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I agree with Lapierre, most of the monitors are meant to be on a stand, not sitting on a desk.
I'd almost suggest a pair of Realistic Lineaum's for speakers. The open dipole tweeters will keep the sound from being right in your face. Much softer soundfield.
Also, assuming that this will be on all of the time, tubes are out & class A will be like having heater on your desk. Those are usually the warmest first watt choices.
Have you checked out the "T Amp"? Tiny & smooth...
Last suggestion that I've spent a lot of time with is the new Boston Acoustics Horizon radios. Way better than Bose Waves and less money too.
I'd take a look at active studio desktop monitoring systems.
When I used passive speakers (M&K nearfield monitors now up for sale) in my desktop system I used this amp: ATI AT602. I was quite happy with it.
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Bob, I'll have to read up on ATI amps - that looks very interesting!
I suppose I should have clarified earlier... I'm currently running a setup with the Audioengine 2's. They sound good, but I'm looking for a little bit more. The current setup is:
PC Apple lossless iTunes -> Beresford 7520 USB DAC -> Kimber Cables -> Audioengine 2's
It sounds good, but I'm looking for a little more out of the system. I recently found out that I'm going to be working from home full time starting in a month or two, and I'll be able to listen to music a LOT more than I can in my current office environment.
I figure I might as well get something that I'll really be able to enjoy. My downstairs system sounds great (Mac Mini/DacMagic/Rotel/Kimber/Thiel) but I'll be locked upstairs in my office 8 hours a day!
I have the Nu Force Icon set up (amp/dac, speakers, 'sub') and love it. I am really impressed with the whole set up. You would no longer need your existing DAC though.
For perspective, my main listening rig is Rotel CDP as transport to a Headroom max amp/dac combo, KAB modded Technics 1200, PrimaLuna Prologue 3 preamp, Wyred4Sound monoblocks and Gallo 3.1s.
The idea of a small Class T amp seems very appealing. My DAC already just sits on the desktop, so I wouldn't need to move an equipment rack into my already crowded office.
The small Virtue Audio One unit seems like a particularly good choice.
For speakers I'm leaning towards the Usher S-520's after doing some test listening yesterday at a couple local dealers. I liked the Totem Dreamcatchers (demo'd through a very small 15W class T amp) but felt like I'd need to go to a 2.1 system in order to get passable bass.
Are there any other small amps similar to the Virtue Audio or NuForce?
I have the Nuforce Icon amp/pre-amp/DAC and it is a really cool unit. However I have not yet used it for a desktop system. But I'm moving into a new home next month and will be forced into a desktop system as I'm losing my music room. I may end up buying the Nuforce speakers and sub for the system and ripping all my CDs to iTunes on a Mac Mini.
Here's another interesting choice that I am considering:
6Moons loved this Qinpu system and preferred it to the Nuforce rig (but I believe the Nuforce was tested without the new sub).
I think speakers designed for the extreme near-field distances dictated by a desktop system have a potential performance advantage over traditional bookshelf speakers.
Enjoy the hunt and please report back on your choice as I think there are many people who are looking for great desktop sound.
You might call Magnepan and see when they're going to release their new mini-maggies and passive woofer. I heard these at a mfr's open house at my local high end store a couple months ago and they're everything the Soundstage write-up says. It was some of the most realistic reproduction (especially of drums) that I've ever heard. Source was an iPod Nano docked to a Wadia iTransport, feeding a Peachtree DAC/integrated amp. They used the Peachtree as a DAC/pre and some pretty powerful Bryston amps to do the heavy lifting. The maggies aren't too efficient, but they're very small and unobtrusive, and are one of the few speakers that would sound right simply sitting on a desktop.
Magnepan needs to productize these mini-maggies and get them out ASAP. If manufactured in sufficient quantities and priced affordably, they could set a new paradigm in loudspeakers.
Thanks for the advice everyone!
I was able to pick up a Virtue Audio One amp from Michael Mardis locally with the 30v/90W power supply. I spent an hour talking with him over coffee all about the amp and it's design. He's a really nice guy who knows his stuff!
I also found a used pair of Usher S-520 speakers for a good price and they should be arriving next week. I have some speaker cables and interconnects on order from Blue Jeans Cables that should arrive in time to hook everything together.
The only remaining things are rearranging my office and building a couple DIY acoustic absorbtion panels this weekend. I already have all the parts from Home Depot!
I'll post an update once I get everything set up and broken in, really excited to hear how it all sounds.
Well, it's finished!
I got the acoustic absorption panels built as well as a couple of homemade speaker stands. I also rearranged my office and it sounds much better in this configuration.
I'm really happy with how it all turned out. Not to knock the little Audioengine's, but the Virtue Audio/Usher combo really is much, much better.
I posted a write up and some photos in the Virtual Systems forum under Secondary Rigs if you want to check it out, or you can just click on my profile.
Thanks again everyone, happy listening!