Passive (bookshelf) or powered speakers?

I have been looking at some speakers such and an 8 inch (3-way) monoprice bookshelf speakers or the micca MB42 bookshelf speakers. Some powered speakers I have been looking at have been swam M10's or mackie CR-3's. Which would be the best deal? What is a good amp? And is there a speaker that I am missing?

At that price, you're probably better off going with the Mackies.

Don't get the Monoprice speakers. There are much better speakers you can get at that price. My setup currently is Behringer UCA202 dac ---> SM Pro Nano Patch+ ---> M-Audio BX8a Deluxe studio monitors on Auralex pads. I do not do any audio work so the accuracy of these monitors I cannot speak for. Reviews put them as entry level 8 inch monitors, which they are. I do not need a subwoofer for 90 percent of my music and gaming needs. In both areas I hear sounds in the audio profile that I simply didn't with my Logitech Z-2300s. The downside with this setup to me is they are powered. The vesitility of messing around with different amps on a set of bookshelf size speakers is gone. Also inevitably the amps will go. I already have one after 5 years emitting a small hiss on startup, recapping is in order.

I highly suggest reading Reddit user ZeosPantera's guide. It gives a good overview for basic systems and their costs.

He also has many videos of these products on his youtube page.

Most importantly what will you be doing with these speakers and what is our budget?

Best bang for the buck PC 2.1 - crisp and loud
$117 Logitech Z623 THX (Great bass and highs, slightly recessed mids)

Unpowered Bookshelf with Sub + Amp
$66 SMSL SA50 TDA7492 Amp
$50 Micca MB42 (pair) (unpowered)
$120 Dayton SUB-1000 (powered)
$15 Y Splitter and cables

Powered Bookshelf no Sub
Option 1 (quality)
$264 JBL LSR305 (pair, best set for reference sound)
Option 2 (bang for buck)
$100 Micca PB42X (pair)

Full list with tabs for the split between PC and bookshelf options HERE

I own the SMSL SA50, and it leaves a lot to the imagination. Very closed soundstage, and stupidly linear. Not what you want from a hifi amp.

Do you have something in mind within $15 of that price mark that performs better?

Can't think of anything, which is why I think powered speakers are probably the better way to go, at this price.

I just have my stereo hooked up to my PC when i'm not using headphones, i like clunky wooden speakerboxes and having an external amp. It might look ghetto but i'm so used to that stereo that anything else would weird me out.

I just hooked up the SA-50 to my Objective2/ODAC using some good cables, and it sounds a lot better with a line level input, compared to a phone, or something similar.

Forget what I previously said. The sound is very linear, but there's no real distortion.