on the desktop?

Hi all-

I'm helping a friend think about a system for her office. The room is small (about 12' by 8'), and the speakers will sit on the desktop. She will mostly listen to cds (and also needs a cdp and amp for this system.) Other considerations: she has small children, so speakers that sound nice at low volumes would be ideal. Her music taste is varied, but she listens to lots of jazz and classical. I was thinking about Harbeth P3esr (maybe run with a Wyred4Sound mint or a Rega Brio), or the Kef Ls50 with the Arcam A19. I wonder if anyone has experience with those speakers on the desktop in a small room? Or other ideas for speakers for this situation? (Component advice is welcome too). The budget is 2-5k. with many thanks! Margot
For my office I picked up a pair of Adam F7 (if too big for her she could go with Adam F5). These sound amazing and are very easy to use on the desk. Laptop playing music (CD, or music ripped to hard drive, or streaming off the net) out headphone jack (cables have 3.5 mm headphone jack which then splits out to two balanced connectors ($15) directly to active Adam F7 speakers ($898, I believe the F5s are way cheaper). That's it! No dedicated CD player. No preamp, power amp, or integrated amp. Just laptop and active (powered) speakers. Simple and very effective.

If she does not like the Adam speakers, there are many active and powered monitors from which to choose. I went to a local Guitar Center to audition many. And these came with 30-day money back guarantee. No brainer!
I turned volume up about half way on each speaker, then control overall volume via laptop. I will never not get active speakers for a desktop ever again. And these F7 do not require a sub for most music as they are rated down into the low 40s Hz. I doubt I'll add a sub, and I listen to jazz, blues, rock, etc.
I suggest you look at active near field studio monitors. They are designed for this use.


KRK, JBL, Mackie, Dynaudio, Focal are all worth consideration. From experience of using KRK VXT6 on a desktop, I think a 6" or greater mid/woofer is overkill.

For volume control I suggest the JBL MSC1 monitor controller. Or you could use an external DAC with volume control.

CD player -- Marantz CD5400 http://www.stereophile.com/content/marantz-cd5004-cd-player
Forgot to mention Neumann (owner of K+H now). The KH 120 A is the best sounding small speaker I've heard. I own a pair. Tonally they are very close to the K+H O300D ($5K+), but not nearly as resolving. They'll go up for sale soon since I've taken down my office system.

Great ideas! Will pass it all along. Thanks, guys.
I have a huge desk and the ls50 was too large for me. That speaker is wider and deeper than you might think. I have done several active nearfield monitors, Mini magnepans, and a wealth of conventional and unconventional bookshelves. For my tastes and my shroom and system there is nothing as good as the Gallo Reference Strada or Strada 2 with a small sub. These speaker throw a huge and stable image, they sound great off axis, they look great and are relatively easy to drive. Their resolving power is incredible and the cdt tweeter in practice sounds as good as the true ribbon in the mini Maggie.

If used is OK try finding a pair of NHT M 00 active monitors paired w their passive volume controller and run the digital volume control wide open.
Vanatoo transparent 1 or audience the ones
I have a 60" long desk and I use the KEF LS50's on them. I am restricted by an alcove in my office that prevents me from adding some stands and separating the KEFs more than the current desk config. However, even with this current restriction I would buy these same speakers. The KEFs are truly incredible near-field monitors.
I will second the Anthony Gallo Strada 2 with the Gallo sub....OR....the
Adam F5/F7 actives. Excellent choices for price and setup

I am currently using Mirage OMD-5s, with a Mirage sub and a Roth
MC4 amp (ridiculously good amp). I have a pair of the Strada 2s, and
matching sub...just haven't set them up yet. What is great about Gallo
is they sound better when close to the wall. Which on a desk is usually
a requirement. My Mirage sound great, but are too bass heavy against
the wall.

Great. Thanks again, everyone!
Eclipse has some very interesting desktop monitors now. I heard them in my wife's home office when we were hosting Philip O'Hanlon of "On a Higher Note".

Really nice. Active monitors with a built in 192/24 dac, wireless, and usb input. They produced an astonishingly large soundstage from very close range playing off an iPad of all things. Add a sub and you've got a seriously nice office system that looks pretty good too.


They are $1300. I have them on the gift list for my wife for xmas. She really liked them (even after hearing some Vivid B-1s playing Abby Road on vinyl via some sweet Luxman gear.