Tired of listening to plastic radios? Shocking!! Dragonfly or Audioengine D3, Focal XS Book would be miles ahead of the current set-up.
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I would not be concerned about single driver speakers. They can be most cohesive and likely error by rolling off frequency extremes, at least those meant for desktop use. Given your post, this should not be a problem, possibly a benefit. Find speakers based on your listening preferences. How about a new NAD 3020 with speakers of choice? Such a system could be put together within budget.
I really enjoy my audioengine A2 and A5+ speakers. I have NOT heard the Zepplin so I can't make a direct comparison.
I have been extrememly impressed with my A5+ speakers, especially when I have them connnected to my good SACD player rather than using the iPod (via 30-pin to RCA cable) which is the normal source. I would imagine that the audioengine DAC or other external DAC would yield similar results.
I think the new A2+ speakers have an onboard DAC which might be a great option.
Thanks for the valuable insights.
To be fair to the zepplin its not a bad speaker at all, just wrong application. I thought I needed room-filling sound but realized what I really needed was near-field listening and good imaging.
So yesterday, I went to BestBuy (for the fourth time) and auditioned the B&W MM-1, Audio Engine A2 and A5+, and Genelec one more time.
The A5 sounded pretty good but to be honest its just too bulky for my medium-sized desk. At that size, I can just get regular bookshelf speakers instead.
A2's were nice but they sounded a bit too forward for my taste. Same for Genelecs.
Of the four models I auditioned - and I have listened to them four times now -:), I thought the MM-1s have the most balanced sound. They are more laid back and the mid-range is smoother compared to the A2s. But boy are they pricey!
I think one of the Apple stores carry the Focals, so I would probably visit the store later today to check them out.
Those Talisman speakers look very, very cool. And I notice they have 5 different models with radically different shapes. If aesthetics are very important to you, these would seem to be the logical choice. And they have powered versions with amps built-in, very nice. It seems they do need a DAC to handle digital sources. And Serene offer a 30 day in-home trial, good for you.
Alternatively, the Emotiva AirMotiv speakers have been getting pretty good reviews from the audio press and owners. They do have a very nice folded ribbon tweeter similar to the Heil AMT a legendary tweeter. They are also self-powered but would require a DAC, which allows you to roll your own sound. Emotiva offer a 30 day in-home trial and a 5 year warranty.
My guess would be that the Emotiva speakers will play louder with more bass extension, but you said this wasn't a priority. I guess it comes down to your tastes as to which would be best for you...
Wow! I just found this while perusing the Marantz products here. It's called the "Consolette" and looks like a very cool product - very nice aesthetics, too. has a built-in iPod dock and USB connectivity. All in all, a pretty sweet piece at the $499 asking price:
If it were me, I would get the Pure i20 iPod dock ($85 on Amazon) and a good power supply for it like a Paulhynesdesign.com. This dock has a superb DAC in it, and low jitter digital feed. Its a giant-killer.
Then get a good integrated tube amp and drive the new KEF small speakers that won product of the year from Stereophile.
thanks for the advice everyone! i initially bought Audio Engine A5+ but had to return it for a couple of reasons ...
the speakers were too big for my small and already cluttered desk. maybe its just me but i found the sound to be a bit too much (bass heavy?) for my taste. i was looking for a more intimate setting which the audio engines did not provide.
best buy magnolia had the b&w mm-1 on clearance for $350. with my additional $50 worth of member points the price eventually came down to $300 so i picked them up
i must say that they are doing almost everything i expected of them ... they are the perfect size for my desk and look very nice and elegant. while the sound is not as big and room filling as the AE5, it is very detailed, refined and crisp. the bass, while not substantial, has a tight and punchy feel to it.
the speakers sounded pretty unremarkable for the first 30 hours or so but after that they really opened up ... so far I am very happy. they are doing everything i expected a small desktop speaker to do