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post #1 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Narrow Down Desktop Speaker Choice

Hi, My second pair in a row of M-Audio AV 40s has died and I'm looking to replace those for use with my home computer. I did enjoy the AV40s, they had reasonably good sound for what they cost and how I used them, but am now looking to upgrade to something better (and better lifespan).

Reading online reviews because i don't have any place around for auditioning these, I'm hoping to get some opinions on the following:

* Paradigm Shift A2 (I have Paradigm Atoms that I have enjoyed)
* PSB PS1
* Emotiva Airmotiv 4S or 5S
* Vanatoo Transparent One

In my current desktop situation, it's a shallow space and the speakers will be very near or against the wall, how much will that affect the Emotivas or the Vanatoo?

Appreciate hearing your thoughts and experience!!
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post #2 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 11:47 AM
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What are you powering the speakers with?
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post #3 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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What are you powering the speakers with?
I'm looking for active, internally powered speakers for this location. No external amp or receiver.
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post #4 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 01:22 PM
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I would probably go with the Emotiva Airmotiv 5S, but the JBL LSR305/308 seem to be pretty popular too.

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post #5 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dejanuts View Post
I'm looking for active, internally powered speakers for this location. No external amp or receiver.
Definitely look into the JBL LSR305/308 as mentioned earlier.
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post #6 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 02:46 PM
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Out of those you mentioned I can only speak for the Airmotiv 4s, but I would wholeheartedly recommend them. The ribbon tweeter is INCREDIBLE and the woofers are very good too. IMO they are a no-brainer for the price.
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post #7 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 89grand View Post
Definitely look into the JBL LSR305/308 as mentioned earlier.
+2

For powered monitors in your budget range, look into the reviews of the JBLs. Lots of discussion of these speakers.

Airmotivs are popular, too, but I wouldn't be surprised if the JBLs are the better price performance value.

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post #8 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post
+2

For powered monitors in your budget range, look into the reviews of the JBLs. Lots of discussion of these speakers.

Airmotivs are popular, too, but I wouldn't be surprised if the JBLs are the better price performance value.
After reading the emotiva website, it's a wonder they get anyone to buy their "professional monitors that are not sold in pairs" . Really, the website reeks with elitism, and while they may be great pro monitors, I couldn't get past their attitude. Of course one can join their millionaire's club to get even more special treatment. If it were me, I think I'd look at the JBLs as well. Of course there is always AudioEngine's A5s or A2s to consider.
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post #9 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 03:44 PM
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Note that Steve Guttenberg rates the LSR 305s up there with the Adam F5s, and he previously described the F5s as better than the Audoengines and Airmotivs.

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post #10 of 18 Old 08-05-2014, 03:53 PM
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I enjoy Steve's quick, mini-reviews. It's interesting to see the graduation of what he likes; from the AudioEngine & Emotiva., to the Adams, to the JBLs. Yep, I think I'd be looking at the JBLs too .
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post #11 of 18 Old 08-07-2014, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dsrussell View Post
I enjoy Steve's quick, mini-reviews. It's interesting to see the graduation of what he likes; from the AudioEngine & Emotiva., to the Adams, to the JBLs. Yep, I think I'd be looking at the JBLs too .
Thanks all for the suggestions. Any one have the JBLs and can comment? Might help if you also shared what other speakers you like to try to give some sort of reference point.
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post #12 of 18 Old 08-15-2014, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Update--Ordered the Airmotiv 5s

Thanks for the suggestions. I couldn't find the JBLs nearby to audition so went back to my list and other suggestions. Here's my process of elimination:

I have been a Paradigm fan for a long time so the Shifts were high on my list of contenders, but couldn't rationalize their cost for occasional use. I have listened to the family of PSBs speakers in the past and like their sound and tonality but was concerned about how deep the PS1s might actually go with their small cones. Not expecting a lot for a desktop speaker but wanted to keep exploring.

A few years ago I ordered and auditioned the Audioengine A2. At the time I did not have an outboard DAC, but was underwhelmed by the speaker through my sound card after listening to it for a week. They were returned. For this iteration I did not explore the A2+ or A5+.

I didn't really rule out the Vanatoo, but moved towards the Emotiva Airmotivs based upon enthusiastic support here and strongly favorable reviews elsewhere. I did join their silly email club for $50 so I would be eligible for their club discounts (in this instance at least the discounts were greater than the fee). I then debated between the 4s and 5s and finally went with the 5s 'cause who has ever complained they had to much LFE. :-)

After breaking in the 5s they really opened up and I can now say I get what all the fuss is about. They are a significant step up and I'm considering this search over. I do have an older pair of Paradigm Atoms in another room from which the Shifts are supposedly similar to or based upon. At this point I can't say one is better than the other but they each have a distinct timber and tone and I won't be getting rid of either any time soon. I won't waste any more pixels attempting to review these speakers, suffice it to say Emotiva has another Airmotiv 5s fan.
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post #13 of 18 Old 08-15-2014, 07:30 PM
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I have/had the Airmotiv 5 ( the older design ) but upgraded to the Stealth 6 last week since Emotiva is clearing them out. Now THOSE are near-field monitors. The 5's seemed to do best with about a foot of space behind them. The Stealth 6 wants more, but I simply do not have the space to give them 18" or more clearance.

The Emotiva DC-1 USB DAC is a wonderful DAC and has full support for 24bit/192kHz Class 2 audio. It is the perfect size to sit on top of a standard or SFF PC case. A dedicated sound card wasn't possible for me since I use very small cases with limited expansion available.

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post #14 of 18 Old 08-16-2014, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jevans64 View Post
I have/had the Airmotiv 5 ( the older design ) but upgraded to the Stealth 6 last week since Emotiva is clearing them out. Now THOSE are near-field monitors. The 5's seemed to do best with about a foot of space behind them. The Stealth 6 wants more, but I simply do not have the space to give them 18" or more clearance.

The Emotiva DC-1 USB DAC is a wonderful DAC and has full support for 24bit/192kHz Class 2 audio. It is the perfect size to sit on top of a standard or SFF PC case. A dedicated sound card wasn't possible for me since I use very small cases with limited expansion available.
Hahaha, seems like you have jumbo headphones

I bet the Stealth 6s are nice and I considered those as well. But the space requirements were just too much for my desk--but i'm glad to hear they are working out so well for you. Just curious, what are the dimensions of your desktop? I'm in a temporary situation at the moment, but i'm working with about 2'x5'. The Airmotivs are clearly dominating the space in a way that is just fine by me.

Appreciate the tip on the DC-1, not sure how I missed it in my research on DACs. Although, I wouldn't have been able to swing it this go 'round--looks like a contender for a future upgrade Thanks for pointing it out.

What I did go with was the Audioengine D1. I have zero experience with this type of component and went with what seemed like a safe, and reasonably priced bet. I won't even begin to attempt to analyze or assess the unit, but it does seem to work well with the Airmotivs. If I have the space or not in a case, this DAC has pretty well convinced me everything I've heard about getting the music signal path outside the PC is good advice.
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post #15 of 18 Old 08-16-2014, 10:09 PM
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Nice choice!

Now you just need a sub to bring out the low end

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post #16 of 18 Old 08-17-2014, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by dejanuts View Post
Hahaha, seems like you have jumbo headphones

Appreciate the tip on the DC-1, not sure how I missed it in my research on DACs. Although, I wouldn't have been able to swing it this go 'round--looks like a contender for a future upgrade Thanks for pointing it out.
The D1 is a decent DAC and it is extremely small. Other DACs I looked at after deciding on the DC-1 were Parasound Z-DAC, Schitt, and a couple of other internet-direct manufacturers. I heard the DC-1 at EmoFest and decided on it. I like that it has an analog input so I can plug up a tape deck or turntable ( line level ) up to it. The headphone pre-amps are very good as well and BOTH headphone jacks have their own pre-amp. Now all I need is a good pair on Sennheiser cans. All outputs are active at the same time, so I use the analog RCA for the SVS SB-1000 sub and the XLR for the Stealth 6.

The SVS SB-1000 is a good sub to pair with the Airmotiv 5. The only time I use it is if I'm watching movies. I don't listen to Hip Hop/Bass-heavy music, so the sub doesn't get used for music with the exception of pipe organ music. The Stealth 6 are fine for that without a sub.

My desk is a 27" x 60" Bush contemporary design.

Link... http://www.bushfurniturecollection.c...sen-Cherry.htm

When I had the Airmotiv 5, I had two computers on the desk. I moved the older one and put it under the printer, which is on a microwave cart. I also had to drop back down to my 27" monitor. I like the 27" better than my 30" anyway since the pixel pitch is higher. I have a water-cooled Silverstone SG-05, so it has a very small footprint. The DC-1 fits perfectly on top of the SG-05.
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post #17 of 18 Old 08-20-2014, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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The D1 is a decent DAC and it is extremely small. Other DACs I looked at after deciding on the DC-1 were Parasound Z-DAC, Schitt, and a couple of other internet-direct manufacturers. I heard the DC-1 at EmoFest and decided on it. I like that it has an analog input so I can plug up a tape deck or turntable ( line level ) up to it. The headphone pre-amps are very good as well and BOTH headphone jacks have their own pre-amp. Now all I need is a good pair on Sennheiser cans. All outputs are active at the same time, so I use the analog RCA for the SVS SB-1000 sub and the XLR for the Stealth 6.

The SVS SB-1000 is a good sub to pair with the Airmotiv 5. The only time I use it is if I'm watching movies. I don't listen to Hip Hop/Bass-heavy music, so the sub doesn't get used for music with the exception of pipe organ music. The Stealth 6 are fine for that without a sub.

My desk is a 27" x 60" Bush contemporary design.

Link... http://www.bushfurniturecollection.c...sen-Cherry.htm

When I had the Airmotiv 5, I had two computers on the desk. I moved the older one and put it under the printer, which is on a microwave cart. I also had to drop back down to my 27" monitor. I like the 27" better than my 30" anyway since the pixel pitch is higher. I have a water-cooled Silverstone SG-05, so it has a very small footprint. The DC-1 fits perfectly on top of the SG-05.
Thanks for posting the pic and the link that setup looks great. I'll have to make sure and refer back eventually when I'm settled into my longer term living arrangement.

And may I ask what those speaker stands are? They look handy for getting the tweeter up a little higher. I've been wondering about the best way to get a little more height and the manual discourages tilting the front of the speaker up.

Appreciate the tidbits on the other DACs as well. I had seen references to the Schitt and some others but will make a point someday of looking more seriously into updating my Audioengine. And I agree about the analog input on the Emotiva, that is a compelling point in addition to all the others.

I'll try to post a pic of my setup later.
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post #18 of 18 Old 08-20-2014, 09:38 AM
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Thanks for posting the pic and the link that setup looks great. I'll have to make sure and refer back eventually when I'm settled into my longer term living arrangement.

And may I ask what those speaker stands are? They look handy for getting the tweeter up a little higher. I've been wondering about the best way to get a little more height and the manual discourages tilting the front of the speaker up.

Appreciate the tidbits on the other DACs as well. I had seen references to the Schitt and some others but will make a point someday of looking more seriously into updating my Audioengine. And I agree about the analog input on the Emotiva, that is a compelling point in addition to all the others.

I'll try to post a pic of my setup later.
The stands are made by IsoAcoustics. I got the medium ones ( # ISO-L8R155 ) from B&H Photovideo but you can also get them from Sweetwater or Musician's Friend. I just bought from B&H since I have an account/order history with them. Sweetwater and Amazon have them for $99. The medium ones are perfect for the Airmotiv 5 using the 3" risers and short inserts in back. A set of 8" risers are included as well, but these aren't needed for a standard-height desk. The Stealth 6's look a little big on the stands but it works well enough until I decide whether I want the IsoAcoustic large stands.

I didn't even realize I posted the wrong picture, The picture I posted was of my Stealth 6, not the Airmotiv 5. That one is attached here.
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