"Mini"-Monitors for a space challenged desk
Sep 27, 2010 at 1:27 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 40

replytoken

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My better half and I are converting a small room to an office with two desks.  While I have my headphones, I would like a pair of speakers for casual listening when I do not wish to wear my headphones.  Unfortunately, my desk is really space challenged, and I believe that the usual suspects (e.g. A5 or AV-40) may be too big.  While I may consider Creative's T-series speakers, two other that have caught my attention are the VL-M3 from TASCAM, and the foxL v2 from Soundmatters.  The TASCAM's are a small version of the traditional monitor, and I believe they have just one driver with a front bass port.  The foxL's are really small, but they are supposed to put out some decent sound.  They are truly portable, and a bit expensive, but I am wondering what people are comparing them to when they say they sound incredible.  Are they just better than most portable speakers, or can they take on some of the desktop monitors?  Has anybody heard either of these?
 
TASCAM - http://www.tascam.com/product/vl-m3/
 
SoundMatters - http://www.soundmatters.com/foxl/
 
My source/transport will primarily be a PC feeding a uDAC-2, and I am just looking for speakers that are not offensive or overly colored.  I do not expect much bass, which is fine if everything else sounds reasonable, and I do not expect this set-up to fill the room with sound.  My music will mostly be played at low- to mid-volumes while I am at my desk or working in the room.  Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
Thanks,
 
--Ken
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 5:28 PM Post #2 of 40

p a t r i c k

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Hi
 
I can't really answer your question because I don't know anything about the speakers you mention.
 
For ages with my Mac Pro I used the tiny Pro-ject Amp Box plugged into the Mac's variable output, so I controlled the volume from the Mac. The advantage of this tiny class D power amplifier is that you can use any tiny speaker you like, you are not limited to ones with amplifiers built in.
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 6:10 PM Post #3 of 40

Kawai_man

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I have the tascam vlm3 and they are very nice but I'm not so sure they will fill a room with sound they are better for near field use. I think a 2.1 set-up that has small satellites would fit the bill.
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 6:40 PM Post #4 of 40

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Quote:
Hi
 
I can't really answer your question because I don't know anything about the speakers you mention.
 
For ages with my Mac Pro I used the tiny Pro-ject Amp Box plugged into the Mac's variable output, so I controlled the volume from the Mac. The advantage of this tiny class D power amplifier is that you can use any tiny speaker you like, you are not limited to ones with amplifiers built in.

 
While that looks like a nice amp, its presently out of the budget range.  And, while it would allow me a greater selection of speakers, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed witht he choices at present.  This arrangement is strictly for casual listening when I am at work in the office, so I am not looking to invest more than is necessary.  My main rig is in our living room, and that is where I like to do my critical listening.
 
--Ken

 
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 6:42 PM Post #5 of 40

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I have the tascam vlm3 and they are very nice but I'm not so sure they will fill a room with sound they are better for near field use. I think a 2.1 set-up that has small satellites would fit the bill.


This should not be a problem as I am mostly looking for near field use.  And, I do not believe that there will be room for any sub-woofer, so for now, its 2.0.
 
--Ken
 
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 10:56 PM Post #6 of 40

p a t r i c k

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Hi replytoken
 
I fully understand if the little Pro-Ject power amp is more than required.
 
I have one question and one suggestion.
 
The question is, to me it looks like that NuForce uDAC thingmy has a volume control so I wonder if the outputs are controlled by that? I can't see a "line out". Maybe there is a switch somewhere. Those powered speakers also have volume controls and I think will be built for a line in.
 
The suggestion is, that no matter what you get the key to good sound with a computer is to make sure that your position the speakers so that you are listening to them on axis. This is true of all speakers but with nearfield speakers this is absolutely essential!
 
Very many speakers I see designed for computer use have designs that do not lend themselves easily to positioning for on axis listening.
 
Those tiny Tascams are cute but I think will need propping up on the desk in some way to get them on axis.
 
The ideal position for computer speakers is either side of the screen on small stands to lift them off the desk.
 
Obviously the Focal XS speakers are out of your budget but I mention them because they have good stands to facilitate listening on-axis.
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 11:24 PM Post #7 of 40

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Hi Patrick,
 
Thanks for the detailed post.  You are correct about the uDAC-2.  It has both a 3.5mm headphone out as well as a pair of RCA line outs.  Both are controlled by the volume, but I was told that this version of the uDAC has a much better volume pot that does not seem to degrade the sound.  And, I would concur about lifting the speakers.  I know that Audioengine has small stands that lift and tilt their monitors, but not to the extent of the Focal speakers that you referenced.  As our desks have not yet been delivered for the office, I may need to wait to see how much desktop real estate is available for speakers and/or stands.
 
Part of my interest in the TASCAMs was size, and part was their reputation for making audio recording equipment.  I realize they may be riding on their past glories and name recognition, but I do not know for certain.  Unfortunately, most of the companies seems to be trading in a bit on their names when it comes to monitors under $200.  I understand that this is budget territory, but then again, Honda and Toyota made names for themselves selling compact cars, and they still offer good value at reasonable prices.  I sometimes wonder if most of these budget monitors were a design exercise by entry level engineers, or if the designs were jobbed out to somebody with orders to keep the costs to a bare minimum.  I have seen many posts about people complaining about QC from many of the major brands.  It makes me wonder what is the price point for monitors that are built well enough, and sound acceptable, not unlike what the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla are to automobiles.  And, yes, I know that there are other cars that can be substituted in my example.  I am using them just for illustration.  As is often said in the US - YMMV.
 
--Ken
 
Sep 27, 2010 at 11:43 PM Post #8 of 40

Armaegis

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I was randomly browsing about yesterday and saw these: http://www.travagans.com/eshop/ (the first item: Red amp + speakers). I'm incredibly tempted to jump on this. The Red has reviewed quite positively here, and I almost picked one up off the forums until the seller backed out on me.
 
Sep 28, 2010 at 12:15 AM Post #9 of 40

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I was randomly browsing about yesterday and saw these: http://www.travagans.com/eshop/ (the first item: Red amp + speakers). I'm incredibly tempted to jump on this. The Red has reviewed quite positively here, and I almost picked one up off the forums until the seller backed out on me.

 
Is there anything that David has not considered turning into a speaker?  Teacups, really? 
 
The speakers that you called out are about the size I was considering, but I really need to judge whatever I buy on sound, and these are not easily available, nor do they look like they are sold separately.  The amps, however, do look interesting.
 
Thanks,
 
--Ken
 
 
Sep 28, 2010 at 3:04 AM Post #10 of 40

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Quote:
Part of my interest in the TASCAMs was size, and part was their reputation for making audio recording equipment.


When I first started working in radio I used a Tascam 1/4 inch tape deck for editing tape at home (I was so conscientious!) and this deck worked very well indeed. I kept it for nearly 20 years although I didn't use it at all for the last 7 or so of those years, but it still worked fine. I sold it on eBay about a year ago.
 
However, to be honest, I don't think my good experience with the Tascam tape recorder will have any influence on the quality expectations of the Tascam speakers.
 
You should keep an eye on second-hand stuff online, eBay and the like. You can sometimes pick up something very good there, particularly in the field of speakers. There really hasn't been any improvement in speakers or amplification for many years.
 
I actually use a pair of Rogers db101 speakers which are well over ten years old with my computer and they are superb. I bought them on eBay and I use them with the Pro-ject amplifier I mentioned. They are too big for you, but I have a blog entry about the here.
 
Soon they will be used with a Sugden Transimpedence amplifier I have acquired and I am creating new mounts for them for the wall. It will be a very excellent computer sound system when I have finished!
 
Sep 28, 2010 at 10:47 AM Post #12 of 40

Armaegis

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How about something like the Virtue One t-amps and a set of John Blue JB3 speakers. That's seriously moving up the $ scale though.
 
Sep 28, 2010 at 12:08 PM Post #13 of 40

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However, to be honest, I don't think my good experience with the Tascam tape recorder will have any influence on the quality expectations of the Tascam speakers.

 
Saadly, that is true for many brands today.  Many ride on their past reputations, and brand names are often bought up from failing companies because of past reputations.  Polaroid is a good example.  I guess the old expression, "what have you done for me lately" is more true now then it has been is quite some time.  Its does not mean that the TASCAM speakers are bad, its just no guarantee that they are a good value.
 
--Ken

 
 
Sep 28, 2010 at 12:15 PM Post #14 of 40

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If size is your main concern, i strongly recommend the Audionengine A2. I have a set at home and at times, i preferred them to my TF10s.


They have been on my short list, and still are, but I did not know if the TASCAMs could give them a run for their money, although they are chepaer than the A2s.
 
--Ken
 
 
Sep 28, 2010 at 12:17 PM Post #15 of 40

replytoken

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How about something like the Virtue One t-amps and a set of John Blue JB3 speakers. That's seriously moving up the $ scale though.


As this is not my main rig, I am trying to keep it simple, small and affordable.  Although I do hear nice things about the John Blue speakers.
 
--Ken
 

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