Challenge! Can anything beat Vanatoo?

Throwing down the Gauntlet!
(Because I really want to know)

This Challenge has requirements. (just like Boxing)

  • Truly Unlimited Price. 1 dollar? 1 million dollars? It doesn’t matter! Can they be beat? (like I said, I want to know!)

  • Suggested speakers must fit into a package very-very close to (or smaller than) the Vanatoo Transparent Zero Encore’s.

-Update: clarification - speakers can be no larger than 10" in any particular dimension. Passive speakers are fine too, but amp suggestions must be small enough to fit on a desk along with everything else and not dominate the space.

  • Suggested speakers must be considered by themselves (no separate powered subs!)

  • Speakers should fill a small to medium sized room with sound, mostly meant for a desktop environment or a small television.

  • This challenge is all about Audio quality and the ability of very small speakers to put out the best audio possible in a wide range of volume in this tiny size.

So that’s it. I would love to hear thoughts on this and look forward to any suggestions.

Vanatoo VS All comers!

(if this post doesn’t get any suggestions for a few weeks, i’m just going to assume Vanatoo wins by default)

Man that’s such a tall order and the only thing I can think of that comes close is a minirig setup…but that has its own issues. I personally went up to the T1s for that little bit extra since my bedroom is about the same size as my living room in my last house.

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diy. thats a niche market that has basically no room. most people have the room for bigger, and if they dont, they go soundbar or one of the 2.1 sets.

edit: iloud makes basically the same thing, but with room correction. i just would call them equal, not better.

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I have both the Vanatoo and iLoud Micro Monitors. The iLouds can definitely keep up. The bass they are able to produce at their size is quite impressive.


Nice input so far! I thought maybe the iloud Micro’s might be in there (though i’ve never heard them in person) I have dealt with Vanatoo’s both the T1 and the T0. I personally use the T1’s but i’ll admit that took a significant sacrifice of very limited desk space to squeeze in. But many people aren’t willing or able to get something that large for a small desk space.

i’m hoping someone will come up with something crazy I haven’t heard of for this particular niche. Like some 6,000 dollar piece of insanity that can actually manage to win.

I realized there was a gap in my knowledge here, the ‘computer desk’ market is actually fairly common, practically everyone has a desk, and most people will have dabbled in micro-sized speakers to give our various setups sound.

Stores like amazon are rife with a slew of poor choices for this market. I’ve seen speakers as low cost as 8 dollars for a pair - I even have a cheap set stuffed in a box someplace that runs completely off the power from a standard 3.5mm headphone jack - of course they are pretty terrible…

(this panda speaker is kinda cute - but I suspect it would sound terrible)

We’ve all been there, trapped in a situation where we simply don’t have the space to squeeze in a large much more capable speaker, either we are traveling, not have much desk space, or are stuck with very limited room for some reason or other. But still desire the best audio possible.

And every so often, someone pops up that wants great sound in an extremely tiny package, and is willing to pay for it. But where do we send them?

So many of these ‘small’ speaker setups cheat (well, I think of it as cheating) and include a much larger speaker and call it a ‘sub’ - when we all know it’s really just a glorified woofer meant to pick up for the much less capable smaller speakers. And then you run into the problems of placement for the sub-that-is’nt-really-a-sub. We can’t put it in just any old spot, because it’s outputting woofer frequencies, but desk space is limited and doesn’t have room for a big speaker to be squeezed in.

The only other solution is to sacrifice space and go with something larger - but what if we can’t? (or don’t want to?) Where do we send those people? With the understanding that people who search out these forums are likely in-search of the truly exceptional.

  • That’s what this thread is for, it’s a pooling of collective knowledge to explore this particular niche =)
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I have no idea how they sound but the kef lsx would make some nice looking desk speakers
But if I remember correctly some of the reviews I see of them weren’t that impressive :thinking::sweat_smile:

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I want to say the older kef point sources were a great desk speaker but that was many moons ago and way out of my budget.

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kef speakers without a woofer, struggle below 100hz once you get around 70-75db. they really need a sub to listen at moderate volume and above. or you run into struggle bus bass. the lsx is even worse because it uses a 4" woofer. but it doesnt have the surface of a comparable woofer because of the tweeter in the middle.


I mean I’d say the iloud mtm are a solid step up in an even smaller form factor.

Looking into other studio monitors like some of the smaller Genelec like the 8320A, Neumann KH 120 or others likely would as well. ME Geithain make some pretty badass smaller monitors as well.

If you allowed for a bit more size or passive options you would get a lot more options, but I think you’ll likely find the most success with some of the compact studio monitors if you want powered speakers somewhat in the ballpark of vanatoo size

Outside of physically smaller speakers, you have to consider that you still want actual space for setting them up and giving them good placement, so even if you go with small speakers, you still need to give them space for best sound

Oh, weird pick, but sony sa-1z were small aio if I remember correctly, although not heard those personally


Passive options are acceptable, I would like to put a limitation for the size of the amp used though, any amp used should be small enough to fit on a desk and not completely dominate the space, leaving room for whatever else someone may already have on there. Like the speakers, computer, keyboard, mouse, etc.

The size constraints are pretty tiny remember - the dimensions of the vanatoo T-zero’s are:

  • 7.5″H x 4.75″W x 7.75″D (without support)
  • 7.5″H x 4.75″W x 9.75″D (with support)

That’s the challenge :wink: A lot of studio monitors are physically bigger, putting them in a different category. so long as we stick with something 10 inches or less in any particular dimension, that’s probably acceptable. To go much outside of that is like pitting a heavyweight boxer against a lightweight, it wouldn’t work out.

Gotcha gotcha, then you could consider a lot more options. I actually use a smaller preamp and poweramp setup at my main desk, a FM acoustics fm 155 mkiir and fm 108 mkii combo although that’s more for diving headphones as of late but I do hook it up to speakers from time to time, and the digital side of that setup is quite large lol

On the more budget range of things amp wise, a parasound zamp v3 and zpre are compact, or a smaller integrated option like a vista spark 2 or something also exist. Among many others that would likely fit

Speaker wise, a small monitor that was pretty great that I used to have was the harbeth p3esr and those were pretty great, same with voxativ hagen (although height wise that might be taller), there’s a lot of options out there, and it would both depend on what you were after and what source you wanted to pair with

But I would say if you are really under that tight of constraints, might not be wise to jump too far as you’re going to be making a lot of compromises in placement and room acoustics, outside of the ones you will already be making with gear. Trying out the iloud, genelec, or neumann might be worth a look imo since those are imo a def step up, and fit safely into your space range, and going to be more designed for compact nearfield use. Some small speakers can be really misleading in requiring a whole lotta space to shine

Oh, a great budget passive, q acoustics 3030i, those are very tiny but impressive, but surprisingly hungry, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard those on a desk


I do appreciate the other suggestions! I’m trying to keep this focused to fill this particular niche. This is really a knowledge expansion thread for speakers of this category - what most people would consider ‘desk speakers’.

I personally gave up years ago and live with Vanatoo T1e’s on my desk, but i’ll admit they are pretty large for most small desks, and even mid-size desks might struggle to easily fit in that size speaker along with whatever else might already be on there.

That’s what pushed me to create this thread - to expand the general information base for this size speaker - so when people come in, we have good answers to fill this niche. =)

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Remember, budget doesn’t matter! only size constraints :wink:

Likely, after this thread has wrapped up to a satisfying completion state, i’ll aggregate all the suggestions and create a thread for tiny desk-sized speakers for general reference.

Budget does really matter imo, because 1. the sky’s the limit when it comes to speaker chains, 2. there’s a point where spending the money isn’t worthwhile in less than ideal situations, the room and acoustic environment is a massive part of speakers, and it matters more and more as you go up, so you could drop a fair amount of money on a setup to find it only sounds mediocre within the environment you put it in for what you paid. And putting money into the room is also a worthwhile cost adding endeavor lol


Would also say Genelec The Ones and 8331 would be a small form factor speaker and it’s three-way.
The Ones are the world’s most compact three-way studio monitors.

They can be tilted side ways also.

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That’s the issue - we always say “there’s always a more expensive option” - but is there really when it comes in combination with a specific size limitation? it has to top out somewhere… Because to infer greater expense, also infers there is some sort of greater benefit to sound quality to be had. Room treatment is an interesting option I hadn’t thought of when creating the thread. I like the creativity with that suggestion!

Of course, eventually greater price for the speakers alone has to devolve into adding frivolous things that don’t really increase sound quality, like edible gold cases (for the people who want to lick their speakers?) or gemstone encrusted faceplates and such. None of which really does anything to improve sound.

I’m a bit surprised no one mentioned things like the Ohm Walsh shorts. perhaps they don’t really work in this scenario for some reason? ah my bad, even those are far too large, I didn’t see that last dimension. too tall.

what i can recommend is some speaker stands that lift normal speakers up and you still can use the space beneath to store some stuff :grin:
and as a good byproduct the tweeters of small speakers are more in head hight for better sound :headphones:

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If he could get away with something of that size, that would open so many more options lol

There’s a limit to everything of course, but I’m sure there’s some nuts prized small monitors I haven’t heard of, and that ignores the rest of the chain you can dump plenty more money into. Typically spending more, assuming you get the right things that work together, are to your preference, and something you can feasibly implement, will bring greater benefit. But it won’t if you are limited in one of these aspects

Room treatment can be critical and is something to absolutely not be ignored, but also not something to go totally overboard with either. But with any high end speaker purchase, it’s a massive consideration, along with the room itself. I say that even though my most recent speakers actually sounded better with less room treatment and a more lively room, but I digress lol, that’s not the norm

It can, but you just have to avoid those. Some speakers become art or statement pieces, some are still fully dedicated to sound, but typically the most expensive are the ones that accomplish both lol

Also omnidirectionals at a desk likely isn’t going to be a great experience, but I’ve never tried any on a desk so can’t say. That does remind me though, would decware tiny radials fit?

I mean really just getting a desk with more space or getting separate stands to get the speakers off the desk would be worth a look imo. Getting a bigger room would also be helpful if possible but that’s a lot more commitment lol


ah the MON approach of things, if it doesnt sound good get a new house thats friendlier to the sound :crazy_face: :laughing:

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