Anyone switch to Desktop Monitors/Speakers from Open Backed Headphones?
Nov 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

q2klepto

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I'm thinking of trying a good pair of Desktop Speakers or Monitors - to try and get the HE-400i sound (Warm tilting, neutral-ish with some sparkle) but with a much wider soundstage. I figure the best way to do that is with desktop monitors/speakers. 
 
Seems like Audioengine A5+ is the goto for high quality desktop speakers, but have mixed reviews here.  Also theres the KRK Rokkit 6 that look like they havea  neutralish response. 
 
Anyone switch to desktop speakers and never go back to their mid-fi open backed headphones?
 
Will i lose out on detail extraction/clarity? 

Hoping there will be some decent Black Friday deals on some monitors or speakers (i have a speaker amp if i need) 
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 5:24 PM Post #2 of 8

Stochastic

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I have some Adam Audio F5 monitors.  They sound pretty fantastic (reviews paint them as superior to the A5+, but I've never heard an A5+ myself).  I don't know if these would be a good match for you since they are fairly neutral.
 
I still use headphones (and actually just upgraded to a Fidelio X2) as I live in an apartment and sometimes like to play music late at night.  Plus, headphones offer a unique sound that appeals to me.  The other big advantage of headphones is that you don't have to worry about acoustic treatment for your room, which can have a massive impact on sound quality.  One reason I went with a near field monitor is that it minimizes room/boundary effects since you're listening from just a few feet from the speakers.  
 
Here's a glowing account of the Focal Alpha 50s, which apparently are better than the Adam Audio F5s.
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 5:52 PM Post #3 of 8

q2klepto

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  I have some Adam Audio F5 monitors.  They sound pretty fantastic (reviews paint them as superior to the A5+, but I've never heard an A5+ myself).  I don't know if these would be a good match for you since they are fairly neutral.
 
I still use headphones (and actually just upgraded to a Fidelio X2) as I live in an apartment and sometimes like to play music late at night.  Plus, headphones offer a unique sound that appeals to me.  The other big advantage of headphones is that you don't have to worry about acoustic treatment for your room, which can have a massive impact on sound quality.  One reason I went with a near field monitor is that it minimizes room/boundary effects since you're listening from just a few feet from the speakers.  
 
Here's a glowing account of the Focal Alpha 50s, which apparently are better than the Adam Audio F5s.

 
Thanks i also live in an apt style condo, im thinking with near field monitors and since most monitors cant really go down past 50hz with any authority it should be fine for apt live as long as i dont max the volume.  I text my downstairs neighbour so he should let me know if its too loud. 
 
Ill take a look at those Focals though, thanks. 
 
If theyre good, i might be able to get off the headphone train and sell my amp/HE-400is and break even with the Focals.
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 6:03 PM Post #4 of 8

macshooter

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I have the lowly JBL LSR 305's and the 10" sub. They sound FANTASTIC.  They are about as good or better than anything else I have headphones wise. If I had it do do over again, I might have spent a little more money, just to see what Adams or Genelec is like.  But honestly these sound great for $150 a piece (+$250-$300 for the sub).  I think you can probably get more detail from really good phones/or high end iem's (maybe, I haven't found these lacking yet), but what you CAN'T get is the stereo image that monitors give you.  By that I mean that you can hear exactly where that guy playing upright bass, or trumpet or whatever is, not quite center but just off to the left, or wherever in the mix, like he's really there and you could point to where he's standing, but you just can't see him.  If that makes any sense. It's like hearing a phantom source somewhere in between the monitors.   Of course that depends on what the sound engineer was doing, you won't hear that if everything is directly in the center or panned hard left or right. 
 
I think you need both.
 
BTW the sub is pretty tame, ok for an apt.  Not boomy.  But it has two sensitivity levels for if you want to kick it up a notch, which really sounds nice...  Also, better to go with 5" monitors and a sub than 8" with no sub.  Outputs from my interface are balanced 1/4" TRS (stereo) cables to the sub, and then balanced XLR from the sub to the monitors.  All plugged into a Furman PL-Plus C.
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 6:05 PM Post #5 of 8

Stochastic

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Here's another review: http://www.audiostream.com/content/focal-alpha-50
 
I've heard very good things about those JBLs.  For the money I don't think you can get anything better.
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 6:17 PM Post #6 of 8

Gu Sensei

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Yes!
 
After a few years of swapping open headphones in and out for my office use, I finally tried some powered speakers-- Focal CMS 40 powered speakers and haven't looked back. In terms of soundstage and comfort, they of course totally own any headphones that I had previously used. They sound fantastic overall but perhaps the lowest bass is lost. I need to keep the volume reasonable to not disturb colleagues next door but I do not miss any knocks on my office door now. I wish I had tried this earlier. I love them.
 
Also, this desktop volume controller was almost as fantastic as a purchase.
 
It provides excellent fine control and is incredibly convenient for quick mutes. A must have for powered speakers in a desktop environment.
 
The computer audio forum has many threads devoted to powered speakers.
 
Nov 27, 2014 at 10:39 AM Post #7 of 8

q2klepto

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I'm really starting to get interested in this area - looking at the Focal's, Adam F5s and Emotiva Airmotiv's - hoping theres some good sales this weekend
 
Anyone else with experience switching from full open backed to desktop monitors?
 
Jan 18, 2015 at 2:48 PM Post #8 of 8

andyrap

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My reply might be a bit late to the party but hopefully valid still. I've used nearfield active monitors for many years and on a daily basis whilst working for the last 3. I have a reasonable desktop setup for headphones (Stoner 120 > Matrix M-Stage > Grade 325is / Sennheiser HD-25 / Fidelio X2) and listen to phones daily but still prefer monitors for certain styles of music and of course time of day.

I have had Adam A5Xs for the last year or so and they still amaze me with their detail, clarity and punch. They go loud as well. Before the Adams I had PMC db1s+ which are superb but the bass was too much where the rear port was close to a wall. The Adams are front ported and also have trim pots for bass, treble and tweeter level. The ribbon (planar) tweeters are incredibly detailed and blend so well with the main driver.

I now have the PMCs in my main system in the living room where they have more space to play. They're superb in that setting and I know the Adams would be as well, although I think their design is better suited to desktop.

If detail and sparkle is your thing, the Adams deliver with that amazing ribbon tweeter, and the trim EQs means you can tweak to taste and environment. The F5s mentioned are excellent as well. Main differences to the A5X are the bass driver and amplifiers. I've also demoed the Focal CMS50. Again a great speaker, but I fell for the Adam's top end.

The connections are really flexible. Source wise I have them connected via XLR balanced to a Native Instruments Audio 6 interface which I use for production and video work. Have the Stoner 120 as my usual listening DAC via the Matrix M-Stage and RCA to the Adams which works really nicely as a pre-amp for them.
 

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