Hi. This is my first post here. I stumbled on this site after reading some comments about Omega desktop speakers that really have me intrigued. I currently own a pair of B&W 686s (first version) that I have had for a few years and I am interested in upgrading. I have been slowly upgrading other parts of my system and these are hopefully the last piece. I used to run them through an entry level Pioneer Elite AVR with an Infinity sub and because I ran them as desktop speakers, I was always in the sweet spot and thought I had an awesome sound going. At least until I upgraded my computer.
I upgraded my computer to a Surface Pro 3, which has no digital out and an arguably terrible DAC onboard. I previously ran optical out from my motherboard to the Pioneer Elite and I was totally happy. When I started running from the headphone jack to the AVR, I thought the sound was definitely downgraded, so I started researching my options. I figured there had to be a USB solution and I found out about the Musical Fidelity V-Link. I also stopped by a local hi-fi store to see if they had any options and they actually had a used Musical Fidelity lying around that they let me take home and demo. This device let me output and convert a digital signal from the USB port of my SP3 and give me the choice of either optical or coax digital out to my AVR. Perfect. I went back to the store and bought it.
By this point, I had also upgraded my media player from Winamp to JRiver Media Center 20. This could see the V-Link directly and let me choose it as an output. It also does a better job at organizing albums than Winamp (Winamp is still great as a streaming media option, though, and the basic version is free). The owner of the store let me run my SP3 through one of his setups and we listened and talked music. The system consisted of an Acoustic Research DAC and Acoustic Research AMP running Wilson Audio speakers that are about 300 lbs each and as tall as my 7 year old daughter. I was very impressed. Definitely a Will-o-the-Wisp system for me, but I've been chasing that sound since then.
The weakest link in my system seemed to be my sub. I had this weird sound in the high-bass frequencies, so I upgraded that from an Infinity P-8 to a Rel T-9 at the suggestion of the owner of the store. Great sub and it really did improve my sound--- no more LFE inputs on subs for me. The weird sound was reduced, but not eliminated.
I figured a DAC would be my next upgrade at a later date, so I did a little reading to find out if the DAC in the Pioneer Elite was decent or not. I also found out that my B&W 686s were not very efficient and seemed to need a decent amount of power to really output to their potential. Then I landed on Music Direct's website and saw they had a Winter Clearance sale going on. I found bundled set made up of a Musical Fidelity M1 SDAC and M1 PWR amp that were marked down about 75% when purchased together. I also saw a set of Focal bookshelf speakers marked down from $1,500 to something close to $500, I think. Those went really fast and ceased to be an option. I then figured the MF package wouldn't last long either. I showed my wife that they were marked down 75% and she surprised me by not only admitting that it was a good deal, but by not being completely against the purchase. I mentioned that they had no interest financing and when she said don't do that rather than don't even think about buying them, I knew I had her blessing. I still waffled and when she asked me a couple of days later if I'd ordered them yet, I said soon, and ran upstairs to my computer. : )
I went to the site and looked up Musical Fidelity, only to find another package deal. For an additional $200, I would forgo special interconnects for an additional M1 PWR amp. Why in the world would I need two amps? Then I read about monoblocks. The M1 PWR outputs 60 wpc in stereo mode, but 100 wpc in mono mode. Well, I figured if my speakers really needed power, this should do it. I ordered the package and when I hooked it up, it sounded like I bought new speakers. What a huge difference. I've been into music and audio equipment since I was in high school, but I have to admit that I'm new to hi-fi. I now have an understanding of what soundstage means. I have done a lot of reading since buying the MF package, but I still think it's a good deal, especially if you're starting from scratch. I think the package is still available. So much for rushing because I was worried they would run out. I learned that when you run in mono mode, both sets of binding posts output the same signal and I had extra speaker wire, so I biwired the B&Ws for the heck of it. I honestly can't say that I noticed a difference, but it makes logical sense to me, based upon my limited knowledge.
After all this, the weird sound didn't go away. From what I can figure out, it's caused by early reflections from my desk. I've been trying different placement configurations to try to reduce the reflections and it has helped a bit. I currently have them raised up rather high, so I've turned them upside down to get the tweeters close to ear level. I think I've got them up about 24 inches off my desk, angled down slightly with no toe-in. The room itself is roughly 14x28 and my desk is at one of the narrow ends, set to the left a bit and the speakers are about a foot or so from the wall. Moving the desk isn't really an option.
If anyone listening to speakers with a nearfield set-up wants to see if they can replicate the sound I'm hearing, a good test is in the song, Siberian Khatru, by Yes. Roughly 3:30 seconds into the song there is an extended note from an electric bass that resonates oddly. If you listen with headphones, you won't hear the resonance. I had a friend of mine listen to the song on his Audioengine A2s in nearfield and he could hear the same resonance. I would like to upgrade my speakers to improve my overall sound and a great side effect would be getting rid of this reflection issue (if that's what it is), but I'm not sure if better speakers would make a difference with the resonance. I tried switching to a pair of Paradigm Atoms that I use on my wife's computer, but I heard the same sound. I just don't know what will happen if I go up in quality.
When I started looking for nearfield speakers, I came across KEF's LS50s (@ $1,500), then I read about Audience's The One (@ $1,000), and finally, I read about the Omega 3is or desktop speakers. I wasn't looking for single driver speakers with no crossovers, but this is where my research has brought me.
Does anyone hear have any experience with the LS50s or The Ones and the Omega 3? Honestly, the Omega 3is or desktop might be the best sounding speakers of the three going by what I've read and my budget would be very thankful for that. Also, would a single driver set-up have any impact on early reflections?
Thanks, especially if you made it this far.