• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Desktop Active Speaker Recommendations

Kouioui

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
151
Likes
153
Location
Central FL
#41
However, the self noise is not affected by the volume dial (except on the lowest 2 settings, which appear to be pretty much "no output at all"), nor by the type of connection (balanced XLR, XLR to single ended RCA, or no connection at all).
This is true for the self-noise 'hiss' but connecting via USB to a PC thru a DAC can cause ground loops, which adds another layer of 'grunge' to deal with. Balanced XLR or TRS avoids this.
 

maxxevv

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
1,671
Likes
1,643
#42
For me, it's fine at 6 feet, for sure. I mostly had the volume knob at its central position with a balanced XLR source and three "clicks" more with a single ended source. But I tried many volume settings ... :) ... and anything else I could think of ...

However, the self noise is not affected by the volume dial (except on the lowest 2 settings, which appear to be pretty much "no output at all"), nor by the type of connection (balanced XLR, XLR to single ended RCA, or no connection at all).

It is generated by the speaker's electronics and is a constant fixed noise level which is added to whatever the speaker reproduces. The louder things are played, the less significant this fixed noise is. Likewise, the further away the listening position is, the less significant the self noise. And I suppose the more background room noise there is the more the self noise would be masked ... maybe ...

I think these speakers are great listened to from a distance of 6 feet (for me) ... maybe a bit more or less for other people in other environments, But -- for me -- they are not suitable as a desktop speaker listened to from 1-2 feet. Terrific value for money used for a typical stereo setup in a small to medium sized room, though. Probably great for home theatre too.
Maybe its the ambient noise in my room. I almost never use it in the evenings when its a lot quieter. Possibly that's why I don't pick up the hiss. My background is probably noisier than the hiss.

Edit :

To add, I just tried it and yes, there is a hiss but not something I can hear / pick up from more than 1 feet away. But living in an urban apartment, my room is anything but "quiet" except really, really late at night.
 
Last edited:
OP
M

muslhead

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
190
Likes
58
Thread Starter #44
In the last month, I bought a pair of JBL 306P Mk ii speakers specifically for desktop use.

Unfortunately, I could not recommend them for this application, although, as always, YMMV. I found that listening from a distance of about 70cm (or 2 feet) at the levels I like to use (high 60dB to low 70dB, so not as loud as many people like, probably), the tweeter "hiss" (speaker self noise) was completely unacceptable to me.

I have many recordings made with a Revox A77 tape machine and these all have tape hiss that should be audible (it isn't objectionable normally, but you should be able to hear it). With the 306p on the desktop, I couldn't tell which recordings had tape hiss and which did not, as the speaker self noise was significantly louder. Also, the speaker self noise hiss seems to me to have a slightly "gritty" quality that makes it more objectionable than old fashioned tape hiss.

So, the 306p speakers have been moved to serve as "room speakers" (standard stereo setup). In this application, I am listening from a distance of about 2 meters (6 feet) or more, and the self noise is nearly inaudible and (to me) completely unobjectionable.

The sound quality (in my opinion -- feel free to ignore this!) is very good indeed when used this way, and would be very good whatever the things cost. Considering the price, the value for money is remarkable.

As the self noise is fixed at a constant level, how objectionable it is depends on how far away you listen and how loud you like to listen.

I think the Yamaha HS7 speakers have much lower self noise and also have a quite different (more neutral) frequency response than the HS5s. This is just from looking at data, though -- I have not heard them. Also, they may be too large for desktop use, as you mentioned. For my desk, the 306ps were on the edge of being too big (on on the edge of the desk, too!).

At the risk of mentioning the inappropriate, I am likely to buy some Neumann KH 80 DSPs for the desk eventually (if I can find some way of buying them where I live ... but that's another story). The combination of low self noise and otherwise excellent sound quality seems to involve spending 3 or 4 times more than the 306ps, unfortunately.

There may be less "professional" options, though. The Audioengine A5+ speakers reviewed recently measured very well and they seem to be around $400 (in some locations) ... no balanced inputs, though ...

I would suggest the speaker self noise specification (unfortunately, often not given by manufacturers) is a critical factor in choosing a descktop speaker. As I have found out the hard way ... :)
thanks, was not previously aware of the amp noise issue and the associated spec (or lack thereof)
 

hyperplanar

Active Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2020
Messages
177
Likes
304
Location
Los Angeles
#47
anyone have any experience with the adam a7 or a7x.
While bigger than i want, there are great deals on used ones. I could get a mint pair for at the lower end of my price target?
I have experience with both. Sorry to say this but they’re both hot garbage :(

Pretty sure I’ve seen “b-stock” (actually usually new in box) Neumann KH80s on proaudiostar for 800 a pair. That falls into the very top of your budget correct? For all a desktop application’s considerations (size, on-axis linearity, directivity, SPL), I think the value is hard to beat.
 
OP
M

muslhead

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
190
Likes
58
Thread Starter #48
I have experience with both. Sorry to say this but they’re both hot garbage :(

Pretty sure I’ve seen “b-stock” (actually usually new in box) Neumann KH80s on proaudiostar for 800 a pair. That falls into the very top of your budget correct? For all a desktop application’s considerations (size, on-axis linearity, directivity, SPL), I think the value is hard to beat.
thanks for your opinion
 
Top Bottom