Please Help Me Shorten My List

Hi, I posted this in the Speakers forum, but apparently that was the wrong place and I received no response. So I thought I would try here.

I am looking to replace my budget system (PSB Alpha B1's driven by an NAD 326BEE) with self-powered speakers. I'm looking at Airmotiv 5S and Paradigm Shift A2's. I have an external DAC already. Reason: To downsize and because I listen to my music near-field 98% of the time. So it's a bit much having a nice, beefy amp in this setup.

I realize I can simply order the 2 speaker systems to see how they sound. But before I even do that -- would anyone be able to advise whether the sound of the Airmotiv 5S or Shift A2's would be comparable to my current passive-speaker setup? I really like the sound of the Alpha B1's, so they would need to at least be comparable (natural sound, nice bass for near-field listening in a small living room).

Thanks for any recommendations.
Hello Cr.

Unfortunately I haven't heard neither speaker you mention, son can't answer your specific question. However, since you aren't getting any replies I'll throw in my two cents. Maybe it entices others to throw their own two cents?

Can you explain a bit more about the setup? You said nerafield listening, but is that on your desk by the computer, or nearfield but with more space than a desk?
Also, what's your DAC? Does it have volume control or going to use the speakers volume, or software volume?

Have you looked into Audioengine? I have their smaller active speakers (A2) in a second system and I am very impressed about their sound given their size and price. I drive them from a Squeezebox Touch.
People have had extremely good coments about Audioengine's bigger active speakers, A5 I believe. I think it's worth taking a look.

I realize it's tough to get a sense of how something sounds by reading posts. Everybody says what they have sounds fantastic, especially for what they paid ;-)
Here's a suggestion: use the search engine here to find threads where the A5 was discussed. There was one about bargain bookshelf speakers, I think. Look at what the owners who speak highly about them say, especially those who say they have it in a second system - then you know they have a higher quality reference for sound. Then follow their system link and see what they have. Then you have a sense of what their reference is. Of course the same applies for any brand/model.

Oh, and consider a subwoofer too. I had a Rel Storm and replaced it by two Rythmiks which I build from their kit. They are much cheaper and really good. One would do for you. My suggestion: send the line signal from the DAC into the subwoofer crossover so anything below 80Hz stays in the sub, the line out signal will have everything above 80Hz which you then connect to your amp/active speakers. Now the amp and speakers are relieved of attempting to reproduce below 80Hz which reduces distortion and frees up power so you have more headroom at your speakers. Note than even if the speakers can't reproduce 40Hz, the amp is still trying to.
For reference, this is what I'm doing with a Lamm pre, McIntosh MC275 amp and B&W 804S speakers and works so well I'm going active with my speakers.

Sorry about the length of the answers to two questions you didn't ask :-(
I hope it helps some.

Thank you for your reply, Lewinskih01,

My current set up is a combo desktop but my speakers are on floor stands. I use my Mac Mini and DAC (Creative Sound Blaster -- several years old now) to my 326BEE which then powers the Alpha B1's which are on the stands. They sit on either side of the desk and the table on which the amp sits. I infrequently listen to music from my couch (everything is in a small LR area). I also have a subwoofer, but it does not have a line out. I have it set for the lowest setting (80Hz) but it's plugged into the 326BEE directly. It more or less picks up just above where the B1's begin to roll off.

After more online research, I'm going to utilize the 30-day audition of the Vanatoo T1's instead of the 2 systems I mentioned previously. My main concern is for the powered speakers to produce at least the same quality and quantity of sound as my current setup. It doesn't sound like the Paradigm's would quite match the quality from what I've been reading online (though I can't ultimately determine that without listening). The Airmotiv 5S seems nice but only has one input and 2 separate, bi-amped A/B units with no standby -- whereas the Vanatoo has an efficient D-class (cool) amp with standby. That means I don't have to turn them off for power-consumption purposes. Plus it's a 60W amp which hopefully should produce some juice. The sound ratings are consistently good including the lower end as well, and they are a nice, slightly smaller size to boot. Ha, I guess I shortened my list by lengthening it, but it was enough to help me make a decision.

You are certainly right, though -- nearly everyone says that the product they purchased sounds fantastic. I purchased the PSB PS1's based on similar reviews but didn't really like them (they bottomed out waaay to early with those small cones and the anemic 20W amp -- and that with the subwoofer attached). So I read carefully to any criticisms offered.
This is for anyone who might be doing research online since it doesn't really interest anyone here. But the Vanatoo T1's are *not* comparable to the NAD 326BEE / PSB Alpha B1 setup. In my opinion, they aren't even close. While they don't sound bad, they aren't nearly as full, rich and detailed, and they can't be pushed beyond a moderate volume level.
I love my Focal Professional CMS 65 pair. They go down cleanly to 45khz.
Go to Guitar Center to audition active monitors.