Speakers that sound great when you're just 24" from the front baffle?

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IanVan

I have spent the last few years with my desk out in the middle of the room, with speakers 9-11' from my head. I had fantastic sound like this using Green Mountain Audio Europa monitors on stands, and very good sound like this using Adam Audio studio monitors. However, both those solutions really needed some distance both between the speakers and distance to the speakers to shine. They sounded awful in a tight nearfield setup. I was disappointed and somewhat surprised that my expensive Adam Audio Artist 5s didn't shine in the nearfield.

I am moving at the end of the month, and my new desktop location is severely compromised - I think I may be just 24" from the front baffle!

Has anyone ever got fantastic sound in such a tight setup? I'm wondering about concentric designs like Equator Audio Research D5, or Fluid Audio FX8. I only need it for 2-channel music.

I've never found headphones I love and can listen to for hours, so I'm really hoping to make this work with speakers (can be powered or passive - I have a Centrance DAC and power amps if need be).

What should I be looking at for superb 2-feet away sound?


JLM

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With such a constricted environment:

Coherence is of primary importance, thats where single driver designs shine brightest. 

I'd look for speakers that aren't harsh, overbearing, or in your face.

Bass would best come from a subwoofer that you can dial in (if you have room), so a small driver should be the goal.

Elevate the speakers to minimize bass bounce off the desktop and obviously aim them at your ears.

High frequency dispersion is secondary, again good application for single driver designs.


Suggestions: 

JBL 305 Mk2 (active 2-way, needs XLR or TRS connectors, $300/pair, my #1 choice but haven't heard this close)

Vanatoo Transparent (active 2-way, DAC included, subwoofer output, $359/pair)

Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD-M1 (active 3" extended range driver, DAC included, $1300/pair)

PSB Alpha PS1 (powered 2-way, subwoofer output, $299/pair)



ohenry

I agree that a point source speaker is better for up close coherence.  Take a look at the Mini Maggies:

http://www.magnepan.com/model_mini_maggie

Also, some of the small offerings from KEF and Tannoy could be a fit.

walkern

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I've had good luck in the near field with Mark Audio 10P speakers in small no frills boxes.  I tried a couple of coaxials, but they didn't gel together from such a close distance.

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/approx-6-fullrange/markaudio-alpair-10p-a-paper-cone-6-full-range/

jonbee

If you're looking for true high end sound, the Reference 3a Dulcet BE are excellent at any distance. Remarkable in every way. Coherence, soundstage clarity and definition, musicality and real bass, all in a 12" package. I'm really impressed by them. The earlier version are great too, but with less output on top.

yamaha626

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I replaced my M Audio AV40's this year with Kanto YU2's to play audio at my desktop....Completely Satisfied. Strong imaging and great sound. Can't recommend them enough. So happy with the YU2's, last week I just picked up a pair of YU6's to try out in my main system.

DaveC113

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Omega Super 3i

IMO it's your best option at any price and any speaker with a separate tweeter will be way less optimal.

zoom25

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I've pushed my Amphion One15's as close as 80cm and they still sounded great. They were almost touching the sides of a 27" iMac without any breathing room. I keep them closer to 1 meter mark. They play exceptionally well at low volumes as well.

There is also Amphion One12 if you want them even closer.

IanVan

Thank you all so much for all the suggestions! I have a lot to look into now. I haven't frequented audio boards in a number of years now (I was pretty happy with my setup), so I haven't heard of most of the suggestions.

I was already thinking that coherence was a major issue at tight distances, and that single driver designs might make the most sense. Also, I have a long history of really liking time and phase aligned speakers. Big Dunlavy monkey coffins are my all-time favorite speakers. I know that they have a hard-limit to their upper volume, and the sweetspot is small, but working within those parameters, I always find the sound just 'there'. It is effortless and clear in a way that is unlike anything else I have heard.

Is anyone making a finished product with those Mark Audio 10P drivers?

I will look around to see if there are Amphion dealers here in Vancouver - I like their description of 'extreme-nearfield'.

I have some skepticism as to how the small dual-driver JBLs would sound from that close - has anybody actually tried it?

JLM

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Regarding Mark Audio drivers (which I'm not a huge fan of) Planet10hifi.com is right in your neighborhood (from Victoria BC).  He has lots of experience, sells a variety of drivers including Mark Audio, treated and untreated, cabinet plans, and some finished speakers.   

Darn, I had a pair of JBL 305 Mk2's here on Sunday (significantly improved from the originals), but we listened from 6 feet away.

roscoe65

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Thank you all so much for all the suggestions! I have a lot to look into now. I haven't frequented audio boards in a number of years now (I was pretty happy with my setup), so I haven't heard of most of the suggestions.

I was already thinking that coherence was a major issue at tight distances, and that single driver designs might make the most sense. Also, I have a long history of really liking time and phase aligned speakers. Big Dunlavy monkey coffins are my all-time favorite speakers. I know that they have a hard-limit to their upper volume, and the sweetspot is small, but working within those parameters, I always find the sound just 'there'. It is effortless and clear in a way that is unlike anything else I have heard.

Is anyone making a finished product with those Mark Audio 10P drivers?

I will look around to see if there are Amphion dealers here in Vancouver - I like their description of 'extreme-nearfield'.

I have some skepticism as to how the small dual-driver JBLs would sound from that close - has anybody actually tried it?

I will echo Peter's recommendation of the Omega Super 3i monitors.  They are far better than they have any right to be.  If you really want to go whole-hog, a pair of Omega Compact Alnico Monitors (16"h x 12.5"w x 9" d) would be even better and can be placed close to the rear wall.  Either speaker can be driven by almost any amp in the near field.

If I were limited to a compact, nearfield environment, I woudl put together a simple system comprising a pair of Omega CAM's and a Chord Hugo TT2.  The latter is a "DAC" that can drive the speakers directly with 7.5 wpc.

Rusty Jefferson

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....I have some skepticism as to how the small dual-driver JBLs would sound from that close - has anybody actually tried it?
I'm not sure why everyone thinks this is so unusual.  At many large studios mid/large monitors are used in the control room, but small monitors are used at a separate mix down station.  Often, it's a mixing console with speakers mounted away from the wall to reduce room gain and with each speaker within arms reach of the engineer.  Until recently, it was common for these monitors to be 3 way speakers, now it's mostly 2 way.  I've never seen full range drivers used for mix down, but have seen coax of course.  Coherence will not be a problem with a modern 2 way monitor, it's what they're made for. 

dB Cooper


I've never found headphones I love and can listen to for hours


Maybe you haven't looked hard enough... What were the issues with the ones you've tried? Maybe some of us canheads around here might have some useful suggestions if we knew what the problems were.

To second what others have said, Omega makes a sweet little desktop monitor; look at Audioengine or the lesser known Vanatoo for powered designs. The Vanatoo is a 'sleeper' IMHO; built in rear mounted passive radiator makes them sound a lot bigger than they are. Ive heard them at shows; great value in my opinion.

IanVan

I'm not sure why everyone thinks this is so unusual.  At many large studios mid/large monitors are used in the control room, but small monitors are used at a separate mix down station.  Often, it's a mixing console with speakers mounted away from the wall to reduce room gain and with each speaker within arms reach of the engineer.  Until recently, it was common for these monitors to be 3 way speakers, now it's mostly 2 way.  I've never seen full range drivers used for mix down, but have seen coax of course.  Coherence will not be a problem with a modern 2 way monitor, it's what they're made for.

That is why I bought the Adam Audio Artist 5s - I thought I could reconfigure into a tight setup at my last place and use them basically on my desk. But they didn't sound very good up close. I'm certain they measure much, much differently from 6 feet than they do from 2 feet!

I ended up moving my desk back into the room to get them to work. Perhaps it was unique to the Adams - I am still open to trying the JBLs - should be able to find them at a pro audio shop in town and test them. I'd love to side-by-side them with the Amphions.

Rusty Jefferson

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All speakers will measure differently at 6' compared to 2'. It appears your speakers are intended for the purpose you have in mind though that doesn't mean you have to like the way they sound. As mentioned earlier, you generally want the speakers away from the walls to prevent gain. If they sounded better by pulling your desk out into the room (away from the walls), that makes sense. 

Also consider mounting them up off the desktop surface on ridged stands at ear level. This will reduce reflections off the desktop.

Kenneth Patchen

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Wow, 24” from front baffle. I’ve heard most of the speakers listed above - have not heard the Reference 3a Dulcet BEs - and I thought they were all excellent in a ‘normal’ office set-up ... but I think my sensitive ears might find any of the above to be just a bit overpowering at that distance.

Waltzz has AudioEngine 2s, featured today in Featured Systems, and they might work. Someone else wrote about their desktop Peachtrees which I believe were deliberately designed for restricted spaces.

IanVan

All speakers will measure differently at 6' compared to 2'. It appears your speakers are intended for the purpose you have in mind though that doesn't mean you have to like the way they sound. As mentioned earlier, you generally want the speakers away from the walls to prevent gain. If they sounded better by pulling your desk out into the room (away from the walls), that makes sense. 

Also consider mounting them up off the desktop surface on ridged stands at ear level. This will reduce reflections off the desktop.

I had the Adam Audio speakers on very heavy rigid stands, with AcoustiPads, pulled out into the room ~ 20". I had my desk pulled out further, 8' away from the speakers for optimal sound. Same setup with the Green Mountain Audio Europas. I fooled around a lot with the Adams, and found that you needed to be a minimum of 4-5' before the sound was coherent. I don't know how a recording engineer could work with them any closer than that.

Rusty Jefferson

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Just a random Google search. It's not uncommon.  The studio I used to hang around used JBL 4311s in all their mixing rooms, built out over the console, and were identical in all the mixing rooms. The engineer could touch the baffle easily.






Tom Bombadil

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While I've never listened to them from that close a distance, perhaps the KEF LS50 might do okay.  At least the sound radiates from a single point.   I've read of others using them on desk systems and liking them.

zoom25

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I'll list some other options (passive and active) as well that I think may fit your requirement as I was looking for a high-end 'desktop' nearfield setup.

- Genelec 8030/8040 (active) - also comes in a digital option with DSP
- Genelec coaxial monitors (https://www.genelec.com/studio-monitors/sam-coaxial-studio-monitors)
- Focal Alpha, Shape, and CMS series (active)
- Focal Solo6 (active)
- PSI A17 (active)
- Amphion One15/One18 (passive...I listed the One18 as an option but it's a poor one as it requires 1.5m distance triangle to sound its best)
- ATC SCM 20ASL Pro Mk2 (also comes in passive, but active is much preferred)

For me it came down to PSI, Amphions, and ATC as they belong in the same league. I ruled the PSIs out based on some comments that kept coming up. It was between Amphions and ATC.

If I was buying something again today, I'd go for either the active ATC SCM20ASL Pro Mk2 or the Amphion One15. There are many comments and threads on users comparing ATC and Amphions and it's always a tossup for those that have both and work on them. This is the top notch stuff. Neither one will let you down.

The good thing about ATC is that you have an excellent amp built inside it and it's TOTL. You don't have to worry about purchasing a separate amp. The Amphions, while passive, are kind of like active out of the box. Amphion sells amplifiers and speaker cables (same one used internally in their design) that are matched very well. So you don't have to think about what components to pick.

I'm also based in Canada, but closer to Toronto. I buy from Studio Economik. Call them up and they'll usually give you a discount on top.