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2.0 Speakers Compilation: Best for <$500

post #1 of 260
Thread Starter 

 

I am on a quest to find the *best* set of 2.0 desktop speakers, and only 2.0 speakers. They must be active and self-powered, as subs are big, bulky and often overpowering.

 

I've been through dozens, and still haven't found the perfect pair.

 

Readers, I do hope this thread saves you some valuable time and money.

 

Without further adieu, here is the compilation of all the speakers I’ve heard thus far (in order of sound quality and personal preference):

*Please keep in mind that sound quality is often subjective. 

 

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1. M-Audio BX5a Deluxe

 

MAudioBX5aPoweredStudioMonitors.jpg

Best sounding of the bunch; truly studio-grade "reference monitors." Crisp and forward, with great clarity, thanks in part to its silk tweeters and kevlar woofers. Bass is very tight, and these are capable of getting really, really loud. MSRP of $400 but can be had for just over $200 online. Very large and grills are unavailable.

 

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2. Swans D1080MKII08

 

d1080mkii_08_t_noshade.jpg

 

I had a bunch of issues with these; namely a persistent, yet nearly inaudible hiss and a weak internal amp--I believe to be a design flaw. Despite these issues, they sound very good, but muddy in comparison to the BX5as. Due to the weak internal amp, they cannot get very loud without the use of a soundcard or USB DAC; as such, their potential is wasted if you are planning to use them alongside a notebook or your desktop's onboard sound. They are just slightly larger than the BX5as (in depth). Very, very stylish with excellent build quality. Great value regardless. $200 after S&H.

 

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3. Audioengine A5

 

a5_BLk%201.jpg

I've only heard these in-store (at J&R in NY) and, quite frankly, I was unimpressed. Perhaps it may have been because I was running them off of my iPhone, but I found them muddy with mediocre highs, and so did my friend. No doubt worse than the Swans. Personally I find Audioengine to be a bit like Bose... MSRP of $400. Can be found for $325 online. Worth $250 tops.

 

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4. M-Audio AV40

 

lg_SPav40_front.jpg

 

These are a very popular desktop solution for users looking to step up beyond mainstream Logitech/Creative products. In my experience with the AV40s, they sound very good--but nowhere near as good as the BX5as (or even the Swans). The difference is well worth $100. Still, these are the best 2.0 speakers at the <$150 mark. And while they're much smaller than their big brothers, they still take up a huge amount of space. Headphone jack and volume knob on the front is a plus.

 

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5. Audioengine A2

 

audioengine_a2.jpg

 

I had a similar experience with these as I did with the A5s. Sound quality was not as good as I expected, and I found them incredibly overpriced at just under $200. Mids and highs were ok. Bass wasn't particularly good, but that was to be expected considering the size. If you're running low on space and really need bookshelf speakers as small as these, I guess they are fine. But there are better options.

 

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6. Creative T40 Series II

 

805image1.jpg

The T40s surprised me. I didn't expect a whole lot from Creative, but they certainly delivered. The Series II is Creative's second revision, one in which they removed an annoying blue LED and tweaked its settings. Bass is acceptable. Very full, lively sound (the kevlar drivers are quite nice). Distorts at high volumes. Around $140. Good for those looking for something a bit smaller than the AV40s, with much of the sound quality.  Includes a headphone jack in front as well.

 

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7. Logitech Z10

 

Logitech_Z10_Speakers_3.jpg

 

I used these for 4 years without a hitch; just recently they've been having some issues (sound artifacts, etc.). For USB speakers, these sound surprisingly good in comparison to the competition. Their screen is quite neat; being able to quickly tell which song is playing is a huge plus, and the clock is always helpful. After years of using its display, I've found it difficult to part ways with this excellent speaker system. Sadly, these were discontinued. Originally had for just under $100, now they're incredibly hard to find and ridiculously overpriced.

 

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8. Creative T20

 

268996.jpg

The T40's little brother. These are an AMAZING value. Sound quality is superb for the price (listed at $100, can be found as low as $50). Bass lacks punch. Distorts at high volumes. A great set for budget minded individuals who do not need big sound, but are looking for something better than the crappy 2.0s that come free with every new PC. Includes a headphone jack in front.

 

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9. Logitech Z520

 

logitech_speakers.jpg

First and foremost, DO NOT BUY THESE. Yes, they look nice, but that's only without the grills. They are fingerprint magnets and, more importantly, sound HORRIBLE. At around $130, these are ridiculously overpriced. I bought them expecting them sound not much unlike my Z10s, as they are now Logitech's flagship 2.0s just as the Z10s were four years ago. They have a large soundstage, mainly due to a feature called 360 degree sound, but--trust me--this not sound you want to hear. Distortion is a mess. Avoid these like the plague.

 

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Well, those are all the speakers I've gone through so far. And I still have not yet found the perfect pair. 

 

Any suggestions?

 

To help me update my list, please let me know which additional speakers you've heard and where you think they'd fit.

 

Other speakers I'd like to check out (or perhaps hear of others' experiences with):

1. B&W MM-1

2. Genelec 6010a

3. Mackie MR5

4. KRK Rockit 5 G2

5. Swans M200MKII/III

6. Scandyna Drops/Smallpod

 

More to come...

 

Thanks for reading!

 


Edited by Xombie11 - 7/19/10 at 10:31pm
post #2 of 260

Nice thread Xombie11! I'm glad that you enjoyed the T40s/T20s - for a while before I really got into audio, I had a pair of T20's and to be honest was blown away by their sound moving up from a horrible cheap Logitech 4.1 sat/sub system. I then bought a pair of T40 Series 2, and then as a birthday gift received a pair of Aktimate Mini active bookshelf speakers.

 

These are definately worth a listen, though I didn't get a chance to compare against much besides systems like the Focal XS and B&W Zepplin. While I'm not sure they fit under the $500 dollar mark (I have never seen American prices for them, but my ones were $550 Australian dollars) they have an amazing punchy, dynamic sound with a surprising amount of soundstage and imaging. My only mark against them is that because they are rear ported, they need a fair bit of room to breathe, and the metallic tweeter can be a little shrill.

 

I don't know where they will fit in your line-up, except that I have heard an opinion that they are better than the Audioengine A5's.

post #3 of 260

I have a pair of these that I'm quite content with:

 

sm_ysm2p.jpg

 

http://www.yorkville.com/products.asp?type=34&cat=20&id=332

 

They run about $400 a pair.

post #4 of 260

Infrasonic has a set of monitors with a built in DAC, you might want to check them out.  I heard a set in a buddies recording studio and they sound very good.

They are called the Blow5D's and they produce some excellent sound.  Have a look here: B5D Monitors
 

post #5 of 260

good collection,

i totally agreee with you about AudioEngine A2 and A5

creative t40>AudioEngine A2 & M-Audio BX5a > AudioEngine A5

 

i use Fostex nearfield Studio Monitors and i love them,,, ;)

post #6 of 260

i though the A5 would be the best choice out of these but seems like you didnt like them using iphone. Maybe you should try using them with a CD player or amp over at the shop? there are so many hypes here in headfi for A5 so things shouldnt be that bad?

post #7 of 260
Thanks for your research! I totally agree with you on the Audioengines. Looking forward to your further reports.
post #8 of 260

Swan M200 MkIII. Well worth the $400 price, they outperform everything else listed here.


Edited by DaveBSC - 7/29/10 at 2:51pm
post #9 of 260

Well, I was gonna get AV40 and then looked at A2 as well. But now, I think I am getting the BX5a (or maybe some Swans, lol, I am undecisive). What is the difference between the BX5a and BX5a deluxe? Noticeable? worth the extra cost?

 

Thanks

post #10 of 260

Bowers & Wilkins MM-1.

post #11 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

Swan M200 MkIII. Well worth the $400 price, they outperform everything else listed here.



I have the MkII and like them very much.

post #12 of 260

Thanks, I was afraid that the people believing Audioengines to be overrated were a minority.

post #13 of 260

You should try more studio monitors, the Adam A5X and A7X are on my hit list for example.


Edited by Ypoknons - 7/29/10 at 6:40pm
post #14 of 260

Nice thread. I have been looking to upgrade my PC speakers for some time, but most that sound good are abit too big for my desk. At any rate, good to see some comparisons!

 

Currently using a 8 year old Altec Lansing 221 2.1 speaker set.

post #15 of 260

I'd go for swans...they do sound fantastic...and they last long. 

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