Over a year has gone by working from home, and I felt the need to upgrade my desktop audio. This is probably because of a culmination my music listening enjoyment, refreshing my work-from-home desk and workspace, but mostly because of a renewed interest in r/battlestations, r/macsetups, r/budgetaudiophile, and various work related mailing lists.
Following some pretty thorough research on the matter, the following comprises my desktop audio setup:
- DAC: JDS Labs Atom DAC+ (Audio Science Review)
Amplifier: JDS Labs Atom Amp+ (Audio Science Review)
- Speakers: Kanto YU4 in Walnut
- Subwoofer : Jamo S 808 SUB
- Headphones: Sennheiser HD 660S
Edit October 2021:
I’ve removed the JDS Labs Atom Amp+ from the mix because this was really only to use with my headphones. While I ran my speakers through this as well, it was redundant to have 3 different ways to adjust the volume (via computer, amp, and speakers). Since I use my headphones seldomly, I’ve decided to use a Google USB-C to 3.5mm (Audio Science Review) when needed. Removing the amp has simplified my setup.
Edit November 2021:
I added the Jamo S 808 subwoofer to the mix mostly because of finding a pretty solid deal and phenomenal reviews for a shallow subwoofer great for small rooms. With the Kanto speakers, it is more or less sprinkles on the cake, that already has icing.
Google Home Max
I connected two Google Home Max speakers together via Google Home grouping, but there was a notable lag with audio and video using this method. A then split my audio output from an Audioengine D1 DAC using this and this, running a 3.5mm cable to each speaker without the Google Home Max speakers paired. This method worked, but had the following annoyances:
- Sometimes the volume in the speakers would slightly differ during playback (didn’t really troubleshoot too much).
- Keeping the volume the same for each speaker was a manual effort. Since I have other Google Home speakers, it was easy enough to accidentally change volume levels of the desk speakers.
- I wanted to keep these speakers as just speakers (mute the microphone). Without doing any physical modification of the Google Home Max speakers, you cannot turn off the red lights that appear when the speaker is muted, only dim it.
Audioengine P4 + N22 + S8
I’ve had the following setup for years, and it was quite good. I didn’t love the amount of cables, and I felt that the amplifier was lacking in functionality mostly because of no remote and no built in DAC for its size. Additionally, the S8 began developing an annoying jitter in audio that I was not able to fix through various means of troubleshooting. I moved these away from the desktop and began using them as TV speakers, but the lack of a remote for the amplifier became more of a hassle than the setup was worth in the long run.
These speakers have since found a new home.
- Amplifier: Audioengine N22
- Speakers: Audioengine P4
- Subwoofer: Audioengine S8