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Upgrade to better active monitors for nearfield (from focal cms50 to?)


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HI. I'm running focal cms50 on my desk with a Schiit Gungnir/Mjolnir pre with balanced connections. I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power. I'm not looking for a sub. I will be using it at low'ish volume levels due to apartment living. I like my current monitors, but what would be a good upgrade path? I notice most passive hifi speakers are not aimed at near-field listening, which I will be doing. I also like the no-fuss approach to integrated amps. Speakers i've looked at, CMS65, Solo, Dynaudio monitors, event opals, K&H. These are all aimed at the professional market though.

 

Thanks

al

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I'm using some Dynaudio C1 IIs nearfield and think they are pretty fantastic. For nearfield all you need is some soft dome/non-metal drivers and you should have no problems with listening fatigue.

 

The drivers in passive speakers are often of a higher quality as well, Dynaudio throughout their active range uses older generation drivers and of a lower quality than their Contour or Confidence lines, even their flagship AIR series uses the same drivers as the BM series but just more advanced DSP.

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I'm not looking for a sub.

al

 

I think you should reconsider. Having a sub will make no negative difference in annoying apartment neighbors compared to playing the same frequencies through your speakers - assuming you aren't increasing the volume. It will actually improve your bass response substantially if set up competently. In fact, if you are able to use multiple subs to get rid of peaks, you will actually be able to play louder without annoying neighbors as there will be no fear of particularly loud bass notes. No desktop speaker will be able to create the tight and punchy bass you want, and you would be able to take some of the low frequency load off of your bookshelves, decreasing distortion.

Flac audio (MBP) to miniDSP 10x10 running REW and active crossovers to ADCOM GFA 555 and 2 QSC GX5's (Tri Amped). Using Paradigm Studio 100 V.2 Speakers modded for the Active Crossover and stereo Velodyne HGS12 subwoofers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been eyeing the K&H for my upstairs system. Your Focals are very nice though; I've spent a few afternoons listening to them, and have used Focal tweeters in several speakers I've built.

 

Have you considered better balanced interconnects? Or isolation risers for under the Focals? The latter can really help with bass issues, and may also help some with soundstaging. If putting them on stand is an option, that's really best for any of these.

 

Don't worry about the marketing; if anything, "professional" audio equipment is usually priced lower than comparable domestic. The speakers you listed are used for help in mastering, and can be very accurate and revealing.

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HI. I'm running focal cms50 on my desk with a Schiit Gungnir/Mjolnir pre with balanced connections. I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power. I'm not looking for a sub. I will be using it at low'ish volume levels due to apartment living. I like my current monitors, but what would be a good upgrade path? I notice most passive hifi speakers are not aimed at near-field listening, which I will be doing. I also like the no-fuss approach to integrated amps. Speakers i've looked at, CMS65, Solo, Dynaudio monitors, event opals, K&H. These are all aimed at the professional market though.

 

Thanks

al

Focal CMS50 is already a good pair of speakers for everything you will need for sound quality. Going with Genelec, Dynaudio, Adam, or anything in the area won't give you much jump. CMS line already beats Dynaudio and Adam. Stay with what you have. They are perfect. CMS65's are great too. They have better separation in the musical instruments and elements. It will sound more spacious. But soundstage and stereo imaging overall there's not much difference between the 50 and 65. The bass is a little more laid back and easier to handle with the 65. The 50's are perfect for your need. Aren't you getting hiss / humming issue with your speakers?

 

I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power.

Answer: Power cable upgrade. All that can be accomplished with power cable upgrade on your source, left focal speaker, and right focal speaker for a complete set.

 

But the journey to power cable upgrade will be tough. It's not easy task as you'll have to do a lot of research on power cables and find the ones that fits you. I know what you need to get but I cannot give any direct advice as I can't advertise here....

 

It will also be time-consuming process. You'll need at least a year to spend time on this.

 

 

 

I think you should reconsider. Having a sub will make no negative difference in annoying apartment neighbors compared to playing the same frequencies through your speakers - assuming you aren't increasing the volume. It will actually improve your bass response substantially if set up competently. In fact, if you are able to use multiple subs to get rid of peaks, you will actually be able to play louder without annoying neighbors as there will be no fear of particularly loud bass notes. No desktop speaker will be able to create the tight and punchy bass you want, and you would be able to take some of the low frequency load off of your bookshelves, decreasing distortion.

Bad idea. Adding a subwoofer not only drives more electrical noise into the system but also blurs the sound really bad. The music will sound boomy the whole time, even with fine tuning sub crossover settings. It's better off without the subwoofer. CMS50 will give him good sound quality and sound stage, stereo imaging, and 3-dimensionality.

 

  • Windows PC + Creative EMU0404 USB DAC w/ stock USB cable
  • Focal CMS 65 speakers
  • Very hyper-end Power cables for all components

 

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I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power. I'm not looking for a sub.

I can recommend to get a free trial of Dirac Live and when you like it add a sub. With Dirac Live a sub will integrate seemless and you do not have to worry abouth your neighbours while enjoying a more spacious soundstage and deeper and cleaner bass with the sub.

 

EAC -> FLAC -> Oyen Digital miniPro 2TB -> USB -> Lenovo ThinkPad X200 WIN XP -> Dirac Live Room Correction Suite -> AlbumPlayer -> Audioquest USB cable -> Hegel H100 DAC & amplifier -> 2.5mm copper -> AVI Trio loudspeakers

 

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I have CMS50s myself and I agree that they're probably as good as you're gonna get, especially if you're looking for the same size footprint. I originally tried the 65s, but they were too big on my desk.

 

Someone mentioned isolation risers earlier and I agree, if you don't have a good pair of stands and haven't decoupled the speakers from your desk, then go do it! It will make a big difference. I use Ardan EVP-M1 stands and they work great. products « Ardan Audio

 

BTW, I use them with an Ayre QB-9 DSD and a Headamp GS-X MK2 amp. All cables are Wireworld Eclipse 7 with the exception of USB, I I use a Wireworld Silver Starlight.

ChrisG

Bend, OR

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  • 2 months later...
HI. I'm running focal cms50 on my desk with a Schiit Gungnir/Mjolnir pre with balanced connections. I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power. I'm not looking for a sub. I will be using it at low'ish volume levels due to apartment living. I like my current monitors, but what would be a good upgrade path? I notice most passive hifi speakers are not aimed at near-field listening, which I will be doing. I also like the no-fuss approach to integrated amps. Speakers i've looked at, CMS65, Solo, Dynaudio monitors, event opals, K&H. These are all aimed at the professional market though.

 

Thanks

al

Focal CMS50 is already a good pair of speakers for everything you will need for sound quality. Going with Genelec, Dynaudio, Adam, or anything in the area won't give you much jump. CMS line already beats Dynaudio and Adam. Stay with what you have. They are perfect. CMS65's are great too. They have better separation in the musical instruments and elements. It will sound more spacious. But soundstage and stereo imaging overall there's not much difference between the 50 and 65. The bass is a little more laid back and easier to handle with the 65. The 50's are perfect for your need. Aren't you getting hiss / humming issue with your speakers?

 

I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power.

Answer: Power cable upgrade. All that can be accomplished with power cable upgrade on your source, left focal speaker, and right focal speaker for a complete set.

 

But the journey to power cable upgrade will be tough. It's not easy task as you'll have to do a lot of research on power cables and find the ones that fits you. I know what you need to get but I cannot give any direct advice as I can't advertise here....

 

It will also be time-consuming process. You'll need at least a year to spend time on this.

 

 

 

I think you should reconsider. Having a sub will make no negative difference in annoying apartment neighbors compared to playing the same frequencies through your speakers - assuming you aren't increasing the volume. It will actually improve your bass response substantially if set up competently. In fact, if you are able to use multiple subs to get rid of peaks, you will actually be able to play louder without annoying neighbors as there will be no fear of particularly loud bass notes. No desktop speaker will be able to create the tight and punchy bass you want, and you would be able to take some of the low frequency load off of your bookshelves, decreasing distortion.

Bad idea. Adding a subwoofer not only drives more electrical noise into the system but also blurs the sound really bad. The music will sound boomy the whole time, even with fine tuning sub crossover settings. It's better off without the subwoofer. CMS50 will give him good sound quality and sound stage, stereo imaging, and 3-dimensionality.

 

Sorry , the Focal CMS50 is not in the same class as the genelec nearfield monitors . I think I have the 8030a

with separate volume controls on each speaker .

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I'm looking to upgrade for improved sound-stage, resolution and better low-end power... ....Speakers i've looked at, CMS65, Solo, Dynaudio monitors, event opals, K&H. These are all aimed at the professional market though.

 

....Adding a subwoofer not only drives more electrical noise into the system but also blurs the sound really bad. The music will sound boomy the whole time, even with fine tuning sub crossover settings. It's better off without the subwoofer.

 

...if you don't have a good pair of stands and haven't decoupled the speakers from your desk, then go do it! It will make a big difference....

 

Nobody has addressed the most important question!

 

Are the speakers properly placed and aligned? If those jobs aren't finished the other suggestions won't matter. First you tilt them correctly and with perfect symmetry for you ear position. Forget owner's manuals here, nobody bothers to explain it there. Use percussion and listen until the drums snap naturally: the alignment depends on the sonic result. Don't assume that the common tweeter-points-to-your-ear recommendation is correct, it probably won't be. I suggest you begin by tilting the speakers so that the woofers are just a touch closer to your ears than the tweeters.

 

Next, what about reflective surfaces? Have you minimized them or treated them?

 

Next is coupling vs. decoupling. Most small monitors are too light to properly decouple: they will oscillate with their woofer movements. But the desk surface should be heavy, dead, and stiff. If it is, then coupling is better than decoupling. Coupling can be done with cones or spikes or tiny coins or little screws or very thin Blu-tack. Now If the desk surface *isn't* as above, Do this:

 

*Couple* the speakers to heavy platforms like stone or concrete slabs or good short stands, and *decouple* the slabs from the desk if the slabs are very heavy, or couple the slabs to the desk if they're not so heavy. Of course slabs will change the alignment, so don't spend time aligning until you decide whether to use slabs. These parts are all cheap, and the process really doesn't take long.

 

Be sure to do the work above before changing speakers. *All* desk speakers need this work to perform their best. Adding a sub will muddy things unless you have a very unusual listening space *and* you work like crazy to integrate it.

 

Best of luck.

Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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