Speakers for computer desk


Active Member
I'm hoping someone will be able to recommend speakers for me to try in the UK for listening while at my computer.

Budget is under £1000, ideally closer to £500.

The desk is in the corner of a 4m x 3m room. It will measure 130 x 65 cm, so not wide and quite shallow. Behind and to the left side is solid wall, although there is a window to the left too, a little higher than the desk. Speakers can go under, above, to the side, on the wall or even in the ceiling! (Desk speakers will be less hassle however.)

Would like to avoid having a sub.

Listening volumes will be low so detail is more important than power.

The monitor is 70cm wide and sits in the middle of the desk.

I'm undecided on sources. The computer will be either a Mac Pro or MacBook Pro. I may also decide to connect a Sonos to the speakers if I find that more convenient. The feature of being able to connect both USB and analog and listen to both sounds useful (AudioEngine a2) but may not be essential.

I'm happy for the speakers to be active or passive, on recommendation. If passive, the amp will need to be under £200 and very small. I guess there is a big advantage to having a speaker with DAC rather than using the computer to output analog. No wireless, Bluetooth or AirPlay requirements.

Aesthetics are important, and I'm not an audiophile so at some point aesthetics become more important than sound quality, but not to say irrelevant. I realise looks are subjective so I'll say it needs to have clean lines. Examples that I like include B&W MM1, Kef LS50, x300a, B&O beolab 3. All very different but they work for me.

As regards the type of sound. I have Monitor Audio RX 6 in the living room, BX2s in the kitchen and Dynaudio Excite x12 in the dining room. I have previously auditioned LS50s and loved them, but sadly I think they will be far too big.

Like the idea of the Kef X300a but again, think this will be too big. Would appreciate comments on Genelec's or AudioEngine.

I have a pair of Dali Zensor 1s in the garage; put there because they weren't as good as the Excites in the dining room. Should I get them out of the box?

I have previously listened to Dali Menuets and loved the size and sound. A consideration? Or should I just stick to active?

I hope that's sufficient information to warrant some suggestions.

Thanks in advance.
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Distinguished Member
In active speakers, I would suggest you start by listening to Mackie MR5 or MR6, both well within your price range -

Studiospares - Mackie MR5 Mk3 Active Studio Monitor

Studiospares - Mackie MR6 Mk3 Studio Monitors

The Mackie MR series are the most basic Active Speaker, Mackie makes much more expensive speakers. But I auditioned the Mackie MR5 and found them very clear and detailed. I was very impressed.

Expensive, but the Audioengine makes the new HD6 speakers which have Bluetooth, Analog in, Analog Out, Optical In, and Remote Control. Available in Black, Walnut, and Cherry.

They are about $750/pr in the USA, so I would expect them to be about roughly £500/pr in the UK if you can find them.

HD6 Powered Speakers, Cherry

audioengine hd6 at Crutchfield.com

Here they are on Amazon-UK - £533 to £550 depending on finish -

Amazon.co.uk: audioengine hd6

In terms of Sound Quality, definitely consider the FOCAL Alpha Studio Monitors. They are not especially small, but I would except them to be crystal clear -

Focal Alpha 65 Active Studio Monitor

Focal Alpha 80 Active Studio Monitor (Pair) | Default

The KEF LS50 are certainly good speakers, but they are £800/pr and require an external amp. That is going to take the system over £1000. And with only $200 for an amp, your choices are going to be very limited. Probably ...perhaps... too limited to do justice to the LS50.

That should give you something to think about.

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Active Member
I recently upgrade my PC speaker setup
(after demo'ing a few active monitors and amp/bookshelf combo's) In the end, I found I just liked the audio signature of one or two bookshelfs over the active monitors and primarily struggled to find something that sounded good but in a small package, but ended up with:

Teac AH01 - £150 (USB DAC / AMP with plenty of extra inputs) its small, and has a nice B&O icepower amplifier stage that got good reviews and was indistinguishable to the larger Marantz PM6005 when I demo'd it. Richer sounds are selling them off, original price was over £300

Dali Zensor Pico - £159 a small version of the Zensor 1, but mine are on my desk, so couldn't accommodate the Zensor 1's, however, the mid-bass they produce is quite beguiling from such a tiny speaker and had a much richer midrange over anything else near to that size of speaker.

BKElec Gemini II - £225 Very small and attractive sub (available in nice wood finishes) - whilst subs aren't for everyone, it integrates very very well with the smaller desk speakers and gives that big speaker sound and a nice controlled bass layer down to 30hz.

£534 in total.

I am listening nearfield on my desk, they are about 160 degrees apart and at arms length and sounds very cohesive at that distance.

If you already have the Zensors 1's it might be worth trying with a small amp before upgrading the speakers, some options in the small desk amp category are:
NAD D3020 (Sounded equally as nice as the Teac)
Monitor Audio A100 (also being sold off at Richer Sounds, bit quite as nice to my ears)
Teac A-H01 (A bargain IMO, sounds as good as the NAD)

For my tastes, the bookshelfs I really liked from demoing:
Monitor Audio Bronze 1 and 2's
Dali Zensor Pico / 1s

Horses for courses, until I demo'd different setups, I didn't really know what I wanted.. You may like the naturally flat response of active monitors, that doesn't mean they wont be musical, some sound quite energetic and open, I just prefer a touch of warmth/detail in the midrange which is not a flat response.
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Active Member
Yamaha NX-N500


  • MusicCast expands entertainment possibilities
  • Wireless music streaming via Bluetooth or AirPlay
  • High-grade USB DAC that supports DSD 5.6MHz native resolution and PCM 384kHz/32-bit for high-resolution reproduction
  • Exceptionally high performance ESS 32-bit D/A converter
  • Discrete configuration analog amplifier and bi-amp drive produce music with lively dynamism
  • Balanced transmission and balanced connection to thoroughly eliminate sound quality degradation due to noise
  • 3cm dome tweeter for high resolution playback and A-PMD 13cm woofer unit
  • Rigid enclosure specially designed to suppress unwanted resonance
  • Indicator displays the speaker’s operating status and playback sound source
  • Remote control that makes performing basic operations simple
  • 192kHz/24-bit optical digital input for connecting to a TV
MusicCast, Airplay, Bluetooth, WiFi, DLNA, Ethernet, vTuner internet radio, Spotify, Napster, Juke.

High-Grade USB DAC Supports DSD 5.6MHz Native Resolution and PCM 384kHz/32-bit for High Resolution Reproduction

The NX-N500’s high performance USB DAC is a full-spec PCM 384kHz/32-bit unit with support for DSD 5.6MHz native resolution. It is compatible with asynchronous transmission and can perform low-jitter transmission by using its own master clock, without being affected by the PC clock. It also makes use of an ASIO driver, it achieves lower latency and higher throughput and along with Windows PC compatibility, it’s also compatible with MAC OS Integer Mode, allowing 32-bit playback even in MAC OS.

Exceptionally High Performance ESS 32-bit D/A Converter

The D/A converter for the NX-N500 is the ES9010K2M from ESS Technology, Inc. not only its high precision processing of 32-bit audio, but also the ability to handle large amounts of audio data with full PCM 384kHz, DSD 5.6MHz native reproduction, strength in the low register, and high quality definition in the high register. Since the built-in D/A converter generates its own master clock, an original Jitter Elimination function is also included, permitting D/A conversion with extremely low impact of clock jitter.

• Remote control allows easy performance of basic functions such as power on/off and audio source selection
• Optical digital input compatible with 192kHz/24-bit

There's also the excellent MusicCast app from Yamaha.

£600 gloss black or white. I have a pair and they're excellent.


Well-known Member
I use the B&W MM-1's which are great and produce a very natural and big sound for their small size.


Active Member
Thank you all for your thoughts. I had expected everyone to chime and state the space I have available is not suitable for speakers as large as the X300s, but it would appear not. Would I be right to assume this is down to personal preference then?

Thanks for the Yamaha suggestion. I hadn't seen this in my research and will consider it; it suits my aesthetic tastes and has more features than I'd ever need for the same price as others.

The Mackies just don't work aesthetically in afraid.

So now I guess it simply comes down to finding something that works for me sonically. Once the desk arrives I think I'll try the Excite X12s as they are similar in size to the larger options that have been suggested. If I like those then I can audition the Kef and Yamahas.

Otherwise It will be a case of auditioning the smaller options, like the B&W.

Incidentally, I recently came across the Canton AM5s. A little shallower than most of the options with a 5" woofer. Sadly they receive little to no mention on these forums. Anyone had any experience?

Finally, anyone care to explain the benefits of USB v traditional digital connectors (optical)? I assumed they would both carry the same digital signal?


Active Member
Finally, anyone care to explain the benefits of USB v traditional digital connectors (optical)? I assumed they would both carry the same digital signal?

The can be a potential issue with optical in that it can be subject to jitter and not having a clock, it can 'drift' slightly between source and DAC, leading to artefacts in the sound.

USB would effectively be buffering the data over to the DAC and the same clock source is then presenting it to the DAC so less jitter/drift.

Honestly, I think it hardly matters, not all DAC ICs are equal, and not all circuitry around a DAC is equal, I think a decent DAC would sound identical over either unless you had a really poor quality device feeding the optical signal to the DAC.


Novice Member
Bluewizard mentioned the Audioengine HD6 above.

While I can't comment on these speakers in particular, I do have a similar pair in the Audioengine A5+ on my desk at university. These are active speakers and come in 3 finishes (white, black and the lovely bamboo).

Size wise they would be described as bookshelf speakers (requiring a larger shelf) which I would tend to agree with and do not feel imposing or overly large. Measuring my desk, it comes out very similar to yours at 145 x 70 cm and they feel 'just right' on either side of my laptop against the wall. I can attach a picture for size comparison if you wish.

Aesthetically I have to say they are pretty damn beautiful, though I imagine this depends on what finish a person gets. As hinted at above, I went with bamboo and haven't looked back since.

Finally, with regards to sound I'm afraid I can't wax eloquent like some on the quality of sound, but to my humble ears they sound wonderful. At low volumes they don't sound muddied or inaccurate. There is certainly no shortage of bass for the size. It is tight and will make itself known (and felt) when they are pushed at higher volumes. They suit a wide range of music and if I had to make a guess on limited experience, I would say they sound 'warm' as opposed to a pair of Q Acoustics 3020 which I would say sound very clinical ie. neutral.

My Dad's mate had a pair so I knew what I was buying into but getting a test listen may be a little difficult at the local hifi shop as they're not a well known brand like B&W. Either way, don't let this put you off as they are great sounding speakers.
Have you not considered using a set of headphones if it's going to be purely for listening to music at your desk where space is at a premium and asthetics are important.

Someone is currently selling a set of Sennheiser HD800's for £525. They would blow any of the speakers you currently own out the water, and some, and you'd need to be spending a good £5k on kit to rival their sound quality in speaker form!

They obviously need a small headphone amp to get the best out of them and there are plenty other alternatives to try but unless you have a major disliking to headphones then they seem the perfect option for your situation!!


I bought a set of Corsair SP250 to replace my old Cambridge Megaworks and they are phenomenal. Best desktops I have ever owned, cost about £250 - £300


Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
The Audioengine HD6 look's like it going to be one of those brands as it seems to be on just about everyone radar. I would first try to hear them as it looks like a large purchase for you. It also seems that Audioengine have placed a lot of R&D into the development of the HD6 speakers together with the fact that this is where they specialize, So, for me, If I was looking for a pair of powered Speakers, then these would have to be one's.

Regards, Shane.


Novice Member
Hope that you are still around.. I’m also deciding to get a desktop speaker for a small room. Considering to get the B&W MM-1 (after having great experience with the B&W Zeppelin Air) or go all in for KEF LS50 wireless.
May I know which speaker did you get in the end?

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