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Powered 2.0/2.1 consumer ultra near-field PC speakers with no audible idle hiss 2024

SeanTek

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Last year I settled on Kali LP-6v2 speakers with the Topping D10 Balanced for my son's desktop PC. They work fine. This year, I am trying to upgrade my daughter's PC environment.

What powered 2.0/2.1 consumer ultra near-field PC speakers can you recommend, with no audible idle hiss, in 2024?

The desk is too small to accommodate the Kali LP-6v2 speakers, or any other speakers of comparable size.

There was (and still is) a winter sale on the KEF LSX II speakers, so I picked up some. Regrettably they are a big disappointment. Despite the sale price, the audible idle hiss is not tolerable. I listened and measured at the listening position of about 2 ft (60 cm) and the idle hiss is quite noticeable. Additionally, I found that all the KEF Connect stuff is actually a bit confusing and unnecessary for the use case.

The KEF LSX II speakers were $999 so I feel that up to $999 including DAC is a reasonable budget max. Subwoofer optional.

The laptop currently being used is a ~2019 Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15APITouch, which only has USB 3.0 5Gbps ports. No optical out, no Thunderbolt. This eliminates the utility of any optical input ports on speakers such as the Kali Project Mammoth MM-6 (which also are too big anyway).

Ideally I would like 24-bit/192kHz support, but can live with 24-bit/96kHz.

The Kali IN-UHF seems good in theory, but it only does 24-bit/48kHz (thus a USB to balanced audio DAC would be required, if the internal electronics don't downsample the XLR input to 48kHz), and reviews are a little mixed. Once you see the desk setup, you will also that placement of the IN-UHF bass unit is going to be an issue.

I would consider the Neumann KH 80 DSP A, but at $1099 for a pair they are out of budget. (Even at $999 they are out of budget when the DAC is added.)

I am currently looking at the Vanatoo Transparent Zero+ (probably going to skip the Vanatoo Transparent One Encore), but there are other choices out there...

Thanks!

IMG_3815.jpg
 

ppataki

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Check out this list for active speaker self-noise:

Probably not the most up-to-date but it shall help
 
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SeanTek

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It helped
Check out this list for active speaker self-noise:

Probably not the most up-to-date but it shall help

It helped, but the list is too long. :) Short recommendations are best. Also that list does not have speaker dimensions and does not have price points, so it is hard to narrow it down that way.

I just saw that Yamaha released the HS3 and HS4 speakers, which might be worth a look given the compact space requirements. They were released November 2023 so they are not on that list (yet).

Also, let me ask for recommendations on combination a USB DAC with balanced outputs + Headset (headphone + mic) amp (3.5mm or 6.35mm unbalanced). Topping D10 Balanced remains excellent but lacks any headphone/headset components. Topping DX5 Lite seems like it has everything @ $349 (do not need MQA at all) except the mic in.

From the pro audio world, Yamaha AG03MK2 ($189) and AG06MK2 ($229) meet all the specs. MOTU M2 ($199) may also work with a microphone adapter of some kind.
 
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NiagaraPete

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Maybe check these out. You can go up or down a model.

 

Steve Dallas

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Last year I settled on Kali LP-6v2 speakers with the Topping D10 Balanced for my son's desktop PC. They work fine. This year, I am trying to upgrade my daughter's PC environment.

What powered 2.0/2.1 consumer ultra near-field PC speakers can you recommend, with no audible idle hiss, in 2024?

The desk is too small to accommodate the Kali LP-6v2 speakers, or any other speakers of comparable size.

There was (and still is) a winter sale on the KEF LSX II speakers, so I picked up some. Regrettably they are a big disappointment. Despite the sale price, the audible idle hiss is not tolerable. I listened and measured at the listening position of about 2 ft (60 cm) and the idle hiss is quite noticeable. Additionally, I found that all the KEF Connect stuff is actually a bit confusing and unnecessary for the use case.

The KEF LSX II speakers were $999 so I feel that up to $999 including DAC is a reasonable budget max. Subwoofer optional.

The laptop currently being used is a ~2019 Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15APITouch, which only has USB 3.0 5Gbps ports. No optical out, no Thunderbolt. This eliminates the utility of any optical input ports on speakers such as the Kali Project Mammoth MM-6 (which also are too big anyway).

Ideally I would like 24-bit/192kHz support, but can live with 24-bit/96kHz.

The Kali IN-UHF seems good in theory, but it only does 24-bit/48kHz (thus a USB to balanced audio DAC would be required, if the internal electronics don't downsample the XLR input to 48kHz), and reviews are a little mixed. Once you see the desk setup, you will also that placement of the IN-UHF bass unit is going to be an issue.

I would consider the Neumann KH 80 DSP A, but at $1099 for a pair they are out of budget. (Even at $999 they are out of budget when the DAC is added.)

I am currently looking at the Vanatoo Transparent Zero+ (probably going to skip the Vanatoo Transparent One Encore), but there are other choices out there...

Thanks!

View attachment 340348

Why are you limiting yourself by filtering for 24/192 support? There is literally no audible or otherwise useful information above 16/44.1 in terms of dynamic range or frequency response.

What about something like a MOTU M2 or Focusrite Scarlett plus a pair of Kali IN5s?
 

Berwhale

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I have IK Multimedia iLoud MTMs and a Topping EX5 on my desk (and a Presonus Sub8 under it, but that would blow your budget)...

IMG_20231222_142236673 (Small).jpg


I think the self noise from the MTMs is pretty low (before I settled on the MTMs, I purchased JBL 305P MKII's and had to send them back due to the hugely annoying hiss).
 
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SeanTek

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Why are you limiting yourself by filtering for 24/192 support? There is literally no audible or otherwise useful information above 16/44.1 in terms of dynamic range or frequency response.

What about something like a MOTU M2 or Focusrite Scarlett plus a pair of Kali IN5s?

Kali IN-5 are too big. As I said the Kali LP-6v2 is an excellent speaker but it is too large for this application; the Kali IN-5 would be too much.

Per above, MOTU M2 is in the running.

It's an audiophile forum; people will beg to differ about the maximum sample rate and bit depth being audible or desirable. For my personal tastes, I just want the rate to be > 16-bit/44.1kHz--and I can in some scenarios discern the difference with higher rates--but view 32-bit/384kHz as "too much" and MQA as "a bunch of useless marketing fluff". (In my personal view, having higher rates helps with reducing latency, and helps with mixing because inaudible frequencies may become audible when speed is increased or decreased. Nobody can hear over 22kHz and hearing drops off precipitously after ~12-15kHz.)
 

ZolaIII

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If you want really low self noise and that they can fit. For DAC, headphone amp use ASR review index, you aren't new hire good luck and have fun.
Edit: sorry didn't read you already did consider those
 

Ellebob

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I answered in your other thread and didn't know you already tried the Kef as that was one of my suggestions. Some of my other suggestions were smaller but someone suggesting the Kali IN-UNF I think is a great choice. I have those on my desk in my office and definitely like them over the Kef LSX II witout a sub. I do hear hiss from LSX II when right next to them but not an issue for me because seating is ~10ft away in my family room. I tried the IN-UNF in the family room with a topping D30 DAC and it didn't work as well in there as I couldn't place the bass unit in a great location as the projector couldn't be moved. The LSX II was a better fit because of that and I am using with the Kali 6.2 sub which integrated well with the LSX II and improved the sound nicely.

The Kali IN-UNF is connected with USB to my iMac. If connecting to the IN-UNF analog I am sure it is converting to digital for its various settings and then back to analog. I just tried connecting it to the iMac with the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iMac and the 3.5mm and TRS inputs on the In-UNF and didn't hear any hiss. So, I'm not sure if this is rules it out for you. worth a listen if you can return it easily.

If the IN-5 is too big then I assume JBL LSR305, Adam T5V and iLoud MTM are likely too big as well as they are slightly smaller than the IN-5 but not much. The 305 is known for hiss, so that would also rule that out. The iLoud Micro is a consideration but I think a sub would really help with those like many small speakers. But, the price isn't bad and with a sub would be in the price range of the LSX II.
 

lennyanders

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Maybe check these out. You can go up or down a model.

I don't think these would be good. They are rated at 5db hiss, just as my 8340, and I can hear these hiss (barely but audibly) at 1.5 meters. So I don't think these would be good at 60cm.
 

Smitty2k1

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I'm thrilled with my Vanatoo Transparent Zero Plus and I'm sure I'd be even happier with the Transparent One Encore.... As you can see I also have a tiny desk
 

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SeanTek

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I'm thrilled with my Vanatoo Transparent Zero Plus and I'm sure I'd be even happier with the Transparent One Encore.... As you can see I also have a tiny desk

Thanks! In a quiet room, at what distance do you hear the hiss from these speakers when powered and on at modest volume, and from what drivers? (Probably only the tweeter but want to cover all bases lol.)

To clarify, the ~$1000 budget range includes the 2 active speakers and the DAC (or passive speakers and the DAC/amp), but not any subwoofer. I can live with no sub-bass for awhile and will pair the system with a good subwoofer when the time comes (probably in several months).

So it seems that IK Multimedia iLoud MTM and Vanatoo Transparent Zero Plus are good options to narrow it down; I would also like to consider the newly-released Yamaha HS3 and HS4...
 

jonfitch

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Maybe check these out. You can go up or down a model.


Genelecs don't really stand out when it comes to noise floors for active speakers. They are either average or below average. I find even cheap PC speakers like Audioengine have less noise.
 

Ellebob

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The HS3/4 by specs is -10db at 60/70hz. This is not very good for bass without a sub. You will find this with many small speakers.

The iLoud MTM is only about an inch smaller than the LP-6 hor height and width but is quite a bit smaller in depth which might make a big help on your desk. It is less boxy which might appeal better to one's aesthetics. Probably the best choice by measurements and specs.

The Vanatoo doesn't go as low in bass as the MTM but at least it is decent. But the Vanatoo is considerably smaller, so it might be a better fit and is a good amount less expensive.

I'll be interested to hear your impressions whichever you choose.
 

Smitty2k1

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Thanks! In a quiet room, at what distance do you hear the hiss from these speakers when powered and on at modest volume, and from what drivers? (Probably only the tweeter but want to cover all bases lol.)

To clarify, the ~$1000 budget range includes the 2 active speakers and the DAC (or passive speakers and the DAC/amp), but not any subwoofer. I can live with no sub-bass for awhile and will pair the system with a good subwoofer when the time comes (probably in several months).

So it seems that IK Multimedia iLoud MTM and Vanatoo Transparent Zero Plus are good options to narrow it down; I would also like to consider the newly-released Yamaha HS3 and HS4...

I don't hear any hiss. Zero.

You don't really need a DAC with the Vanatoo. It has digital inputs and converts the analog back to digital to do DSP anyways.

However, I'm using a DAC/headphone amp combo because I couldn't figure out out how else to do headphones with this setup using two different sources (computer and Wiim). Plus I already had it from before when it was a headphone only setup.
 
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SeanTek

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To assist with the analysis, I created a spreadsheet of Speaker Sizes:


The purpose of this spreadsheet is to get a rough sense of the size and price of desktop speaker monitors, where desktop space is a constraint. It is still a work in progress.

Just from gathering some basic dimensional data, I determined that the Kali LP-6v2 is 1266.84in³ is way too big while the newly released Yamaha HS3 is 320.32in³ (too small, relative to desired performance characteristics). The KEF LSX II is 411.45in³ and sits nicely on the desk. Basically I am looking for a speaker that is in the 400-700in³ range. It is also clear that a subwoofer is less of a necessity as the main speaker's woofer increases in diameter, but at the expense of desktop real estate.

The iLoud MTM fares nicely because it has such a small footprint at 335.14in³ (as pointed out, it has much less depth).
 
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SeanTek

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I got the iLoud MTM and gave them a listen. I regret to say that for my ears, there is audible hiss. The hiss is not bad at all: audible at 8", somewhat audible at 12", and barely audible at 16". However, I can still hear it at 16" and I am only listening to one speaker connected. Two speakers would be worse. The hiss from the woofers is completely acceptable as it disappears after about 4" away from the speaker. Hiss mainly seems to be the tweeter: in particular, the fact that the speaker is designed to be pointing at an angle upward from the desk directly at the listener's ears projects the hiss that much further.

Idle hiss is a straightforward problem to solve if manufacturers care. Kali cared enough with IN-5 and LP-6v2 to engineer it out, but most manufacturers simply do not give idle hiss any priority in their designs.

So my preliminary take on the iLoud MTM is C, and I will be comparing more speakers until I find a good one.
 

Penelinfi

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Insensitive passive speakers + dedicated amplifier; preferably where hiss only increases as volume is turned up; not sure what this is, but many studio monitors seem to run the amp wide open with only a gain control to change things
 

chuckt62

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I’m surprised these don’t have a standby idle mode which would cut power to the amps.
 

Rhodo

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I got the iLoud MTM and gave them a listen. I regret to say that for my ears, there is audible hiss. The hiss is not bad at all: audible at 8", somewhat audible at 12", and barely audible at 16". However, I can still hear it at 16" and I am only listening to one speaker connected. Two speakers would be worse. The hiss from the woofers is completely acceptable as it disappears after about 4" away from the speaker. Hiss mainly seems to be the tweeter: in particular, the fact that the speaker is designed to be pointing at an angle upward from the desk directly at the listener's ears projects the hiss that much further.

Idle hiss is a straightforward problem to solve if manufacturers care. Kali cared enough with IN-5 and LP-6v2 to engineer it out, but most manufacturers simply do not give idle hiss any priority in their designs.

So my preliminary take on the iLoud MTM is C, and I will be comparing more speakers until I find a good one.
Any difference for you when changing the sensitivity to -10dBV?

From the manual:

Sensitivity +4dBu/-10dBV
The +4dBu / -10dBV input sensitivity button allows connection of the speakers to high-output professional
equipment without risk of input overload. It is possible to cycle between +4dBu and -10dBV by holding the
SENS button for more than 2 seconds. The level is set to the +4dBu level when it ships from our factory. This
setting will be best for most professional applications.
When connecting iLoud MTM to consumer equipment (as for example Hi-Fi components, smartphones, tablets,
Laptop computers and so on), set the level to the -10dBV setting. To determine the nominal output level of the
connected equipment, consult the documentation supplied with the connected equipment.


I ended up returning now a couple different speakers due to hiss issues and have those iLouds MTMs on my updated list, but only if that sensitivity setting knocks back the hiss. Also considering the Genelec 8010As with the same -10dBV adjustment.

Tried the IN-UNF and it had no hiss unless your ear is about pressed to the thing. The bass unit though has a chaotic frequency response and I couldn't get it to mesh into my boxy work room.... Kali did just post a few new products on their site including a LP-UNF desktop set that might be worth looking at.

Edit to say: The IN-UNF sphere speakers are really great and Kali if you're listening, just sell those as separates, they're awesome.
 
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