Best mini-monitors? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
OmnigamerOmega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hello,

I'm looking at getting into this HiFi audio stuff, but my difficulty is finding speakers of a reasonable size for my environment, but still with excellent performance. I'll be in a university apartment for the coming year, and then in a probably equally small living space for however many years of grad school afterwards, so I'm trying to find something compact enough to work for a very small room with non-ideal dimensions. I can't pump out full volumes either due to neighbor concerns.

I originally was looking through bookshelf speakers in general, but I've started to narrow my tastes to the more compact speakers due to limited space and positioning I'll have available. My price range is at or around $500, mainly looking at used. Everything will be driven by a Denon 2310/890 receiver. I don't have a decent sub yet, and probably will not be getting one for a good while. I have listening tastes across the board, everything from classical and jazz on through metal and techno/dance.

Previously, I was looking at NHT's Classic Three, Epos ELS 3, Mirage OMNI 150s, and Energy RC10s. Most of those are "normal" sized speakers for that range, however, and may be bigger than what would work for me. So I've started looking at smaller packages that still offer great sound.

I'm looking primarily at Totem's Dreamcatcher and Mite speakers. They seem to get great reviews, although availibility is limited. Also looking good is the Silverline Minuet. It's a lot harder to try and find front monitors categorized by size, so I was hoping that some of you with a bit more experience in the market would have some ideas for what to look into?

Thanks for any suggestions. I'm not entirely sworn off getting something on the slightly larger end, but simply have a preference for smaller for the time being.

Up Up Down Down L R L R B A Start
OmnigamerOmega is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 09:04 AM
Senior Member
 
xboxFreak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 460
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Have you checked out the Energy C-50's? They should be small enough for you, or if you have the room the C-100's...
xboxFreak is offline  
post #3 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
OmnigamerOmega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I've seen the C-50s listed, but I would probably go with the RC-Minis over them. I haven't been able to find many reviews of the C-50s, and the price is quite a bit under my budget. I mean, it's great if they perform as well as anything more expensive, but I haven't been able to see many reviews to attest to that. There aren't any dealers in this area either, so auditioning them would be a bit difficult.

Up Up Down Down L R L R B A Start
OmnigamerOmega is offline  
post #4 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 09:45 AM
AVS Special Member
 
ickysmits's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,413
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Usher S-520
era D4
Dana 620

I only know the Ushers though, they're good.
ickysmits is offline  
post #5 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 09:49 AM
Senior Member
 
xboxFreak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 460
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by OmnigamerOmega View Post

I've seen the C-50s listed, but I would probably go with the RC-Minis over them. I haven't been able to find many reviews of the C-50s, and the price is quite a bit under my budget. I mean, it's great if they perform as well as anything more expensive, but I haven't been able to see many reviews to attest to that. There aren't any dealers in this area either, so auditioning them would be a bit difficult.

Are the C-100's to large for you, what about the RC line?
xboxFreak is offline  
post #6 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
OmnigamerOmega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I'd like for the set to be used primarily on a desktop (granted, a fairly spacey desktop). Height isn't an issue so much, but ideally width and depth will be less than 8 inches each, width closer to 6. A little above would probably be fine, but preferred less.

Up Up Down Down L R L R B A Start
OmnigamerOmega is offline  
post #7 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 11:48 AM
Advanced Member
 
amicusterrae's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Lafayette, Colorado
Posts: 729
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
desktop? so you'll be listening in nearfield?
professional studio monitors might be better for this application.
Check out these powered JBLs:
http://www.jblpro.com/catalog/genera...x?FId=73&MId=5
You can get a matching sub and room EQ and no need for a separate amp.
amicusterrae is offline  
post #8 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 12:00 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
batpig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Diego
Posts: 23,879
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 209 Post(s)
Liked: 965
if you aren't going to add a sub any time soon, stay away from tiny monitors like the RC-Mini or C-50 with smaller than 5" woofers. If you are willing to add a small sub, that changes things...

I think the RC-10 would be a good choice (they really aren't THAT big honestly), or any of the others above (like the Ushers) but $500 is a good budget and you could probably find a really nice pair of compact studio monitors with 5.5" or larger woofers that would sound great.

batpig's "Denon-to-English Dictionary"
Setup Guide and FAQ
http://batpigworld.com/

Become a fan "batpigworld.com" on Facebook!
batpig is online now  
post #9 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
OmnigamerOmega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Which of the mini-monitors should I go for if I spent some or a little over my budget on a sub? I have a cheapy sub with me (brand/model not worth mentioning, really), but it's a sub nonetheless.

Up Up Down Down L R L R B A Start
OmnigamerOmega is offline  
post #10 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 12:48 PM
Advanced Member
 
kwkshift's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Phx, Az
Posts: 801
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 11
era D4.
kwkshift is offline  
post #11 of 36 Old 08-20-2009, 04:29 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Mudslide's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,134
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked: 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkshift View Post

era D4.

^ +1

http://signalpathint.com/index.php/Design-4-Series/

MARGARITAS,
they're not just for breakfast anymore.
Mudslide is offline  
post #12 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
OmnigamerOmega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I'll leave the D4's as an option, but availability is an issue for me... the nearest dealer is 120 miles away. I see a set used on audiogon, but it'll probably be gone by the time I'm actually set to purchase.

Up Up Down Down L R L R B A Start
OmnigamerOmega is offline  
post #13 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 12:16 PM
Member
 
wanjeyin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
You might also consider the Axiom M2 bookshelves (www.axiomaudio.com). A pair of these go for only $296 US ($235 from their factory direct store).

The M2s seem to be very highly regarded considering the price. Their frequency distribution is fairly flat (Freq Resp +/-3dB (Hz): 70 - 22kHz). I have a pair of these and I would characterize their sound as forward, very wide, and "very accurate", and will reveal any flaws in a recording.

http://www.axiomaudio.com/m2.html

Here's a review of them:

http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/axiom_m2i.htm

Keep in mind that speakers in the "smallish" size are best paired with a subwoofer. I have a JBL es150p ($200) which seems to do an adequate job.

Regards,
Andrew
wanjeyin is offline  
post #14 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 01:50 PM
Member
 
doublechili's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 82
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Since you were looking at NHT Classic 3s, have you considered the NHT Absolute Zeros? You can buy a pair new from NHT or an authorized retailer for $298, leaving you $200 for a sub if you want. You have diverse musical tastes, so you'll want speakers that excel with the jazz and classical too. I have the Classic series and really like them.
doublechili is offline  
post #15 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 02:07 PM
AVS Special Member
 
alphaiii's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,111
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 41
You've gotten some good recommendations so far.

The RC-10's are very nice...and fairly compact - 13H x 6.5W x 9.5D actual dimensions.

Era D4 have a great reputation, and can be had around $400ish used.

But if you're looking for really compact, I'd be on the lookout for a used pair of ACI Emerald XL's, or check with ACI on a b-stock pair. I just got three of these for my bedroom and they are absolutely amazing speakers.

BTW, the Emerald's are almost exactly the footprint size you're looking for. You really would want a sub with them though, and the Emeralds alone will chew up your whole budget.

If you decide to get a sub now...then I'd look harder at RC-10's or used Usher S-520. If those are too big for what you want...then maybe go for the NHT absolute zero's.

As far as a sub...the Energy ESW-V8 is a great small sub, and you can get it now from wwstereo through ebay with 10% cashback for a total of $225 shipped. The RC-10's and NHT absolute zero's can be had new for $300...so buying them used could keep you under your budget.
alphaiii is offline  
post #16 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 09:30 PM
Senior Member
 
DeusExa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 287
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
RC-10! you won't regret it if you listen to anything but the bassiest music..

Home Audio: Polk Audio LSi15 - Onkyo TX-SR805 - purchasing Emotiva XPA-3 Amp/Cadence 15" Sub

PC Audio: Energy RC-10 - Onkyo Integrated Amp
DeusExa is offline  
post #17 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 09:59 PM
Senior Member
 
seagul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 283
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
If your looking for used like you say you can do better than the Energy Rc-10's for $500. I would be patient and watch audiogon
seagul is offline  
post #18 of 36 Old 08-21-2009, 10:05 PM
Senior Member
 
seagul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 283
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Here are a few, nothing that really jumps out at me. Be patient and check audiogon a few times a day and you will find a really nice pair of speakers for $500

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....al-Chorus-806V

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....1966&/KEF-iQ30

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....-12L2-Rosewood
seagul is offline  
post #19 of 36 Old 08-22-2009, 08:26 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Looneybomber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Lawrence, KS
Posts: 4,666
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Heck, I'm using 5 Infinity Beta-20's as "mini monitors" because they're all about 3 ft from my head. It's more than I need for my computer system, but still works incredibly well for both movies and games. And I spent less than 300.00 shipped for all 5.

Too bad they're bigger than what you can use.

I used to use some Monitor Audio RS1's on my computer, but I'm selling them since I have 5 identical speakers. They work well and fit your footprint. You could try looking around for some?

YID DIY
Looneybomber is offline  
post #20 of 36 Old 08-22-2009, 09:44 AM
AVS Special Member
 
alphaiii's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,111
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by seagul View Post

If your looking for used like you say you can do better than the Energy Rc-10's for $500. I would be patient and watch audiogon

But if he wants to include a sub on that budget....he loses alot of options in the $500 used range.

The RC-10/ESW-V8 combo can make a very good 2.1 for a small room, and is still within his budget.

Of couse, I agree - if he will put the entire $500 now toward just speakers...there are alot of other options.
alphaiii is offline  
post #21 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
OmnigamerOmega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 46
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Looneybomber View Post

I used to use some Monitor Audio RS1's on my computer, but I'm selling them since I have 5 identical speakers. They work well and fit your footprint. You could try looking around for some?

I actually spent some time with the RS1s in a showroom yesterday, but I wasn't terribly impressed with them. Compared to the ones I heard just before them (some Focals, RS6s) the sound was very forward, with the treble kind of hitting you in the face. That might just be how it is amongst the small bookshelves, but I'll need a couple trips to other dealers/brands to get some cross-comparison going.

Thank you everybody for all of the great responses! Keep it up if you have more!

Also, don't undercut the suggestions trying to fit the speakers + a sub under my initial budget. I'll likely not get a full set at once anyway, just start with the speakers, and then let some income build up again to the point that I can invest in a sub. I can take the hit for a little bit, so long as I understand that an improvement is forthcoming.

Up Up Down Down L R L R B A Start
OmnigamerOmega is offline  
post #22 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 02:21 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Pete7874's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Illinoistan
Posts: 1,597
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by OmnigamerOmega View Post

I actually spent some time with the RS1s in a showroom yesterday, but I wasn't terribly impressed with them. Compared to the ones I heard just before them (some Focals, RS6s) the sound was very forward, with the treble kind of hitting you in the face.

In that case, let me suggest PSB Alpha B1... their highs are more toned down which is important in preventing ear fatigue during extended listening periods, especially in near-field applications. I am using the older version (Alpha B) in my desktop PC setup (with a rather low end 10" Yamaha sub). I settled on them after a number of other speakers that caused ear fatigue.

http://www.psbspeakers.com/products/...pha-B1-Monitor

"The problem with quotes on the Internet is that you never know if they're real." - Abraham Lincoln

Pete7874 is offline  
post #23 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 02:45 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
batpig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Diego
Posts: 23,879
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 209 Post(s)
Liked: 965
Monitor Audio speakers are definitely known for having a forward treble.... to some it's an "airy" and "detailed" sound but to others (like me) it's a little too much and becomes annoyingly bright or "clinical".

If you liked the look/feel of the RS1 but want something less bright, definitely look hard at the Energy RC-10 (suggested several times already). They are about the same size, and have similar good looks with excellent real wood veneer finish and brushed metal driver baskets, but they are much more neutral and "laid back" than the RS1's. I own the RC-10's and have listened to the RS1's at a local dealer -- I think the Energy's have better and more controlled bass as well, the RC-10 just a silky smooth and refined sounding speaker from top to bottom and has much better bass response than a lot of the smaller monitors listed so far.

If you google the RC-10 and find the Soundstage review, it's basically 100% spot on and every RC-10 owner I have heard from agrees with it completely (not always true with "professional" mag reviews!).

I haven't heard some of the other choices suggested (Era, NHT, PSB, Usher) but they also get good reviews.... The Era's especially look very interesting, and NHT Classics get awesome reviews as well. I think the bottom line is there are a LOT of great choices in the $300-500 range for a pair of small bookshelf "monitor" speakers so it's probably going to come down to your personal taste.

batpig's "Denon-to-English Dictionary"
Setup Guide and FAQ
http://batpigworld.com/

Become a fan "batpigworld.com" on Facebook!
batpig is online now  
post #24 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 04:09 PM
Member
 
GMoney78's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 26
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I have the ACI Emeralds, Usher S520s, and Audioengine A5 (active). Ushers are over 8 inches deep, but are my favorite of the three. The Emeralds are a very close second, and given their size I think that's pretty amazing, I don't think you will be disappointed with them. ACI also has a 30 day trial period, and you can get B stock for $600 including shipping (like I just did).

I haven't heard the D4s, but are highly regarded, and can be had cheaper.

I also auditioned the Classic 3s, and besides being too bid for your setup, need real power to sound their best. I have a Denon receiver as well, and it didn't cut it.
GMoney78 is offline  
post #25 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 04:12 PM
Member
 
Pitch Shift's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Nebraska, USA
Posts: 76
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
+1 to the nearfield monitors. Especially if you get an active design. There have been many articles written on the benefits of powered designs, especially bi-amped ones. Take a look at the Mackie MR5. It claims frequency response down to 60hz, which is pretty bass-y for that size. If you can stomach the considerable size of the MR8 model from the same line, it claims response down to 40hz(!). Mackie has a decent rep among pro gear, and this line good for the money. You should be able to find a pair of MR5s under $400 a pair new. Don't let the price fool you, monitors are kind of a no-frills item. They may not be the prettiest, but they focus on quality, uncolored sound. Plus, give the pro bent, they even have adjustments on the back for phase and high and low frequencies to compensate for your room. A big bonus if you're sure to be moving around soon. If you want to stick with a passive design, I liked the B&W 685 and 686s. Very bass-capable. New they sell in the $685ish range or so, used you should be able to get them under $400.
Pitch Shift is offline  
post #26 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 07:30 PM
AVS Special Member
 
alphaiii's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,111
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by GMoney78 View Post

I have the ACI Emeralds, Usher S520s, and Audioengine A5 (active). Ushers are over 8 inches deep, but are my favorite of the three. The Emeralds are a very close second, and given their size I think that's pretty amazing, I don't think you will be disappointed with them. ACI also has a 30 day trial period, and you can get B stock for $600 including shipping (like I just did).

Do you have the original Emeralds, or the newer Emerald XL?

I just got some of the XL's and think they are absolutely fantastic speakers. If the Usher S520 at or above that level, then I need to give them a listen.
alphaiii is offline  
post #27 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 07:56 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
cschang's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Manhattan Beach, CA
Posts: 14,730
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii View Post

I just got some of the XL's and think they are absolutely fantastic speakers. If the Usher S520 at or above that level, then I need to give them a listen.

alphaiii, with all the speakers you have heard in your room, I definitely think a listen to the S520 is in order, if easy enough for you to do.

-curtis

Owner of Wave Crest Audio
Volunteer Mod at the Ascend Acoustics Forum
Like all things on the Internet, do your research, as forums have a good amount of misinformation.
Help beat breast cancer!

cschang is offline  
post #28 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 08:26 PM
Member
 
GMoney78's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 26
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Originally Posted by alphaiii: Do you have the original Emeralds, or the newer Emerald XL?

I am referring to the newer Emerald XLs. Admittedly I am only 3/4 through the recommended breakin period for the Emeralds, but both are great with vocals IMHO, but the Ushers get the edge in bass. I am running mine without a sub.

Again I think the Emerald XLs are superb, and given their size (~1/2 that of the Ushers), I couldn't be happier.
GMoney78 is offline  
post #29 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 08:43 PM
AVS Special Member
 
alphaiii's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,111
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

alphaiii, with all the speakers you have heard in your room...

You noticed that, huh?

After selling my Sierra's, I had convinced myself I'd stick with my Energy speakers until I could swing getting the Sierra's again... And then I got the Emeralds...

So unless someone near me is hosting a listening session and the Ushers are there...it'll likely be awhile before I get a chance to hear them.
alphaiii is offline  
post #30 of 36 Old 08-23-2009, 08:48 PM
AVS Special Member
 
alphaiii's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,111
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked: 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by GMoney78 View Post

Originally Posted by alphaiii: Do you have the original Emeralds, or the newer Emerald XL?

I am referring to the newer Emerald XLs. Admittedly I am only 3/4 through the recommended breakin period for the Emeralds, but both are great with vocals IMHO, but the Ushers get the edge in bass. I am running mine without a sub.

Again I think the Emerald XLs are superb, and given their size (~1/2 that of the Ushers), I couldn't be happier.

I recall reading 2 things about the Ushers that steered me away in the past - 1) a little bright and unforgiving of poorly recorded material (which unfortunately is the case with alot of movies)

2) woofer bottoming out (although this is probably not an issue when crossing them over at 80Hz)

I think these criticisms were in one of the Audioholics speaker shootouts...

Do you think they sound at all bright/forward compared to the Emeralds?
alphaiii is offline  
Reply Speakers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off