High efficiency desktop speakers


As the title suggests I am looking for a pair of high efficiency desktop speakers.  95dB/watt at 8+ ohms is good, but if I can find speakers that are 98dB/watt at 8+ ohms or even higher sensitivity that would be even better based on the amp I will use to drive them. The amp is a custom made hybrid using 6sn7 and 6j5 tubes. I am using a Sonnet Morpheus DAC and Sonnet Hermes streamer, this will be for a streaming only system. My listening is all over the board as I like great recordings but I mostly listen to rock, jazz, female vocals, the Dead, and deep house music with a bit of opera and classical mixed in. Not looking to add a sub but have a small SVS if needed. Budget is 2K or less. I appreciate your help.



How big is your desk? And is there a wall behind the desk or is it open? If you have a wall, you’ll want a front-ported speaker. Combined with high efficiency, your options will be limited. This might be a fun solution, I always wanted to try it, though I don’t know exactly how sensitive it is:


I've looked too.  I have self powered speakers on my desk but I have a spare tube amp and streamer I could easily use that if I just had a pair of 95db+ speakers. 

I would not limit your search based upon published sensitivity specs.

Check out this review of a pair pf 90dB rated speakers (towards the end where they are powered by DH/SET 2A3 amplification - plus your speakers will be used in the near-field).

I've been looking for a pair of the AN's for years now.



I fiddled with my desktop system for years. Ultimately converging on a wonderful system. Just like most folks main systems I chose the speakers first. For me they were Totem Mites… and a matching Totem Subwoofer. Then I built out the rest of the system. I have had many desktop versions… this one is so satisfying, well beyond anything I had before. The Totem Mite are small and absolutely beautiful. The little sub woofer is tucked away under my desk. The imagining and tonal balance is wonderful. I’ll have to take some photos. 

I power the Totems with a PrimaLuna integrated amp and a Schiit Gungnir DAC. When I am working at my PC… it is a real pleasure to listen to. In particular the female voices… ok, I am fond of female voices are really beautiful. The bass is punchy and musical. 

You will never find a small bookshelf speaker with a 95 db or higher efficiency . You will be spinnin’ your wheels lookin’ !

Literally any bookshelf speaker will do, except perhaps the LS50 which is a pain to drive.  Finding a bookshelf speaker with 95 db is an impossible task. 86db is good enough! Don't be swayed by Klipsch speakers which overrate their efficiency numbers. 

With $2k you have too many options I'm afraid. 

I'm using Closer Acoustics OGY which were purposefully built for tube amplifiers and are rated at 91db 8 ohm 15W max. Good luck beating that efficiency number on a bookshelf speaker! This one has a single EMS LB5 driver with a transmission line cabinet. Yeah they sound incredible with jazz, folk and pretty much anything. Probably not the best for metal and extremely busy electronic tracks but they hold their own. The limitations of fullrange drivers are overstated. 

Finding a bookshelf speaker with 95 db is an impossible task. 



Thank you for all the responses, I really appreciate it.

@blisshifi, that is an intriguing option.  I would not consider myself the most talented when it comes to woodworking but my local shop uses a cabinet maker for their custom speakers so this might be an option.  Desktop space for speakers is fairly small, I will have to measure exactly how big it is.

@carlsbad, I am not adverse to using powered speakers but I love the sound of my amp.

@dekay, I currently use Audio Note ANE/LX speakers in my main system and I love them, no need to upgrade them in the near future.  I will see if I can locate a pair of the AX 2s but will see if my local AN dealer has a pair to audition.

@ghdprentice I have not heard the Totems so I will have to see if there is a dealer local to me.  There is a pair of white Mites on eBay for $580 including shipping which seems like a good deal.

Any other suggestions?


@curtisvill Can you reply to my question from earlier - how much room do you anticipate between the speaker and the wall (will your desk be against a wall?)?

@blisshifi, sorry for the delayed reply, I've been at my restaurant.  Speakers will sit 20" from the back wall and 4'-4 1/2" apart.

@curtisvill And what is the wattage of your amp?

I've seen this pop up from time to time, and if your desk is big enough it might be worth considering. I have enjoyed my experiences with Decware's larger full-range speakers, but never this one:


@blisshifi The amp produces 10W into 8ohm, 5.5W into 30ohm, and 2.5W into 80ohm. I have used it to power a pair of Audio Note ANE/LX which it has done so effortlessly. I had it built as a headphone amp and had the maker put in speaker taps for just sort of thing. 

Consider some LS3/5a speakers.  My Rogers sound incredible as a desktop computer system with any number of amps.  Right now I’m driving them with a 20wpc Vista Spark, but when the weather gets cold I’ll switch over to a Sugden A21SE.  Even better on good stands.

I auditioned the Sonnet Morpheus and Hermes a month ago (and also Lab12 Dac1). My impression was that the Morpheus was really bright sounding compared to the Lab12 Dac1. So I would try to pair it with speakers that are more laidback to balance it out. 

Perhaps an Amphion Argon 3s or Dali Rubicon 2 might fit the bill. 


@sunshdw Any experience with those? Kudos for the 94db efficiency. That must be a featherweight driver. I would love to compare the OGY with the Super Alnico Monitor (same price range).

I will say that the OGY have a more impressive craftsmanship. They have a glued plywood transmission line enclosure (no other brand does that in a bookshelf speaker) and a corian exterior.

Looking at the Super Alnico, is this just an MDF box with insulation and wood veneer? If so, the super 3i model seems like its priced just right @ $695. It falls in line with the Axiom M3 in terms of price and build. For $2k I expect a transmission line.


No not that specific speaker, I was just showing you that it is possible to find a 95db book shelf speaker.