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Looking For High Fidelity Near Field Desktop Speakers

Sylafari

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#1
I am looking for a nearfield speaker setup where the speakers are to the left and right of my main PC display. I plan to have them about 4.5~5 feet out maximum and toed in towards the chair. I am fairly new to speakers and I believe that for some larger bookshelf speakers they need to be separated in order to sound proper (or maybe I'm wrong)?

I was looking at bookshelf speakers and have ruled out active speakers for now just because most of them use digital inputs and xlr inputs and have built in DACs and amplifiers that I already have.

I am using the RME ADI-2 DAC as the DAC and preamplifier (the digital volume control is amazing, works perfectly at super low volumes where my Schiit Sys started to have volume mismatch at low volumes) connected to the Nuforce STA 200 which is an 80 Watt Amplifier (I am pretty sure 80W is enough for a desktop speaker setup? Correct me if I'm wrong).

The only 'real' speakers I own are the JBL LSR 30X from Massdrop. Although I love them I want to know what more money can get me fidelity wise.

I enjoy a neutral and super clean sounding speaker (I just want to hear what is meant to be heard!).

My max budget is probably $3-4k?

I have auditioned a few test subjects already:
Ascend Acoustics Sierra Luna (don't like the sound of the RAAL tweeter, just sounds unnatural)
KEF LS50W (doesn't sound a lot better than the JBL LSR 30X IMO, only a 1 year warranty)
ATC SCM 7 V3 (Testing right now, sounds pretty good to me so far, sealed box makes bass sound better to me)
KEF Q100 (The JBLs are better)
B&W 705 S2 (Sounds pretty good to me but it definitely doesn't sound neutral so I returned it, also it might be too big as the minimum distance in the manual states about 1.5 meters minimum)

Speakers I want to try:
Elac Adante AS-61 (probably way too big haha but I am curious, Amirm seemed to have a great impression of the floor stander version!)
Harbeth P3ESR (apparently the mids are amazing though that probably means its not exactly neutral?)
Revel M105 or M106 (looks like much engineering went into these and company is part of JBL too!)
Revel M126Be (Upgraded M106 with Be tweeter and new woofer but comes out in April apparently)
ATC SCM20PSL Pro (Might be too big? They are 40 lbs each but only have a 6.5 inch woofer)
Genelec 8331 (The only active monitor I consider getting maybe :p)
Dynaudio Special Forty (another respectable looking company)

I'm having trouble finding other speakers and was wondering if you guys had any suggestions for any other speakers that are suitable that I may have missed. Thanks in advance!
 

amirm

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#2
Revel M105 or M106 (looks like much engineering went into these and company is part of JBL too!)
I may be purchasing a pair of those for testing. Have not fully decided but if you are not in a hurry, you may want to wait for that.
 

jhaider

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#5
The Neumann KH120 has just incredible measured performance. Crossovers are analog active I believe, so there would not be a conversion back to digital after your DAC. Your amp would be redundant, but it does not seem up to the level of your DAC/preamp anyway. SNR is only rated at 100dB, which is pretty low compared to something like Parasound Zamp (116dB rating).

The KH120 run about $1400/pair from the usual online sources in the US. I have not heard them, but every time I see the measurements I think about buying a pair.

If you want to get up to your budget they have a matching subwoofer.
 

Blumlein 88

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#6
I've heard the Harbeth P3ESR which is a nice sounding speaker, most especially on voice.

If this makes any sense, I think the LSR305 is more neutral and in some ways the P3ESR is better sounding. Now I did hear these with a rather expensive pair of mono amps costing more than the speakers. So they weren't at all power constrained. And the amps have an excellent SNR. The P3 ESR is rather inefficient and needs a solid amp to sound good.

The LSR305s compared to more developed speakers do seem to lack some fine detail, and seem to lose some of what they have if you are listening to them mid-field and pushing them somewhat on loudness. Truly nearfield, like on a desktop, this isn't a problem. Adding a sub relieves the LSRs enough it isn't much of a problem.

The Harbeths have more upper bass than the LSR305 (in most locations I have measured a bit of a dip around 70-80 hz). The Harbeth probably doesn't do anything much below 60 hz, but has more above that. I do think the Harbeth may favor the mids more than is neutral, and the cabinets feel rather lively. I don't hear that lively quality in the cabinet at least not obviously, but putting hands on them while playing you can feel it. That surprised me. The Harbeth's also are rather picky about toe in to sound best. That makes me wonder if there isn't some off axis lobing or unevenness.

Now a friend has the passive LS50. I thought that was a good speaker in many ways, but I don't consider it livable without a subwoofer. It simply doesn't do anything below 100 hz, and sounds too light weight. It also needs a heftier amp than you might think.

One you might add to your list is the Focal Solo6 Be monitors. See if you can audition them somewhere. These are active powered monitors.
 

oivavoi

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#7
If you really like the JBL-speakers you own, and already have auditioned several passive speakers which were more expensive but which you found inferior to the JBLs, then my advice would be to stay in that category... :) In the more budget oriented landscape, I do think that the active speaker team wins over the passive speaker team with a fairly large margin. No problem to sell what you have in any case!

If I may, here's what I think would be the most wise way of spending 3-4 k for such a setup, which I assume is in a farily small room(?) :

First of all, it can be smart to set aside some bucks for bass management and room correction in the bass. Muddy bass, which is most often caused by room acoustics, messes things up. Probably not a problem with the 30xs, because they don't reach low enough to create problems. But then you lose out on some of the fun with music! The easiest way of going about this is purchasing a minidsp 2x4Hd, which also has a USB input for your pc. On this, you can load room correction with dirac live, and connect both one or two subwoofers and a pair of bookshelfs. This will set you back 500 USD.

Then you have 2.5 - 3 k to spend on monitors and/or subs. Best value for money is to find something on the second hand market. But you should audition them. My personal favorite in that price range are the monitors from Eve Audio. Sounds both clear, revealing and natural/organic to me. But they have a ribbon tweeter, similar to the RAAL which you didn't like, so they might not be to your taste. I've also heard the Event Opals, which are really good speakers. They run so deep that you don't need a sub (even though subwoofers can make for more even bass). Others have been mentioned in the thread. Dynaudio, Genelec, Focal, Adam, JBL... all make good monitors.

If you end up with a couple of smaller monitors, you can use the minidsp to cross over to two subwoofers. You can find plenty of decent subs on the second hand market.
My 5 cents!
 
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Thomas savage

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#8

svart-hvitt

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#9
They do a matching sub with dsp base management too ..
I tried out one of Genelec’s subs; I wasn’t able to «hear» it. It was there but nobody could really tell. I guess that’s good integration?

I still consider adding a sub; the 7380...
 

Sylafari

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#10
First of all, thanks for all the responses, they are all very helpful!

I plan to add a subwoofer later down the line. I been used to wearing headphones so the lack of bass int he low end isn't really bothering me as much as I thought I would.

For now I plan to test out the Revel M105 and than move on from there. The Focal Be is another monitor I am considering. As for the Genelec 8331 I feel like it is just too pricey in the end (2200+ each) and would be irresponsible for me to purchase. As for the recommendations to room treatment, I will wait on that as I move around way too frequently which is why I am aiming for a nearfield setup because nearfield (correct me if I'm wrong) takes some of the challenge out of room treatment.

I was considering the Event Opals but they are discontinued and there is no way for the manufacturer to fix them either I believe.
 

RayDunzl

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#11

jhaider

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#13
I have a SVS SB12 NSD that I got during Black Friday, not sure if it is up to the task.
Why not? That sub looks like it has a really nice Peerless driver, similar to the one used by Genelec in their more expensive subs.



Measurements at DataBass show the whole package to be commensurate in quality with the drive unit.
http://data-bass.com/data?page=system&id=80

The measurements show the driver was not dumbed down for the application. Cheaply-designed subs usually have a bump in the frequency response somewhere between 50Hz and 100Hz. This bump is caused by poor inductance control. Peerless's shorting ring design for this driver platform is very effective, and they are clearly present here. Frequency response is flat to about 200Hz and smooth beyond that. The extended FR means you can choose your crossover based on your own sensitivity to bass localization, rather than the limits of the subwoofer.

Other subs get louder, but there is a lot of bench racing about sub SPL that makes no practical difference for most listeners. Many audiophiles are satisfied with the quantity of bass coming from a stereo pair of 7" woofers, after all.

Bottom line is that you bought a really good subwoofer, possibly by accident!
 

watchnerd

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#14
I am using the RME ADI-2 DAC as the DAC and preamplifier
I'm using the ADI-2 Pro with a pair of Dynaudio LYD 5, which run about $1200/pair.

They're a big step up from the JBL LSR305 that I used to use with my computer.

There is also the bigger LYD 7 & 8, as well as the matching (with monitor specific presets) subwoofer 18S, which are other options in the series depending on room / volume / bass needs.

Also the LYD 48, which is a landscape 3-way.
 
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Willem

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#15
I am using a pair of Harbeth P3ESRs as desktop speakers in my study, after a long time with their ancestors, the LS3/5a. Source is my desktop computer, into an ODAC usb DAC, into a 2x100 watt Quad 405-2 amplifier, and an Emotiva Control Freak volume control. I have obviously not heard every small speaker, and certainly not much of what is on offer in the US. However, I found it hard to imagine there is any small speaker that is any better, particulary in the near field (which requires particularly good integration between the drivers). My main system uses Quad electrostats, and these little Harbeths are the only speakers that I have heard that come near in clarity and neutrality.
I use small IsoAcoustic stands to raise them from the desk, to get the tweeters at ear height, and to avoid bass boom from the reinforcement from the desk surface. Even so, I created an REW curve to reduce bass bloom a bit, and loaded that into the Equalizer APO on the PC. Sound is now as tight as could be.
I have also experimented with them in my main system in our large living room, just out of curiosity. I added my B&W PV1d subwoofer and Antimode 8033 subwoofer equalization for an absolutely stunning result. Stereo image was wide and precise, and integration with the sub just perfect. In sum: almost as good as my electrostats, and even less fatiguing. The only limitation was that they could obviously not quite fill this large room.
 

Roen

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#16
Ascend Sierra Luna? Compact, hi-fi, but needs a sub.

EDIT: NVM, you've auditioned it already. Oh well. Surprised you don't like the ribbon tweeter.
 

soundwave76

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#17
I just (~10 minutes ago) upgraded to Genelec 8331 from 8330 in a desktop near-field setup. I also have the 7350 sub. I don't have enough experience yet to compare 8331 and 8330, but I can you tell you this - GET A GENELEC SAM SETUP! They are amazing and the room correction does wonders. 8330 are also way cheaper than the 8331 and you would be happy with those as well.

I also had the RME ADI-2 Pro but decided to sell it, since you don't need it anymore with the Genelec GLM system, if you don't listen to headphones that much. Selling the ADI-2 Pro can finance the 8331... :)
 

svart-hvitt

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#18
I just (~10 minutes ago) upgraded to Genelec 8331 from 8330 in a desktop near-field setup. I also have the 7350 sub. I don't have enough experience yet to compare 8331 and 8330, but I can you tell you this - GET A GENELEC SAM SETUP! They are amazing and the room correction does wonders. 8330 are also way cheaper than the 8331 and you would be happy with those as well.

I also had the RME ADI-2 Pro but decided to sell it, since you don't need it anymore with the Genelec GLM system, if you don't listen to headphones that much. Selling the ADI-2 Pro can finance the 8331... :)
Congratulations!

What’s you listening distance and use? Work? Leisure?
 

soundwave76

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#19
This is a home desktop setup, distance about 60-70cm. PC with a Matrix X-SPDIF USB->AES converter and I use the GLM software and my mouse roller-wheel for volume. Pure, simple and elegant. :)
 

soundwave76

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#20
I actually miss the ADI-2 Pro and especially since I had the sooooo sexy anniversary edition model. But that's a VERY expensive volume knob one doesn't really even need in a setup like this. These next generation active DSP speakers are the future in audio speakers in my opinion. The volume control can be a bit tricky in home systems, but it's worth it. I have a pair of 8340 in my living room connected via digital coax to BlueSound Node2i and it works like a charm.
 

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