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Desktop speakers mainly for gaming and listening to music

Tom09

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Hi guys,
I am reading in this forum for 2 weeks now I would say and still can't figure out the direction I should go :D
I am looking for a speaker set up for my desktop. 1500€ for speaker + DAC (with Bluetooth). But can be much cheaper too if it meets my needs.
I will use it for working from home, gaming and music listening - no music production. So do I even need a accurate speaker like the Genelec 8030 when I don't use it for producing?
I want to keep it "clean" that's why I don't plan to use a sub for now.
Listening distance is 90 cm to 110 cm I would say.

I recently abandoned my old big ATX sized PC and replaced it by a the 1 litre Asrock X300. I don't know how good the audio unit on this mainboard is but to my understanding it's always better to use USB and bypass the audio chip of the PC and use a external DAC since USB delivers a digital binary signal that has no "lossess"?
And I don't listen too loud. Considering the law for health and safety at work, employees have to wear ear protection when exposed to >= 85 dB. So I will probably exceed those 85 dB only very rarely.

After the first days of research I was almost certain to get a pair of Genelec 8030 + Topping DX3 pro. I liked their look, they are made in Finland, perform nice, are kind of small and not too expensive.

But then I stumbled upon the "hiss" problem. I thought "Wait, studio monitors are used in a near field scenarios and all active speakers have a hiss problem which is only audible in close proximity? That doesn't make sense. Why is everyone recommending studio monitors then?"
Then I was looking for passive speakers to avoid the hiss. The only "good" ones to consider seem to be the Elac DBR 62 or KEF LS 50 Meta. The KEF R3 is definitely too big for desktop use. But there aren't good passive speakers that have the size of the Genelec 8030 it seems, right? Why?
Considering that I don't want to listen too loud, every passive speaker - no matter how bad their sensitivity may be - could easily be powered by the Loxjie A30, right? Because a lof of people say that certain passive speaker have a low sensitivity, you need a big amp. But even speakers like the LS50 Meta with a bad sensitivity have a sensitivity of 84 dB/W which is considered causing damage to ones hearing when exposed to for longer time and this is achieved with one lousy Watt. That's why I think any passive speaker works with a Loxjie A30 in near field desktop use, right? Which would also "destroy" the argument, that active speakers need less space? Right?
But it seems that passive speakers are generally much larger, especially depth-wise.

I have a broken Monitor Audio Silver RX 2 here.
375 x 230 x 300 mm (14 3/4 x 9 1/16 x 11 13/16 inch)
I put it on my desk (180x80cm) to see how it feels to have such a big speaker on my desk. To be honest, it looks stupid >.<
Then I found the IK Multimedia iLoud MTM. Which has a very nice footprint. But to be honest, the Genelec 8030 is not much bigger and also not more expensive.

I am still not even sure about passive or active. What the best to go without a sub?

I can get the Genelec 8030 + Topping DX3 but maybe I don't even need such an accurate speaker. Maybe I just want to have something that is fun to listen to.
I can get the IK iLoud MTM. But the lower price compared to the Genelec 8030 is not too relevant for me. Why should I get the MTM over the 8030? The size is the only reason I think.
What about the Elac DBR 62. They are cheap, they are good and they have no hiss. But they are bigger than the 8030. But they are smaller than the Monitor Audio RX2 I tried on my desk.

Are there any other good options that are maybe not the most accurate but still fun to listen to?

And whats the general best way of signal transmission in regards of latency?
1. PC (USB) -> DAC -> Analog Input of Speaker or
2. PC(USB) -> DAC -> Digital Input of Speaker. The DAC is always processing the signal, right, even when input and output signal is digital? That means 2. would cause a higher latency because the signal is processed in the DAC and in the speaker itself, right?
8030 or 8330, what the higher latency? Or is it to be expected negligible. I think Genelec itself says that the 8330 internal DSP adds 3-5ms.

This text is just as confusing as my thought on which speakers I should go for :D
I just need a little push into a good direction I assume.
Thank you :)
 

Astojab

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First let me say that likely no one is going to be able to recommend "fun" speakers, since that is very subjective.

Now to my subjective impressions: I recently bought the Elac DBR 62 replacing my former speakers B&W 606, which were "fun" when I audistioned speakers the first time, but got really annoying because of the elevate upper Mids and Treble. I use the Elacs with the Topping DX3 pro and a IotaVX. They do sound much "better" than the B&W in that there is nothing annoying in the sound. I also got a Umik 1 and did some Roomcorrection with REW, which probably was a bigger Improvement especially in the base region.

The IotaVX is good enough so far, but for the price there are better/cheaper Class D amps.

I want to add that I do not hear differences between the DAC of the Iota (which is terrible) and the Topping in a blind test. The only differences I can hear is if one is louder.

IMO you should think about the Elac+DX3 (or cheaper )+ a decent Class D Amp, if you want the cheaper/bigger option. Also The Revel M16 and the Focal Aria 906 seem to be decent measuring optin

Smaller actives there are the Genelec and also the Neumann KH 80.

Also no matter what if you ran the Speakers of a PC, get a measruing MIC and REW and than you can EQ the "fun factor" into the speakers, if really want.
 

Offler

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I got for the same usage Elac DBR-62, with integrated amplifier NAD d3020v2.

Simple amplifier with integrated DAC over Toslink (optical). In my case gpu produces audible noise which gets carried over USB/analog sound output.
 

Trell

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I’ve two pairs of 8330A in my small home office (one pair with a Genelec subwoofer) and works very well. No music production.
 
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Tom09

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I got for the same usage Elac DBR-62, with integrated amplifier NAD d3020v2.

Simple amplifier with integrated DAC over Toslink (optical). In my case gpu produces audible noise which gets carried over USB/analog sound output.
I've done some more research but still totally uncertain.
The NAD d3020v2 doesn't have a USB input, right? My Asrock X300 doesn't have a optical output. I have to use USB. Thus I need to choose the NAD D3045 instead, right?
I saw your thread. I like your solution. But Elac dbr 62 + NAD D3045 is as expensive as Genelec 8030 + Topping DX3 pro+.

Right now I use a cheap Teufel 2.1 speaker set. Speakers are active (edit: passive). The amp is integrated in the subwoofer.
I never heard a hiss from them but I just put my ear really close to them and they are hissing! At a distance of 30cm I can't hear it anymore. So even passive speakers make unwanted noises. But maybe that's a result of the cheap quality of the amp or the output of my PC?
Is your NAD/Elac setup making any noises?

But taking that in mind, maybe I overrated the hiss of good active speakers and they wouldn't bother me at all since I have sitting hissing speakers on my desk for years without even knowing it :D
 
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Offler

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I've done some more research but still totally uncertain.
The NAD d3020v2 doesn't have a USB input, right? My Asrock X300 doesn't have a optical output. I have to use USB. Thus I need to choose the NAD D3045 instead, right?
I saw your thread. I like your solution. But Elac dbr 62 + NAD D3045 is as expensive as Genelec 8030 + Topping DX3 pro+.

Right now I use a cheap Teufel 2.1 speaker set. Speakers are active. The amp is integrated in the subwoofer.
I never heard a hiss from them but I just put my ear really close to them and they are hissing! At a distance of 30cm I can't hear it anymore. So even passive speakers make unwanted noises. But maybe that's a result of the cheap quality of the amp or the output of my PC?
Is your NAD/Elac setup making any noises?

But taking that in mind, maybe I overrated the hiss of good active speakers and they wouldn't bother me at all since I have sitting hissing speakers on my desk since years without even knowing it :D
I was originally looking for something like AVR with HDMI ARC for sound.

I wanted to use onboard soundcard for 44.1KHz for gaming and HDMI for 48KHz for movies and use amplifier for either mixing or switching between sources. Turned out to be even more expensive than d3045 and really not practical in any way as there is WASAPI Exclusive mode.

Anyway I tested HDMI/DisplayPort audio output. It goes like this:
GPU > Display Port > Display > 3.5mm jack > Analogue input on d3020v2

The display is LG 27gn950, a gaming one with integrated DAC for earphones. Problem is it can produce just 24bit at 32, 44.1 and 48KHz stereo. That would be enough, however the display apparently generates noise. And I mean a LOT. Noise floor was about -70dbFS.

So the conclusion was that using HDMI with the trouble my system have (noisy coils on GPU), would be not a solution, but additional problem. I still have all the hardware, but the result will be very bad considering the price of speakers + amplifier.


With d3020v2 over Toslink no hiss is audible, even when amplifier is maxed out, some of it is measurable. There is some noise when using analogue input, but the source is most likely PC. However the amplifier isnt the most powerful so i usually run it on 70-80% of its possible performance.

But its just one box containing decent DAC+AMP, electrically isolated from PC, with power consumption up to 15 watts. Resulting audio quality was so good, I had to tweak the Windows to remove digital sources of distortion.

After 8 months i checked Topping amplifiers and DACs. I would try Topping PA5 with some of the compatible DACs. It would be about same price, depending on the DAC.

and to answer the question, d3020v2 does not have USB. Just Toslink, Analog, MM stage, Bluetooth AptX.
 
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anotherhobby

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I just put together a near field setup for my office. One thing I learned thru a little trial and error with running speakers this close is that you want some with very good off axis response. My speakers are 1M from my ears. The sweet spot with speakers this close to you is much smaller, and when I tried speakers without great off axis response, the result was a constantly changing sound as I moved positions slightly while sitting at my desk. You also don't want hot tweeters as they will get fatiguing quickly (I'm looking at you B&W). Reviews here led me to the Revel M105's, which are small enough for my desk and have great off axis response. I'm very happy with them. On a different system in my house, I've had Focal Aria 906's, and they also sound fantastic and have good off axis response, as measured in that review. I think they would be great for desktop speakers as well if they fit your space.

Regarding the NAD D3020 v2 mentioned above, I am in the process of returning one. I think it's a really good little integrated amp if you decide to go with it. I returned the one I got so I could insert a crossover between the pre-amp and the amp to get a good sub mix. If you don't need that, it's a decent option. It sounds indistinguishable to me from the Topping PA5 that I replaced it with, and outputs more clean power than it's specs indicate. It does not have USB, but you can use a Topping D10s via USB from your computer and then optical into the NAD. It works great, and decouples the grounds between your audio and your computer, eliminating common audible USB interference from the computer. I will say that I did't love the high gloss plastic on the case. I noticed it scratched very easily, and I'd assume will look "used" over time. Personally though, after messing around, I realized I prefer little separates (I'm using Topping but there are other good options).
 

czt

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You don't want a subwoofer (now) so I would get the MTMSs. Two birds with one stone: desktop speakers with instant room correction (and extended low end). And you want the precise sound.
 
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Tom09

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It does not have USB, but you can use a Topping D10s via USB from your computer and then optical into the NAD. It works great, and decouples the grounds between your audio and your computer, eliminating common audible USB interference from the computer. I will say that I did't love the high gloss plastic on the case. I noticed it scratched very easily, and I'd assume will look "used" over time. Personally though, after messing around, I realized I prefer little separates (I'm using Topping but there are other good options).

What would be the benefit of D3020v2 + Topping D10s over the NAD D3045 which I could connect directly to the PC via USB? Isn't it better to keep the number of components as low as possible?
 

Trell

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What would be the benefit of D3020v2 + Topping D10s over the NAD D3045 which I could connect directly to the PC via USB? Isn't it better to keep the number of components as low as possible?

If you want to have a compact system then a low number of components usually helps with that.
 
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Tom09

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I decided to go passive. I already laid my eyes on almost brand new Elac DBR 62 on the used market for half the price.
Assuming I want to go with Topping, there are still two problems.
Which Bluetooth capable DAC to pair with the PA3s or PA5?
How can I connect a subwoofer if I want one in the future?
The Topping MX5 looks like a nice all in one solution. But it has no output for a sub and the output power is weak, even weaker than the Loxjie A30.
 

anotherhobby

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I decided to go passive. I already laid my eyes on almost brand new Elac DBR 62 on the used market for half the price.
Assuming I want to go with Topping, there are still two problems.
Which Bluetooth capable DAC to pair with the PA3s or PA5?
How can I connect a subwoofer if I want one in the future?
The Topping MX5 looks like a nice all in one solution. But it has no output for a sub and the output power is weak, even weaker than the Loxjie A30.
Integrating a sub can be a can of worms depending on how picky you are with getting the sub to mix nicely with your speakers. If you're lucky you can just split the signal ahead of the amp and use the sub's low pass filter to blend up into the speakers and be happy with the result. Lots of people are happy with this method, but I didn't like how mine blended that way, so I run a little active desktop crossover. If you need to run a crossover, you'll need to run separates (amp/dac/etc) so you can insert the crossover into analog path ahead of the amp. There aren't any all in one small desktop amps that have a true 2-way configurable crossover that I know of. Maybe somebody else can chime in on one they know of though.
 
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Tom09

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Yesterday I made the final decision. I decided to go with the Loxjie A30 because it's small, looks nice, has a volume control and bluetooth, it's cheap and it's not crap from a technical point of view.
It arrived today and I immediately tested if there are noises produced by the power supply or the A30 itself. In standby with no speakers connected it's 100% silent. Let's hope it stays this way when I connect the speakers to it.
Now I only have to wait for the DBR 62.
So in the end I decided to not go high end at all. This set costs less than 500€.
But this is just the beginning. Along my research I have figured out that I have too little knowledge to go straight for Genelec 8030 or similar. I still have to learn a lot about the components, equalizer, room adjustment etc.
I am still young and I need some room for updates. I think the Elac DBR 62 + Loxjie A30 is nice starting point into the world of hifi.
 
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Offler

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I did not go for Loxjie A30 simply because it was not available at my location and I did not wanted to wait for weeks...

Just one thing - compare Bluetooth sound with USB or Toslink. If you would not hear any difference its Ok.
 
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Tom09

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I have come across another issue. I initially planned to set up my Nintendo Switch and a Xbox Series X on my desk while the latter is not in my possession so far. But I just found out that Microsoft blocked the audio output via USB on the XSX. Probably to make some extra money through licensed products.

Now I was wondering. The AVRs used in home theaters are basically nothing else but DACs. Several digital input and analog outputs.
As far as I found out so far, their measurements aren't the best but they are super convenient.
For a second I thought about getting the Denon S660H. But due to size way too difficult to integrate on a desk.
Why aren't there small desktop sized DACs for stereo use that have several HDMI inputs and one/two HDMI output supporting ALLM etc.?
According to my research, such a device doesn't exist yet.
 

wwenze

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Hmm, I've been playing computer games before HDMI ALLM existed, is that really necessary?

From what I read ALLM is meant for TVs that are laggy to begin with. Like, it tells them "please lag less".

Reading between the lines it looks like you have a desktop setup so you are probably using a monitor to begin with, so no lag here.
 
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Tom09

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ALLM just turns off all the unnecessary processing automatically to reduce latency to a minimum.
ALLM is not necessary. But I am still surprised that there isn't such a device. There are only small DACs/amps with HDMI eARC. But no single one with HDMI input and HDMI output (capable of 4k @120fps) to pass the video signal through the device while the device extracts the audio from the HDMI signal.
 

Green One

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I am trying to do a comparable setup but going with JBL 530 and Topping DX3+, with my SMSL-SA50 amp. Been reading for the past few days and may well end up returning the huge speakers and going with JBL Studio A130 or the Elac Debut 2.0, or giving up and keeping my Micca MB42X and using nicer headphones. Small desk, apartment makes for limited options.
 
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