I am looking to upgrade my desktop listening experience and could use the advice of the community. Is there anything in the same price range as the Audioengine 5+ that I should consider? The Audioengines seem to be the consensus choice, but am unsure if this is just online hype and inertia. I do not want a subwoofer and I do not have enough desk space to go any bigger than the Audioengine 5. I tried using a pair of Kef Q150 speakers paired with a Dayton Audio APA 150 amp, but the speakers are just too big for my desk. I think i would prefer to have powered speakers for the simplicity and utilize the Dayton in another room. I normally listen at moderate volumes and need them to sound good at relatively low levels. Any suggestions?
When push comes to shove I think it's going to be pretty hard to beat the Audioengine 5+. I have to wonder if those that suggest other options have actually heard the Audioengine 5+ in their systems and/or in a store set up for a true compairson? Many times it's simply a slightly different flavor.
They are both fine competitors in powered desktop speakers. They have their own built-in amps = footprint space savers .
Your ultimate choice depends on a very subjective evaluation of :
(1) Connectivity options, especially Blutooth and dual optical inputs, direct phono Turntable preamp, and a direct subwoofer out (2) alternative speaker finish aesthetics (if important ) (3) every speaker has its own bespoke unique sonic signature ... (4) Options: including footprint and size and power ( with matched price points). The KANTOS are available in three models.... the “2”, “4” and “6”
I demoed the AE and KANTO both in a bake-off for my “C” system..... the KANTOs won out in my desktop system.
The KANTOS also come in various funky colour gloss finish options that helped the WAF option when I drag them outside as BBQ self-powered stand-alone wireless on-the-deck-party performers through an iPhone / iPad digital source via Bluetooth OR direct RCA input via TT.
The KANTO YU6 has with a formidable and beefy Class D amplifier pumping out 200W peak power, (100W RMS)
Because speakers are subjective, my guess is that is a likely a close tie overall in any general personal fave opinion desktop-use bake-off.
I will add that my inclusion of a (under-table at my desk) direct output via cable subwoofer (KANTO has their own matched set small one but any one will do) was a BIG final audio performance step-up overall; that facilitated a more pleasing overall audio improvement especially at both (a) lower volumes in a nearfield desktop listening arena, and, (b) louder volumes as required for outside party use.
You did say "killer", correct? I put a pair of single driver speakers right in front of my desk and get amazing full range with imaging. Merrill Zigmahornets for me but anything similar will do that has the drivers at ear height. Don't forget to use overkill for an amp too. At near field listening all you need is 3-5 watts. 2A3 or 300B or maybe single 6BQ5.
Here are the best speakers I have had on my desktop, in descending order;
1. Dynaudio Focus 200 XD 2. Focal Shape 50 3. Kef LS50 4. Anthony Gallo Strada / TR2Sub 5. AVI ADM 9.1 6. Dynaudio Xeo 4/ x14a 7. Revel M22 8. Quad 12L Active 9. Magnepan Mini
What I have learned is that good stands are absolutely critical on the desktop. The strada come with superb stands, everything else needs something like the Isoacoustics, they are well worth the money.
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful advice and myriad options. The comments have sent me on a tangent of considering high efficiency SET friendly speakers for my desktop. I was looking at the Blumenstein Marlin 3". Has anyone heard these or anything similar that will fit on my desktop? Depth of the speaker cabinet seems to be a problem for me in that i don't think it can be more than 9" and still fit on my desk.
Following with interest. I have been going back and forth (for months!) trying to decide between two possible systems:
Audience 1+1 v2 (or v3!) with Benchmark amplifier
Omega Super 3i with new 25th anniversary Zen Triode amplifier. That should have amazing synergy but it is putting the money in the amp rather than in the speakers. And the speakers are a bit big for a desktop.
Several have mentioned other types of studio monitors. They all have their benefits for mixing engineers, but the sound isn't always as nice as a set of audiophile speakers. Studio Monitors are usually designed for mixing engineers that have a very different requirement (need to pull out and identify individual instruments for a good mix). That doesn't always equal a pleasant sound (or as pleasant).
The Acoustic Energy AE1 are some very excellent active speakers, but they are basically four times as much as Audioengine 5+.
I think the good old Yamaha studio monitors sound very natural as well. The HS5 are at the same price point of Audioengine 5+.
Last year I bought a set of Edifier R1700BT powered speakers for my daughter, and had never heard them until a later visit to her place in CO. I was amazed at how good the damn things are, and that's coming from an Audio Snob perspective. These things are around 175 bucks, and if they don't make this model anymore (they might) I bet their other stuff sounds good also.
Audience 1+1 v2 with Benchmark amplifier is what I have. I will upgrade to v3 next Saturday. I have been blabbing about the Audience + Benchmark combo on various threads since the beginning of this year.
Next Saturday I am going to also listen to the Magico A3. If I like it then the Audience + Isoaccustics stands will go directly on top of the Magicos’. It should be an interesting office system with 2 speakers. Listen separately to each speaker.
I also own the KEF LS50 + Peachtree Nova 150. I enjoy both the Audience and KEF equally. They are different sounding. The Audience is super clean sounding. A few reviews stating that it is like peeking into the recording studio. I tend to agree though I have never been to a recording studio, so what do I know. The KEF does not sound as clean but I just love the sound from that speaker. I think it images better than the Audience and it is just so enjoyable to listen to.
@mcanaday I am moving into a much bigger office space in 3 months so I went speaker shopping yesterday for a floor stander. I found one that I am going to buy, the Magico A3. I was planning on keeping the Audience 1+1 in the office loop to play at low volumes late at night. However, the Magico also does this low volume trick well and it is redundant for me to keep the Audience 1+1.
I have also dropped off the Audience speaker (in person) at an LA dealer yesterday who will send my speakers to Audience to upgrade them from V2 to V3. It is a $500 job and I have no clue on how it will sound. Speakers are 8 months old.
I have listed my Benchmark gear for sale because I will require an integrated amp with 4 analog inputs to drive my gear in the new more spacious office. These analog pieces have been gathering dust in my closet for the past few years. I will list the Audience 1+1 V3 for sale once I get it back in my hands (likely next week).
The blumenstein orcas are very nice if you get the ones with the limited edition drivers - fostex fe83 SOL. They need bass support below 100hz so an 8 inch REL sub works well. These have much more resolution than the A5s and no crossover to smear the sound.