub, how would I physically hook it up? And if the speakers and the sub both contain their own amps... how does that work? Separate volume knobs I gather, but would the sub stay low enough frequency-wise not to fight with the lows of the A2s, who many people seem to use as standalone 2-speaker systems? Is it just a matter of some splitters or do I need an audio breakout box or....???
Again, sorry if the question is lame (and long, lol), I'm just trying to wrap my head around this. I don't want to spend $600 or so only to find out "that dog won't hunt". :o)
Well, your post sure explains the whole picture. Looks like you're just looking for some technical instructions on hooking up the speakers, plus some confirmation that the speakers sound as good as you'd like.
On the first point, check out this link for Audio Engine's S8 Setup Guide. Page 9, option B is what you're looking for. You just hook up your mac to the sub, and then hook up the S2's to the sub. http://www.audioenginefiles.com/pdfs/AS8%20Setup%20Guide.pdf
I think you'll really enjoy the S2's. I've had a pair for a couple years and love them. I use them at my desk as my primary computer speakers, and they're perfect for enveloping myself in my favorite music while working. I find their sound very satisfying and captivating without being showy. I can listen to them for hours, and they're plenty loud for a small space. I'm considering adding a sub (which is how I came across your post here) since I miss the low-end I get on headphones (in-ear monitors).
Audioengine was also helpful when I needed service on the volume knob -- just some funny behavior that didn't affect the sound, and they fixed it quickly and professionally.
By the way, you're right that the iMac has only one audio output, but note that you can hook up a DAC via TOSLINK (same jack as the stereo 1/8") or USB.
I hope you love your new iMac and speaker setup! If you get the S8's, please follow up and let us know what you think.