Desktop Speaker Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 14, 2017
I pity the speaker buyer who doesn't spend due time setting up their speakers; finding the best-sounding spot. If you don't spend real time moving your speakers around, even on your desktop, finding the spot where they, and you, sing, you're wasting your hard-earned money.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 15, 2017
Just Don't Call Me Late To Dinner
To call the Bluesound PULSE Soundbar a soundbar is like calling the iPhone a phone. What the Bluesound PULSE Soundbar really is, is an all-in-one music and movie sound system (well, you can add a sub and multiroom stuff with other Bluesound devices). Why review a soundbar? Didn't I just say it doesn't make sense to call it a soundbar?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 14, 2016
"I don't believe in frettin' and grievin'"
When using the Dynaudio Xeo 2s, all one need do to get music from your computer to your ears is connect the hardware with a Toslink cable and plug those suckers in. The Xeo 2s can process up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM data, there are 65W amps for each driver, and the master speaks to the slave wirelessly. Just add music.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 21, 2016
A Baga snake from Guinea or a woozy Brancusi?
The more I looked at the Serene Audio Talisman Speakers sitting atop my desk, the more I liked them. The striking curvaceous single-driver Talismans, whose outsides are made from "sturdy and acoustically dead" 3/4" bamboo and leather-covered MDF, may lead one to think they're not a serious speaker: All looks, no sonics. Appearances can be deceiving.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 25, 2015
Just Ask Audioengine
If you look at the Audioengine website, you'll see something rarely seen; links to positive reviews of their products from non-audio press: PC Magazine, Macworld, Wired, PC World, and even Gizmodo, haters of all things with the word "Hi". Of course Audioengine also gets positive reviews from the audio press. How do they do it?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 11, 2015
Less Stuff
The Dynaudio Xeo 4s and the larger floor standing Xeo 6s plus the Hub need just two things from you—a source(s) and power. That's it. That's all you need for a complete Hi-Fi. Interested?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 12, 2015
Excite
What do we want, ideally, from an active desktop speaker? I know, everything.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 26, 2014
Sonos
Do you watch TV? Sports maybe? If so, you've probably spotted one of the Sonos commercials. White immaculate rooms are suddenly filled with liquid color, with flowers, or with paint spatters until the rooms are transformed. By music. Cool. And its cool for a few reasons; the message, the presentation, and the fact that a hi-fi company can afford to advertise on network TV during high profile/price sporting events. I'd imagine that Sonos is the only company to come through AudioStream to be in a position to pull that off.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 21, 2014
Poke Me
The Tannoy Reval 402's sport a ¾" soft-dome "Poke-Resistant" tweeter and a 4" custom high-efficiency LF woofer for a claimed frequency response of 56 Hz -48 kHz. I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to poke that "Poke-Resistant" tweeter it being the most poke provoking tweeter I've ever seen since it claims otherwise. But I didn't. I resisted the temptation largely because the Tannoy's enticed with other traits, namely what they're made for.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jul 24, 2014
Alpha Dog
The new entry level Alpha line from Focal is meant to bring Focal quality to the discerning listener on a budget. I very favorably reviewed the more upscale Focal CMS 40 (see review) and the top of the line Solo6 Be (see review) so I was more than excited to see this new lower-priced line from Focal. The Alpha 50s are the smallest monitor in the Alpha series which also includes the Alpha 65 and Alpha 80. The 50s are equipped with a 5" woofer/midrange, the 65's with a 6.5 midrange/woofer, and the 80s, you guessed it, an 8" mid/woofer. I opted for the 50s for this review because that's what Focal recommends for extreme nearfield listening (2-3 ft.).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 27, 2014
Single Driver Plus DAC
The Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD-M1 Wireless Speaker System houses a single 8cm (3") driver in each speaker powered by a 20W digital amp. There's also a 24/192 capable DAC, which Eclipse refers to as a Non-Oversampling DAC, as well as 2 asynchronous USB inputs, one Type A and one Type B, a 3.5mm mini analog stereo input, Wi-Fi and AirPlay connectivity. So you can connect your computer via USB and your iOS device either hard wired or via AirPlay and since the TD-M1 has its own Wi-Fi on board, you don't even need to have it connect to your home network.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 02, 2013
Earth Movers
Why not? I mean, if you were me, wouldn't you? In an exchange with Bruce Brown, Owner and Engineer at Puget Sound Studios (see our Q&A), Bruce mentioned that he was using the Focal Solo6 Be monitors (as well as the Twin6 and Sub6 in a 5.1 array) in his recording studio. And that information stuck in my head and poked at me when I recently thought about desktop speakers to review. And I thought why not? Rated at 40Hz - 40kHz with a 150W rms, BASH® amp for the midbass/bass driver and a 100W rms class A/B amp for the treble, these bad boys max out at 113dB SPL (peak @ 1m). So yea, they work really well as nearfield desktop earth movers.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 24, 2013
Professional
The Focal CMS 40 powered speaker is referred to as a monitor on the company's website. A subtle distinction perhaps but a monitor is meant for monitoring records during production whereas a speaker is meant to be used when the production work is done. So a monitor is a tool for listening whereas a speaker is a tool for enjoyment. Some listeners, like audiophiles, for example, do both and a speaker like the Focal CMS 40 is practically made to order.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 23, 2013
Can You Handle the Truth?
What the heck is a "monitor" speaker? The word was initially applied to actual studio monitors, but it quickly came to be associated with any small- or mid-size bookshelf speaker. The M-Audio BX5 D2 is a bona-fide active (self-powered) monitor that can be used as a reference in a home studio (or desktop system). Accuracy is de rigueur for monitors, so if you're searching for a speaker with a sweet sound that makes everything, including nasty MP3s sound good this little guy won't cut it, but well-recorded electronica, jazz, classical, or most types of acoustic music the BX5 D2 will be a treat for your ears. They list for $299 a pair, but I've seen them going for closer to $230 online, and for that kind of money it's hard to beat.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 13, 2013
Being Single
Single driver speakers have some fairly straight-forward pluses and minuses—they only use a single driver to reproduce everything. So that means no crossover which, contrary to some adherents of the single driver way, is not necessarily an evil one way or another but most single driver speakers I've heard, and I've heard a bunch, tend to do at least one thing really well and that thing is immediacy. But what does immediacy really mean? From my way of hearing, it means that the sound of the music coming out of a single driver speaker sounds incredibly present as if the music is caressing your ears, intimately. Single driver speakers can sound seductive. The Ancient Audio Studio Oslo powered speakers use a single driver.

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