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Are PC speakers bad?
HTS
post Jun 11 2008, 21:27
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Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.
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Lyx
post Jun 11 2008, 21:55
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The target audience matters. Klipsch doesn't have the same target audience as typical PC-Speaker manufacturers.


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HTS
post Jun 11 2008, 21:56
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QUOTE (Lyx @ Jun 11 2008, 16:55) *
The target audience matters. Klipsch doesn't have the same target audience as typical PC-Speaker manufacturers.

But even their promedia 2.1 costs less than 200 dollars, and their groove 2.0 costs 100 dollars. So that's similar what the high end altec lansing and Logitech cost.
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Lyx
post Jun 11 2008, 21:58
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As i said already, the main problem isn't price, but target audience ---> how and what for that cost was invested. Also - how much does klipsch spend on marketing and distribution? How much does logitech spend on marketing and distribution? You're paying for that as well.
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Roseval
post Jun 11 2008, 22:03
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A speaker is a box you connect to an amp
A PC speaker is in general a speaker with a build in amp


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AndrewCottrell
post Jun 11 2008, 22:04
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 20:27) *
Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.

The main things are size, amplification and price. PC speakers tend to be small, use internal amplification (active) and are usually cheap. Those attributes all tend to trade off against sound quality. I wouldn't want to make a sweeping generalization about 'weakness' as these trade offs are desired by the people who buy them.

Back in the days of CRT monitors, PC speakers had to be shielded. I assume they still are. I don't know if that involves a trade off against quality, but I assume it increases the price slightly.

I imagine that the even the expensive PC speakers are trading off size and amplification against sound quality. Their quality should be proportional to their price as compared to active speakers of the same size (although there will be an effective surcharge if the brand is popular).

Bookshelf speakers will generally be larger, have a higher sensitivity, and use external amplification. They may or may not be shielded (so check before you put them near CRTs). I would expect that, at the same price point, the bookshelf speakers would sound better, but of course you'd need an external amplifier.

Funny story: At my work place I have a pair of Dell PC speakers -- they sound terrible. I expect they would cost about $20 new. At home I have a pair of Celestion 5 bookshelf speakers -- they sound great. I purchased them off eBay for $20. (Actually I'm in England and use British pounds, but I've translated into US dollars as I assume you are American)

This post has been edited by AndrewCottrell: Jun 11 2008, 22:17
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HTS
post Jun 11 2008, 22:12
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QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:04) *
QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 20:27) *

Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.

The main things are size, amplification and price. PC speakers tend to be small, use internal amplification (active) and are usually cheap. Those attributes all tend to trade off against sound quality. I wouldn't want to make a sweeping generalization about 'weakness' as these trade offs are desired by the people who buy them.

Back in the days of CRT monitors, PC speakers had to be shielded. I assume they still are. I don't know if that involves a trade off against quality, but I assume it increases the price slightly.

I imagine that the even the expensive PC speakers are trading off size and amplification against sound quality. Their quality should be proportional to their price as compared to active speakers of the same size (although there will be an effective surcharge if the brand is popular).

Bookshelf would generally be bigger, have a higher sensitivity, and use external amplification. They may or may not be shielded (so check before you put them near CRTs). I would expect that, at the same price point, the bookshelf speakers would sound better, but of course you'd need an external amplifier.

At my work place I have a pair of Dell PC speakers -- they sound terrible. I expect they would cost about $20 new. At home I have a pair of Celestion 5 bookshelf speakers -- they sound great. I purchased them off eBay for $20. (Actually I'm in England and use British pounds, but I've translated into US dollars as I assume you are American)

Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.
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AndrewCottrell
post Jun 11 2008, 22:30
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 21:12) *
Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.

Sorry, I don't have any experience with studio monitors. I've heard that they have a very flat response, and that the active ones are designed for near-field listening with no reflections. That could be a problem if your computer desk is against a wall or near a corner.

I don't mean to be presumptuous but if you are considering purchasing a pair of speakers for use with your computer then I suggest that you find a way to listen to some different types and at different price points. Your ears should be the final judge (not our opinions and hearsay).

This post has been edited by AndrewCottrell: Jun 11 2008, 22:32
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Jebus
post Jun 12 2008, 00:03
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Genelecs are a good example... a very common powered studio monitor with a flat response. If you consider that a lot (most?) CDs are mixed on them, they're damn fine speakers.

Most PC speakers are designed for low power and close listening, which makes sense when you're 2 feet away at your desk in a small office. That doesn't make them "bad" per se, but they won't fill a room with booty-shaking sound.

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HTS
post Jun 12 2008, 00:07
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QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:30) *
QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 21:12) *

Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.


I don't mean to be presumptuous but if you are considering purchasing a pair of speakers for use with your computer then I suggest that you find a way to listen to some different types and at different price points. Your ears should be the final judge (not our opinions and hearsay).

I actually got a 5.1 system for pc already, I'm finding them to be good sounding. I spent nearly 300 dollars for the system (including tax).

So I'm saying, there are also expensive PC speakers, the most expensive can go up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system. There are also cheap "hifi" systems around too, like these

http://www.bestbuy.com/site//olspage.jsp?i...sc=abcat0200000
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pawelq
post Jun 12 2008, 01:31
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QUOTE (AndrewCottrell @ Jun 11 2008, 17:30) *
Sorry, I don't have any experience with studio monitors. I've heard that they have a very flat response, and that the active ones are designed for near-field listening with no reflections. That could be a problem if your computer desk is against a wall or near a corner.


Actually, decent active monitors would have several EQ settings to adjust the response to spekaer placement, including by a wall and in a corner.

Studio monitors are designed to be flat, so being small (I am talking nearfield monitors here) the cannot reproduce deep bass. Computer speakers cannot do this as well, but they will pretend by emphasing the upper bass a lot. Which of course against studio monitors principle of flat response and no coloration.

Studio monitors also tend to be heavy and sturdy. Thick cabinet walls reduce coloration, and amplifiers and drivers are designed to work continously at relatively high power levels. They cannot be tiny, amplifiers need radiators, etc. Computer speakers have often thin, plastic cabinet walls prone to color sound.

Studio monitors typically have separate mono amplifiers in each speaker, and, as a consequence, separate volume controls for each speakers. Often the volume controls are on the rear panel, or are non-existent at all. Compuert speakers have typically a stereo amplifier in one speaker with a single volume control, and will send amplified signal to the second speaker. Typically, studio monitors have an AC power cord per speaker, with transformer located inside. Computer speakers are typically powered from an external transformer.

Very often studio monitors are bi-amplified: i.e., each speaker has two amplifiers, one for woofer, one for tweeter. I don't think you can find this solution in computer speakers often.

Studio monitors typically accept balanced line-level audio connection via XLR and/or TRS connector, plus additionally unbalanced connection via RCA (or TRS using TS plug). There are connectors on the speakers, cables have to be purchased separately. Computer speaker accept unbalanced line-level audio, typically via mini-jack cable which is permanently attached to the speaker that has the amplifier inside.

Studio monitors are tuned to be flat, accurate and revealing - this presentation mode may be fatiguing to some. But since my first contact with a studio monitor (passive Tannoy Reveal 6) I am in love with this detailed, mercilessly accurate and unbelievably transparent way of presentation.

I listed a number of differences, but at some point the two worlds tend to converge. Small Edirol monitors are typically regarded as low quality and rather approaching the level of computer speakers. Cheap M-Audio monitors, especially the new AV series is also close to being high-quality computer speakers. Even Adam Audio released a small monitor A5 which can be purchased in two or three different colors, and volume can be controlled from one speaker - an obvious attempt to get to the computer speaker market. But it will be the top of this market, a pair of Adam A5 costs ~$700...


QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 19:07) *
So I'm saying, there are also expensive PC speakers, the most expensive can go up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system. There are also cheap "hifi" systems around too, like these


Wow, 5.1 for less that 100 bucks - how crappy this must be. Even if "expensive" PC speakers cost up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system, unexpensive decent studio monitors would be around ~300 a PAIR. More advanced may cost like $1000-$5000 per pair, or even more, if you look into midfield or main monitors.

The bottom line is that even though one of the design principles (being active) is commonly shared between studio monitors and computer speakers, there is a lot of differences.

This post has been edited by pawelq: Jun 12 2008, 01:40


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kornchild2002
post Jun 12 2008, 01:44
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 17:07) *
So I'm saying, there are also expensive PC speakers, the most expensive can go up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system. There are also cheap "hifi" systems around too, like these

http://www.bestbuy.com/site//olspage.jsp?i...sc=abcat0200000


The link that you provided is to home theater systems. Those can be used as computer speakers but keep in mind that they are meant more for larger room listening. They are also meant to be listened to from a further distance than computer speakers. For the most part, PC speakers are meant for small room listening and close proximity listening. I have a pair of Logitech Z680's and they provide excellent sound whether I am listening to them in my room, living room, or trying to fill a 30 person presentation room (my university actually uses these in their lecture rooms for sound through a PowerPoint presentation, video, or microphone). I also have another pair of much smaller Logitech's that can barely fill my 13'X13' room.

I don't think that PC speakers are bad as some models (like mine) can provide the same quality as expensive home theaters. I paid $150 for my speakers and a home theater system with nearly the same specs (actually, home theater systems didn't go up to 1000 watts at the time I purchased my Logitechs) went for $499 or higher. My Dad purchased a Panasonic home theater system for about $700 a little after I purchased my Logitechs. To me, the Logitechs produce a clearer sound even when listening to them from far distances. They can also fill the room with sound (not that that is a good thing but the current MTV generation likes to feel their music, not listen to it). My Dad's system produced a more muddled sound when listening to music and DVDs and it could not come close to the volume that my system can reach. So that is one example of a PC speaker system beating a dedicated home theater system.

I think that PC speakers can provide adequate quality for most situations; it just depends on the speaker system, the person, and the situation.
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JJZolx
post Jun 12 2008, 02:02
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 14:27) *
Do PC speakers have any inherent weakness implicit in the fact that they are pc speakers, or is it just because that they are cheap? I mean, there are a lot of 2.0 bookshelf speakers that cost around 100 dollars, and a good 2.0 set of pc speakers is roughly around there. Klipsch even makes pc speakers.

Mostly because they're cheaply made. Crummy little resonant plastic boxes with drivers that cost pennies. There are some nice PC speakers available, but they're few and far between. For cheap, and if you can afford the space, buy a used pair of stereo bookshelf speakers and get an old stereo receiver or integrated amp and you'll never look back.
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wilbur
post Jun 12 2008, 02:06
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If you're just a little inclined toward diy you probably can't do much better than some of this
guys' mini speaker projects.

http://zaphaudio.com/

I kinda like his philosophy on cost effective hifi. For his PC sized speaker plans (he has three or four of them), it's probably somewhere in the range of three times the performance for half the cost.

This post has been edited by wilbur: Jun 12 2008, 02:14
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shadowking
post Jun 12 2008, 02:10
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Generally, i found that Pc speakers produce either a shopping center brittle sound or a bloated boomy sound that is better for games or movies. I suppose that is what most people hear anyway. To me that is not accurate sound. Recievers are cheap. Grab a Sherwood or similar and chances are your relatives have some unused bookshelf speakers. Grab them (ask nicely) , get some speaker stands and enjoy real hifi.


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HTS
post Jun 12 2008, 02:18
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But with bookshelf speakers, I don't have amplifiers for them. And I don't have a dedicated media center player.

QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Jun 11 2008, 20:44) *
QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 17:07) *

So I'm saying, there are also expensive PC speakers, the most expensive can go up to 300 dollars for a 5.1 system. There are also cheap "hifi" systems around too, like these

http://www.bestbuy.com/site//olspage.jsp?i...sc=abcat0200000


The link that you provided is to home theater systems. Those can be used as computer speakers but keep in mind that they are meant more for larger room listening. They are also meant to be listened to from a further distance than computer speakers. For the most part, PC speakers are meant for small room listening and close proximity listening. I have a pair of Logitech Z680's and they provide excellent sound whether I am listening to them in my room, living room, or trying to fill a 30 person presentation room (my university actually uses these in their lecture rooms for sound through a PowerPoint presentation, video, or microphone). I also have another pair of much smaller Logitech's that can barely fill my 13'X13' room.

I don't think that PC speakers are bad as some models (like mine) can provide the same quality as expensive home theaters. I paid $150 for my speakers and a home theater system with nearly the same specs (actually, home theater systems didn't go up to 1000 watts at the time I purchased my Logitechs) went for $499 or higher. My Dad purchased a Panasonic home theater system for about $700 a little after I purchased my Logitechs. To me, the Logitechs produce a clearer sound even when listening to them from far distances. They can also fill the room with sound (not that that is a good thing but the current MTV generation likes to feel their music, not listen to it). My Dad's system produced a more muddled sound when listening to music and DVDs and it could not come close to the volume that my system can reach. So that is one example of a PC speaker system beating a dedicated home theater system.

I think that PC speakers can provide adequate quality for most situations; it just depends on the speaker system, the person, and the situation.

The newest version of logitech 5.1 is the Z5500 right? The problem with the logitechs is that they don't have tweeters on their satellites.

I have a set of Z2300s, and they sound kind of flat and muddy.
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BassBinDevil
post Jun 12 2008, 11:27
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[/quote]
Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.
[/quote]

Not always. Some studio monitors were popular because they are not "good". They are chosen to represent typical consumer speakers. The Auratone cubes are used to make sure that a mix will still sound good on something like a portable radio. Yamaha NS10 are used to represent a typical low/mid quality home stereo.

But I guess these days you can just punch in a DSP effect and make any good monitor sound like a portable radio.


Now, if you want an inexpensive, high-quality amplifier to use some unpowered speakers with your computer, search eBay for ta2024 or T-Amp. It's only around 9 to 15 real RMS watts, but when the speakers are only 2 feet away, that is plenty of power. These amps are surprisingly well regarded by some "golden eared" audiophiles. (And because they're class-D, they're an excellent choice for a battery-operated sound system.)
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WmAx
post Jun 12 2008, 17:01
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Nearly all computer speakers are very poor, due to reasons already explained.

However, not all studio monitors are good either, as already explained.

I take every model on an individual basis and measure/verify actual characteristics.

One small 2 way 5" based powered unit that I can recommend for hi-fi computer use is the KRK Rokit 5. At $200/pair, I consider it a bargain. Much better than the Klipsche Pro-Media, also.

Here is the measured data:

http://www.linaeum.com/productinfo/other/krk_rokit5/

-Chris

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HTS
post Jun 13 2008, 03:11
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[quote name='BassBinDevil' date='Jun 12 2008, 06:27' post='570645']
[/quote]
Are studio monitors any good? They are also internally amplified.
[/quote]

Not always. Some studio monitors were popular because they are not "good". They are chosen to represent typical consumer speakers. The Auratone cubes are used to make sure that a mix will still sound good on something like a portable radio. Yamaha NS10 are used to represent a typical low/mid quality home stereo.

But I guess these days you can just punch in a DSP effect and make any good monitor sound like a portable radio.


Now, if you want an inexpensive, high-quality amplifier to use some unpowered speakers with your computer, search eBay for ta2024 or T-Amp. It's only around 9 to 15 real RMS watts, but when the speakers are only 2 feet away, that is plenty of power. These amps are surprisingly well regarded by some "golden eared" audiophiles. (And because they're class-D, they're an excellent choice for a battery-operated sound system.)
[/quote]
Those amplifiers just look like circuit boards and chips, I don't know how to use them. And are they all from China?
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kornchild2002
post Jun 13 2008, 03:47
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 11 2008, 19:18) *
The newest version of logitech 5.1 is the Z5500 right? The problem with the logitechs is that they don't have tweeters on their satellites.

I have a set of Z2300s, and they sound kind of flat and muddy.


The z5500's are the newer models. It doesn't look like they have tweeters, I know that mine don't. I don't think that they need dedicated tweeters though given the class of the speakers. They aren't high end studio grade monitors, they are high end computer speakers that produce home theater sound quality. Someone looking for 3-way or 4-way speakers should look elsewhere. I find my z680 system to be quite good especially for the price that I paid. I have yet to come across a system that is already put together for $150 that produces sound quality equal to my system. I am sure there are some 2.0 systems out there (for $150 or less) that have superior sound quality but I have yet to see them. Not only that but I have owned my system for 4 years now so there are bound to be quite a few models better for that price. Still, for a computer speaker system, they are the best I have come across (I have also compared them to my roommate's 5.1 Klipsch system).
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HTS
post Jun 13 2008, 16:34
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How much does a HIFI system need to cost for it to be good? Like substantially better than PC speakers?

Are the "home theatre systems" from makers like panasonic that costs like 500 dollars HIFI systems?
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n3tfury
post Jun 13 2008, 19:21
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QUOTE (wilbur @ Jun 11 2008, 18:06) *
If you're just a little inclined toward diy you probably can't do much better than some of this
guys' mini speaker projects.

http://zaphaudio.com/

I kinda like his philosophy on cost effective hifi. For his PC sized speaker plans (he has three or four of them), it's probably somewhere in the range of three times the performance for half the cost.



that's an awesome link, thank you.
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AndrewCottrell
post Jun 13 2008, 21:30
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 13 2008, 15:34) *
How much does a HIFI system need to cost for it to be good? Like substantially better than PC speakers?
If you're willing buy used equipment you can acquire a 'good' system for quite a small cost.

My stereo 'hi-fi', consisting of a Technics RS-616, ST-S4L, SU-V3 and Celestion 5 speakers, cost me about $200 (including postage, cables and speaker stands). My computer is connected to the amplifier and is my source for all things digital.

QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 13 2008, 15:34) *
Are the "home theatre systems" from makers like panasonic that costs like 500 dollars HIFI systems?
There are people who think that you need to spend $10,000 for your system to qualify as hi-fi, so you may receive a range of answers.

This post has been edited by AndrewCottrell: Jun 13 2008, 21:36
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kornchild2002
post Jun 13 2008, 22:14
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QUOTE (HTS @ Jun 13 2008, 09:34) *
How much does a HIFI system need to cost for it to be good? Like substantially better than PC speakers?

Are the "home theatre systems" from makers like panasonic that costs like 500 dollars HIFI systems?


I don't think that price has much to do with classifying a system as hi-fi as you can find really good equipment for rather inexpensive prices. I personally wouldn't count many of those home theater system in a box setups as being hi-fi. I don't consider my system to be hi-fi either. I don't even know what would constitute a hi-fi system either. I am sure it has to do with frequency replication, signal to noise ratios, and wattage but I don't know where the line is drawn for hi-fi and non hi-fi units.

Price should be the last thing to look at though as I have heard some great $150 systems and some terrible $750 systems.
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n3tfury
post Jun 14 2008, 01:40
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great $150 systems? please elaborate.
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