Speakers small enough for desktop use

Want to begin at the beginning in assembling a stereo system to use around a computer source in a desktop environment in a smaller room. Looking for ideas on what people have found from experience to work well in this situation with the following criteria:

Up to $1K budget (for the speakers that is)
Coherent in the nearfield
Magnetically shielded
Reasonably easy to drive
Decent sonics at lower volumes but able to go somewhat loud
Not overly critical regarding listening angle
OK near wall behind
Don't require a "subwoofer" to sound pleasing (obviously deep bass will be absent and that's fine as long as the speakers are balanced correctly for use alone)
Portable for use in different situations (no in- or on-wall solutions)

I'm not against considering self-powered speakers (at a higher budget if needed), but for now am assuming I'll get some sort of small amp (however probably not flea-powered tubes, more likely a SS switching amp). Pro monitors marketed for recording studio desktop use OK as long as they're intended to be fuller-range and flatter than not. I'm also not decided whether these will be placed directly on the desktop or above it on some sort of stand or wall mounting. Thanks and remember to keep 'em small!
If you want to provide the power, the NSM Audio/Role series of speakers are tremendous - smooth, very detailed, impeccable imaging. Not inexpensive but... and they stand behind the product.

Another choice I am really enjoying is the Cain & Cain Noogi - basically a mini Abby - all the really good things about a full range from a small speaker. Like the Abby it is tall so placement is a tad more difficult - if you put it on your desk the driver will be above your head - I have mine on the floor and they sound great up here.

In the self-powered pro line, take a look at whatever the current Tannoy offering is. I would plan on a passive to make controlling them easy.

Gallo has several micro speakers and have received very good reviews at 6moons.com. The Realistic Optimus 7's are excellent micro speakers that have been discontinued but perhaps could be found used.
Dan: Looking at an online review of the M-00, they seem like they're intended to be used with the matching subwoofer and that they wouldn't really cut it without. Do you think differently? I'd like to get some semblence of circa 50-60Hz bass out of the monitors themselves.

He who Walketh the Swamp: My brother has a pair of the Super Ones that are several years old, and though I'm not sure how they compare with current production, I was pretty disappointed with the sound at his place, given the reviews (granted, driven by a cheap receiver and CDP with gimmie wires, but placement tweaking on my part didn't help much). I think I need to aim a bit higher to get satisfaction.

Hals_den: I own a pair of ancient Optimus 7's and I know I definitely need to aim higher than that. I was hoping to get an audition of something by Gallo, but my closest dealer doesn't stock the model he says would be most appropriate, only ones he feels are HT-oriented and wouldn't work so well in the nearfield.

Ckorody: Funny you should mention Role. I started this process ahead of schedule, before I've even acquired the new computer and faster connection I'll be needing to make the whole thing go, mainly due to Role's introductory pricing on their new Sampan FTL model, a pair of which are currently breaking-in downstairs on 30-day approval. I'm really fishing for some ideas about what to audition in comparison with these single-driver, folded transmission-line passives, which show a lot of promise although I consider them to be on the expensive side for what they are.
I thought that the NSM was a sealed suspended unit - maybe the new Sampan is different - no doubt the absence of rear ports makes placement easier. I have to say I like my NSM10s - I got a demo pair for half price which took some of the sting out. I have them jammed into the corners of my sailboat cabin.

Highly regarded, though I have not heard them are the EPOS 3 and 5. Very reasonable. Also consider going up a bit in the NHT line - thinking the Classic 2 or 3. And while it sounds like heresy, I got an amazing deal on a refurb set up from Klipsch - two satellites and a nice sub for $70 that does everything a desk unit can do but disappear.

I suppose the other thing to look for is something with a Fostex other then the Noogis.
Look in to Swans M 200 2.0
Google for info. and reviews I have a as new pair for $200 OBM includes shipping to CONUSA only
Ships via FedEx reg. ground!
Era Design 5 would likely serve you well at the top of your price range. I did not listen nearfield, but heard them up against a wall. Magnificent qualities for such a small speaker. I was really impressed by them. On a more limited budget I'd agree with the Swan M200 recommendation for a powered speaker, but they won't have the refinements of the Era pushed by good amplification. The amp in one of mine failed, and I have no means of replacement (anyone know of any)? I have not heard them, but M-Audio makes a series of pro monitors that are self-powered that have pretty good real-world reviews online. Those might be worth checking out. The Era would be at the top of my list.

You have a very specific need. All driver's high and low freq output must be integrated by the time it hits your ear. This is not often not found in normal high-end speakers.

For small < $1k near field monitor, I would suggest pro-audio active speakers like Dynaudio BM5A. Very neutral and non-fatiguing sound. Lots of speaker will sound just fine 10ft away but sound extremely fatiquing under 5 ft.

Alex, I do not own the NHTs but heard them when our local audiophile group visited the NHT factory. They demo'd this model with and without the subwoofer. I felt that I would be happy with them sans woofer, but I can't say that you would feel the same. These are part of their pro line and are designed as near-field monitors, so you can be sure of getting proper driver integration close up. They sounded remarkably "right" to me. The NHT folks are excellent engineers with good discipline, a well-equipped lab, and a lot of integrity, but they are not tweaky audiophiles. Make of that what you will. The company overall has a rock n' roll orientation (righteous amps and guitars in several people's offices).

Macrojack has three pairs of M-00's, perhaps he will chime in.
Interesting situation, Zaikesman.

It sounds as if you're going to do a combination of nearfield and across-the-room listening?

I just got the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 sat/sub combo and am quite impressed with the naturalness of the sound relative to other computer speaker systems and the strain-free volume at which they play. I run my speakers off a Macintosh Quad-core G5 using iTunes and from the analog outs, and am surprised that I'm able to get nice sound from a cheap [the speakers only] set up like this. The iTunes equalizer allows me to adjust the sound to my liking even more.

You can get the ProMedias at Amazon.com for about $110. Build quality may be an issue with them though, as I had to get a replcement set because one of the channels didn't output sond. The second set suffers from a loose 3mm jack on the back of one of the satellites, but I got it to work.

Before the Klipsch I'd been using a Swan sat/sub combo that just recently crapped out. The Swans didn't have the exagerated treble and bass so many desk top computer speaker systems have, but they also had anemic bass and wouldn't play very loud. I didn't go with the Swan M200s because they're about 13" tall, but I should note that these are the Swans most people speak so highly of.

It's funny that people are talking about NHTs for your set up as I have an extra set of SuperZeros at home and had considered doing exactly the same thing. I've been thinking of bringing my Audio Mirror DAC, Blue Circle BC22 and NHTs to work and run them off the toslink outs of my computer. If I did that I'd probably also bring my 29" tall steel shot filled Lovan stands in and set them up traditionally, not on my desk.

I had also considered using little speakers with a small tube amp too.
Marco and Prpixel: The Era is one of the audition suggestions from the dealer nearest to me, so I will be able to hear these this week.

Eric: I'll have to check with my local pro sound shop to see what lines they carry, but I believe when I was in there last year I did see some Dynaudios on display. The Role speakers I have here will definitely work in the nearfield due to their single-driver design, and in the larger room where they're located right now I feel there are balance and detail advantages at around 1m, although they're very listenable in the farfield.

Dan: Thanks for the elaboration. The review I read seems to suggest that the M-00 satellites roll out fast below 100Hz, but the fact that NHT was willing to demo them with and without the sub may imply differently.

Ckorody: The Sampan FTL (for folded transmission line) has a front port, is 9" deep even though it's only 4" wide, and uses the same 3.5" single driver as the latest version of the sealed-box micro-mini Skiff model, but unlike that speaker is supposed to, doesn't require a subwoofer for near full-range response. I haven't heard any of the Role or NSM 2-way models.
Marco and Prpixel: The Era is one of the audition suggestions from the dealer nearest to me, so I will be able to hear these this week.

I suspect you will be mightely impressed with them. I couldn't believe the tight, low bass coming from those tiny boxes (Design 5's). I understand the 4's have similar midrange qualities, but don't quite go as low, and are a bit less pricey. If you decide on Design 4's there is a pair on the Terry Cain Memorial Fund page that are a lightly used review pair that are $460, $300 of which will go to the Terry Cain fund (helps pay for the balance of his medical expenses as well as the funeral arrangements). That page comes down on January 10 though, so you'd have to act fast. I did not hear a pair of Design 4's so cannot speak directly for them, other than saying the midrange qualities of the 5's were excellent.

Thanks for the link Marco, I was unaware of the Affordable Audio e-zine. John Atkinson's review of the 4 in the last issue of Stereophile was certainly positive as well.

In addition it turns out that Steven Stone -- who I assume is the same guy I remember as J. Gordon Holt's recording partner from Stereophile days past -- has written an ongoing series of articles on this subject at Enjoythemusic.com, with reviews of some of the models mentioned above (including the Era 4). The series is titled The Nearfield and the different installments can be accessed from the top of this index page.
B&W makes a small 2 way that would work in a desk environ, I used them at the office (310 is the older model I have)
Any of the 'Epos' lines of speakers sound perfect for you. They seem to specialize in really big sound from little speakers.

I heard some downtown the other day. Very fairly priced and sound amazing for their size.
Just as a quick response to the Epos recommendation - I purchased a pair of Epos 3's for my mother in-law, which she still has and enjoys. Good for the money, but will not hold a candle to the Era 5's. Even for the money I'd probably look for a used pair of Soliloquy Sat 5's before getting a pair of Epos 3's. Have not heard the larger Epos, but would assume they'd be bigger than you'd like for the application of desktop duty.

You might wanna check out Mackie HR824 monitors. Many of my friends in the music biz love these for production. They aren't very expensive and are supposed to have exceptional bass.
Does anyone have experience with how the NHT M-00s sound next to the Swans M200s?
Definatekly check out a used pair of Meridian M33s - self powered, and should be obtainable for about $1000. They are wonderful sounding for their size and don't require and amp.
I would buy an active speaker (self-amplified). I love genelec speakers and use them as a computer speaker.
I just set up a desktop system of sorts, with components that were gathering dust.

NAD 7120 receiver and a pair of RatShack Minimus-7 speakers (white metal cabinet). Even if I had to purchase these items, cost should not be more than $100.

The receiver delivers 20wpc, with 3db of headroom. The speakers are efficient enough and the location is nearfield.

Sonics are better than I expected using content streamed from my server or from Internet radio. A slight bass boost for warmth and a slight treble cut to take the edge off of treble is all that I needed for smooth results. Soudstage has good depth and placement.

Volume is quite loud as well, such that I can use the system for general background music as I move around the room and floor where the system is located.

Previous system was a pr of selfpowered Harmon Kardon PC speakers. OK as pc speakers; dreadfull in comparison to what I put together.


Zaikesman, what is wrong with the single driver Role speakers? Sounds like a perfect match for your needs.
I did keep the Roles, but still intend to audition others. I've just put it off, mostly because I loathe dealing with audio stores, partly because I'm not ready to set up the whole desktop system yet, and partly because I'm enjoying these well enough (hooked up to the main system) not to be too eager to go looking for something to defeat them. I did manage to go hear a couple things that weren't at high end shops (B&W, Focal), but I'd like to have a couple alternatives for in-home audition as well, and may just try to do that through Audiogon if I can't borrow some likely candidates from dealers.
Zaikesman, tha TABAQ is interesting and I may build myself:
DIY Audio thread
This goes into the 50hz range. Still won't have the dynamics of a good 4". Also it is a floorstanding design. I have heard similar 3" to the Roles and I like my Tang-Band W3-871s better. It is more dynamic. It has the same power rating, just uses its power up more quickly as in better dynamic range at low volume levels. More delicate and detailed.