Desktop Setup (Speaker + DAC/Amp)

Hi all,

I’m looking to get some assistance on a desktop setup.
Any comments are appreciated!

I’m leaning towards the Triangle Borea based on both the looks and the stellar reviews its been getting.
It would be great if Adorama had the same deal it had around 10 months ago (I think it was around 380 USD?) but the BR02 is currently 500 USD, BR03 at $600.

On top of that, shipping and taxes raise the price significantly, so I’m not too eager to pull the trigger on Adorama…
I did find the BR03 on US Amazon for much less, not sure if it is legit though.

Where else can I find the Triangles, or any of the other speakers I mentioned below? (heard that the Q150s were sold for 300 USD at some point)

I’m also looking for a all-rounder DAC/Amp, candidates are the ADI-2 and MA mini-i3.
However, I’ve heard good news about some SMSL and Topping units as well.
Any recommendations for pairing with the speakers I mentioned?

【Background】
・Looking for a DAC/Amp and speaker for my desk
⇒Room/furniture aesthetic is Walnut, so have been looking at speakers that have a Walnut shade
・I currently live in Tokyo, Japan, which means shipping cost and taxes may affect the “bang-for-the-buck” factor of some of the candidates I listed

【Budget】
・Would like to keep it under around 1800 USD total

【Usage】
・Will be hooked up to my computer
・Music (mainly Rock, Pop, EDM, Soundtracks, no Rap, Country, Classical)
・Some Gaming, Youtube, Movies/Netflix

【Placement】
・Room is about 16 sqm
・Speakers will be on my desk and within 2 ft of the wall

【Speaker Candidates】
Triangle Borea BR02 : 705 USD ($500 + $180 shipping + $25 tax)
Triangle Borea BR03 : 640 USD ($476 + $97 shipping + $67 tax)
Klipsch RP-500M : 771 USD ($517 + $210 shipping + $44 tax)
・KEF Q150 : 530 USD (local)
・DALI Oberon 1 : 440 USD (local)

【DAC/Amp Candidates】
RME ADI-2 DAC FS : 1015 USD ($915 + $45 shipping + $55 tax)
Matrix Audio mini-i3 : 905 USD ($855 + $50 tax)
IOTAVX SA3 : 620 USD ($550 + $70 shipping)
・TEAC AI-301DA : 340 USD (local)
・Maybe a SMSL or Toppings?

【Other thoughts/comments】
・Size-wise, BR02/Q150 is better suited for my desk and probably for room too (BR03 overkill?)
・Relatively near wall = need to consider bass response of rear ported speakers?
⇒BR03 may be better suited rather than BR02?

Loxjie A30 and add a subwoofer budget option like elac 1010 10in sub

BR03’s are still on sale, you just have to use a hidden email link. Here they are for $350, I don’t think the BR02’s are on sale anymore.

https://www.adorama.com/triborteb35v.html?sdtid=15167329&emailprice=t&sterm=0X7Ws-yovxyLTFNwUx0Mo389UkBXYH0dTTcn2Q0&utm_source=rflaid62905

KEF almost always goes on sale for $300 in December for the holidays, If you like the size of that you could wait a little.

RP-500Ms go on sale for under $400 all the time. They are $450 on Amazon if shipping isn’t much more.

IMO I wouldn’t spend thousands on DAC/AMP and only a few hundred on a speaker, the speaker is the most important part of the setup. There are probably audio stores in Tokyo where you could demo things and see what sound you like more. Might help save on shipping too!

I think I remember Z reviewing the Loxjie A30. They do look nice and don’t take up much desk space, just worried whether they are sufficient for a 5’’ speaker.

Also, I was not considering a subwoofer; would it be beneficial to add one to a desktop setup?

Thanks for the hidden email link, was not aware that the BR03s were also on sale!
With shipping and taxes, I can get the BR03 from Adorama for a total of 598 USD ($350 + $214 Shipping + $34 tax), a bit cheaper than the Amazon link I shared above.

Do you think the BR03 would be overkill for desktop usage?

As you mentioned, seems like the BR02 sales links have expired.

Do the KEFs go on sale from the official website?

The $450 Walnut 500M (and 400M too) is unfortunately unable to ship to Japan.

Yep, there are some stores in Tokyo that have the KEFs and DALI but can’t find any that have the Triangles. Have limited options to audition DAC/Amps too.

No problem! I think BR03s could work on a desk if you have the space for them. Being front ported would help if it’s up against a wall.

I havn’t used the KEF website but they go on sale everywhere else in December so I’m sure you could get them from their own site.

If you’re looking for something smaller I use Micca RB42’s for my desktop and they sound amazing for their price, they are just a little power hungry.

The BR03 being front ported are definitely impacting my decision.
I’ll need to make sure they aren’t too big for a desk though, might draw out a simulation of the desk or room just to see the Boreas, KEF, and Klipsch for reference.

I’ll keep a look out towards the holidays for the KEF, already setup keywords in slickdeals.
If I can get the Q150s locally for $300, I might pull the trigger, even if Adorama has the BR02s on sale for $280 again (because shipping and taxes raise the price by around $200).

Adding in the IOTAVX SA3 for 620 USD ($550 + $70 shipping) as a candidate for DAC/Amp, as it seems to have good impressions when paired with the BR03 and Q150.

My only worry about it is that customer service seems to be pretty bad and that it doesn’t take USB input.

Heard some negative things about the iotavx SA3

Interesting, I don’t think I’ve seen much negative comments regarding the actual device, only dismal experiences with customer service.

I actually have already contacted their customer service regarding some questions on the SA3 and they have responded within 1 hour, so they may have improved in that department.

Adding the TEAC AI-301DA to the list because of its small footprint and I can locally source it for around $340.

Cant remember if it was from a podcast or on the forums about the iota. But the forum members here recommend the amp.

I see. Most of the comments regarding bad customer service mention slow response time and even ghosting customers on inquires regarding defective units.

Considering empy’s comment on not spending too much on DAC/Amp and your recommendation of the relatively cheap Loxjie, I’m leaning towards the Loxjie or TEAC at the moment.

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Personally good experience with the smsl AD18 SA300 and topping E30. The topping MX3 shut off after 3 songs getting signal from the TV, returned. Aiyima gets positive reviews for their amps on the ASR forum. Got one in my cart to go with the topping E30.

In a 9ftx16ftx16ftx20ft bedroom 2.1 system, the SMSL SA300 feed by apple4kTV to $28 fio DA converter out to a pair of micca RB42C and ELAC 1010 sub.
Not damn bad with a $28 DAC. Although likely to replace the DAC with a SMSL MKII. kinda worried the remote will control the volume of both devices (SA300/MKII)

Also have a 70hz FMOD not sure what effect if any the device is doing to the signal.

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I spent the weekend looking around online + searching for shops that may have some of the candidates I listed above.

In my search around Tokyo, I was able to find the Q150 and Q350’s side-by-side.

They weren’t the Walnut, and they were connected to some out-of-budget/non-desktop sized Denon and Marantz gear, but it was a good way to gauge the size of both the KEF and similar sized Triangle BR02/BR03. As @empy mentioned, I think the Q350 and BR03 could work on a desk as long as I have some space between the speakers and my ears.

Interestingly, one of the store reps mentioned I shouldn’t be powering any of the speakers I mentioned with small amps like the TEAC AI-301. I’m assuming he was trying to upsell me a Marantz PM6007 (which in no doubt is a good amp), but considering the fact that I’ve read multiple comments on pushing Q150 and even Q350s with “small” amps like the SMSLs, I’ll take his comment with a grain of salt.

As I mentioned above, I spent the weekend to look around Tokyo for speakers/amps/dacs etc, and to no surprise, I couldn’t find any SMSL/Loxjie/Toppings.

I was mostly introduced to Marantz, Denon, Fostex, B&W, Yamaha, Luxman, and Pioneer. All great brands, some I can probably purchase cheaper than outside Japan.

However, footprint and price wise, it seems like “chi-fi” always wins.
I can get the all of the gear you mentioned above locally without paying $100+ on shipping and taxes!
・Loxjie A30: $190
・SMSL AD18: $165
・SMSL SA300: $135
・SMSL Sanskrit MKII: $110

You mentioned you have both the AD18 and SA300. Do you switch them out time to time or use them in different rooms?

Now I just wish I hadn’t seen the Sprout100, it has everything I need and is quite the eye candy…perfect fit under my desk shelf too!

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You said it yourself price and desk real estate. Who wouldnt like the more expensive legacy brands, get what you can afford lot happier that way. To be honest since you are going with $600 speakers get a nice amp/dac combo with more power than you need, 50W-100W real wattage. You dont need anywhere near 50w on a desk, but you Want 50w.

All my setups are TV 2.1 based and the speakers are chi-fi aside from the dedicated home theatre so theyre on the budget/US prices. I for sure swap out componets its almost a health condition. The SMSL AD18 is on the shelf now i prefer component so i can try DAC/amps add subs, crossover devices to handle movie bass effects without going the AVR route.

Sorry, to answer your question on a subwoofer. YES, not happy unless i hear the sound of a floorstander in the room.

The spout is very nice, wish i had good enough speakers to pair with it.

The Sprout100 will probably be about $800~$850 after shipping and taxes.

Desk real estate wise, both the Sprout and all the SMSL/Loxjie work fine.
I assume the Sprout has a slight upper hand in DAC/Amp implementation, and it definitely wins the eye candy award (although the SMSL and Loxjie aren’t ugly by any means imo).

So, the question I need to ask myself is: Is the slight DAC/Amp implementation advantage and better looks of the Sprout worth over 4x the price?

I honestly can’t say yes to that question, hence I think I’ll opt for a SMSL or the Loxjie A30.

If I were to go with the SMSL, would you recommend a DAC/Amp combo such as the AD18 or separate components, such as a Sanskrit/MA500/MA300 + SA100/300?

Also, I have read some comments on the SMSL and Loxjie powering the Q150s just fine, but do you think they would be sufficient to power a Q350 (which I hear is power hungry)?

Noted on the subwoofer, I might get a small one to fit under my desk (will need a low pass amp too).

Forget the AD18, its good cheap sound but lacks subout. The loxjie A30 got a very positve review by zeos, he noted the loxjie has power for a desktop amp and a subwoofer out.

I read on the ASR forum the sprout measures well but havent heard it in person. What i do know $135-$200 chi-fi DAC/AMP seperates paired with micca OoO/ RB42c, nuemi BS5/BS5c, klipsch RP600/ R15 in a bedroom 2.1 sound great. So im fairly confindent nearfield on a desk is enough power.

I might add these amps to consider.
Sabaj A10a
Sabaj A20a
Aiyima A08

The parasound Zamp is in-stock on amazon but the price increased from $275 to $449