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sphinxsix

Desktop Speakers, Minimum $ - Maximum ​🎵

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I apologize up front for posting it here but I would love to get as many responses as possible. I just hate to buy stuff, even cheap one which later proves to be unlistenable to me (bought too many such items in the past, probably like many here).

I know a thing or two about mid-fi to hi-end audio but I don't know anything about really cheap gear and I decided to get cheapo speakers (probably active ones unless there is some other interesting option e.g. buying a decent, cheap second hand amplifier and some passive 'audiophile' 'bookshelf' ones) to use with my laptop just for checking music stuff on the web. I search quite a lot for a new music online and I'm tired of using headphones (I'm not fan of cans, they also make hair on the top of my head flat x-D), as for computer inbuilt speakers - we all obviously know what they sound like.

I know won't get anywhere near my $20k speakers with a budget of $250-300 but I believe it's possible (?) to get decent sounding speakers for such amount of money nowadays.

These are my expectations as far as their sound is regarded. First of all I'd like them sound smooth, without excessive shrillness, grain or aggressive 'metallic' artifacts etc. If anything I'd prefer them to be on the smooth/warm side of 'neutral' not on the other one sacrificing as little detail and being as timbrally rich as possible at the same time. I don't need lots of bass (no, I'm not expecting them to compete with my two 60kg subwoofers :D) but I'd like it to be relatively well defined, fast. I wouldn't have big expectations as far as soundstaging is regarded in this price range (maybe I'm wrong) but it'd be good if they created some soundstage :).

I don't even know if there are places where I could compare sound of different desktop speakers (I live near Amsterdam), I just have never been interested in gear like that before so probably for the first time in a couple of decades I will buy gear based solely on someone else's suggestions.

What would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!

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8 minutes ago, Blake said:

I like the JBL LSR305 at that price point.

I've got a pair of those but I wouldn't call them desktop speakers, as the are just too loud and in your face. I think you need to be at least 1.5m back from the JBLs.

 

I would personally like to hear the Vanatu Zeros as a desktop speaker.

 

 

 

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I have Ruark MR1 Mk2 active speakers for my computer based HiFi system. Beautiful sound although you will likely need a subwoofer at some point. They also have Bluetooth but I use a wired connection from my DAC.

 

They are very compact and look great too.

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14 minutes ago, Blake said:

I like the JBL LSR305 at that price point.

 

1 minute ago, Richard Dale said:

I've got a pair of those but I wouldn't call them desktop speakers, as the are just too loud and in your face. I think you need to be at least 1.5m back from the JBLs.

 

I would personally like to hear the Vanatu Zeros as a desktop speaker.

 

 

 

If they are 'in your face' they are probably not for me. I must admit I'm slightly afraid of horns (even semi-horns, this is what JBL's tweeter looks like) for they often have their 'horn' treble (and quite often midrange too) signature that is not my thing. The Vanatoos look pretty cool.

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23 minutes ago, Taz777 said:

I have Ruark MR1 Mk2 active speakers for my computer based HiFi system. Beautiful sound although you will likely need a subwoofer at some point. They also have Bluetooth but I use a wired connection from my DAC.

 

They are very compact and look great too.

If I correctly recall their price - I'd have to search for second hand ones which probably shouldn't be a problem. I had Ruark floorstanders 100 years ago :) (they sounded a little overpolite but I'd rather have overpolite desktop speakers than harsh ones)

Edit: they are cheaper than I thought.

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Rule of thumb: "in your face" speakers - or systems, which is the better term - are far closer to being transparent to the recorded material than "overpolite" ones. If one wanted to start with a 'raw' setup which you would optimise or tweak for getting best sound, the 'harsh' one would be that I would go for, every time.

 

That said, if one was not intending to do anything more to get better sound, purely a plug 'n' play arrangement, then the "least polite" one is happy with would be my choice.

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8 minutes ago, fas42 said:

Rule of thumb: "in your face" speakers - or systems, which is the better term - are far closer to being transparent to the recorded material than "overpolite" ones. If one wanted to start with a 'raw' setup which you would optimise or tweak for getting best sound, the 'harsh' one would be that I would go for, every time.

 

That said, if one was not intending to do anything more to get better sound, purely a plug 'n' play arrangement, then the "least polite" one is happy with would be my choice.

I don't think I was quite clear enough about what I meant by the lsr305s being 'in your face'. As long as you are more than about 1.5m away from them they are well balanced. But put them on your desk either side of your computer monitor as desktop speakers then I think they aren't suitable for that application - they are studio monitors after all. They sound much better sitting on isoacoustics stands. They have been superceded by a newer model I believe.

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2 minutes ago, Richard Dale said:

I don't think I was quite clear enough about what I meant by the lsr305s being 'in your face'. As long as you are more than about 1.5m away from them they are well balanced. But put them on your desk either side of your computer monitor as desktop speakers then I think they aren't suitable for that application - they are studio monitors after all. They sound much better sitting on isoacoustics stands. They have been superceded by a newer model I believe.

 

Being studio monitors should not make one iota of difference - the point is whether they are accurate to the source. And that they "sound better" with a proper seating arrangement is another good sign - no speaker is going to sound anywhere near its best if it's just plonked down on a convenient surface; proper effort has to be made to stabilise the cabinet, IME.

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I could put speakers 1.5 away from me. As for the minimum distance, I agree, there are speakers that require some minimum distance from the sweet spot. But I understood 'in your face' as an expression of their slightly aggressive character too. I wouldn't like that. You've got shrill speakers for me equals you've got shrill system, more or less. My main system speakers are extremely revealing - put a grainy, shrill component in the audio chain (or poor recording for that matter) and you can hear it. But I'm not going to feed the desktop speakers with some sophisticated expensive, high quality components. I prefer the 'safe' option due to a potential listening fatigue factor which can take place when the system sounds aggressive. I'd like nice detail though :)

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2 minutes ago, Melvin said:

I'd be looking at the Audioengine A2+ ($249).

 

Just like Ruarks they have lots of good reviews. And are a little cheaper. Has someone compared these two.?

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14 minutes ago, fas42 said:

 

Being studio monitors should not make one iota of difference - the point is whether they are accurate to the source. And that they "sound better" with a proper seating arrangement is another good sign - no speaker is going to sound anywhere near its best if it's just plonked down on a convenient surface; proper effort has to be made to stabilise the cabinet, IME.

Desktop speakers are voiced differently to studio monitors, even near field monitors, and are designed to be listened to at a closer distance and probably lower volume. You don't want to listen at an 83db reference level on the desktop, but you might want to if you're doing a mix.

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1 hour ago, lucretius said:

However, I did find them to be a bit boomy

They're rear vented bass reflex so the distance between them and a rear wall will definitely influence their bass performance a lot. I can place speakers 1.5 m from where I sit but I can't place them e.g. 1m from the wall. Of course it's always possible to equalize low frequencies or to choke them (speakers) with a pair of old wool socks but this usually also chokes bass coming directly from woofers too (they just stop breathing freely)..

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20 minutes ago, sphinxsix said:

They're rear vented bass reflex so the distance between them and a rear wall will definitely influence their bass performance a lot....

 

Exactly why I am not interested in most of the speakers out there.  I need either a front or side port or acoustic suspension.

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8 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

 

Exactly why I am not interested in most of the speakers out there.  I need either a front or side port or acoustic suspension.

Have no this problem with my main system speakers - my floorstanders are closed boxes and the subs (onken enclosure) are front vented - BTW you hear very little bass coming from their ports and what you hear is very (!) fast. Wanna know if bass of a bass reflex speaker is fast and precise - listen to what's coming from the port itself!

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When you're checking music on the web are you nowhere near your main audio system? I did what you're thinking of doing, at least for a while, but ultimately I found myself wanting to preview music through the stereo instead.

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Slightly opposing viewpoints for the sake of not over thinking something for light use in a cramped hectic space without the audiophile equipment chain.

 

If they will be playing a fair amount of non-musical sounds you might well bump it down to under $100 and get 2.1 nearfield speakers.  At least over here the (desktop sized) options between this and something like the $500 Vanatoo are not great (for the list of reasons Ralf noted).

 

I have some $80 Hi Vi Swans M10 w/5" sub. These are the most musical cheap multimedia speakers I've ever owned.  However, I doubt your use case is eventually promoting them to a lifetime at full volume behind a climbing wall. Non-boomy, but 40hz, bass was the tradeoff against enjoying a few minutes of 160 kbps mp4 YouTube audio slightly more.  

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8 hours ago, Richard Dale said:

Desktop speakers are voiced differently to studio monitors, even near field monitors, and are designed to be listened to at a closer distance and probably lower volume. You don't want to listen at an 83db reference level on the desktop, but you might want to if you're doing a mix.

 

Indeed. I replaced my KRK Rokit RP5 G3 studio monitors with the Ruark MR1 Mk2 bookshelf/desktop speakers and the latter are a world apart in terms of listening pleasure. They're designed to enjoy music. The Rokits were horrendously fatiguing and (subjectively) harsh to listen to.

 

My Ruarks are less than 1m away from my ears on my computer desk and sound a lot better to me.

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13 hours ago, Daccord said:

When you're checking music on the web are you nowhere near your main audio system? I did what you're thinking of doing, at least for a while, but ultimately I found myself wanting to preview music through the stereo instead.

I have to rule out this possibility for a number of reasons.

 

6 hours ago, Taz777 said:

 

Indeed. I replaced my KRK Rokit RP5 G3 studio monitors with the Ruark MR1 Mk2 bookshelf/desktop speakers and the latter are a world apart in terms of listening pleasure. They're designed to enjoy music. The Rokits were horrendously fatiguing and (subjectively) harsh to listen to.

 

My Ruarks are less than 1m away from my ears on my computer desk and sound a lot better to me.

That's interesting. I've heard more expensive KRK speakers many times in recording studios and usually thought - I could probably listen to sound like that at home.

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@sphinxsix It might be to do with my computer room that is tiny. It's around 3m x 2.3m, so is very, very small. The Rokits would work better in a larger room and also when you are further away from them. They just didn't work in my environment and listening position. The Ruarks far exceeded my expectations.

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53 minutes ago, Taz777 said:

It might be to do with my computer room that is tiny.

Especially if it has 'live' acoustics (lots of reverb) at the same time.

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