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Best computer speakers < $500


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Looking for new speakers for my iMac. Want something that sounds and looks really good. I've been looking into the Audioengine A2+, B&W M1, Harmon Kardon Soundsticks 3. Can someone who's listened to all three recommend the best one? Or are there any other's I should consider? I don't really want them to be much bigger than any of these though.

Thanks!

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Looking for new speakers for my iMac. Want something that sounds and looks really good. I've been looking into the Audioengine A2+, B&W M1, Harmon Kardon Soundsticks 3. Can someone who's listened to all three recommend the best one? Or are there any other's I should consider? I don't really want them to be much bigger than any of these though.

Thanks!

 

I have the Audioengine A2+ and the B&W MM-1. The B&W's are very nice, but overpriced, IMO. The AE are a much better value, with more connectivity and features. SQ is adequate for my needs. I have put the B&W's up for sale on eBay. Auction ends next Thursday PM.

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I own both the AE A2+ and A5. If you have the place and can afford it, go for the A5 you won't regret it. They are incredible! The A2+ lack some "body" due to their size.

IsoTek evo3 Sirius⎪Late 2009 27" iMac 20GB w/SSD, 10.10.x ➤Audirvana Plus 3.0.x (Exclusive Direct Integer Mode 1, NOS) & Qobuz HiFi Sublime+ ➤Curious Cables ➤UpTone Audio ISO REGEN (UpTone Audio UltraCap LPS-1 (Breeze Audio R-Core Linear PSU)) ➤UpTone Audio USPCB ➤iFi micro iDAC2 running v5.2a (Bit-Perfect) serving:

➤Nobsound SE OTL headphone amp on Herbie's Soft Tenderfoot (selected tubes with Herbie's UltraSonic Rx) with IsoTek evo3 Premier power cable⎪Audez'e LCD-2 Rev. 2 on Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 Premium cable

➤Audioengine A5+ with AudioQuest Power NRG-1 cable

➤iFi micro iTube2 ➤Denon AVR-A100 100th Anniversary Edition with IsoTek evo3 Premier power cable on IsoTek evo3 Aquarius⎪B&W 804 D3 bi-amped on Inakustik cables

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The M-Audio AV 40's for $150 the pair are pretty damned good. I also own the Audioengine A5+ and there is very little sonic differences between the two.

Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

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Emotiva AirMotiv 4 - I'm very impressed, especially considering the price.

 

+1

 

I have the 6's and like them a lot. Emotiva, like AudioEngine, gives you great value for your money.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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Got the M1s before reading everyone's posts here because I've had good results with B&W's in the past. They were very medeorce. Couldn't believe they cost $500 or got so many amazing reviews. They don't even touch the $80 speakers they were replacing. Then got the A2+. Really amazing sound, and looks. I'm quite happy with them, but can hear what you say about the lack of body. I like the tight bass, but there are some songs where you feel like something is missing, and they don't really fill the room. Regardless I'm more than happy with them, but I'm tempted to try the A5+'s, I'm just turned off by the size. Are they really worth the extra space? Are they not overpowering? I don't need a lot of volume, these are just computer speakers, and I also don't want them shaking the neighbor's walls.

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Got the M1s before reading everyone's posts here because I've had good results with B&W's in the past. They were very medeorce. Couldn't believe they cost $500 or got so many amazing reviews. They don't even touch the $80 speakers they were replacing. Then got the A2+. Really amazing sound, and looks. I'm quite happy with them, but can hear what you say about the lack of body. I like the tight bass, but there are some songs where you feel like something is missing, and they don't really fill the room. Regardless I'm more than happy with them, but I'm tempted to try the A5+'s, I'm just turned off by the size. Are they really worth the extra space? Are they not overpowering? I don't need a lot of volume, these are just computer speakers, and I also don't want them shaking the neighbor's walls.

 

You can't expect a speaker with a 3" woofer (A2+) to blow your ears off.

The A5+ a little large for a "near field" desktop system. They are more like a bookshelf speaker for a moderate-sized room.

My B&W MM-1's on ebay already have several bids--yay! See ya...

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You can't expect a speaker with a 3" woofer (A2+) to blow your ears off.

The A5+ a little large for a "near field" desktop system. They are more like a bookshelf speaker for a moderate-sized room.

My B&W MM-1's on ebay already have several bids--yay! See ya...

 

For sure the A5+ can do more than computer monitors. What I like with them is their coherence and body at any listening volume, even low levels. And when you want it, they will play loud and fill your room! If you have the place on your desktop, go for them. You will keep the sound you like from the A2+ with a lot more to discover...

IsoTek evo3 Sirius⎪Late 2009 27" iMac 20GB w/SSD, 10.10.x ➤Audirvana Plus 3.0.x (Exclusive Direct Integer Mode 1, NOS) & Qobuz HiFi Sublime+ ➤Curious Cables ➤UpTone Audio ISO REGEN (UpTone Audio UltraCap LPS-1 (Breeze Audio R-Core Linear PSU)) ➤UpTone Audio USPCB ➤iFi micro iDAC2 running v5.2a (Bit-Perfect) serving:

➤Nobsound SE OTL headphone amp on Herbie's Soft Tenderfoot (selected tubes with Herbie's UltraSonic Rx) with IsoTek evo3 Premier power cable⎪Audez'e LCD-2 Rev. 2 on Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 Premium cable

➤Audioengine A5+ with AudioQuest Power NRG-1 cable

➤iFi micro iTube2 ➤Denon AVR-A100 100th Anniversary Edition with IsoTek evo3 Premier power cable on IsoTek evo3 Aquarius⎪B&W 804 D3 bi-amped on Inakustik cables

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I got the A5+. The sound is absolute perfection, but they're just too big too be used as desktop speakers. I wish they made something in between the A2 and A5. The more I listen to the A2's, the more I feel like something is missing. With very clear recordings that are acoustic or mainly vocals, the A2's sound incredible if you turn them up really loud. But for everything else, they sound like a 2.1 system that has the subwoofer turned off. I may end up going back to my Audyssey speakers that I was looking to replace, those really are the best sounding compact 2.0 desktop speakers I've heard, wish Audyssey kept making speakers.

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I got the A5+. The sound is absolute perfection, but they're just too big too be used as desktop speakers. I wish they made something in between the A2 and A5. The more I listen to the A2's, the more I feel like something is missing. With very clear recordings that are acoustic or mainly vocals, the A2's sound incredible if you turn them up really loud. But for everything else, they sound like a 2.1 system that has the subwoofer turned off. I may end up going back to my Audyssey speakers that I was looking to replace, those really are the best sounding compact 2.0 desktop speakers I've heard, wish Audyssey kept making speakers.

 

Like you, I have two 'desktop' speakers, JBL LSR305s and B&W MM-1s, and they are very different sizes. The JBLs do indeed sound better than the B&W MM-1s, but then they are a lot larger. Just because my JBLs could fit on a desktop along with a computer doesn't mean anyone would want to do that. If you were a professional audio engineer using the JBLs for mixing you would put them on your desktop and listen in nearfield, but you probably wouldn't be using an iMac to do assorted computer tasks at the same time like the OP wants to do. However, if I want 'computer desktop speakers' to accompany an iMac I would say the B&W MM-1s are really good for that. For such a small speaker they do sound really good. If I am working away from home, I can sling the B&W MM-1s in my suitcase and have some really quite good sounds.

 

I rate the B&W MM-1s higher than the previous posters on this thread. I wonder if that is because they might be quite sensitive to how you drive them, because they use the adaptive USB protocol. I use a Raspberry Pi running MPD, and an Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable with mine and that combination sounds very nice. Maybe to get the best out of them with an iMac you might need an upgraded USB cable and a good player like Audivarna. They only go up to 16/48, which is a limitation if you have a lot of hi res music.

System (i): Stack Audio Link > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Hana SL/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > PrimaLuna Evo 100 amp > Klipsch RP-600M/REL T5x subs

System (ii): Allo USB Signature > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > Tandy LX5/REL Tzero v3 subs

System (iii) KEF LS50W/KEF R400b subs

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
Got the M1s before reading everyone's posts here because I've had good results with B&W's in the past. They were very medeorce. Couldn't believe they cost $500 or got so many amazing reviews. They don't even touch the $80 speakers they were replacing. Then got the A2+. Really amazing sound, and looks. I'm quite happy with them, but can hear what you say about the lack of body. I like the tight bass, but there are some songs where you feel like something is missing, and they don't really fill the room. Regardless I'm more than happy with them, but I'm tempted to try the A5+'s, I'm just turned off by the size. Are they really worth the extra space? Are they not overpowering? I don't need a lot of volume, these are just computer speakers, and I also don't want them shaking the neighbor's walls.

 

I picked up as pair of Adam F5s, a great deal at $400 CAD.

 

They are above my expectations with beautiful highs and mids. Only a hint of boxiness/boominess, compared to Magnepan MMGs and the F5s are placed only 5-6 inches from the wall, toed in. They are strikingly clear, without being fatiguing and have a reasonable amount of bass.

 

A few links to the reviews that helped me choose:

 

A Desktop Champion: The Adam Audio F5 | InnerFidelity

Adam F5 review: A terrific and affordable powered audio-monitor system | Macworld

F5 - Reviews | ADAM Audio GmbH

 

Great for nearfield listening!

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  • 1 year later...

Hey all, this is my first post and happened upon this site. I'll be one to admit I'm generally a Harmon Kardon/JBL fan. I like the soundsticks personally but they do take up a bit of space with the sub-woofer and all. There are more compact options. If you are still searching around I've written up some reviews of some speakers I got to recently go test out at a computer shop near where I live.

If you like something more compact I got to listen to a pair of Definitive Technology Inclines. They were small but they had a sweet soundstage. You wouldn't think they could fill the room. They were quite heavy for their which I personally like because it means they put in some real good magnets.

I've seen the A2+ talked about quite a bit and hope to get a listen to sometime.

 

Anyway, Here's my page for some thoughts if you are interested. Found the best audio The Best Computer Speakers - HelpfulDesk.Org

 

Cheers

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