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Best SMALL (less than 8"/20cm deep) nearfield speakers/monitors for mac?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

I want to buy a pair of speakers (2.0) for my home setup with my Macbook Air. I listen to a wide range of genres, most commonly electronic, downtempo, dance, indie/alternative, chill, modern rock, pop, R&B, soul, jazz and blues.

 

Main issue is size. I don't mind hight or width, just the depth must be less than 8" or 20cm.

I don't need to play music loudly. I will be sitting at my desk listening, and I want to be able to hear detail in lower to medium volumes if possible.

I also want enough bass but not room-shaking bass.

 

I will be buying a DAC along with this new setup, but at the moment I want to get the choice of speakers right first time round. I've researched and here's my list of small speakers that could fit my desk. Which would you guys recommend?

 

  • Q Acoustics 2010i (203mm)
  • Epoz Aktimate Micro (200m)
  • Edifier RT1200T (183mm)
  • Roth Audio OLi10 (178mm)
  • PSB Image B4 (168mm)
  • Cerwin Vega XD3 (165mm)
  • NHT SuperZero (139mm)
  • Fostex PM0.3 (130mm)

 

I'm still on the fence about passive VS active. I want the best SQ possible... so I guess passive is the way to go? I don't mind having an amp, which at the moment I know the Lepai LP-2020A+ t-amp is a good one to start with. Someone recommended I get a "2 channel receiver"? I'm not sure what I should get.

 

And I would love if someone could suggest some speaker amplifiers. It seems the O2/ODAC or Schiit M/M DAC/amp combos are headphone amps instead of speaker amps?

 

Thanks for all the help and sorry for the noob questions...

 

Cheers!


Edited by vermilions - 3/31/13 at 4:00pm
post #2 of 17
The smaller the driver in a speaker, the harder it is for it to produce substantial amounts of bass. So be aware that your 8" depth cabinet restriction puts you more in the speaker category where bass may or may not suit you depending on your personal listening preferences.

Also, if your 8" restriction puts them against the wall on the back, that can be a problem for rear ported speakers. They need a few inches of breathing room between their back and the wall.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks @cel4145 for the information. I guess I'm going to have to compromise on the bass due to restrictions in size. About the rear ported speakers, will the foam plugs work? Thanks again!

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermilions View Post

Hi everyone,

 

I want to buy a pair of speakers (2.0) for my home setup with my Macbook Air. I listen to a wide range of genres, most commonly electronic, downtempo, dance, indie/alternative, chill, modern rock, pop, R&B, soul, jazz and blues.

 

 

  • Cerwin Vega XD3 (165mm)

 

 

I'm still on the fence about passive VS active. I want the best SQ possible... so I guess passive is the way to go? I don't mind having an amp, which at the moment I know the Lepai LP-2020A+ t-amp is a good one to start with. Someone recommended I get a "2 channel receiver"? I'm not sure what I should get.

 

 

 

I've been using a pair of Cerwin Vega XD3 for close to a year already and they are excellent 2.0 speakers for nearfield and mid-level volume listening. They have a boost bass switch in the back if you want a little more thump but it wont get you into trouble with neighbors. Classical, ambient, new wave, voices and gaming are especially crystal clear making nearfield listening extra enjoyable. The first time i listened to Gary Numan's first Tubeway Army album it was as if he was right in the room when it came to the vocals.

 

The Cerwin Vega XD3 front headphone jack handles my headphones without a problem even my 250 ohm Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro which was a pleasant surprise and good to know when i want to give my Onkyo TX-8555 stereo reciever a break.

 

I have my speakers on a corner desk about 12 inches from the wall but havent had any problems with bass.

 

On going passive or active. The Cerwin Vega XD3 were my first active speakers so i was really surprised how well they compared to my Onkyo stereo reciever. It all depends on whether you want to mess with the sound signature using the treble and bass buttons on a reciever or dont mind sticking to a certain sound. Even then you can always use your music players equalizer on your Macbook Air to make it sound the way you want it to.

 

Enjoy the hunt :D


Edited by Hellbishop - 3/29/13 at 6:23am
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks Hellbishop for sharing your experience with the XD3! I think the headphone in will be useful... :)

post #6 of 17

I've heard three out of those six (the epoz, nht & psb image 6 not 4) and the PSB stood out as the most detailed and even. I've also heard a Cervin Vega here and there, but never one without noticeable frequency response issues.

post #7 of 17

Audioengine should be releasing the improved A2+ pretty soon; it has usb input with an inbuilt dac. could be an option...

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermilions View Post

Thanks @cel4145 for the information. I guess I'm going to have to compromise on the bass due to restrictions in size. About the rear ported speakers, will the foam plugs work? Thanks again!

Yes. If they come with foam plugs, that can eliminate that problem. However, there are potential consequences

1) The low end bass frequency response may roll off sooner. So you might lose some of the bass output. For example, instead of having usable bass down to 50hz, might only be 60hz.
2) The drivers have to work harder to reproduce the same volume of bass. Plugging the ports will lower the amount of bass the speakers can put out before distorting.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

I've heard three out of those six (the epoz, nht & psb image 6 not 4) and the PSB stood out as the most detailed and even. I've also heard a Cervin Vega here and there, but never one without noticeable frequency response issues.

 


Yeah I'm also thinking about the PSB but I think there's gonna be a big difference between the 6 and 4. Thanks a lot for your input. :)

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Yes. If they come with foam plugs, that can eliminate that problem. However, there are potential consequences

1) The low end bass frequency response may roll off sooner. So you might lose some of the bass output. For example, instead of having usable bass down to 50hz, might only be 60hz.
2) The drivers have to work harder to reproduce the same volume of bass. Plugging the ports will lower the amount of bass the speakers can put out before distorting.

I see... thanks for the clarification. So does that mean that front ported is the way to go if the speakers are going to be near a wall/corner? Thanks again.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

Audioengine should be releasing the improved A2+ pretty soon; it has usb input with an inbuilt dac. could be an option...


Yep I know from the CES this year right? I want to wait... but I'm not sure if I could control myself tongue_smile.gif

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermilions View Post

I see... thanks for the clarification. So does that mean that front ported is the way to go if the speakers are going to be near a wall/corner? Thanks again.

If you have room to have them six inches out from the wall, they will probably be fine. But if really close to the wall, front ported or sealed speakers are better to avoid ending up with muddy bass.
post #12 of 17

I should like to mention the Mordaunt Short Festival 2 speakers that I'm currently using in a nearfield configuration.

I spent quite some time looking for some nearfield worthy speakers. Most that were of size were too large for desktop use or lacked enough bottom end to dispense with an added subwoofer.

I pulled these old (1979 vintage) speakers out of storage as a temporary fix while I continued my search for a better choice. 

 

To my surprise, my search has come to a bit of a halt. I was looking for nearfield speakers that weren't too large, had some decent bottom end and had a sound I could live with for under $500. These things fit that bill for considerably less dough and without any hassles of rear ports or huge footprints or even a tinny lack of bottom end.

 

While I'm familiar with a few of Mordaunt Short's more modern offerings, I've never been able to find any kind of specifications of these Festival 2 series speakers, so I don't know what their frequency bandwidth is supposed to be. That said, the 7" rubber surrounded woofers go satisfyingly low with articulation to spare and clear separation from the highs.

 

Their footprint is only 7" wide and they are often available for stupidly low sums of money. They might fit your needs as nicely as they currently fit mine.

 

 

 

 

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermilions View Post
 

Hi everyone,

 

I want to buy a pair of speakers (2.0) for my home setup with my Macbook Air. I listen to a wide range of genres, most commonly electronic, downtempo, dance, indie/alternative, chill, modern rock, pop, R&B, soul, jazz and blues.

 

Main issue is size. I don't mind hight or width, just the depth must be less than 8" or 20cm.

I don't need to play music loudly. I will be sitting at my desk listening, and I want to be able to hear detail in lower to medium volumes if possible.

I also want enough bass but not room-shaking bass.

 

I will be buying a DAC along with this new setup, but at the moment I want to get the choice of speakers right first time round. I've researched and here's my list of small speakers that could fit my desk. Which would you guys recommend?

 

  • Q Acoustics 2010i (203mm)
  • Epoz Aktimate Micro (200m)
  • Edifier RT1200T (183mm)
  • Roth Audio OLi10 (178mm)
  • PSB Image B4 (168mm)
  • Cerwin Vega XD3 (165mm)
  • NHT SuperZero (139mm)
  • Fostex PM0.3 (130mm)

 

I'm still on the fence about passive VS active. I want the best SQ possible... so I guess passive is the way to go? I don't mind having an amp, which at the moment I know the Lepai LP-2020A+ t-amp is a good one to start with. Someone recommended I get a "2 channel receiver"? I'm not sure what I should get.

 

And I would love if someone could suggest some speaker amplifiers. It seems the O2/ODAC or Schiit M/M DAC/amp combos are headphone amps instead of speaker amps?

 

Thanks for all the help and sorry for the noob questions...

 

Cheers!

 

Active vs passive is a long debate, at least in audiophile circles. In theory an active design yields a number of advantages over passive designs, but as usual implementation is key. Also note that "active" doesn't necessarily means that speakers have an amplifier inside, but that the amplifier circuits are after the crossover, not before. You can have an active speaker with the amplifier outside (although it's unusual), and so can you have a passive speaker with the amplifier inside it.

 

At these dimensions, if you want to get decent sub 70hz performance with speakers this depth / size you'll likely have to compromise distortion figures, so you're looking at a trade-off. It's up to you what you prefer. IMHO, it's better to have -2.5 dB at 70hz in a well-corrected environment (room or electronic correction) than -2.5 dB at 40hz that turns every single bass note into boom boom, but that's just what I prefer.

 

If you can fork out the money, I'd just buy these + electronic room correction software (and a mike) : http://www.psiaudio.com/product/active-monitors/a14-m

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermilions View Post
 

Thanks @cel4145 for the information. I guess I'm going to have to compromise on the bass due to restrictions in size. About the rear ported speakers, will the foam plugs work? Thanks again!

 

You'll run into other issues with the port plugs. The ports are there to reinforce and extend bass response on a small driver, so while blocking it will prevent boomy bass, it will effectively put the speakers in a sealed cabinet, which means that while avoiding issues with a rear bass port you'll end up not having any advantages of having a ported enclosure either.

 

That said, as much as active speakers were designed to be on a desk instead of a speaker stand (and therefore closer to a wall), they also prefer putting them in the rear because being too close to a front ported speaker as on a desktop system means there's a higher probability that port noise will be audible to the listener. I've used my D1080 MkII 08 speakerswith only around two inches from the wall and the bass was fine, however that 2in of breathing space plus the speakers themselves means they'll be well over the 8" restriction.

post #15 of 17

Shame you're locked in at 8inch depth, you could take a look at Centrance Masterclass 2504 monitors measuring at 207mm depth :(.

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