Originally Posted by Electrocutor
High quality audio isn't cheap. A decent crossover circuit alone can cost you $100.
If you consider critical listening for music (living room with direct from CD source), I'd consider entry-level real high fidelity speakers (no amp) to start somewhere around $800/pair; entry-level towers around $1200/pair.
Obviously, multimedia speakers for your computer don't need to be quite that good unless you have a very discerning ear and cannot stand to listen to lesser speakers. I guess the issue is what your definition of "stellar" is. To my ear, stellar is at least entry-level high fidelity.
After listening to music on my computer with the Audioengine A5+ and my living room with B&W 683's or Ascend Sierra-1's, I cannot stomach listening to my old Logitech Z-5500 computer speakers at all anymore: it sounds something like stuffing my ears with cotton or something; it's dead, has absolutely no life or detail or sound stage. Consider the difference in someone's voice over the telephone vs hearing them in person: it really is that much.
Please, don't misunderstand. I won't fault you for wanting decent sounding speakers for under $100, but unless you find a really excellent deal, they will still be quite a ways from stellar. I just want to make sure you know that $100 decent speakers is a good step up from crappy computer speakers, but is still a long way from what is available out there. Perhaps you're better off spending your $100 for now without thinking of adding to them, and when your budget increases someday, you can upgrade to a better 2.x system.
Here's a brief history of my speakers:
I started out with the generic $10 Altec Lansing 2.0 powered "speakers".
They could not hold a candle to my $40 Altec Lansing 5.1 speakers.
They could not hold a candle to my $350 Logitech Z-5500's.
They could not hold a candle to my $200 Audioengine A2's.
They were about the same as my $400 Audioengine A5+s, but with less range and slightly less clarity.
They can't hold a candle to my $850 Ascend Sierra-1's.
They were about the same as my $1500 B&W 683's, but with lesser midrange and lower range.
They can't hold a candle to the $12,000 B&W 802Ds I've listened to at the audio store.