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I'd like to get these speakers, but I'm not sure how good they are compared to similarly-priced alternatives. Any setup I could get under the $200 mark or should I just go with these?
The Audioengine A2+ are not the best speakers under $200. However, they are one the best small active speakers under $200. A2+ is ideal for someone with a small desk and looking for a plug-and-play setup. Being so small and easy though comes at a cost (quite literately). You are paying a premium for the convince of a small all in one package. A amp and passive speakers would not only be cheaper, but possibly even sound better. Something like the Lepia LP-2020A and Micca MB42 would cost half he price of the A2+ and yield similar quality. The other drawback of the A2+ small size is small speakers will always sound small. It is physics. The A2+ is not for bassheads. Anything below 100 Hz is going to sound weak. Price and bass aside, the A2+ are great speakers though.
If you have room for bigger speakers on your desk look are studio monitors. The 5-inch Monoprice studio monitors, M-Audio BX5 and Swan D1080 would be good choices. The larger drivers will help fill in the low end. If you are primarily going to use your speakers for watching movies or playing games instead of listening to music look at a 2.1 system with a subwoofer. I would suggest the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 at this price point. Better than most Logitech 2.1 systems because the satellites have tweeters. Lastly, if you are on a tight budget, the M-Audio AV 40 are nearly as good as the A2+ for almost have the price. They do seem to have a high failure rate though.
I really appreciate the help! I'll look into those Micca speakers. Still, you make a good point about the A2+ speakers. I don't have a lot of space on my desk - at least not for the left speaker. I might have to measure the space I have, but I definitely do prefer better sound for cheaper, wherever possible.
I agree with cnhardwick in terms of comparison to sound with a small speaker, and it needs to be mentioned again that the A2+ fills the "all-in-one & compact sound setup" niche VERY well. You can add a sub at anytime to round out the sound stage and reach those lower Hz when time/budget allows, plus the newer A2+ model has its own built in USB DAC (meaning apples to apples for speaker vs speaker is not exactly a fair comparison because at this $200 price point you are getting A LOT in a small package!). The USB DAC adds definite sound quality over any built in computer sound card, and most add-in cards as well. My point, they are more than just "speakers": Built in Amp, decent DAC, and Line Out ports for expansion as well.
The one thing I would disagree with is the Promedia 2.1 suggestion. If you do some quick research you will find that the system started out great many years ago but was plagued by quality control issues, and the "updated version" now in stores which fixed those reported problems is now widely known to be much poorer sound quality, has cheaper cabinet construction, and all around lacks the old perks (i.e. removable cables for one). Welcome to mass production. I picked up a set recently on sale and they went back almost immediately... it just sounded too muddy and there was no where near the clarity of the Audioengine options.