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Hunt for thinnest, bassiest passive bookshelf speakers for 2.1 desktop setup

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Old 14-06-2020, 05:18 PM   #1
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Hunt for thinnest, bassiest passive bookshelf speakers for 2.1 desktop setup

Recently, my interest in quality passive bookshelf speakers that work on the desk with the PC, for small HDB rooms, has been rekindled (maybe due to Covid-19).

While the 'computer speakers' category is still around, represented by the likes of Logitech / Creative / Edifier / Swans / Razer / Bose / Klipsch / Harmon Kardon, the packaged solution and the overall audio quality they offer has not been very attractive to me. There're of course the better active solutions, but I prefer the flexibility of separates since I can change different components as I go along.


And as I continue my journey towards understanding what I hear, I'm refining my personal definition of what is acceptable for a customized / DIY 2.1 desktop speaker setup:


1. 'Satellites' should handle at least 70-120hz without relying on sub, so vocals have proper weight and don't sound like they come from subwoofer.
Above 80hz is generally cited as where FR become too directional for sub.

'Bassiest' (in the title) just means lowest usable bass extension (without EQ). My general understanding is that if the driver + cabinet aren't designed to go low naturally without EQ, boosting the (mid-)low end with EQ can quickly lead to undesirable effects, plus we're also fighting against the crossover electronics.

Also, I've experimented with some bookshelf / satellite speakers I currently have, and while I can increase the sub's crossover point + EQ that FR region, I can still hear a clear difference.


2. Cabinet depth lesser than 20 cm. It's an arbituary value, but 20cm tends to be 1/3 to 1/4 of the typical depth of a table.
Have searched through the small speaker offering from most of the established brands and those that go below 20cm depth inevitably have severe dropoffs around 100-120hz (actual 3rd party measurements, not published specs).

Have noticed there's typically 3 depths, at ~17cm / 20cm / 24cm. Small home theatre satellites frequently are 17cm and below, but the frequency response suffers as well. At the moment, I'm hoping the Dayton MK402X will be the exception to the rule (17cm depth but has good bass down to almost 50Hz).


3. Midrange driver of at least 4 inch.
I remember Wwenze has mentioned before 5 inch is the sweet spot for overall good tonality (paraphasing, pls correct if wrong). But almost impossible / very hard to find 5 inchers that has less than 24cm depth and still have the bass extension.

*Update:
There are a bunch of speakers with ~5 inch drivers and ~20cm depth, namely the Fluance HFS, the Klipsch R-15M (taller though), the older Monitor Audio Bronze series, the NHT C-1 (sealed) and the Promonitor 1000 (sealed).
The AVX Audio 6.5 as well, though may not be considered 'properly designed'.

And technically the LS3/5a and its various disciples (though bass tends to be a problem with them).


4. Budget, obviously.
Wouldn't be hunting for desktop speakers for small room otherwise. Still, doesn't mean I'm not considering more expensive speakers, it's just whether the value is there for me to fork out that much more.



Awesome simple frequency test to detect room resonances by ear made by wwenze:



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A list of the speakers that fit or are just slightly outside the above criteria. Though note that published numbers can frequently be massaged (like some '4.5 inch' driver measurement actually includes baffle ).
Most in the list are also bundled as home theatre speakers. And note the difference between the Sealed vs Ported speakers.

AVX Audio 6.5"
3rd Party Measurements - Amazingly bad
Dimensions (HWD): 305 x 197 x 190 mm
Drivers: 6.5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 45 Hz - 22 kHz

B&W M-1
3rd Party Measurements 1 - website
3rd Party Measurements 2 - The chart is not in the website, but you can find it in the magazine version of the same article
*The M-1 linked here is the newer iteration, there's also an older 'M1'.
Dimensions (HWD): 248 x 114 x 162 mm
Drivers: 4" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 64 Hz - 23 kHz (±3 dB), -6dB at 55Hz and 50kHz

Cambridge Audio SX50
Unfortunately couldn't find any 3rd party measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 225 x 161 x 240 mm
Drivers: 5.25" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 22 kHz

Dali Fazon Sat (not Mikro)
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 287 x 146 x 172 mm (with table stand)
Drivers: 4.5" + 1.1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 86 Hz - 25 kHz (±3 dB)

Dali Spektor 1
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 237 x 140 x 195 mm
Drivers: 4.5" + 5/6"
Claimed Frequency Response: 59 Hz - 26 kHz (±3 dB)

Dali Zensor Pico (discontinued)
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 230 x 141 x 196 mm
Drivers: 4.5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 62 Hz - 26.5 kHz (±3 dB)

Dali Zensor 1 (discontinued)
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 274 x 162 x 220 mm
Drivers: 5.25" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 53 Hz - 26.5 kHz (±3 dB)

Dayton MK402X
3rd Party Measurements for the earlier MK402 + DSP Correction Filter
Dimensions (HWD): 241 x 146 x 168 mm
Drivers: 4" + 3/4"
Claimed Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz

Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 276 x 159 x 165 mm
Drivers: 5.25" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 47 Hz - 30 kHz

Emotiva BasX Sat
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 267 x 146 x 174 mm
Drivers: 4" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 85 Hz - 25 kHz (±3 dB)

Fluance SX6
3rd Party Measurements + DSP Correction Filter
Manufacturer's Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 343 x 211 x 231 mm
Drivers: 5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz

Fluance XL7S
Manufacturer's Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 290 x 206 x 229 mm
Drivers: 5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz

Fluance HFS
Manufacturer's Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 325 x 200 x 209 cm
Drivers: 5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz

Klipsch R-14M
Unfortunately couldn't find any 3rd party measurements, but given the measurements from R-15M below, may be reasonable to believe their claimed frequency response.
Dimensions (HWD): 248 x 149 x 191 cm
Drivers: 4" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 64 Hz - 24 kHz (±3 dB)

Klipsch R-15M
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 318 x 178 x 206 cm
Drivers: 5.25" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 62 Hz - 24 kHz (±3 dB)

Micca MB42X
3rd Party Measurements of the powered version of MB42X + DSP Correction Filter
Dimensions (HWD): 241 x 147 x 165 mm
Drivers: 4" + 3/4"
Claimed Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz

Micca RB42
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 221 x 124 x 200 mm
Drivers: 4" + 3/4"
Claimed Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 20 kHz (Typical In-Room)

Monitor Audio BX1 (discontinued)
Monitor Audio Bronze BR1 (discontinued)
Monitor Audio Bronze 1(discontinued)
Unfortunately couldn't find any 3rd party measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 260 x 165 x 205 mm
Drivers: 5.5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 55 Hz - 30 kHz

NHT SuperZero 2.1
3rd Party Measurements - For SuperZero 2.0, hopefully is similar
Dimensions (HWD): 228 x 127 x 140 mm
Drivers: 4.5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 85 Hz - 20 kHz (±3 dB)

NHT C-1
3rd Party Measurements - Apparently the C-1 is a refresh of the AbsoluteZero
Dimensions (HWD): 244 x 146 x 190 mm
Drivers: 5.25" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 70 Hz - 20 kHz

Polk Audio S10
Unfortunately couldn't find any 3rd party measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 213 x 137 x 159 mm
Drivers: 4" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 67 Hz - 40 kHz

PSB Alpha P3
Unfortunately couldn't find any 3rd party measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 220 x 130 x 174mm
Drivers: 4" + 3/4"
Claimed Frequency Response: 57 Hz - 21 kHz (±3 dB)

SVS Prime Satellite
3rd Party Measurements
Dimensions (HWD): 222 x 124 x 160 mm
Drivers: 4.5" + 1"
Claimed Frequency Response: 69 Hz - 25 kHz (±3 dB)


The prices can vary quite a bit in the above selection of speakers. This list will probably be obselete in a few months, but hopefully it can help someone else who's not satisfied with the selection of 2.1 speaker systems on the market right now, doesn't want to go down the route of actives, and still wants the smallest desktop footprint.

Dayton MK402X seems to check the various boxes, and there's a good deal today, hope it can really go down to 60hz as claimed.
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Last edited by lxXXxl; 29-06-2020 at 10:59 PM..
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Old 14-06-2020, 06:13 PM   #2
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On-wall speakers



If you got $$$ u can go for ATC's offerings too

http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/hi-fi/l...-on-wall/hts7/
http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/hi-fi/l...on-wall/hts11/

Also Audioengine A5+ is 19.7cm
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Old 14-06-2020, 07:38 PM   #3
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On-wall speakers



If you got $$$ u can go for ATC's offerings too

http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/hi-fi/l...-on-wall/hts7/
http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/hi-fi/l...on-wall/hts11/

Also Audioengine A5+ is 19.7cm
Yah, was also looking into on-wall speakers, but they tend to be quite wide and tall though, and harder to find their FR measurements.

Cool, good to note the A5+ space-conscious design. Oh but one side has 20cm depth, but the other is 23cm.
Guess 20cm for 5 inches (in properly designed speakers) is like a limit liao...
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Old 14-06-2020, 10:54 PM   #4
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Buchard s300 ?

Not the slimmest but 33-30khz in room..

https://www.buchardtaudio.com/shop/s300-white
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Old 14-06-2020, 11:06 PM   #5
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Buchard s300 ?

Not the slimmest but 33-30khz in room..

https://www.buchardtaudio.com/shop/s300-white
Haha....that one don't even need subwoofer liao.... no la, I'm more about finding that balance between good audio quality AND thin form factor. S300 depth is 33cm, almost half my table depth....

I'm curious whether that depth includes the terminals or not...
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Old 14-06-2020, 11:40 PM   #6
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One more solution is the old sealed speaker designs. LS3/5a for example has a depth of 165mm. Yamaha NS10 is 200mm. Though one can argue if they qualify as "properly designed speakers".

Smaller speakers with sufficient bass is another solution. iLoud MTM comes to mind.

Also Genelec 8030C stuffs a 5" driver in a 178mm depth. The Ones series is slightly thicker but definitely no shortage of that performance balance. Also no shortage of price...
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Old 15-06-2020, 04:37 PM   #7
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One more solution is the old sealed speaker designs. LS3/5a for example has a depth of 165mm. Yamaha NS10 is 200mm. Though one can argue if they qualify as "properly designed speakers".

Smaller speakers with sufficient bass is another solution. iLoud MTM comes to mind.

Also Genelec 8030C stuffs a 5" driver in a 178mm depth. The Ones series is slightly thicker but definitely no shortage of that performance balance. Also no shortage of price...
True, the LS3/5a and its 'descendants', and the NS10 have desk friendly depths too. But damn tall...

Genelec not passive lei...

I also realised the smallest members of the Monitor Audio Bronze family have had 20cm depths AND houses a 5 inch for the last 15 years or so! Not their latest 6th generation though, seems they increasing the depth in order to go lower. Which is sad.

Guess they cannot figure out how, or found no $$$ incentive, to continue to optimise the FR and still maintain cabinet size any longer.

Last edited by lxXXxl; 15-06-2020 at 04:40 PM..
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Old 16-06-2020, 01:37 PM   #8
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Added Klipsch R-14M. No one seems to have measured them though.
Added Klipsch R-15M as well, since it has a good shallow depth of 20.5cm. And its 3rd party measurements as well.

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Old 19-06-2020, 01:20 PM   #9
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Your computer is using what sound chipset/Audio chipset ? You can spend money to buy the best speakers but if your sound chipset is not to standard than is a waste of time.
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Old 19-06-2020, 01:49 PM   #10
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Your computer is using what sound chipset/Audio chipset ? You can spend money to buy the best speakers but if your sound chipset is not to standard than is a waste of time.
Yup, using Topping DAC and Yamaha A-S500.
Actually I think my intention is to understand how to mix and match to get a good desktop setup.

Assuming the user is not particular about getting that crazy 20hz low end in a typical hdb room, AND that the user is ok with EQ, the key ingredient seems to be satellite / bookshelf speakers that has good performance / adequate volume in the 50-150hz frequency range. The audio sounds full and integration to the sub is very smooth.

If the speakers are physically unable to properly play 50-150hz (drivers smaller than 4"), it's very hard for eq or subwoofer to patch this hole.

I didn't realise how magical this 100hz range is until I started recording with a measuring mic.

Unfortunately, I also realised passive speakers that can do so AND maintain a slim, desk friendly depth are not as commonplace as they should be.


At the same time, learning about the significance of the frequency regions and how speakers are different. Or similar.
https://www.teachmeaudio.com/mixing/...audio-spectrum

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Old 28-06-2020, 11:47 AM   #11
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Interesting discussion on what narrow dispersion and wide dispersion speakers are. Didn't know narrow dispersion speakers generally need less side reflection treatment.

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Old 28-06-2020, 01:00 PM   #12
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On-wall speakers

I am using the Elac Debut 2.0 On-wall speakers as my surrounds. They are slim but yes, they are tall.

A pair of them are going for just around $297 on Amazon Singapore right now.

But if you are using room correction software paired with these speakers, your results should be fine. Impressive too actually for a pair of slim speakers. As seen with the room corrected readings below of both the right and left surround pair.
As seen, it goes from 47Hz all the way to 20kHz almost at a straight line. And only dips as it is supposed to only after 20,000Hz which is beyond human hearing.

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Old 28-06-2020, 01:34 PM   #13
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I am using the Elac Debut 2.0 On-wall speakers as my surrounds. They are slim but yes, they are tall.

A pair of them are going for just around $297 on Amazon Singapore right now.

But if you are using room correction software paired with these speakers, your results should be fine. Impressive too actually for a pair of slim speakers. As seen with the room corrected readings below of both the right and left surround pair.
As seen, it goes from 47Hz all the way to 20kHz almost at a straight line. And only dips as it is supposed to only after 20,000Hz which is beyond human hearing.

Nice~~ They're against the wall then? And you're using an amp with dirac live integrated?
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Old 28-06-2020, 11:38 PM   #14
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Nice~~ They're against the wall then? And you're using an amp with dirac live integrated?
Yup. They are against the wall.

And nope. I skipped using amps since I rarely can watch content at reference level of 75dB. That is just too much!

Using Dirac Live with the NAD T778 AVR.

Check out the size of this receiver. It's way smaller than even the cheapest Denon AVRs. Letalone any higher end Denon AVR that will be even bigger. Am really impressed.
I can just upgrade the HDMI 2.0 with the HDMI 2.1 module in the future like upgrading my PC components.
Currently using only 5.1.2. Still have 2 more channels to connect to it and 2 more if I want to finally use an amplifier.

One thing I noticed with using Dirac Live vs Audyssey XT (Marantz AVR) and XT32 (Denon AVR), it made a very holistic audio experience without any extra tweaking after calibration. The volume levels were spot on.
With Audyssey, I'll need to adjust the volume and speaker distance after I did the calibration because the speakers always don't sound balanced most of the time.

The test result above is without me using any magic dust wiring yet. Just the standard plugs and 18 AWG speaker wires (for those On-Wall surround speakers you see above and I wished I'd understand the importance of wire gauge sooner before I had mine sealed behind the walls with no way to change the surround speaker cables now)

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