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Mini Speaker Recommendations


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Hi,

 

I'm looking for recommendations for very small speakers for a kitchen system. Right now I've got some AudioEngine A2's set up on some small corner shelves. They sound good, but I'd like go for something a little better with some very small passive speakers.

 

Right now I'm looking at NHT SuperZero 2.0 (9"h x 5" w x 5.5"d) or the Gallo Nucleus Micro (4" spheres).

 

With my current shelf setup, I have to limit the speaker depth to about 8". Stands will probably take up too much floor space - though Gallo makes some small-footprint stands for their spherical speakers, although they're a little short for my purposes.

 

My plan right now is to power them with a Dayens Ampino, sourced from an MF V-DAC. Possibly add a small subwoofer - thinking NHT or Glow.

 

I don't have a firm budget, but the SuperZero and Micro are $200 and $400 / pair respectively - I probably don't want to go too far beyond that. I might go higher if I don't need a sub.

 

Anyone have any other suggestions for speakers?

 

Also, anyone have experience with the Gallo spheres? Are the A'Diva's a lot better than the Micros?

 

Thanks!

Rascal

 

 

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

 

I've ruled out the Gallo A'Diva's.

 

Listened to the Monitor Audio Radius R90HD - quite nice I thought.

 

Will give the NHT's a listen.

 

Anyone have any other suggestions? Price up to around $800.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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have you looked at those ORB thingies? I heard a set very briefly the other day, and just for 2 mins listening, they seemd to have a pleasing sound.

 

Of course, PSB has the Imagine Minis out. They sound - awesome. They are in the $700-$800 range I think, and have various finishes available. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Thanks, Paul.

 

I didn't consider the Orbs since they seemed to be in the same general category (spherical sattelites) as the A'Diva's but the A'Diva's seemed to be a more serious attempt at an audiophile speaker. The A'Divas did not impress me sonically (though admitedly I heard them in a crappy listening environment), nor in terms of build quality.

 

Yes! the PSB's are almost on my list, but they are advertised for near-field listening. I guess you had a listen? Do you think they'd be good to fill up a medium-sized room? I'll probably give them a try-out, since I need to shop for some Image B4's for an xmas gift. (Btw, any thoughts on the B4's, if you're familiar with them?)

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

 

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

Link to comment

I'm in the market for some small speakers as well. The PSB imagine minis are near the top of my list as are the NHT superzeros and super 8. You will want a sub with the superzeros but you may not need them with the minis. You may also want to consider the Cambridge S30s which get ridiculously good reviews for a pair of monitors that run $219 a pair. Something very different you may want to consider (and I am considering as well) are the Focal little bird which is a 2.1 set up and takes up very little space: http://www.avguide.com/review/focal-bird-compact-audio-system-playback-48. These look way cool since they do a nice job of integrating the sub and can be connected easily either wirelessly (using kleer technology) or with digital or analog inputs. Plus there are multiple ways to mount the speakers. This is a very versatile piece of kit for $1k.

 

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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Thanks for the suggestions @BikeMig. The S30's are a scosh big for me, but I may check them out anyway. Apparently Mapleshade was impressed enough with them to put out a tweaked version, sells for $495, the claim is rivals any $1000 monitor. http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/products.asp?dept=70

 

The Little Birds are curious. I've already an amp for this system, so the 2.1 package probably won't apply for me. I might check out the sattelites, if I can find a dealer who carries them.

 

But good to hear a second for the PSB's, they're on my list now.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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Rascal: certainly not trying to talk you out of the PSBs but the focal birds are meant to be a unit. The amp is also a sub and the kleer technology is very highly regarded. It might be a real winner of a set-up given how versatile the set up (the amp can be put on its side for example and it is designed to mesh well with the speakers which is always a potential problem with satellite speakers and a sub).

 

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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Hmm...Thanks for the feedback Paul. Interesting about the B4's vs the Mini's. I'm not sure if my girlfriend deserves the Minis! Besides, I might get jealous. The B4's would be for her living room (my own kitchen is for whatever "micro" speakers I get). She is not all-too-savvy (though she covets my old B&W 601's). But I can't bear listening to the decrepit RSL monitors I gave her a while back. Any size monitor will do - any thoughts?

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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I've been running the audioengine N-22 amp and P4 speakers for several months on my desktop. I've been very pleased with the combo and the P-4s would be easy to mount on a wall (they are front ported). The P4 speakers were a tad bright when I first set them up but they have broken in nicely.

 

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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@BikeMig,

 

Sounds really cool. But I looked at Focal's site, tried to puzzle out the 2.1 setup. That thing is not a sub! Is it? I think the site said it contained a "woofer".

 

Thing is, I just bought a Dayens Ampino, which I love, kind of getting attached to the idea of using it & maybe adding a Schiit Bifrost. It's fun for me, as still-somewhat-green audiophool, to play with the different pieces, learn what can be done...

 

But the local Cambridge dealer also carries Focal, so if they have the bird, maybe I'll give it a listen along w/ the S30. The sub-matching issue is a concern.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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A nice set of Magenpan MMGs will set you back $599 I think, and they are not all that big! :)

 

There are wall mounted options too, say $399 for the MMGWs, put them on either side of the television and they blend in quite well.

 

For non-planar options, well what you like is really the biggest factor. The PSB Alpha B1s are always a safe recommendation, and they won't hurt your ears even if you hang them on a nail on the wall.

 

I really really like the Dreamcatchers - they are just plain fun to listen to, and easy to drive. But they sound really different from the PSB/Paradigm sound.

 

Still, were it me, I would get her the Maggie MMGs, and if necessary, hang her television on the wall. ;)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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@Rascal: that's what is cool about the little bird, the amp is also a sub. There are 3 different pairs of speakers that can be matched with it. Very clever design since the speakers can be mounted in a variety of manners, the sub/amp can be set upright if space is tight, and there are digital and analog connections plus built in wireless. It is designed to be an all in one set up and I think it makes a lot of sense. This is a very informative review: http://www.avguide.com/review/focal-bird-compact-audio-system-playback-48. It solves one of the problems with small monitors which is that it simplifies meshing the satellites with the sub and you only end up with 3 boxes (amp/sub and 2 speakers).

 

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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Paul,

 

Out of those three, I'd probably try out the PSB's. I doubt she'd let those panels through her front door! (You know how it goes.) And I like the idea of the Totem's, but I'd like to keep it down in the $350 range or so.

 

So, the cheaper Alpha B1's are better than the Image B4's? All these lines are a bit confusing.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

Link to comment

Trebles better in the B4's, but the overall sound from the Alphas is, I think, a little better. At least, the Alphas don't get that stressed out sound the B4's get.

 

YMMV, but either one is a pretty darn good set of speakers. The Alpha's are front ported and so can go up very close to a wall, if that makes a difference. :)

 

By the way, you might be surprised about those MMGs - they do come in designer colors - black, white, and grey!

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Thanks Paul. I'll have to give both PSB's a listen.

 

Designer colors - oh yes indeed! Personally I'm curious about the Maggies, I actually just heard electostats for the first time last night (Martin Logans). But as an Xmas gift - a bit risky...I can just picture the "WTF" look on her face after unwrapping her new room dividers!

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

Link to comment

The MMG are about 3.5ft tall and only 1.5" thick. ;) They look great when tastefully surrounded by a Ficus tree or two.

 

My better half groused like a bandit when I ordered the MMGs, and a few months later, dragged me to our stereo store and ordered a $2500 pair of Maggie 1.7s. A pair of moon monoliths taller than I am in the living room. :)

 

The Maggie sound is flat out addictive, and the MMGs have it in full measure. The bigger guys just have more. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Huh, they look so BIG in the photos. I'm getting curious, Paul. But she's just so...I haven't even gotten her to the speaker stand stage yet ... and she's always shoving the speakers back toward the wall ... have to pull them back out when I come over. So the panels are a risk as a surprise gift.

 

But maybe for myself ... I've got a tube amp on loan that's said to go well with Maggies.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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Paul - I'm gonna take a wild guess that the Maggies would go great w/ a tube amp, yeah? They're pretty easy to drive, right? And is there a need for a sub? What sub goes well w/ 'em?

 

I've got a loaner Taiwanese tube integrated that was apparently paired w/ MMG's at a past CES and got raves - the old speaker disappearing trick. The company never got off the ground (the faceplate reads Feliciano, later became Arte Forma which later became something else.) One listen w/ my C7's was enough to put me on the road toward tubular bliss!

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

Link to comment

Eh- I am more of a solid state guy myself, and certainly not the best person to ask about tubes with Maggies. I do know it is not really the watts that seems to make the most difference with Maggies, but how much current the amp can deliver.

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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  • 4 weeks later...

Have to tried Eclipse speakers?

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Thanks for this - first I've hear of Eclipse. I took a quick look at their site. They look great, but it's had to find reviews & harder to find price lists. Do you know if there are any in around the $800 range? Some of these seem to be in the thousand's.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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