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Near-Field Monitor Recommendations: Desktop 2.0 /2.1 for PC

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
I have reviewed the Speaker and 2-Channel Audio threads for this application. For others who may also be interested in this topic, the following list will hopefully be a time-saver:
  1. best "mini" active speakers for the money.. - Audiophile34
  2. Nearfield setup advice ( 1 2) - shaghi
  3. desktop speaker recommendations (for music)? ( 1 2) - Nethawk
  4. Computer Speaker 2.1 Suggestions? - Shadowdane
  5. Advice on a 2.1 Desktop Set-up - blackflagrms13
  6. $350 BEST Computer Speakers. What would you buy??? (Swan, Audioengine, M-Audio) ? ( 1 2) - Bizmord
  7. KRK RokitG2 5 - anismo
  8. 2.0 Speakers for a PC , PS3 - Anderosa
  9. A high-end set of 2.1 speakers for music listening ( 1 2 3 4) - JimWilson
  10. Desktop Setup ( 1 2) - matt_calgary
  11. Recommend pair of active speakers - void.crusader
  12. Active Speakers for Computer Setup ( 1 2) - Borky
I also consulted:
  1. PC Mag
  2. C|NET
  3. PC World
  4. Amazon's Top Rated in 2.1 Speakers

However, once you eliminate the models that are no longer available, have reliability issues per Amazon customer reviews, or noticeable coloration, that narrows the list a bit. Thus, I was thinking a small pair of active monitors would probably provide more accurate sound quality and a much larger selection of models.

Background:
I've always enjoyed music. I played in band for 7 years, mixed audio for high school plays, took music appreciation in college for elective credit, and mixed church audio for 14 years. We have a pair of Maggies and before that a pair of Dahlquists.

Based on our enjoyment of Maggies, I was very interested in PC Mag's review of the Monsoon speakers. Unfortunately, they're no longer available.

I used to sell A/V consumer electronics for several years. I sold the following speaker brands: B&W, Boston Acoustic, Bang & Olufsen, Canton, Dahlquist, DCM, Klipsch, Magnapan, Polk, and Yamaha.

We currently have a 1-yr old 17" laptop w/Realtek HD Audio that we use for all the typical household computing tasks as well as live streaming of video - mostly news and comedy. We'd also like to use it for music. However, most laptops (ours included) have very sub-optimal built-in speakers. We are not into video gaming.

Goals:
  1. Near-field
  2. Desktop (limited space - prefer active speakers instead of a desktop amp)
  3. Natural sound - no coloration
  4. Prefer that the critical voice range not be split between drivers that use dissimilar sound generation techniques (e.g., horn-loaded tweeter & direct-radiating woofer)
  5. Minimum diffraction
  6. Time / phase-aligned
  7. Very good transient response
  8. Non-resonant enclosure (e.g., not plastic like many PC speakers)
  9. No reliability issues (Life is too short.)
  10. 2.0 or 2.1
  11. Excellent value - B-stock or used is ok.
Size:
- Height - The laptop screen is 10" tall when tilted to the appropriate viewing angle.
- Width - Any narrow width active monitor will easily outperform the internal speakers. Larger woofers will obviously provide a deeper bass response. However, desktop real estate is limited and a sub-woofer could be added later if desired.

Since I've been out of the A/V business for many years I'd appreciate any recommendations. Thanks
post #2 of 55
I love my Audioengine 2 speakers that I use with my main tabletop PC. You may want to read the review that Stereophile magazine did on them recently. I can recommend them highly.

I use an inexpensive subwoofer (Sony SAW2500) under the table with them.
post #3 of 55
Thread Starter 
commsysman,

Thanks for your recommendation. Yes, I understand Stereophille and C|NET both gave the Audioengine A2 a favorable review. How long have you owned your Audioengine A2s?

Per Amazon customer reviews, the majority are very satisfied. Has Audioengine solved the PS issue that was reported on August 24, 2008 by Jess Evans?

Thanks again
post #4 of 55
I have had mine about for one year now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

commsysman,

Thanks for your recommendation. Yes, I understand Stereophille and C|NET both gave the Audioengine A2 a favorable review. How long have you owned your Audioengine A2s?

Per Amazon customer reviews, the majority are very satisfied. Has Audioengine solved the PS issue that was reported on August 24, 2008 by Jess Evans?

Thanks again
post #5 of 55
There's no indication of a budget, so I'll just wing it with a few 2.0 powered monitors... Hope you're not busy for about a month.
post #6 of 55
Why don't you look at some professional monitors like, Genelec, M-Audio, Yamaha, Focal, etc.
post #7 of 55
Thread Starter 
Hi Jim,

Thanks for all your recommendations and the links. I'll review them. I know there's a much larger selection of quality-oriented active monitors than consumer PC speakers. However, I was hoping that my list of goals would narrow down list of choices.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Goals:
  1. Near-field
  2. Desktop (limited space - prefer active speakers instead of a desktop amp)
  3. Natural sound - no coloration
  4. Prefer that the critical voice range not be split between drivers that use dissimilar sound generation techniques (e.g., horn-loaded tweeter & direct-radiating woofer)
  5. Minimum diffraction
  6. Time / phase-aligned
  7. Very good transient response
  8. Non-resonant enclosure (e.g., not plastic like many PC speakers)
  9. No reliability issues (Life is too short.)
  10. 2.0 or 2.1
  11. Excellent value - B-stock or used is ok
.

Budget: The best value - the greatest accuracy for the dollars invested and that will fit on a desktop. B-stock or used is ok
post #8 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobL View Post

Why don't you look at some professional monitors like, Genelec, M-Audio, Yamaha, Focal, etc.

That's exactly what I had in mind:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Thus, I was thinking a small pair of active monitors would probably provide more accurate sound quality and a much larger selection of models.

Is there a particular model you might recommend that matches the list of goals?
post #9 of 55
If you have a Guitar Center in your area, they'll have a few lines of pro monitors to listen to.

Meanwhile, if you do decide to consider passive speakers, Emotiva makes the mini-X a-100 for situations where full-sized integrated amp placement would be an issue.
post #10 of 55
Since you didn't state a budget I will tell you that the Focal Solo6 Be studio monitors are the best I have heard. Dynaudio is also excellent along with Adam.
post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Thanks for all your recommendations and the links. I'll review them. I know there's a much larger selection of quality-oriented active monitors than consumer PC speakers. However, I was hoping that my list of goals would narrow down list of choices.

It did actually. Except for item 9 -- which I have no way of determining -- and item 11 -- which is completely relative -- every option I provided fits the remainder of your criteria.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Budget: The best value - the greatest accuracy for the dollars invested and that will fit on a desktop. B-stock or used is ok

Unfortunately that's still too nebulous for anyone to really help. The definition of value is almost entirely subjective; "the best value" means different things to different people.
post #12 of 55
I recommend nearfield monitors with 8" drivers. Yamaha and Focal are very popular in this dept but be prepared to bust out your wallet. I found a ton of good info on recording forums when it came to monitors. You want something that has a flat response curve so any changes in the mix can be easily detected.

For regular 2.1 listening on my desktop, I've found the swan m10s to be nice speakers for moderate listening levels. I eventually moved to the swan m50s and have been very happy with them.
post #13 of 55
I was going to mention the Swans as well, they've been popping up used lately at reasonable prices. Audioengine was one I looked at, I thought them a bit bright for being this close to my ears but then I am probably overly sensitive to this.

When I started looking I asked a friend who is an archivist for a well-known band and he swears by Adam Audio - but then they have an unlimited budget and I don't. Another musician recommended Tannoy.
post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I was going to mention the Swans as well, they've been popping up used lately at reasonable prices. Audioengine was one I looked at, I thought them a bit bright for being this close to my ears but then I am probably overly sensitive to this.

When I started looking I asked a friend who is an archivist for a well-known band and he swears by Adam Audio - but then they have an unlimited budget and I don't. Another musician recommended Tannoy.

You're going to get recommendations on what they listen to everyday. When you work with any particular brand of monitors, you learn their characteristics and you stick with them. Monitors are not cheap, but they will generally be a one time purchase depending on how serious you are.
post #15 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

... every option I provided fits the remainder of your criteria.

Thank you for your recommendations!
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post


I've added pricing to your list from Google shopping. All prices are each for new units w/o shipping.

Since you say all these models meet the criteria and I'll won't be using them for critical mixing, I'll first consider the lower cost models ~$300 / pr. new.
post #16 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

If you have a Guitar Center in your area, they'll have a few lines of pro monitors to listen to.

Meanwhile, if you do decide to consider passive speakers, Emotiva makes the mini-X a-100 for situations where full-sized integrated amp placement would be an issue.

Our nearest G.C. is 30 miles away. Thanks for the heads-up on the mini-X a-100.
post #17 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drewTT View Post

Since you didn't state a budget I will tell you that the Focal Solo6 Be studio monitors are the best I have heard. Dynaudio is also excellent along with Adam.

Thanks Drew

Focal Solo6 - $1,195 @. I'm thinking much more cost-effective.
post #18 of 55
I would give the airmotiv5 a hard look - at $449 a pair.
They do have a 30 day return policy.
post #19 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

I recommend nearfield monitors with 8" drivers. Yamaha and Focal are very popular in this dept but be prepared to bust out your wallet. I'll pass.

I found a ton of good info on recording forums when it came to monitors. You want something that has a flat response curve so any changes in the mix can be easily detected. Agreed.

For regular 2.1 listening on my desktop, I've found the swan m10s to be nice speakers for moderate listening levels. I eventually moved to the swan m50s and have been very happy with them.

swan m10s - $125 active 2.1 set
swan m50s - $294 active 2.1 set

"regular 2.1 listening on my desktop" - sums it up well.
What would you suggest for a very transparent, lowest diffraction, phase-aligned active monitor?
post #20 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

I would give the airmotiv5 a hard look - at $449 a pair.
They do have a 30 day return policy.

Since the critical voice range is split between drivers that use dissimilar sound generation techniques, a high-frequency folded-ribbon transducer and a direct-radiating woofer, how do vocals sound through the crossover point?
post #21 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Since the critical voice range is split between drivers that use dissimilar dissimilar sound generation techniques, a high-frequency folded-ribbon transducer and a direct-radiating woofer, how do vocals sound through the crossover point?

I have not listened to them - however, I do find this review of the
smaller speaker interesting.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57...sktop-speaker/
post #22 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

swan m10s - $125 active 2.1 set
swan m50s - $294 active 2.1 set

"regular 2.1 listening on my desktop" - sums it up well.
What would you suggest for a very transparent, lowest diffraction, phase-aligned active monitor?

I'm far from an expert in this area. You have to decide on your max budget first.
post #23 of 55
Thread Starter 
Please see post #15.
post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Please see post #15.

Get the swan m50s. Unless you're a Home producer, you aren't going to need nearfields, let alone at the quality level a pro producer would. The swan m50s are amazing computer speakers that can be used as quality monitors for light production work.
post #25 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

Get the swan m50s. Unless you're a Home producer, you aren't going to need nearfields, let alone at the quality level a pro producer would. The swan m50s are amazing computer speakers that can be used as quality monitors for light production work.

I've had the M20's -- the 2.1 setup just below the M50's -- for about 2 years now, and I think they're great.
post #26 of 55
they'll have a few lines of pro monitors to listen to.

post #27 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

I've had the M20's -- the 2.1 setup just below the M50's -- for about 2 years now, and I think they're great.

Jim,

Since you included KRK ROKIT 5 ($300/pr) in your original list, how do you think they compare to the similar priced Swan 2.0 / 2.1 Multimedia desktop models?

Thanks
post #28 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ota.dt.man View Post

Since you included KRK ROKIT 5 ($300/pr) in your original list, how do you think they compare to the similar priced Swan 2.0 / 2.1 Multimedia desktop models?

Unfortunately, I can't give you an assessment of how they compare because I've never heard the ROKIT's. The list I posted is from something I built a while back, when I was looking for a similar product. I don't have personal listening experience with them.

I actually wanted the Swans M50 myself, but 2 years ago they were not available in the US. The M20 was though, so I bought those instead. They lack a touch on the top end, and the bass doesn't extend quite as low as I'd like, but the detail and soundstage is amazing. I suspect the M50 solves both of those problems.

Swans in general makes some very detailed speakers. The few I've heard have impressed me. The M20 maintain their composure when played fairly loud too.
post #29 of 55
It might be worth the drive to your Guitar Center that is 30 miles away. I listened to all the powered monitors at my local GC, and preferred the Rockit 5s (check and see before the drive). Best Buy has Rockits, although they may not be hooked up so that you can compare them to other monitors the way that GC usually does.

I have not heard the Swans, so I can't comment on how they would sound in comparison.
post #30 of 55
Thread Starter 
Any comparisons on the following models?
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