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Please Help me: Focal XS or Audioengine 5 or B&W MM-1

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I'm looking for a good all-in-one computer speaker + dac under $500. I am replacing my existing setup (Marantz + Monitor Audio) due to space constraint


Could anyone in this forum please tell me which would be the right choice (which can compete with Marantz+Monitor Audio) among the three/


Focal XS 2.1

Audioengine 5 + ASUS Xonar Essence STX

B&W MM-1


Your response is highly appreciated


Thanks & Regards







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I haven't heard the Focals or the B&Ws - but I've a friend with the Audioengine 5s, and I've gotta say they sure do sound good. I haven't heard the Xonar, but people on this site and others do seem to like it.



Audio Rig: Transporter -> Behringer DEQ2496 -> NAD M2 -> Paradigm Studio 60s v.5 -> Treated listening room

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  • 2 months later...

I am going to be partial to the Focals. I have owned other Focals and really enjoyed there sound. I have heard both the Focal and Audioengene that you are considering but I have not auditioned them extensively. My ear jumped to the Focals for detail and imaging.


"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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I love the A-5s. They sound terrific, they have 2 inputs (I believe the MM-1s have a mini-jack input as well), and you can connect a sub to the A-5s if you like as well. Plus for the price of the MM-1, you can buy the A-5s and an inexpensive DAC.


Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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and personally really couldn't be more pleased. I haven't auditioned the B&Ws or the A5s, so my skewed perspective is pretty obvious, though. However, I find the sound to be very clean and powerful for such small units, not at all taxing on the ears during long listening sessions, and very esthetically pleasing. The iPod dock built right into one of the stands is awfully convenient for charging, too. I have these speakers on my secondary set-up in my upstairs office, so they probably get more actual listening time than the set-up in my living room.


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  • 5 weeks later...

Just out of curiosity; why is it important that the powered speakers outperform Marantz / Monitor Audio? Depending on the models you're refering to from these manufacturers, it could be very difficult, if not impossible, for powered speakers to out shine this set-up. My friend has B&W MM-1's. They sound good with a nice soundstage and accurate image, but they won't play loud and, naturally, bass is limited. I've been trying to convince him to try a pair of Dynaudio 15's with the sub.


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  • 3 weeks later...

The combination of a DAC + powered (or even active) speakers is a great one on a budget. Depending on exactly which Marantz + Monitor Audio equipment you have, and which DAC+Speakers you opt for, the latter has certain strengths hard for passives to match.


If you can locate the DAC between the speakers with really short interconnects, you have an optimal signal path, and hardwired connections between the amp and drivers. There's no lossy preamp stage, either, so if the DAC has a well designed output stage, you can expect superior resolution, timing and imaging from the 'DACtive' route. Each channel will sound 'gripped'.


A moderately good amp and floorstanding passives will make a bigger noise, especially in the lower registers, but it will likely be less controlled and nowhere near as transparent. You might find that larger instruments are better timbrally presented by the larger cabinets and cones.


If you're used to the sound of small boxes, you might well find that the switch to similarly sized active speakers is all good. But please don't be tempted to put a soundcard in the computer! Active speakers are often ruthlessly revealing partners.


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