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Powered speakers for my new office desk (and manly den)!

Applenoob

Banned
I'm soon going to be re-vamping my whole home office and buying a Mac Mini and monitor as well as a new 'professional office desk' and chair and will be after some good speakers also

Thought about moving one of my hifi systems into here but alas too many wires; too many bits and not enough room! Plus I'm probably going to sell some bits off to downsize anyways (fancying the Dynaudio Xeo 3's for the living room instead of separates) :)

Anyways; really interested to hear from anyone that's reviewed these:

  • Ruark MR1's
  • Q Acoustic BT3's
  • EPOZ Aktimate Mini's (I've had the Maxi's in the past and they were great but far too big for a desk top)
  • M-Audio Studiophile AV40 Monitor
I'm not in need of the Bluetooth connectivity as I'll more than likely just connect direct to the Mac Mini (optical if it's catered for; if not just the standard 3.5mm jack etc...)

Any other suggestions gratefully received :)
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Give us a working budget?

Also the size of the room? One assumes this is some type of home office.

Keep in mind while the Dynaudio Xeo 3 are powered wireless speakers, they still need something to drive them, though to the best of my knowledge, they can only take a single source. That is neither good nor bad, it is simply a matter of understanding what you are getting. If the speakers are going to be on your desk with the computer, then Wireless speakers are kind of pointless.

In the Living Room, if that is where the Dynaudio Xeo 3 will go, what is it about the setup that requires them to be wireless? Next, in the Living Room, what sources of music or sound do you have available. Again, to the best of my knowledge, the Xeo 3 only have a single analog input. Keep in mind that is ANALOG input. The Xeo transmitter box also has 1xOptical, 1xCoaxial, and 1xUSB.

I'm not saying the Xeo don't sound great, I'm simply saying make sure they can do what you need done.

Back to your computer speakers. Give us a working budget, and a description of your preferences and priorities, from that we can make recommendations. You seem to be looking at Bluetooth speaker, any particular reason why. Again, with the speakers and computer together, wireless seems a bit pointless.

Your price range seems to be between £100 and £400, but those are not comparable speakers.

Next, specifically what features do you need? Do you need a built in iPod Dock, when you are directly connected to your computer? Do you need wireless, again, when you are connected directly to your computer? Do you need digital inputs and why?

How restricted are you on the size?

There are plenty of very good Studio Monitors to choose from. There are many good active PC Speaker to choose from. Good speakers with an external amp and remote control are not out of the question, if you have the money. But to get what you want, you have to know what you want.

Instead of suggesting random speakers, concentrate on describing what it is you want to accomplish and what features you really need, then we can help find speakers to meet those needs.

Now part of the assumption I'm making is that both your speakers and computer will be on the same desk. If that is not true, then describe how the speakers will be placed in the room that requires some degree of Wireless connection.

There is nothing wrong with any of the speakers you've chosen, but I have no idea if they will meet your needs in the space, or if the are consistent with your budget, or if they meet you needs for sound quality.

For what it is worth.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Applenoob

Banned
Thanks for the lengthy reply Steve :)

I'm not new to stereophile audio equipment; I've 2 multi £thousand systems in the house (boxed up currently) :(

The Dynaudio Xeo 3's are a) for minimalism (no wires, hifi racks etc...) and also because I can get them at a very good price and have heard them a few times before and always been wowed by them :) Plus they're more 'wife friendly'! And yes; they'll be for the living room :)

Re the home-office (as it will be when I've re-painted it and set everything up) I had thought about separates as I've a NAD C320BEE in the loft and B&W and Acoustic Energy speakers up there too BUT again I don't want a mass of wires about the the speakers would be too big for the desk-top

As I'd mentioned I'm not in need of the Bluetooth side of things; it's just that the speakers (well Ruark's and Q Acoustics) have this capability; they will still be hardwired (3.5mm jack for the Ruarks or optical for the Q Acoustics and the others also)

Size wise I'm not restricted as the desk will be close to 2m wide and 1m deep; the office is around 5m square and I've bought a small sofa to go in there also so that I can listen to music in peace also :)

Budget wise; max will be £400 but less is better :)

Re active PC speakers; I've had B&W MM-1's, Bose Companion 3's and Creative Gigaworks T20 Mk II's (still have these). I just want to step up to better, full range speakers rather than PC specific ones (if that makes sense)
 

sounddog

Well-known Member
RE the Dynaudio Xeo3 ... I believe that Dynaudio announced a upgraded Xeo 4/6 range at the recent Munich show which provided for a 24/96.

One thing you do have to consider with such speakers is that while they are "wireless" you do still need to plug them in to power which can become as unsightly as well run speaker cables.

Eloise
 

Applenoob

Banned
RE the Dynaudio Xeo3 ... I believe that Dynaudio announced a upgraded Xeo 4/6 range at the recent Munich show which provided for a 24/96.

One thing you do have to consider with such speakers is that while they are "wireless" you do still need to plug them in to power which can become as unsightly as well run speaker cables.

Eloise

Hi

Yes appreciate that but fortunately the stands I have are designed to hide cables out of the way and where the speakers will be there's a power socket right behind :)

I hadn't seen the update re the newer range so they could be worth waiting for! Thanks for heads up :) :thumbsup:
 

sounddog

Well-known Member
Just seen there is a new set of Elec speakers very similar to the Xeo 3/4.
 

Spy

Well-known Member
Any progress with this. I would be interested to hear of what you went for in the end and what you think of your choice ?

I am also in a similar predicament. I have a 5m x 3m office with a large desk facing into the room which means the speakers will NOT be against a wall but backing into the middle of the room.

The main source will be my laptop playing compressed music through Deezer and lossless music (FLAC and Apple) from my NAS.

My options are:
- Sonos ZP100 with passive speakers like Q acoustics 2010i or Focal 705V
- Active speakers like the M-Audio BX5 D2 or Ruark MR1

Again, like the OP I am warming towards an active speaker setup to save on multiple devices and wires but confused by the choice and options !

For example will budget-ish active speakers perform better than the Sonos ZP100 with budget bookshelf speakers ?

Are the Ruark MR1 that much better than the M-Audios ?

Help?!
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
It sounds like, in your office, that you will direct connect between the speakers and the computer.

In this case, I think good studio Monitors are all you would need, and at a considerably lower price.

Mackie MR5 -

Mackie MR5 - Google Search

Note, price is EACH unless otherwise specified.

Studio Monitor – Mackie MRmk3 Series | Studio and Home Recording

There is also a 6" MR6 and an 8" MR8, but it sounds like you need to occupy minimum space.

According to the specs they have XLR, TSR, and RCA inputs. These are individual speakers, not pairs, so each speaker has its own amp and its own power cord.

If your MAC-Book is Bluetooth enabled, then you can make any studio monitors Bluetooth compatible for very little money.

Here are a range of Bluetooth Receivers that could be applied to your Active Speakers, notice they are very small, and very cheap -

bluetooth X-apt Receiver - Google Search

It you computer needs Bluetooth capability, that can also be arrange at a very low price -

Bluetooth USB adapter for PC - Google Search

Best if you can get a Bluetooth Transmitter the supports X-apt or apt-X. The lasted and best high fidelity Bluetooth Codec.

X-apt Bluetooth is very close to CD Quality. Range is typically about 10 meters (or more), so that is a solid 30 feet.

Could you room be configured so the speaker are not on your desk but across the room, though we assume even across the room is still pretty close.

So, the point is, you can make you own wireless speakers for a very reasonable price. If you don't need the wireless aspect at all. Then just Studio Monitors or Active speakers. Nothing wrong with those you've chosen, but the Mackies are very good for the money. The best, to my ears, out of all the speakers I auditioned.

Mackie MR5 Active Speaker mini-Review | AVForums

The most common place to find Studio Monitors are at a Musician Supply store (guitar, drums, DJ, PA...).

For wireless, I personally feel, given the low cost of Bluetooth Transmitters/Receiver, you are better off buying Studio Monitors or other active speakers that specifically suit your needs. Doing it this way gives you pretty much a wide open field of possible equipment. For casual computer listening, Bluetooth X-apt should be fine.

If you don't need Bluetooth or wireless on your computer, then any Studio Monitor or Active Speaker should do the job.

However, a Bluetooth system as describe above, is not the equal of the Dynaudio Xeo 3, though it seems that is for a completely different system at a considerably higher price.

But for your computer, if you need Wireless Bluetooth, which could come in handy, then Bluetooth Transmitter/Receiver and Studio Monitor. If Bluetooth is not required, then just good Studio Monitors.

If you want to jump to VERY high quality speakers, then consider Focal Studio Monitors -

Monitoring & Pro studio - Focal

The Focal CMS50 being the most likely candidate -

CMS - Focal

CMS 50

Count on paying dearly for them though -

Focal CMS 50 - Google Search

Once again, these are sold as EACH unless otherwise specified. Given the price, that is probably a bit overboard for computer speakers.

Though Speaker makers like Genelec and Mackie have higher speaker series than the Mackie MR series. You can spend as much as you like. These include Active Speaker for Home HiFi use as well as Studio Use -

Active Speakers and Speaker Systems from Genelec since 1978

Mackie - Studio Monitors

So, really it is down to setting your budget for each separate project. Then, in your own mind, clearing up specifically what you want and need.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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dogfonos

Well-known Member
My options are:
- Sonos ZP100 with passive speakers like Q acoustics 2010i or Focal 705V
- Active speakers like the M-Audio BX5 D2 or Ruark MR1

Again, like the OP I am warming towards an active speaker setup to save on multiple devices and wires but confused by the choice and options !

For example will budget-ish active speakers perform better than the Sonos ZP100 with budget bookshelf speakers ?

The Sonos ZP100 (or newer equivalent) seems to come in at about £280, add £120 for the budget speakers such as QAcoustics 2010i = £400. The M-Audio BX5 D2 currently sell for just £130. Even so, I honestly don't know which would sound best.

However, if I had a £400 budget for active monitor speakers, I'd be considering the likes of:

Yamaha HS7 & HS8
Mackie MR5, MR6 & MR8 (Mk2 or Mk3 versions)
KRK Rokit RP6 & RP8 (G2 or G3 versions) and VXT4 & VXT5
M-Audio M3-6
Adam F5 & F7
Fostex PM841
RCF Ayra 6 or Ayra 8
Dynaudio DBM50

And I'd be pretty confident that all the above monitors would audibly outperform a Sonos plus good budget passive speaker.

All of these speakers (I think) have analogue inputs rather than digital. Your laptop's analogue output may not be great (quality seems to be very variable) so audio may benefit from a simple stand-alone USB DAC. I can vouch for this one at £90 although there may be cheaper products that are good enough:
E-DAC 24 bit Miniature USB DAC | Epiphany Acoustics

IME, to get the best audio quality for your money, avoid buying superfluous features - and dare I say it, try to avoid most hifi-type products (with a few exceptions, they just don't seem to offer good value).
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Let's refocus the discussion. The OP has mentioned two separate things, and I feel that has confused the issue.

1.) For his Living Room, or at least for another room, the OP (original poster) is considering getting Dynaudio XEO 3 speakers. That is a separate issue. Fine speakers, hard to criticize.

2.) As a separate issue, the OP needs small speakers for his computer desktop, we assume, that will be connected to his Mac Book laptop. In the speakers he suggested, he suggested speakers that had Bluetooth, though he never specifically said he wanted or needed Bluetooth capability. But since he mentioned it, we consider it as one of the potential options.

So, from the Original Poster, we need clarification on specifically what he needs in his office. How many ways does he intend to use the speakers. Purely to connect to his computer? Does he envision streaming from his Phone or other Smart Device?

I see no need for a Streaming device like the SONOS when, as far as we know, the speakers will be within arms reach of the computer. But I could potentially see a need for streaming to the speakers from some device other than the computer itself, for example, a smart phone or smart device of some kind. But, if that is so, then the OP needs to tell us.

For a direct connect to the computer, I suspect that straight forward Active Speakers or Studio Monitors are going to serve him best.

If he doesn't like bass, then they Yamaha HS5 are very clear, impressively clear. But lean on bass.

If the OP likes bass, then the KRK Rokit 5 have nice full bass, yet maintain good clarity. But the additional bass muddies the midrange a bit.

If the OP wants good bass and good balance, the Mackie MR5 has very tight clean deep bass and also maintains the clarity of the midrange.

Having heard all of the above speaker, and especially for computer use, I would personally recommend the Mackie MR5; the clarity of the Yamaha with tight clean deeper bass.

But, we need to know specifically how the speakers will be used, and where they will and/or can be placed in the room, in order to recommend speakers to fit the specific needs of the Original Poster.

If the OP has room, and wants more full range speakers, the new Mackie MR6 might be worth considering. But if space is at a premium, then the MR5 should do a nice job of it.

As to the Bluetooth aspect, that could be added for everything, and would eliminate the wired connection between the computer and the speakers, and would allow other Bluetooth devices to be used.

Whether is computer had Bluetooth or not, is somewhat irrelevant as the price of a Bluetooth Transmitter is incredibly cheap. Even Bluetooth Receivers are very modestly priced. This is an option open to him, and the sound quality would be about as good as PAID Steaming services, just short of CD quality assuming X-apt adapters.

So, we need some feedback from the Original Poster to see if we are addressing his needs, and if we are not, he needs to then clarify those needs so we can better serve them.

Just one man's opinion.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Spy

Well-known Member
I am not the OP with post #1 although I am the person who posted further down with a similar predicament.

For me (as for the OP) Bluetooth is not a necessity as the speakers will be connected by wire from the laptop. The use of a DAC may be worthwhile but I guess can always be purchased later.

With regard to the cost of a Sonos ZP100, I have a spare one kicking around but not in any dire need to make use of it here.

The speakers (as with the OP) will be placed on a desk hence the smaller the better although recognising some compromise may need to be made between space and sound quality. Given the rave reviews of the Ruark MR1 and their size, they do seem to be a prime contender but probably worth mentioning they are powered speakers as opposed to active. I hear them yesterday and they did sound good although there was some harshness in the treble on some compressed tracks.

Out of the active monitors, given the size issue I would guess that a 5" driver is probably the maximum I can go otherwise I will lose too much desk space.

Below are the ones I am considering, sorted in order of depth as I think that is probably the most critical dimension in terms of encroaching usable desk space:
Code:
			Height		Width		Depth
Ruark MR1		17		13		13
M-Audio AV40		22		15		18
M-Audio BX5 D2		25		18		20
Audioengine A5+		27		18		20
Studiospares SN4a	16		19		23
KRK RP5 G3		28		19		23
Studiospares Seiwin	32		21		26
Mackie MR5 Mk3		29		20		28
Behringer B1031a	39		26		34
You can see here that the Ruark are the smallest but the questions are:
1) Can you get better sound quality than the Ruarks when spending £300 on speakers bearing in mind their use will be for listening and not recording/composing music ?

2) Can you get at least an equivalent (or close) to sound quality for half the price of the Ruarks ie £150 which is where the likes of the Studiospares SN4a and M-Audio BX5 come in ?
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
It depends on what you mean by better. If you heard the Ruark Mr1 and like them, then that pretty much solved it. But the Ruark as a 3" (75mm) bass driver. There is a limit to what you can expect from such a tiny speaker. You may get the illusion of bass, and that may be all you need, but these are not speaker that are going to go very deep. But then, bass depth might not be what you are looking for. If the speaker have the clarity and detail you want, then perhaps, again, that is a problem solved.

The Mackie MR5 are about £260/pr. I've not heard the Ruark, but I have heard the Mackie and they sound pretty good. Clear with good tight clean bass, very clear, and reasonable bass depth.

More than the speaker relative quality is which speaker best suits your needs and circumstance. I have a full stereo on my computer and gave away my basic computer speakers ages ago, but that is just me; I did the best I could with what I had. If I were starting over, I would go for quality studio monitors on my computer.

You know your needs and circumstance the best, so ultimately the choice is yours. If 3" bass drivers of the Ruark give you the sound quality you need, then fine.

But I think we have to ask some questions, as this is also a convoluted circumstance.

You have a Sonos, but given that the speaker will be right on the desk with the computer, really no need for it, unless you simply want to use the built in amps to drive some passive speakers. Using the ZP100 (assuming that is the model that does have built in amps), this would allow you to have two independent sources.

For example, you could have background music from the Sonos, and still listen to a video on YouTube. The computer can generate sound independent of the Sonos.

Given that the computer and the speakers will be on the same desk, do you really need Bluetooth. Now potentially, you could have sound from a second source. For example, rather than directly from the computer, you could play music from you Smart Phone. But, though I could be mistaken, I think you will only get sound from a single source; the Computer OR the Smart phone, not both.

On the issue of size, only you can determine the workable range for you. I do not consider the Mackie MR5 to be all that big, but I'm not you.

In a very compact speaker, with reasonable good reviews, consider something like the Audioengine A2+ -

audioengine a2 - Google Search

It doesn't have Bluetooth, but it has other nice features such as an internal USB DAC -

A2+W Powered Desktop Speakers

Freq. response
65Hz-22kHz ±2.0dB

Note that is -2dB, likely at -6db, it is down to about 55hz.

DAC
TI/Burr Brown PCM2704C

It only has 16 bit audio, so no High Resolution, but it should play ripped CDs at full fidelity.

Dimensions (each)
6”(H) x 4”(W) x 5.25”(D) [152.4mm x 101.6mm x 133.4mm]

There are also some neat little stands to point the speakers up at the listener -

DS1 Desktop Stand (Pair)

Again, perhaps the Ruark sound fantastic and give you everything you need. Just make sure you understand what you need.

As to speakers at half the price, such as StudioSpares SN4A, I'm sure they sound very good for the money, but the money is only £99/pair. You can't expect £99 speakers to sound like £299 speakers. However, in the roughly £200/pr to £300/pr range, it is more down to personal preference than speaker quality.


Steve/bluewizard
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
What Hi-Fi said this about the Ruarks:

'There’s a real quality to their performance that sees the MR1s straddle that boundary between standard audio and hi-fi.'

Whilst What Hi-Fi appeared to love these speakers, that sentence sounds like damming with faint praise to me. For £300, I'd expect a pair of speakers with in-built amps to be comfortably into hi-fi territory. I use the Seiwins (the 6" bass/mid version) at around £160 and they compare favourably in most areas with my main tri-amped DIY 3-way speakers (which in turn, outperformed my Mission 770's back in the day).

BlueWizard said:

'You can't expect £99 speakers to sound like £299 speakers.'

If we were generalising, I'd probably agree with you, BW, however, there's more to product pricing than meets the eye. I hold my hand up and say I know little about financial manufacturing incentives in parts of China where this stuff is usually produced - I mean, do they have an equivalent to enterprise investment zones? Could some products be 'loss-leaders'? Perhaps some UK sellers import direct from Chinese factories so no middle person takes a cut (like Studiospares with the Seiwins)? There are many other possibilities that could lead to exceptional value products reaching UK shores so, despite advertising/marketing departments best efforts to persuade us otherwise, cost is not, IME, an indicator of product quality (I'm sure we've all heard a few speakers that sound less accurate than cheaper designs).

The Ruark MR1's have been built down to a size and size is important (up to a point) when it comes to audio quality, as BW has already said. Small size = audio compromise, which is why these speakers are said to sound best with their backs close to a wall for bass re-enforcement. I'm guessing the What Hi-Fi reviewer set eyes on the speaker before hearing it so maybe size expectation bias has reared it's ugly head?

Interestingly, some sellers are shifting the 'second generation' KRK Rokit RP5 G2 at a reduced price now the G3's are on the market:
KRK Rokit RP5 G2 Active Studio Monitors (Single)
 

Silverblack

Well-known Member
The new dynaudio xeo 4 & 6 sound like there gonna be really good speakers with a few more connections on the hub, they will be coming out in July.

Dynaudio - All there is.

I have a simple active speaker setup at home and it is outrageously amazing, clear highs powerful bass and incredible volume range simply put the best speakers I've had but they do come at a price.

They are bang and olufsen beolab 17 i have them running from my loewe tv and they just sound awesome, everything I've put through them just has amazing clarity depth richness and just absorbs you.

Best of all there's no separate amps or additional equipment to clutter up your home, I have them wired via 5 meter RCA phono leads and 5 meter figure 8 mains leads threaded through speaker stands which have cable concealment and they just make for a clean tidy install.

I really can't be happier and would recommend a demo, yes everyone's ears are different but if you hear these speakers you will leave thinking how can a speaker like that push out so much clear undistorted powerful sound.
 

Spy

Well-known Member
Thank you for all the suggestions guys.

I am particularly interested in the Mackie MR5 and Rockit RP5 but interested to see how they compare to the cheaper option of the StudioSpares SN4 an M-Audio BX5. I will try and pop down to Studio Spares and listen to them
 
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Spy

Well-known Member
Of course Steve, will do
 

Spy

Well-known Member
OK, now I have a bit of time I thought I would let everyone know where I have got to.

I am finding it quite hard to audition speakers as many places I have tried don't have any available for listening to.

I have visited:
  • Audio-T
  • Studiospares
  • West End DJ/Productions
  • KMR Audio
  • Red Dog Music (Relentless pop-up store, not their main Clapham store)
I have listened to the following speakers:
  • Ruark MR1
  • KRK Rokit RP5 G3
  • Studiospares SN4a
  • M Audio BX5 D2
  • Eve Audio SC204
  • Eve Audio SC205
  • Yamaha HS5
I have tried a variety of music to test the speakers out at different qualities ranging from 128 Kbs MP3 to lossles FLAC files. Tracks included songs from artists such as Queen, Daft Punk, Goldfrapp, Dire Straits, Joss Stone, Michael Jackson as well as others.

Having listened and seen the speakers it has definitely helped me firm up my needs and requirements and has resulted in some speakers that were originally on my list to be ruled out whilst new ones have entered the mix.

I am erring towards a smaller speaker with a 4" driver as the size is just right for my desk and I don't believe I am losing too much by going for a 1" smaller driver than the 5" I was previously targeting.

Unfortunately Mackie don't do a 4" speaker so I have had to rule them (MR5) out.

A quick note first though, trying to audition speakers is quite time consuming as not every retailer has models available for auditioning, even if they stock them. This means having to visit different retailers to hear different speakers which is not ideal as you are not able to quite A/B test and have to do some of it from memory.

So, here are my thoughts on the speakers I have managed to track down and audition:
  • Ruark MR1
    Fantastic little speaker for its size but too compromised in terms of sound quality. Poor stereo imaging and separation of instruments combined with the inevitable lack of bass. To be honest, I can't see why WHF would award it an annual Best Buy. Yes, it is cute, it is small, it is portable but I think I would have gone for a slightly larger speaker with better sound quality.
    These are out for me.

  • Studiospares SN4a
    Lovely little speaker particularly when you consider the price. Unfortunately it just isn't up to the standard of the mainstream manufacturers in the same size category. Better sound than the MR1 though at a third of the price.

  • KRK Rokit RP5 G3
    Really liked the sound of these. Great stereo separation and decent bass response considering it is only a 5" driver. The sweet spot is a little small but get it right and there is almost a 3D quality to the music. The problem for me is that they are a little larger than my preferred size (and a little plasticky). They are still on my short list though.

  • M-Audio BX5 D2
    Great value speakers that can go quite loud. Decent sound quality but don't have the finesse of the Rokits when it comes to stereo imaging. Also, I am not sure about them as the music was going thrugh about £1k of pro audio equipment before it got to the speakers and it still didn't sound as good as the KRKs which didn't have all that kit in the middle. I have them down as a maybe, purely because of their price and therefore value for money

  • Yamaha HS5
    These sounded OK but to be honest, their performance wasn't my cup of tea. A little too revealing and not flattering of poorer quality music. Probably great for recording/production work but not for my purposes. These are out.

  • Eve Audio SC204
    These were surprising. They were not on my list but KMR had a demo set available so I set about auditioning them. I was really impressed with their performance given their small size. Very good stereo imaging, decent 3D staging of the instruments (maybe not as good as the KRK) and can go fairly loud (for a small room). The front mounted controls with adaptability for different room types was also a bonus. The main con of these speakers is their price. These are on the top of my short list for the time being.

  • Eve Audio SC205
    These were also available to audition and I was able to compare them directly to the SC204, switching mid track between the two. Exactly the same performance as their smaller brother except the larger driver made the tracks feel a little more airy with a slightly lower reach on the bottom end. To be honest, given the increase in size and cost, I felt that the SC204 was a more than an acceptable compromise.
So, what next ?
Well, my budget seems to be inflating to the point of bursting but my man math is working overtime to justify it. My current, prioritised list now looks like this:

  1. Eve Audio SC204 - ignoring cost, best sound Vs size
  2. KRK Rokit RP5 - Good value but a little large for me
  3. M-Audio BX5 - Cracking value but may be a little too compromised on sound quality compared to the other two.
I am not quite ready to part with my cash just yet as there are a few more speakers that I had on my list I have not being able to listen to. They are:
  • Adam A3X
  • Focal CMS 40
  • Genelec 8020C
  • Aktimate Epoz Micro

As you can see, following some travelling and auditioning, the list has changed somewhat so one of the key learnings, as many others will tell you, everyone's tastes and requirements are different, always audition.

I am still open to thoughts and advice whilst I try and find somewhere I can listen to at least some of the remaining speakers.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
  • Adam A3X
  • Focal CMS 40
  • Genelec 8020C
  • Aktimate Epoz Micro
I'm guessing you will be mightily impressed with these speakers, but these are also considerably more expensive speakers. Adam, Focal, and Genelec are highly rated, and these are not considered Home Studio Monitors, they fall much more into the Professional Monitor catagory.

I read a very positive review on the Aktimate monitor, I think it might have been from Australia. I'm only guessing, but I would expect good quality at a more moderate price from these.

Please do keep us informed, your feedback is invaluable to the Forum. What you have said so far has been very interesting and helpful.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Spy

Well-known Member
Yes, the Aktimate seems to have received positive reviews. They seem to also be highly rated by WHF but considering they also think the Ruark is a great speaker, I am not so sure ;)

Since the last posting I have also managed to A/B test the following:
  • Adam A3X
  • Adam A5X
  • Eve SC204
  • Yamaha HS5
  • Focal CMS40
  • Rokit RP5
Following this audition, I have ruled out the Rokit RP5. It sounded like a blanket was placed over the speakers when directly compared to the others. This demonstrates the importance of true A/B testing as listening to them in isolation previously, they sounded fine.

The Yamaha were particularly impressive. They produced more bass than any of the others but didn't have the sweetness in the highs. Again though, they are not very forgiving when being fed poor quality audio.

The Adam A5X were definitely the best all rounder but with a price tag to match.

The Focal CMS 40 also sounded the best out of the smaller speakers with the A3X and the Eve being pretty much on a par.

Following this latest audition I have also taken an objective step back from the excitement of purchasing a new set of speakers and decided that my heart was running away with my budget and I should let my head step in and put some boundaries around budget. As a result, I am going to constrain myself to a £200 to £300 budget and also try and tick to a smaller speaker as I will get more for my money and also have a more aesthetically pleasing look to my desk.

Following this decision and also re-visiting what is available for my budget, I have short-listed the following speakers which also now includes a new contender which I was not previously aware of but seems to be receiving some excellent reviews and more importantly is within my budget.

  • Adam A3X
  • Yamaha HS5
  • Tannoy 402 (or 502)
I will be regroup my thoughts and then audition the three above and make a purchase.

As an aside, I am looking at pairing the speakers with a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 music interface and some angled isolation pads.
 
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dogfonos

Well-known Member
Hat's off to you, Spy, you're admirably thorough. Good to hear your findings.

You said this about the Yamahas:

'A little too revealing and not flattering of poorer quality music.'
and...
'Again though, they are not very forgiving when being fed poor quality audio.'


Is there (and has there ever been) a speaker that is kind to poor quality media, or iffy preceeding electronics, yet is able to present the full sonic majesty of a brilliant recording? I suspect not. If a speaker does not present the worst excesses of, say, poor quality media then it is loosing detail so how can it then allow all the detail of a superb recording through unscathed? To do this, wouldn't the speaker need intelligence to differentiate between good and bad quality audio signals?
 

popsys

Novice Member
Hello Spy I am new to this forum, have just seen your detailed piece of research and like dogfonos applaud your efforts, please could you let us know what further research you have carried out since July 2014 and if indeed in the last three of your choices there was something you found worthy of purchase.
Also, if I were to say what my requirements are whether you would be able to recommend a pair of speakers for me. Basically, I am in the market for a small pair of wireless speakers, of a similar size to Sonos Play 1s, the problem with Sonos seems to be a lack of good bass, they recommend you buy an additional sub-woofer which I don't want to have to do, the speakers themselves should be good enough to produce decent bass,I don't require the net-working feature of Sonos, most music I listen to these days tends to be in mp3 format on my Apple devices - iPhones, etc. I have heard much about QAcoustics Q BT3s and Audio Engine A2s although I am not even sure if these are similar to Sonos i.e. wireless, any advice would be greatly welcome
 

Spy

Well-known Member
Happy to try and help although I wasn't researching wireless speakers, I was specifically looking for higher quality wired speakers. Often, sound is compressed when transmitted wirelessly although this is getting better. My Sonos systems have excellent sound quality.

To be honest, most of the speakers I looked at were pretty good and I think I would have been happy with any of them. I was specifically looking for active speakers or speaker sets with built-in amps as opposed to passive speakers that need an external amp.

I focussed on studio monitors that have an amp built into each speaker whereas others like the BT3 have the amp in one speaker and share it across the pair. In the end, I was going for the Adam A3X speakers but ended up getting the Adam Artist 3 (main difference is aesthetics and a built-in DAC on the Artists) because I came across an excellent price that made them cheaper than the A3X whereas normally they are more expensive. I paired these with a set of Isoacoustics mounts and very happy with teh sound. They need careful adjusting to get the balance right between the two but once setup, they produce detailed sound with excellent imaging and 3D positioning.

As regards bass, if you really want deep bass you will have to opt for a subwoofer as all these small speakers are physically constrained from producing decent levels of bass. If you want bass from just the speaker, you will probably need to look at much larger speakers that have the physical cabinet size to deliver deep bass.

Best thing to do is audition a shortlist of your favourite speakers. You may want to include a 2.1 set to compare the bass.
 

sounddog

Well-known Member
For someone looking for similar (budget monitor speakers) currently; worth trying to get a listen to JBL LSR305 and the larger LSR308.
 

popsys

Novice Member
Thank you for your reply, Spy, I feel encouraged to know you rate Sonos sound quality so highly (perhaps I may have to invest in a sub-woofer afterall to get what I want). Ideally, I just want a very compact pair (similar in size to sonos play 1’s) of high quality portable speakers (hence the need for a wireless solution), reason being we want to be able to enjoy listening to music wherever we decide to settle down for the evening – whether it be in the lounge or the conservatory, has anyone else had this conundrum and found a solution in a perfect pair of speakers? Spy, you have also explained the distinction bet studio monitors and speakers with a single amp, are the former better and should I be focussing on them? also not clear on difference bet Active and Powered speakers? Is ‘Active’ another term for studio monitors and powered a term for the other variety? Btw is sonos play 1 considered an active or powered speaker? Thx in anticipation
 

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