£200 budget for desktop passive speakers


Established Member
Hi folks. I'm looking to spend no more than £200 on a pair of passive speakers which will be placed on a desktop and powered by my ageing Rotel RA-01 integrated amp. I'm going passive as opposed to active because I like the basic sound of the amp and I already use it to power my headphones. I know active monitors would ideally be the best option but what would I use for my cans? My only source is my computer which has an M-audio 2496 Audiophile soundcard fitted. I listen mainly to FLAC files and sound quality is very important to me. From the research I've done so far I'm thinking I need the speakers to be front ported as there's not a lot of space on the desk. Their backs are going to be against (more or less) the rear wall and they need to be small. I'd consider a 2.1 system but really 2.0 would be better for imaging etc. Bass isn't a deal breaker for me. As long as it's tuneful it doesn't need to shake the room. If I could find a decent pair of active desktop speakers that had a headphone throughput I could maybe raise the budget to £300. At the moment I'm using a pair of small Sony speakers from a 10 yo micro system! They're not good.

What would anyone recommend?


Distinguished Member
Although at the top of your budget the Focal 705 would be worth a look. Unfortunately most of the smaller bookshelf speakers tend to be rear ported which may be an issue.


Distinguished Member
Well, the most obvious at that price are the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 (discontinued, £100/pr) and the Diamond 10.1 (£199/pr).

There are smaller versions that still have acceptable frequency response; the Diamond 9.0 (£60/pr) and the Diamond 10.0 (£130/pr).

The Diamond 9.1 are still available from SuperFi.co.uk and the Diamond 9.0 are still available from RicherSounds.com.

The Diamond 10 series is available from countless sources.



Established Member
The desk is roughly 5' wide by 2'6" deep. Would the Wharfedale 9.1's work in that environment? I've been looking at the Thomann site and noticed that you can get passive monitors as well as the active variety - I didn't know that. I like the idea of the Wharfedales though.


Distinguished Member
Both the Monitor Audio BR1 and BR2 are worth a look. I would say the BR1 is the equivalent of the Diamond 9.1/10.1 and the BR2 is the equivalent to the Diamond 10.2 (£250).

The Diamond 9's and the older BR are about the best deals right now, but the newer BX1 and BX2 will also come in very close to your price range.

If you can push your budget, you can get the very well regarded active (built-in amps) Audioengine A5 for about £250/pr. These have true 40w amps, input and charging for an iPod, sub out, and with Apple Airport Express or the Audioengine adapter, they can be wireless. (wireless network)

If you are curious about the Audioengine, there are many YouTube videos with user and professional reviews. And, the Audioengine is available from many sources in the UK. A Google-UK Shopping search should turn up several sources.

I also think you would do best to NOT get a Subwoofer at this time. Better to get quality main speakers, and if you so desire, add a sub at a later date.

Also, for £300, you should be able to get a good stereo amp plus a set of speakers.

Diamond 9.1 £100/pr (SuperFi.co.uk)

Pioneer A307R, 45w/ch, £179 (SuperFi.co.uk)

Alternate -

Pioneer A207R, 35w/ch, £139 (SuperFi.co.uk)

Yamaha AS300, 60w/ch, £206 (SuperFi.co.uk)

Monitor Audio BR1, ~£100/pr

Monitor Audio BR2, ~£150/pr

An amp and speakers is not as compact, but it is more versatile. Since you asked specifically for passive speakers, we assume you already have something of an amp for this system.

Curious what you think of the M-Audio 2496? That should be a very high quality Sound Card.

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Established Member
Add to the list - Dali Lektor 1. They might be a little too big depending on how strict your space requirements are, but they are front ported which allows you to place them against a wall. I haven't heard them powered by a Rotel amp, but I'll guess that they would be a nice match as their mid range clarity and punch should bring out the detail of the Rotel.

At £150 from Richer Sounds just now, I think they're a bit of a bargain.


Established Member
Steve, I'm using a Rotel RA-01 amp to power the speakers. It's pretty old but it sounds damn good to my ears. It used to do service driving a pair of large Eltax floor standers and it didn't lack energy (if only the same could be said of those speakers, lol). My main reason for keeping the Rotel is that it drives my headphones (Shure SRH840) really well. My M-audio card is connected to the amp using some Furukawa interconnects I had lying around and the sound is tremendous! Actually, I've had the soundcard hooked up to the amp for months but with a cheap patch cable - since replacing the patch lead with the Furukawa the sound has really blossomed. I put this down to the quality of the signal coming from the soundcard in the first place. Also, I can't stress enough the importance of using FLAC as the source. I listen mainly to Americana, folk, light jazz & rock - particularly into female vocalists(listening to Angus & Julia Stone right now) so a lush mid-range is really my focus. The Shure's are pretty good in this area too. I now want speakers for the rare occasion where I have company in the computer room.

Vicarious Eyes - Funnily enough I spotted the Dali's this morning just before I left for work. I'll look into them right now.

Further down the line I'm planning a good hadphone DAC/Amp combo & either AKG K702's or maybe Beyerdynamic DT880 ^00Ohm cans, but that's another thread.

Thanks for the help so far.


Established Member
I perhaps should have mentioned that the room is very small, maybe 8' x 14', with the desk along the long wall.

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