Desktop Audio Setup with Passive Speakers

Hi all - Looking for help on a desktop audio setup with passive speakers. Much appreciated in advance!


  • I'd like to be able to use the speakers in a larger living room setup in a future date, but for now they will be used in a small room with my desktop PC. So optimizing for good speakers, but not an amazing amp as I'll look to upgrade that in the future.

  • Under $500.

  • Will play games, but would like to optimize for high quality music, so bass is not super important.

  • Have a motherboard with Realtek® ALC1220-VB, which includes S/PDIF optical out, so would like to avoid a separate DAC if possible



  • Will the SMSL AD18 be powerful enough to get good sound out of the 3020i?

  • Will not having a separate DAC harm sound quality?

  • Looks like a pre-amp won't be necessary. Is that right?

  • Lastly, is this worth the effort and money, or should I just go with an active speaker such as R-41PM? Remember, I'd like to be able to use the speakers in a larger room (with a more powerful amp) in the future.

I recently got a pair of Paradigm Atom v7 speakers for my office desktop system and am extremely happy with them, replacing a pair of NHT speakers. I haven't tried them in my main system but considering how they sound in my office I have no doubt they'd do well in a bigger space. That model was recently discontinued but there is a Monitor SE Atom which appears to be a bit smaller. They can be had for less than $400.