I've had a pair of AE2's for a year now and really like em. Decent bass and sound, in general, for a desktop speaker.
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Headshrinker I have AE2's on my desktop, but that is only because I don't have space for the AE5's. I don't think they are quite the marvel that Stereophile thinks they are, even on stands. But they are head and shoulders above any computer speaker at the same price.
If I had more space on my desktop, I would get the AE5's. The AE2's suffer from dynamic compression at louder volumes. The AE5's have a more relaxed, effortless sound and better dynamics.
Neither speaker is good for music though - i'll listen to a bit of music through them but if I really wanted to listen to music i'll plug my headphones in.
I use the AE5s in a garage I-Pod based system and I think they work great in that application. Much better than the similarly priced Apple Hi-Fi but still not good enough for critical listening. They seem like they may be a little big for a desk top unless you've got a big desk(or a really small computer).
I think you need to consider price. The Audioengine a2's are $200 a pair, the a5's are $325 and the KRK VXT6 are $900! Of course a $450 speaker is going to sound better than a $100 one! I am with the op, I am looking for a good sounding pair of sub-$200 powered monitors to use on my desktop. Not for critical listening but to enjoy music while I'm at my PC.
The Audioengine a2's get some good press. So do the Swan M200's. What about Alesis M1Active 520, M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 or iKey Audio M505? Any others in the sub-$200 range worth a look?
I prefer the M-Audio AV40 over the Audioengine A2. Kept the AV40, returned the A2. That said, Audioengine said it was rare for someone to return A2's.
I'm very happy with the A5's in my bedroom system.
BTW, I find it's important to NOT simply plop the speakers down on a desktop. Get some air under the speaker. I use my old trusty black diamond racing cones, but I bet a few "magic rub" erasers would work as well :)
I like the AE 2.0s and Blue Sky Audio's EXO System. I own both and prefer the EXO system. You can get that at Guitar Center for $200 and it has deeper defined bass and dynamics if you are using compressed digital files. I am also hearing good things from my studio friends in the UK about a new speaker out of Germany called, I believe, Adam. I have not heard them but I trust their opinions.
I just received the new desktop speaker stands from Audioengine a couple days ago - nice value at $30/pair - and they seem a perfect match, provided you want to have the speakers held at an angle pointing up a bit. In my bedroom I DO want the A5's at such an angle so it's perfect. On my desktop I'm using Black Diamond Racing Cones to raise the M-Audio's off the desk without an angle (they are already near ear level.).