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Warm Pleasant Desktop Speakers

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A few years ago I discovered that I really enjoy listening to music at my computer desk at home in a bedroom (roughly 10 x 12 feet).  I've been using an older set of home theater speakers made by a company called "Seas", but not the same as the European speaker driver manufacturer with the same name.  I think these are American.  They are a 5.25" two way with a passive 10" bandpass subwoofer with integrated passive crossovers.

 

The sound is ok, but it's extremely bright because these were designed for home theater and as such were expected to be placed at least 6 feet from the listening position and really more like 8 to 10 feet.  When using a ton of equalization, I can make them sound much more warm and less 'biting'.  But without it, they really tear your head off.

 

What I'm shopping for is a set to replace these that sound more like what I want, straight out of the box.  I've found that "detailed" sound and even what a lot of people call "neutral" are far too fatiguing for me for long term listening.  I want good vocals that sound natural, but no extended highs.  Pleasing and warm really are the operative words here.  I don't want highly exaggerated bass, but I do want elevated bass, as compared to "flat" or "neutral".

 

I think I'm going to end up with a pair of medium sized desktop speakers and a powered subwoofer.  But I'm not sure.  Perhaps a large pair of desktops, with an 8" or 10" mid/woofer would make me happy.  I'm here to ask for recommendations and opinions.

 

My final budget is undetermined, but let's start with no more than $750 for the main speakers and they would have to be full range at that price.

 

Typical listening levels are fairly low for me.  Probably 85 dB or under.  But I do sometimes like it far louder, so I'd like the speakers to be able to reach more like 110 dB or so.  That's just a round number; nothing I've measured.  My listening distance is 3 to 4 feet and will probably stay that way.  The speakers will be located less than 6" from the back wall.  But I like bass, so a little bit of "bump" from the proximity shouldn't bother me too much.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Brian.

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Well it's virtually impossible to properly cross a 1" tweeter with a 8" or 10" mid/woofer without using some sort of compression driver, unless it's a poor design that's seriously compromising directivity. A tweeter capable of crossing over that low is well above your budget.

 

If you go with a sub, then good bookshelves with a 5-6" woofer is all you need. I would suggest looking at either the Polk Lsim 703, Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1, or Revel M16/S16 to start with.

 

Most people listening nearfield average around 60-70 db. Listening above 80db for long periods will cause hearing damage. A 85-110db listening range will not be good for your health long term, but it's easily doable near-field as the power requirements are quite low at 1m listening distance.

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Thanks for responding.  The speakers you recommended seem to be designed for regular 8 foot listening distances.  I'm afraid that if I get speakers like that again and then put them on my desk 3 to 4 feet from me, that they will be very bright with excessive high frequencies.  I'm specifically trying to avoid that, as I find lots of highs to be fatiguing.

 

Regarding my listening level:  You're probably correct that I'm actually listening quite a bit lower than I said.  It probably is closer to 70 dB.  Maybe I'll dig out my meter and measure it.  I only mentioned higher SPLs like 110 because every now and then I like to listen to 1 or 2 songs pretty loud, just to "rock out" for a bit.  But generally speaking the volume level is very tame at my desk.

 

I forgot to mention a few details earlier:  I'm open to either powered speakers like studio monitors, or to passive speakers.  I can probably dig up a receiver or something similar to power passive speakers.  I'm currently feeding my desktop rig with a Schiit Audio Modi Multibit and plan to keep that as part of the system.  Just in case that matters to anyone.

 

Thanks,

 

Brian.

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Well you can only equalize the direct sound, there's no effective way to equalize sound power since speakers all have different dispersion patterns and the response varies by angle. The easiest way to achieve your goal is to find speakers that are neutral or slightly dark and have even and uniform dispersion and then equalize if necessary. What you don't want is something with mismatched directivity like a 1" tweeter an a 6.5" woofer with a high crossover frequency which you have no chance of equalizing out the brightness because off-axis sound will have a treble bloom due to the gap in output between the woofer and tweeter in the 1-3k range since the woofer is beaming. Below is an example of the dispersion pattern of a speaker (B&W) with 1" tweeter and 6.5" woofer with a >3K crossover frequency:

 

915B683fig5.jpg

 

now here's the same measurement with the Polk Lsim 703:

 

912Polkfig5.jpg

 

As far as listening distance, a 2-way bookshelf speaker with good dispersion is perfectly fine for 3-4 feet, most studio monitors are just 2-ways with a built-in amplifier and aren't any better unless you are talking about a true point source design like a coaxial:

 

genelec_8331aw_8331_3_way_sam_studio_136

 

 

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Hmm.  I'm not here to argue, but I'm rather certain that sitting close to speakers elevates their high frequency output.  So ideally nearfield speakers will be designed with less output at high frequencies that at low frequencies.  It's the same reason that professional loudspeakers tend to have very elevated high frequencies when heard from 10 feet away:  Because they are designed to sound correct far back from the stage; like 30 to 50 feet back.

 

Thanks for the recommendations.  I'll do a little searching and see what I can find out about them.  In the mean time I'm moderately interested in the Tekton Mini Lore Monitors.  I need to find out more about them too.

 

Brian.

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Sitting closer to a speaker doesn't audibly elevate any particular frequency, what matters is the angle at which you are listening to the drive units. You are conflating how easily some frequencies are absorbed through porous materials--when there are numerous physical objects obstructing the path of the sound wave--versus with physical distance. It's much easier for a mass of hundreds or thousands human bodies in a theater room to absorb high frequencies than low frequencies due to the wavelengths involved. Sure, over long distances high frequencies will get absorbed somewhat at a higher rate than low frequencies. The absorption in air between listening at 4 feet vs 8 feet is pretty negligible and certainly isn't going to be something that requires EQ to fix--a speaker that's bright at 4 feet will sound bright at 8 feet, provided you are listening at the same angle.

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3 hours ago, pippenainteasy said:

Well you can only equalize the direct sound, there's no effective way to equalize sound power since speakers all have different dispersion patterns and the response varies by angle. The easiest way to achieve your goal is to find speakers that are neutral or slightly dark and have even and uniform dispersion and then equalize if necessary. What you don't want is something with mismatched directivity like a 1" tweeter an a 6.5" woofer with a high crossover frequency which you have no chance of equalizing out the brightness because off-axis sound will have a treble bloom due to the gap in output between the woofer and tweeter in the 1-3k range since the woofer is beaming. Below is an example of the dispersion pattern of a speaker (B&W) with 1" tweeter and 6.5" woofer with a >3K crossover frequency:

 

915B683fig5.jpg

 

now here's the same measurement with the Polk Lsim 703:

 

912Polkfig5.jpg

 

As far as listening distance, a 2-way bookshelf speaker with good dispersion is perfectly fine for 3-4 feet, most studio monitors are just 2-ways with a built-in amplifier and aren't any better unless you are talking about a true point source design like a coaxial:

 

 

 

Actually I find from personal experience that a gentle relaxation of the off-axis output around the presence region and increasing directivity towards the top of the treble are more suitable to domestic listening conditions (bright, untreated rooms) that Toole's flatter off-axis response.

The following plots are from my former and current speakers, both of them reasonably flat on-axis:

 

1113PSBT2fig5.jpg

 

214SLS36fig5.jpg


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes

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Ok, let's say that I completely accept everything you said in your last post.

 

What speakers can you point me to that have "dark", "warm", or similar response that I might like?  Polk and Genelc are not particularly known for that kind of sound as far as I know.  I have not heard all that many Polks and zero Genelecs, so I'm just going based on general impressions and what I have read.  In other words I could be wrong!  :)

 

Brian.

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bgentry, have a look at studio monitors specifically.  Many come with built in eq settings for bass and treble, desktop/stand placement and distance from the surrounding walls.  Places like Guitar Center have several to choose from.  You can find them used there or at pawn shops or other guitar shops cheap.  I use a pair of Mackie HR624 MKII to for my computer desktop setup and they sound great. 


PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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20 minutes ago, bgentry said:

Ok, let's say that I completely accept everything you said in your last post.

 

What speakers can you point me to that have "dark", "warm", or similar response that I might like?  Polk and Genelc are not particularly known for that kind of sound as far as I know.  I have not heard all that many Polks and zero Genelecs, so I'm just going based on general impressions and what I have read.  In other words I could be wrong!  :)

 

Brian.

 

Unfortunately many of the currently available speakers exaggerate the treble.

If you don't mind buying used then I suggest BBC heritage speakers (Graham, Harbeth, Stirling); the there's the Kefs and the PSBs.


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes

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3 hours ago, bgentry said:

Ok, let's say that I completely accept everything you said in your last post.

 

What speakers can you point me to that have "dark", "warm", or similar response that I might like?  Polk and Genelc are not particularly known for that kind of sound as far as I know.  I have not heard all that many Polks and zero Genelecs, so I'm just going based on general impressions and what I have read.  In other words I could be wrong!  :)

 

Brian.

You might look into the Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary speakers.  $500/pair, very popular, warm and pleasant by most accounts.  I've never heard anyone complain of them being too bright, so there shouldn't be any issue for you there.

 

http://www.wharfedale.co.uk/denton-80/

 

It's a "bookshelf" speaker, 12.6" x 7.8" x 10.8"

They list the frequency response as 44Hz - 24kHz   ±3dB

 

Tons of happy owners on just about every audio forum I'm a member of, it seems.

 

Best of luck in your quest!

 


请教别人一次是5分钟的傻子,从不请教别人是一辈子的傻子

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I've done some reading and watched some videos on the Wharfledale D80.  These honestly sound the closest to what I'm after so far.  I think I'll definitely want a subwoofer with these, which increases my budget of course.

 

If anyone has more suggestions, I'd like to hear them.  

 

Thanks,

 

Brian.

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several threads on desktop speakers if you do a search


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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Augmenting the shortcomings of smaller speakers (bass) with a competent headphone setup might be another direction to encourage.  If there is one aspect the headphone crowd is being catered to with it is certainly sub-bass.  One or both might fit the longer term budget and listening enjoyment.

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Headphones were a big thing for me a few years ago.  I have a decent headphone setup (nothing great) with a dedicated headphone amp, DAC, and a few pairs of headphones.  I've mostly lost interest in headphone listening for music.  It can provide a good experience, but it's different than speakers.  Also, I'm fairly certain that extended listening to headphones, at moderate to low levels, has increased my tinnitus substantially.  So I avoid extended listening with headphones these days.  which is too bad because I've found that the value proposition of headphones is just enormous.  In many ways, my $300 pair of headphones bests my Paradigm main speakers that cost closer to $2500 for the pair.

 

So I'm still on a quest for a desktop setup that does more things right than wrong.  My budget is steadily creeping up as I continue to shop.  Darn it.  That always seems to happen!  :)

 

Brian.

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I just ordered a pair of Warfedale Denton 80th Anniversary speakers.  Based on reading quite a few pages of forum threads about these, and some reviews, they sound like exactly what I'm looking for.  I guess I'll find out in about a week.

 

Thanks again for the suggestion @Hugo9000  .  :)

 

Brian.

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I'm trying to decide what to power the Denton 80s with.  I'm currently using an old stereo Technics receiver with the volume up to 1 oclock, and an external passive preamp for volume control.  Why?  Because the amp sits under my desk to save space and the passive preamp can sit on the desk taking up very little room as it's only about 7" wide and 2" tall.

 

I also have an older Crown DC300A amplifier that I could use in the same configuration.

 

But it occurs to me that neither of these seem like a great match for these kind of speakers and the sonic profile I'm looking for.  I've heard NAD receivers in the distant past and was quite impressed with them.  Maybe a bargain used NAD receiver or power amp?

 

Thanks for any advice.

 

Brian.

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I received and installed the Wharfedale Denton 80s yesterday.  Initially I thought they were rather bright.  But then I realized that they just have good upper midrange detail.  Voices sound very natural.  Even at elevated volumes, I never got any unpleasant sibilance or other high frequency exaggeration.  In general I would say I like these pretty well.

 

However, they do lack in bass a lot.  Which isn't surprising given that they only have 5" drivers.  Turning the bass knob up on my receiver to about the 3/4 mark helped a lot with this.  But they are still a bit lacking.  Luckily I anticipated this and a new subwoofer is arriving today.  I'm hoping that both fills in the lower two octaves and perhaps makes these even a bit more "warm" without sacrificing too much of their midrange detail.

 

I may have more to say in a few days... though I'm not sure anyone here is all that interested.

 

Brian.

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I'd would have recommended the Sonos Faber Olympica 1, but they're way more than $750 USD.

 

A Marantz integrated can be had for not a whole lot, deals can be had as well, and will probably have the sound profile you're looking for.


No electron left behind...

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Thanks for the extra suggestions guys.  I've already bought the Wharfedale Denton 80s.

 

I'm still tweaking things.  ...and I have new amplification and a crossover coming soon, so more to be done.  I'm mostly liking the Dentons, but I find them a bit thin sounding.  On some music they get kind of unpleasant.  My choice of speaker position and seating position probably influences this greatly.  I may do some room re-arranging experiments too.

 

Thanks,

 

Brian.

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