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smaller speakers recommendation

I've seen a lot of LSR305 praise on HA and I'm seriously considering getting a pair myself, but first and for a different setup I'm looking for something small(er). Since I haven't found any suggestions in this class I'm starting this thread, especially because some of the worst speakers available are in this very class and I definitely want to avoid them.

Until now I've been pretty happy with JBL Duet that had a surprisingly good sound for the price and an even more surprising amount of bass for the size. I say had because despite their qualities the material used for the membrane is apparently terrible and it ended like this:

Consider the speakers were never exposed to some hardcore membrane terminator action, but were always, without exception, used at a very moderate level. I'd like a pair that's at least not a downgrade from these Duets in terms of sound quality, not much taller either and at a reasonable price. Looking to buy in the UK/EU area. Helpful suggestions are very appreciated.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #1
Quote
I've seen a lot of LSR305 praise on HA
I haven't heard these, but in general JBL has a good reputation for their monitors and other "pro" speakers.  There are other well regarded small monitors in the same price range.  KRKs come to mind, but I haven't heard these either.

You aren't going to get much bass from a 5-inch woofer.

I haven't heard of the Duets, but I assume the LSR305s are a BIG step-up in audio quality over "computer speakers". 

Is that deteriorating surround material foam?    Foam woofer-surround material does often deteriorate and even disintegrate, but I assume there are "better" foam materials that last.    I don't know what kind of surround the  LSR305 has.  I've got some woofers with butyl rubber-surrounds and I've had them for more than 30 years with no signs of deterioration.


P.S.
Since most monitors don't have grill covers, they are more vulnerable to accidental physical/mechanical damage than other speakers.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #2
You aren't going to get much bass from a 5-inch woofer.


That's not strictly true, my Adam A5Xs do very well in the bass department. You won't get ground-shaking movie effects, but there's more than enough extension and output to satisfy most people. I supplement them with two 12" subs, just to get that last bit, but for music it's not strictly necessary.

Quote
I haven't heard of the Duets, but I assume the LSR305s are a BIG step-up in audio quality over "computer speakers".


I've only ever heard great praise for the LSR305s, and not just in relation to price. The Mackie MR5s are also very popular in that price range.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #3
Quote
I've seen a lot of LSR305 praise on HA
I haven't heard these, but in general JBL has a good reputation for their monitors and other "pro" speakers.  There are other well regarded small monitors in the same price range.  KRKs come to mind, but I haven't heard these either.

You aren't going to get much bass from a 5-inch woofer.

I haven't heard of the Duets, but I assume the LSR305s are a BIG step-up in audio quality over "computer speakers". 


While bass performance is objectively predictable and quantifiable, what people think is adequate bass is subjective.

Most visiting firemen are pretty impressed by my 2x 12" sub bass subsystem, but that is partially because they have never heard the 4 to 8 x 18" systems that several of my friends have.

IME LSR 308s are good enough to cross over to good 12" subwoofers. ;-)


While one can in theory create a speaker with arbitrary bass extension with very small (5") drivers, what you can't get is what I'd call good dynamic range.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #4
I haven't heard of the Duets, but I assume the LSR305s are a BIG step-up in audio quality over "computer speakers". 

Is that deteriorating surround material foam?    Foam woofer-surround material does often deteriorate and even disintegrate, but I assume there are "better" foam materials that last.    I don't know what kind of surround the  LSR305 has.  I've got some woofers with butyl rubber-surrounds and I've had them for more than 30 years with no signs of deterioration.

Yeah LSR305 are surely an enormous step up and I probably muddied the water somewhat by even bringing them in this thread. I've just seen them mentioned here so often lately and they're also by JBL (not that I'm stuck on this brand) that they apparently stuck in my mind and I kinda used them as a segue into my actual question. I did mention the replacement for the Duets are to serve a different purpose than the LSR305s which I'm also considering independently.

I've never seen that kind of membrane disintegration either and my main B&W hi-fi speakers around 20 years old still look like new. Before opening the Duet I expected to find a hair or something like that which would cause a buzz on bass notes and was shocked by what I found. Mind you I didn't manage to open them at the first sign of the buzz because they're actually not that trivial to disassemble, so this was going on for a while before I took the photo. The material doesn't feel like foam (maybe I'm too strict in what I consider as foam?), definitely some kind of synthetic material though. I guess these membranes being that small have to really travel a lot to give that surprising amount of bass and the material just isn't up to it. Fun side effect of the bass buzz this defect caused: I never noticed how omnipresent and almost constant a very low rumble/sub bass content is in movies and tv series, even during dialogue. You obviously perceive it and it creates the atmosphere, but without the midrange buzz to alert you to it, you're not (as) consciously aware of it.

So to clear the waters I muddied myself (the LSR range really is a generous topic here, all 3 replies dealt with it ) : I was looking for suggestions to replace the Duets with something of similar size, guess you'd call that portable speakers. More specifically something not much taller than 7-1/4" /185mm (this is the Duet official height), any width and depth coupled with that height are sure to be within an acceptable range.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #5
Quote
I was looking for suggestions to replace the Duets with something of similar size, guess you'd call that portable speakers.
I'd suggest you take a trip to your local computer store for a look & listen. 

"2.1" computer speakers with a separate "subwoofer" are popular and the main left & right speakers are often smaller than your Duets.    (I put "subwoofer" in quotes because it's hard for me to consider a 3" or 5" driver as a real woofer.  )  I've got some Logitech 2.1 speakers that I'd say "aren't bad for computer speakers",  but I don't use them for serious listening and I have no idea how they'd compare to your Duets (when the Duets were working properly).    And, they are a few years old, so I'm sure Logitech no longer makes the same exact model.

You generally get computer speakers from a computer store, monitors from a music store that sells equipment for recording & live performance  hi-fi speakers from an audio/video store.    (With the exception of powered subwoofers, hi-fi & home theater speakers are generally passive, so they require a separate amplifier/receiver and you can't plug them directly into a soundcard or iPod, etc.)

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #6
Quote
a lot of LSR305 praise .....<snip>......first and for a different setup I'm looking for something small(er).


JBL LSR305, Mackie MR5, Yamaha HS5 and ADAM F5 are the classic 5" entry level near field monitors. If you live in Europe it's probably worth paying the small premium for the F5 but if you live in the US you might consider the JBLs better value.

Paradoxically perhaps in order to obtain equivalent or better quality (albeit with 10Hz or so less bass extension) with smaller 4" drivers you have to spend more money and move up to the project studio ranges.

In order of price these are ADAM A3X, EVE SC204, KRK VXT4, Focal CMS40 and Genelec 8320 before we get to silly money. I have the A3X and SC204 and love both of them, for different reasons.

I also have a pair of Fostex 6301 which cost almost as much as the above but don't have a tweeter and only a 20W amplifier. Their great merit is build quality and long term reliability. I use mine as portable and outdoor speakers.

If you want to spend less than that there are options. M-Audio AV40 are well priced and make an agreeable sound with popular music programming but they are far from genuine monitor performance and have an appalling reputation for reliability. Mine lasted 9 months and by some reports I was lucky.

I don't have direct experience of any of the other cheaper options but if I was in the market for such I'd look at Fostex and Samson brands first.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #7
I'd suggest you take a trip to your local computer store for a look & listen. 

... (I put "subwoofer" in quotes because it's hard for me to consider a 3" or 5" driver as a real woofer.  ) ...

You generally get computer speakers from a computer store, monitors from a music store that sells equipment for recording & live performance  hi-fi speakers from an audio/video store...

Hehe you're right about that being a real subwoofer and i'd gladly take the trip you suggest, however in my specific circumstances that's just not an option. Unfortunately I'm limited to online shopping, which is why I'm looking for suggestions, or first hand experiences, since speakers obviously aren't like cpu's where a few specs more or less tell the whole story. I don't mind the last paragraph either, I am unknown here after all, posting infrequently despite being a long time member. Just to spare us some potential typing, that level of info is not necessary, I did radio, studio work and more, so I'm well versed with the technology, it's this particular size of speakers that I'm completely unfamiliar with. I never even bothered with them until I happened to hear the Duets at a friend's house because everything else of this size I heard before and frankly since was pretty much useless. Knowing now that this size also has something to offer in terms of sound quality, I'd like to replace the Duets because I enjoy the practicality of this size, provided the sound remains enjoyable.


JBL LSR305, Mackie MR5, Yamaha HS5 and ADAM F5 are the classic 5" entry level near field monitors. If you live in Europe it's probably worth paying the small premium for the F5 but if you live in the US you might consider the JBLs better value.

This is interesting info so let's (continue to) deal with both speaker sizes in this thread  Could you elaborate on the F5 preference please?


If you want to spend less than that there are options. M-Audio AV40 are well priced and make an agreeable sound with popular music programming but they are far from genuine monitor performance and have an appalling reputation for reliability. Mine lasted 9 months and by some reports I was lucky.

I don't have direct experience of any of the other cheaper options but if I was in the market for such I'd look at Fostex and Samson brands first.

So while the other smaller speakers you listed surely sound interesting, I don't think I could allow myself spending that much on them AND getting the LSR305s too (or their equivalents). Spending that much on the smaller ones would mean buying only those, but then getting less in terms of sound than with the bigger ones. Thanks for the warning about the AV40, won't be trying my luck with them then. I am looking at the LSR305s for more critical listening, tracking & mixing, at the smaller ones for general non demanding use and to be able to easily move them around. As such they don't have to have genuine monitor performance, enjoyable sound and intelligible dialogue reproduction is good enough.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #8
I own the Alesis M1 Active 320 and in my opinion they are a big improvement over the 2.1 computer speakers, which I find totally lacking in mid-range. Also in the same price range are the Mackie CR3.

John


smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #9
Yes jsdecarli most of the computer speakers i've heard have terrible holes in the frequency spectrum which makes them unpleasant to listen to. The Alesis ones you posted look very interesting, especially being USB and hence useful even with a laptop. Any issues, peculiarities with the integrated USB audio interface to report?

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #10
I own the Alesis M1 Active 320 and in my opinion they are a big improvement over the 2.1 computer speakers, which I find totally lacking in mid-range. Also in the same price range are the Mackie CR3.

Those are 3" woofer monitors and their price is quickly approaching that of entry level passive bookshelf Hi-Fi speakers with 5" woofers.
I wonder if they're worth getting over the latter.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #11
So to clear the waters I muddied myself (the LSR range really is a generous topic here, all 3 replies dealt with it ) : I was looking for suggestions to replace the Duets with something of similar size, guess you'd call that portable speakers. More specifically something not much taller than 7-1/4" /185mm (this is the Duet official height), any width and depth coupled with that height are sure to be within an acceptable range.

I'm very happy with my pair of Genelec 8010. They are very portable, albeit a bit heavy (cast aluminum casing). I bought them for €550 a pair. They are just a bit taller than the Duet you mentioned at 195mm, but that's including the vibration decoupler.

I know, they're expensive for small speakers. AFAIK they are the only expensive and small (monitor) speakers that I know of. I also like to think they are the only really high-quality small speakers out there, but that's probably not true
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #12
Quote
a lot of LSR305 praise .....<snip>......first and for a different setup I'm looking for something small(er).


JBL LSR305, Mackie MR5, Yamaha HS5 and ADAM F5 are the classic 5" entry level near field monitors.


The hidden/not-so-hidden agenda is the degree to which their performance is based on the best modern technology, namely DSP compensation of the drivers and directivity control by means of waveguides.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #13
Those are 3" woofer monitors and their price is quickly approaching that of entry level passive bookshelf Hi-Fi speakers with 5" woofers.
I wonder if they're worth getting over the latter.

I'm pretty sure the passive 5 inchers could quite easily best them in terms of sound quality, but you do have to factor in the amplifier for a fair value comparison. Of course I already have one so that would be kind of free, but then there's the practicality/portability issue too. Also I'm more & more intrigued with the integrated audio interface that came out of left field for me, because I obviously haven't been keeping up with the developments in this segment. It made me really curious how that turns out in practice.

I'm very happy with my pair of Genelec 8010. They are very portable, albeit a bit heavy (cast aluminum casing). I bought them for €550 a pair.

I used to work with a pair of small Genelecs some years ago, probably just a step up in size over your 8010s and there's good reasons to be happy with them I'm sure. Unfortunately 550€ is quite a bit more than I'm willing to spend on this "project" at the moment, so thanks for the suggestion, but I'll have to look elsewhere.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #14
NB a monitor may be a 'classic' model but I would still check published measurements (preferable NRC-type) if possible.  Flat on and off axis response across its usable range...





smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #15
The hidden/not-so-hidden agenda is the degree to which their performance is based on the best modern technology, namely DSP compensation of the drivers and directivity control by means of waveguides.

Could you flesh that out please. I don't mean the terminology used, but how that applies to the models in question.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #16
The hidden/not-so-hidden agenda is the degree to which their performance is based on the best modern technology, namely DSP compensation of the drivers and directivity control by means of waveguides.

Could you flesh that out please. I don't mean the terminology used, but how that applies to the models in question.


I'm of the opinion that the three most important parameters for speakers that should be optimized are:

(1) on axis frequency response
(2) Dynamic range versus frequency
(3) Off axis frequency response.

(1) can be managed by equalization, which is facilitated by use of functionally rich DSPs.

(2) can be managed by driver design and  functionally rich DSPs.

(3) can be managed by driver design but if you try to do much in this area with DSPs  it interferes with (1)

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #17
Those are 3" woofer monitors and their price is quickly approaching that of entry level passive bookshelf Hi-Fi speakers with 5" woofers.
I wonder if they're worth getting over the latter.

I'm pretty sure the passive 5 inchers could quite easily best them in terms of sound quality, but you do have to factor in the amplifier for a fair value comparison. Of course I already have one so that would be kind of free, but then there's the practicality/portability issue too. Also I'm more & more intrigued with the integrated audio interface that came out of left field for me, because I obviously haven't been keeping up with the developments in this segment. It made me really curious how that turns out in practice.


The Alesis 3" definitely doesn't sound as full as a bookshelf-sized speaker, but it is also a lot smaller than a bookshelf speaker. The USB interface works fine, it's class-compliant, no special drivers required. It only supports 16/44.1 if that matters to you. I generally only use the analog inputs, it's got 1/8" stereo, RCA, and 1/4 inputs so it's quite flexible.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #18
Those are 3" woofer monitors and their price is quickly approaching that of entry level passive bookshelf Hi-Fi speakers with 5" woofers.
I wonder if they're worth getting over the latter.

I'm pretty sure the passive 5 inchers could quite easily best them in terms of sound quality, but you do have to factor in the amplifier for a fair value comparison. Of course I already have one so that would be kind of free, but then there's the practicality/portability issue too. Also I'm more & more intrigued with the integrated audio interface that came out of left field for me, because I obviously haven't been keeping up with the developments in this segment. It made me really curious how that turns out in practice.


The Alesis 3" definitely doesn't sound as full as a bookshelf-sized speaker, but it is also a lot smaller than a bookshelf speaker. The USB interface works fine, it's class-compliant, no special drivers required. It only supports 16/44.1 if that matters to you. I generally only use the analog inputs, it's got 1/8" stereo, RCA, and 1/4 inputs so it's quite flexible.


Do take a look at the Mackie CR3 as well. I don't have personal experience with the Mackies and I haven't had any issues with the Alesis, but to be honest if the Mackies had been available when I was shopping I would have gone with them over Alesis based on reputation. Of course no USB interface on the Mackies so if that's a killer feature for you then the Mackies would be a no-go.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #19
Your Mackie and Alesis suggestions look very appealing for the stated purpose of replacing the Duets (obviously no comparison with the LSR305 class). The USB isn't really a killer feature since I didn't even consider it initially, although I have to admit that it does sound rather tempting. I do share your pro Mackie bias so I'll definitely have a look at how warranted it is in this particular case.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #20
The hidden/not-so-hidden agenda is the degree to which their performance is based on the best modern technology, namely DSP compensation of the drivers and directivity control by means of waveguides.

Could you flesh that out please. I don't mean the terminology used, but how that applies to the models in question.


I'm of the opinion that the three most important parameters for speakers that should be optimized are:

(1) on axis frequency response
(2) Dynamic range versus frequency
(3) Off axis frequency response.

(1) can be managed by equalization, which is facilitated by use of functionally rich DSPs.

(2) can be managed by driver design and  functionally rich DSPs.

(3) can be managed by driver design but if you try to do much in this area with DSPs  it interferes with (1)

So applying this to the models quoted in your first reply on this topic (JBL LSR305, Mackie MR5, Yamaha HS5 and ADAM F5) should I be detecting a nudge towards LSR305s, or am I off base? I'm concluding this because I remember reading (relatively) a lot about LSR305's pretty large sweet spot and the waveguides borrowed from the JBL's flagship model. Given that I see how I could be easily reading the wrong meaning into your reply, hence the question

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #21
Hmm, well, which do you suppose would be most likely to reflect performance goals indicated by Toole/Olive/NRC/Harman research into loudspeaker preference?
 

Though I would still check actual measurements.

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #22
So applying this to the models quoted in your first reply on this topic (JBL LSR305, Mackie MR5, Yamaha HS5 and ADAM F5) should I be detecting a nudge towards LSR305s, or am I off base? I'm concluding this because I remember reading (relatively) a lot about LSR305's pretty large sweet spot and the waveguides borrowed from the JBL's flagship model. Given that I see how I could be easily reading the wrong meaning into your reply, hence the question


Well, LSR30x whether x is 5 or 8. ;-)

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #23
cheers Arnold

krabapple: I did find the study I believe you're referencing, but with both parts of it behind a paywall. Any good source for the measurements you mention?

smaller speakers recommendation

Reply #24
If you got the money go for the Harmon Kardon GLA-55's they might look small but a buddy of mine has them and they're some of the best small speakers I've had a chance to encounter in terms of sound quality. If you don't have that kind of budget you can never really go wrong with the Audio Engine A5+'s 

 
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