Office HiFi system

I use active speakers from my computer in my home-office, but thinking about upgrading and using a small amp/dac with passive speakers instead. Budget is around $1500.

The idea I have is the new Marantz HD-AMP1 in combination with Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers. Both have got very good reviews, and the amp should easily drive the speakers. The speakers also goes low enough so you don’t need a sub. Anyone have any experience with these two? Or maybe some other better suggestions (cheaper amp and better speakers perhaps).

I will connect the amplifier directly to the computer with USB, so it does not have to be Roon ready (I assume Roon will discover the USB to the amp as a DAC and detect its capabilities). Marantz HD-AMP1 has some nice capabilities btw, up to 384 khz sample rate and DSD up to 11.2.

WhatHiFi review of Monitor Audio Bronze 2
Review of Marantz HD-AMP1

Yes, you are wise when you suggest to invert your cost proportion between DAC/amp and speakers. Better speakers give you more bang for the buck and less diminishing returns than do better electronics.

For my TEAC/KEF combo, which is working well on my desk, see this thread:


1 Like

I like the Neat Iotas. They are a perfect size for desktop, they sound great, and you can get them in various colors. They need a set of Isoacoustic stands to be their best but most desktop speakers need some kind of isolation and positioning to align the tweeters with your ears when sitting in nearfield.

I am not sure about LS50, I haven’t listened to them, but the stats does not look good for a small amplifier, sensitivity 85 and 8 ohm. And the very swift decline in bass response, 79Hz - 28kHz (±3dB) , 47Hz - 45kHz (-6dB) tells me they will probably need a sub to play bass good, especially with a weak amplifier.

The wireless version seems to have better low end, but also much more expensive.

Still, the LS50 with the TEAC amp/dac you mentioned, or the Denon PMA 50 or similar, is definitely an option and within budget.

Or maybe go the studio way and get something like this: EVE Audio SC208. Flat response down to 40 Hz, excellent reviews and below budget. But a dac/amp combo with DSD sounds more fun :slight_smile:

Another idea: the new Excite from Dynaudio are supposedly easy to run, and there is currently a sale on X18, so how about a Denon PMA-50 with Dynaudio Excite X18. I can get them for just a little over $1500

Btw, I love the principle of class D fully digital amps (like Denon PMA-50), no DAC, just let the digital stream directly control the amp which in turn directly controls the speakers.

You could always split out the amp and dac to give yourself more options. Get a Meridian Explorer 2 (so you can play with MQA as well), into a normal amp, then to speakers. The dac is very small so won’t get in the way (I’m using one tucked away out of site in my main system).

Another benefit would be the option of going secondhand for the amp as there lots available; not the case if you’re looking for one with digital inputs. Or go from DAC into a better pair of active speakers.

I’d second the suggestion of spending a bit more on the speakers by the way; Ivor Tiefenbraun was wrong (showing my age there!)

1 Like

You should give the Audioengine family of products a look. They make active and passive systems specifically for computer audio. I currently use a set of the passive P4 speakers powered by a NAD D3020 desktop amp and the results are quite satisfying. I have a Velodyne Impact Mini sub in the mix as well, which sits under the desk and doubles as a footrest at times LOL.

…I also remember Ivor and agree with you :+1:

Had to google, but yes the “Linn CD” era is over. :slight_smile:

I have AudioEngine 5+ with the S8 sub today, and was thinking about upgrading, but after a trip to a HiFi store today I am not so sure anymore. I listened to KEF LS50 and Dynaudio Excite X14, and while they do sound nice its not that big difference from what I have (LS50 sounded a little more fun on rock tunes like “INXS - Need you tonight”, but voices and overall feel was better on Dynaudio X14 which I would choose over LS50).

I also listened to some Dali and B&W in that price range, but felt slightly disappointed.

I can get the Dynaudio X14a (the active version) for about $1100 used (3 months old, but with recipe and 5 year warranty). I doubt I will get anything substantially better than that for that price.

As a follow up, what is your listening position in your home office? Is this desk based listening in the near field? That info can help determine amp power as well as speaker sensitivity and driver arrangement.


I have a big desk, and the speakers are about 1.5 meters from me (and maybe 1.3 meter apart). They are about 30 cm from the back wall. So its nearfield, but not very nearfield.

I will probably buy the used Dynaudio X14A (see previous post), since they seem perfect for me and sound very good. As an added bonus, they have 60/80 Hz high pass filters, so easy to integrate them with the sub which will make them play the high bass and mids even better.

After talking to some HiFi guys, and checking prices, its hard to get a good speaker with a good amp that will sound better than the powered Dynaudio X14a for that price (about $1100).

Picked up the Dynaudio X14A I talked about earlier today, they sound absolutely awesome in my room, full of dynamic, details and precision. Even though my old speakers (AudioEngine 5+) where test winners and high on lots of lists, the difference is very big (the Dynaudio costs 4 times as much so I guess that’s to be expected though) :slight_smile:

Now, where is that guide for room correction someone made, I have to redo it now?

1 Like

If you’re now looking for an interesting DAC to feed your powered speakers, one idea is a Mytek Brooklyn ($1,995). I use one to feed a pair of Dynaudio BM5A Mkii powered speakers + a BM9S sub. It’s a pretty good headphone amp, too.

And it has MQA support.

I have a DragonFly Red, but I would like to get a DAC with balanced output. However, my wife made it clear she won’t allow me to have any “fun” if I buy something more right now, so have to give it some time. Ill check the used market and see if something nice is sold for a good price.

1 Like

Agreed. I’m happily listening to Audioengine HD6 speakers in my office. I’m feeding them Roon via my MacBook Air remote and Gustard U12. Very sweet sound.

1 Like

Now that’s a dilemma Magnus!

I’ve become a huge fan of Dynaudio and have the Focus XD 200 for the living room using the internal dac fed by Berkeley Alpha usb convertor from my Sonic Transporter/microRendu.