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Using Emotiva 5s for near field desktop listening....can I do better?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm starting to get the upgrade itch on my speakers and wanted your input.


Right now, I'm using a pair of Emotiva Airmotiv 5 speakers. The company just came out with a newer replacement model (the 5S), but if I'm gonna upgrade, I'm not really looking for the incremental jump I think they'd bring. My Emotivas measure 10.7" high, 7.1" wide, and 8.3" deep. I use them in a near field listening setup on my computer desk, so anything much larger is unfortunately out of the question.


The only thing my wife asks of me is no stands and no floorstanding towers. Can't really blame her ;)


Can you think of anything around the same size that would maybe justify the upgrade? I'm kinda enamored right now with a pair of KEF LS50's or the PSB Imagine Bs, but I'm thinking either one would stretch the boundaries of my desk and require stands. Budget is....negotiable. Any insight? Thanks!

Edited by oneway23 - 6/3/14 at 9:04pm
post #2 of 6

I'm thinking your speakers are good enough.

What are you using for a DAC right now?

Upgrading the DAC might be more wise and cost effective.

post #3 of 6

Emotiva seems to be a USA only supplier so I haven't heard their speakers. However multiple good reports on your speakers put them slightly above the global  entry level 5" near field monitor market dominated by Mackie, Yamaha and JBL. Probably on a par with the acclaimed ADAM F line. So you are going to have to go some to get a significant step up without going up a size. ADAM AX line is a possibility but perhaps not by enough to make a difference.


So you are now looking at genuine pro studio monitors as opposed to the 'bedroom studio'  ranges' Consider Focal CMS50, ADAM S1X, Genelec 8040, Dynaudio BM compact or, best of these. These modern classic Klein & Hummel (Neuman) KH 120. Circa $1500/pair.




Also like purple suggests. You could take the opportunity to get yourself a really good audio interface, monitor controller, DI box combo such as the RME Babyface, SPL Crimson or MOTU Ultralite. Circa $600.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the input!


Apologies for not including DAC info above, but I am using a Schiit Audio Bifrost with both the USB Gen2 and Analog upgrades connected to my PC, so I'm already $600 deep into my source.


I do love everything about it (Thanks Jason & Mike!), so I don't plan on replacing it any time soon (unless, of course, the upcoming Ragnarok integrated has a DAC section equal to, or better than, the Bifrost).


I'd most likely end up driving the system with the aforementioned Ragnarok or perhaps a Peachtree amp (heard good things) if I do end up going with passive speakers instead of monitors.


Again, I know I made this a tough one in that I've pretty much already hit the limits of what my desk/location can support, but I may have a little wiggle room to go just slightly larger, should a significant enough upgrade come along.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 



I've looked at a few great reviews of the KH120A, and I'm extremely interested in giving them a listen, but I've noticed that their sole connection point is a balanced XLR set-up.

Does this mean I would need to buy a new DAC to accommodate them?


Sorry for the simplistic question, but I've never dealt with a balanced connection before.  I certainly appreciate any and all help.

post #6 of 6

Not necessarily. No. It is generally accepted that you can hook up professional gear to an unbalanced source with the appropriate cable without loss of SQ. You simply lose the advantages of balanced to balanced connection. These are:-


Better resistance to ground loops and interference, particularly on long cable runs. Since you don't have a ground loop with your existing unbalanced set up you are unlikely to encounter one with the K&H when you don't with the Emotivas. Anyway you only have a short run. NP.


Higher voltage i.e. louder by about 6dB. You are most unlikely to run out of gain and anyway there are settings to increase gain above 0dB to compensate. Again NP.


More robust and easier to maintain plugs. Since you are likely to set up once and forget this isn't an issue for you. NP


Living in Europe I don't have much experience with Schiit gear so I don't know if it has a reputation as being liable to ground loops. I'd suspect not but it's worth checking. Easy to fix anyway.


The KH 120A are fitted with a ground lift switch in the speaker itself. Which is a nice touch and one I haven't seen elsewhere. (ed)


You can read up more on balanced and unbalanced connection and the differences between them by doing the magic google thing.


p.s. Anyone reading this thread thus far is recommended to visit the Neumann/K&H downloads and Knowledge pages.




click on downloads on the right


Even if you think $1500 is too much for a pair of monitors the set up guides and testing software are the best I have ever seem. Both comprehensive and easy to follow at the same time. Very useful resource whatever your budget.


ed: rd more info added.

Edited by RonaldDumsfeld - 6/5/14 at 9:54am
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