on December 5, 2013
I've listened to the Audioengine A2 and B&W MM-1and other comparable 2.0 speakers and these sound a whole lot better. All 2.0 PC speakers I've listened to sounded small, directional and lacked bass, which is understandable considering they need to be small. The Incline's sound like much larger speakers due to their bipolar design. Even though I have these placed fairly close together (26"), they sound like they're a good 36" apart. The listening sweetspot is very large thanks to its angled design and tweeter placement (tall speakers). Their is alot of quality bass coming from the 4" woofer and 4" passive radiator, enough so that a subwoofer really isn't needed. They honestly sound like large monitor speakers with 6.5" woofers which is amazing considering they have such a thin profile and small footprint. They have a build in USB DAC so you'll get a much cleaner signal than if you used the 3.5mm mini plug from your computer. I'm very impressed with these speakers and really I do believe these are the best 2.0 computer speakers out there at the moment.
Huge soundstage, very impressive bass, rich "warm" sound, large listening sweetspot, built in USB DAC, optical in, solidly built (heavy), clean monolithic design
No auto off/standby so you'll have to press the the power button to turn these off. L to R speaker cable is little short. Documentation and Spec Sheet are sparse (no mention of what kind of DAC or frequency range)
on January 8, 2014
These are exceptionally designed & built speakers that perform above most 2.0 or 2.1 speaker systems. I listened to numerous jazz & rock CD's, streamed internet music and sampled several movies on DVD & was amazed at the soundstage, detail, bass levels & just overall solid sound from the speakers. Even at high levels it was utterly clean & distortion free. The big surprise was the low level listening of these speakers. There was strong presence, detail, soundstage and just enough warmth to make it an intimate listening experience.
The back panel is easy to remove (has speaker SN on inside of panel) and has plugs for an additional Sub, Optical TOSLINK connection, and a 3.5mm Stereo "mini" Analog Line-Level in plug. I really don't see a need to add a Subwoofer! I called the DT customer service number & they suggested using a lint roller to clean the speaker grill cloth. They were very friendly and helpful.
Lastly, I purchased the speakers on a day Amazon had them listed for $349 but I would not hesitate to pay the $399 MSRP. This is one purchase that will not generate buyers remorse!
on November 14, 2015
I spent a couple of weeks with the Definitive Technology Inclines, as well as the PSB Alpha PS1 Powered Speakers/SubSeries 100 Subwoofer Package and the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 Hi-Fi Speakers (Pair). I was able to try the Inclines and the PS1/Sub 100 at the same time, and the MM-1s a few weeks before. First off, they are all great desktop speakers and while they each present distinctly different sonic signatures, I enjoyed all of them and would be happy with any of them. In each was, I paired the speakers with a mac mini (mid-2012) using their direct USB connections, or for the PS1 (which does not have a DAC built in), I used an AUDIOQUEST - DRAGONFLY V1.2 USB DAC and Audioquest Evergreen Audio Interconnect 1m (3 feet 4inches) 3.5mm to RCA. They are all high quality desktop active speakers, both in terms of construction and aesthetics. That said, here's my subjective thoughts on each of them:
MM-1s: Great highs- really liked the tweeters B&W uses in these little gems; smooth mid-bass; decent and controlled lows with more punch than I expected, but of course limited by size of the mid-bass drivers used. Smallest form factor of the three brands, and IMO the best looking of the three. Also the only one of the three to come with a remote which was nice to use from across the room. Built in DAC nice to have. I did not notice the DSP, which is the way it should be IMO (compared to the Inclines, below). I was instantly drawn into the music, both during near field listening and from across the room as well. Excel at reproducing classical and jazz. This is the only one of the three brands to include a headphone out, which I did not try.
PSBs: Between the satellites and the woofer, this combo from PSB produced the fullest sound- maybe no surprise since the dedicated woofer is involved. I would describe the sonic signature as slightly warm and laid back, especially compared to the Inclines. They particularly excel at reproducing male and female vocals compared to the other two brands. All three brands can be played at surprisingly high volumes and still sound fantastic, but the PSBs come out on top for having the cleanest, punchiest sound at high volumes. No problem filling sound in a small or medium-sized room. Excel at pop, rock, and country. No built in DAC (bummer), so I used an Audioquest Dragonfly and interconnects- together they add another $180 to the bottom line. As drawn to the sound as I was w/ the MM-1s, I was even more impressed w/ the PSBs despite their being a bit more of a traditional design.
Inclines: They produce the largest soundstage of the three, as you might expect with their bi-polar design. I would describe their sonic signature as dynamic, exciting, and forward. Sometimes they sounded too harsh to my ears, and their emphasis on high frequencies was dramatically noticeable when instantly switching back and forth with the PSBs. Excel at electronic and dance. The inclines do a good job dipping down into the lower frequencies given the limits on the drivers used. That said, I noticed the DSP working too hard (and failing) with lower frequencies on some tracks, which is something I never noticed not the B&Ws, but perhaps the B&Ws simply never went as deep as the Inclines in the first place. They are the largest of the three brands, but the footprint is actually pretty small and I liked their look on the desk.
Again, they're all pretty fantastic active speakers for near-field listening and hit the sweet spot between $200-$500. I ended up choosing the PSBs because I favored their laid back sound and excellent vocals reproduction over the Inclines and the MM-1s, but again, it's hard to go wrong with any of the three brands.
on September 13, 2014
Got these on sale for $199.99, and they are great. The best thing about the Inclines, to me, is the size relative to the quality of the sound produced. Comparable speakers, such as the A5+ and Polk Hampdens, are bigger, but not necessarily better overall according to reviews (although each has distinct advantages and disadvantages). I actually ended up buying the Hampdens for the same price as the Inclines, and while the Hampdens are 1.6" more in depth and .8" more in width (and 1.5" less in height, but who's lacking in vertical space?), they do not produce great sound quality in the lower to lower mid registers. Weapons, grenades, and tank mortars sounded foggy and depressed while playing my favorite PC game with the Hampdens. The same was true for music - anything lower on the frequency scale got drowned out and took a backseat to vocals and higher pitched instruments. Granted, this is also where the Hampdens are better than the Inclines, in that voices, classical music, and upper register sounds are clearer and more distinct. I'll give a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of both speakers relative to each other below since they are direct competitors. Keep in mind, you might only notice some of these things by comparing the two directly.
Things I like about the Inclines:
-The imaging is superb due to the bipolar nature of the speakers, which makes the produced sound seem fuller, richer, and less hollow
-There is an appealing warmth to the sound the speakers produce in general
-The form factor is perfect for desks with a minimum of x and z axis space
-Unlike the down-firing bass ports of the Hampdens, I can't feel the bass in my mouse or desk, and the bass itself is superb
-They are less conspicuous due to the black coloring and slimmer form factor
-You can switch between using and not using the internal DAC to appreciate the difference in sound quality
-The light on the front indicating the speakers are on is dim and less annoying when it is dark out
-Overall, it seems like these speakers were made for desktops more than for bookshelves
Things I dislike about the Inclines:
-As others have said, the cables are awful, and the USB cable is too short
-Higher frequency sounds could have more clarity and emphasis
-The sock, or sleeve that goes over the speakers is prone to attracting lint. At the same time though, I like how it makes the speakers look.
-Compared to my old $15 speakers the bass is sometimes more overpowering than I would like, although this can be remedied by changing the sound settings provided by your sound driver or by third party software such as Breakaway Audio Enhancer
Things I like about the Hampdens:
-Classical music and voices are crystal clear
-Higher frequency sounds are cleaner and better represented in general
-The volume control is a wheel rather than a button
-The cords are long and easier to fit into the holes
-You can play music from your smartphone via Bluetooth
Things I dislike about the Hampdens:
-Lower register and background sounds are often drowned out
-There is a hollowness and lack of warmth to the quality of the sound
-They are much bigger than you might expect from what you can see online
-The white front and wooden sides, paired with the larger form factor, make these speakers stand out more than they need to. This, in addition to the Bluetooth functionality, leads me to believe the Hampdens may have been made originally more as bookshelf speakers and less as desktop speakers (officially, it's billed as capable of performing both functions, while the Inclines are supposed to be for desktops only).
Just in terms of a desktop speaker, I feel that the Hampdens have more disadvantages than the Inclines, and that the Inclines have more of an edge for general computer use, and possibly music depending on your taste.
When I was offered the Incline speakers to review for Amazon Vine at the time my $12 speakers from Wal-Mart were going on the blink, I jumped at the chance.
If you are not an audiophile, you may need a couple of terms explained. Self-powered means that the amplifiers are built into the speakers, and a low level (line level) signal drives the amplifier instead of a high power signal driving the passive speakers directly. This is no different from the typical low-price computer speakers with which most people are familiar. USB with digital-to-analog is, however, much different that the familiar speakers, in which any digital-to-analog (D/A) conversion is performed in the computer, and the analog signal is passed through cables to the speaker. With the USB speaker, the audio samples are sent over the cable to the speaker digitally, and a D/A in the speakers converts the signal to analog. This presumably has two advantages. First, the digital signal travelling over the cable is not susceptible to electrical noise as is the analog signal. Secondly, it is presumed that the speaker has a better quality D/A than the computer.
Not being familiar with the USB speaker, I wondered what it would take to make it work on my computer, which is a six-month-old, mid-grade HP running Windows 8. The speakers do not come with any driver disks. I simply plugged the speakers into a USB port, and the computer immediately recognized the protocol, and took a few seconds to configure the computer, and the speakers worked. I do not know if the computer had to go to the internet for drivers. I also wondered that if I wanted to return to analog speakers, if I needed to perform some uninstall, but I simply unplugged them from them from the USB, and analog speakers worked again normally.
These speakers do have an analog input, as well. I tried it out, and it worked fine, but if you're buying these, I doubt you'll be using that option.
I will address the minor nits first, so I can leave the positive on your mind at the end.
The speakers come with all of the necessary cables, including an analog cable with 1/8" phone plugs. This particular cable seems thin and flimsy, and being a little over three feet long, is virtually useless.
The speakers have jacks for analog input, optical input (untested by me), and a subwoofer output, in addition to the necessary jacks. These are hidden by a panel, which is a little weird. When I saw that the back of the speaker did not look like the diagram in the instructions, I attempted to pry off the plate, but was not sure if it came out, and did not want to break something. I had barely reported the issue to Amazon when a newly posted review indicated that the panel indeed came off. Very weird.
The speakers are covered in cloth, which are hard to clean. In just the month I had them, some family member has already left some powdered sugar fingerprints or similar near the power and volume switches.
My cheapy speakers that I had previously had a convenient headphone jack on the front. My wife, in particular, made a lot of use of that feature when the toddler is napping. These speakers do not have such a jack.
I was impressed that after installing the USB speakers, when you press a volume button, a little pop-up appears on the screen showing the volume setting. Kinda cool. However - and this is the bane of every audio device that has volume buttons instead of an easy knob - changing the volume is rather slow.
When you turn on the speakers, it takes them a couple of seconds to get going.
In some conditions, a very low volume high pitch comes from the speakers. I am not sure of the source, or under what circumstances, but I first noticed it when running Microsoft Flight Simulator X that I just received for Christmas.
Now for the positives...
Despite the useless analog cable, the power supply and cables are a welcome relief to the wall warts, as the power supply is separate from the plug. If you plug your computer and peripherals into a UPS as I do, you will find that wall warts will block the neighboring plugs. Kudos! Although I did not measure them, the power supply and USB cables were of an adequate length. My PC sits on the floor next to a standard sized desk with a UPS in the center and below. Everything reached with room for me to pull out the computer to see what I was plugging in to.
The main thing: The sound is impressive. These speakers are normally twice the height of most computer speakers, and larger speakers are better able to reproduce bass. The difference is night and day, with most of the difference noticeable in the bass. I can only imagine wanting the subwoofer if you needed to shake the walls and floor.
I checked out the volume. I play the Great Highland Bagpipe, which is not a quiet instruments. Players require hearing protections because the sound power level at the ears is on the order of 100 dBa which can result in long-term hearing loss. I played a recorded bagpipe tune in Window Media Player with the WMP slider all the way up, and the speaker volume all the way up. I quickly left the room, and walked through the house. I believe the volume was close to that of the actual instrument! Certainly, it was much more than needed for safe listening sitting in front of your computer. Moreover, there was no noticeable distortion at this volume, which was most impressive!
So, in summary, the sound quality is everything that one would expect from speakers in this price and feature range, but a few minor additions or fixes would really make this a five star product.
on March 2, 2016
These speakers stand out among any in their class. They are by far the best powered speakers in their range. Especially impressive is the bass response for a relatively thin speaker. I compared these side by side to the Edifier Exclaim, and the Inclines blew them out of the water! From what I've read, the DSP in the speakers makes them sound so good. Also these are not ONLY for computers, with the USB, 3.5mm, and RCA inputs, these can be used with any source. (Sidenote: If yr looking for pure unadulterated sound reproduction, these may not be for you. I use the JBL LSR monitors for that purpose.)
on August 4, 2015
Excellent speakers. I have other audiophile equipment, including speakers and subwoofers from Definitive Technology. The sound quality of the Def Tech Inclines is excellent, especially for the price ($229). They're somewhat large (a bit like mini-bookshelf speakers).
Note, however, that:
1) According to the Definitive Technology website, these speakers have been discontinued.
2) The instruction manual is basically a schematic diagram, with very little explanation, and no additional information is available on the Def Tech site. I had to get more information from online reviews, which noted the sparse information in the manual and kindly provided additional info.
3) The quality control is suspect. I almost returned the Inclines because the left speaker had significantly lower volume than the right speaker. After some experimenting,I finally determined that the plastic cover for the line connection on the left speaker was installed upside-down, that is, the notch that was supposed to align the four-pronged connection cord actually caused it to be inserted incorrectly. I pried off the plastic cover with some difficulty, turned it 180 degrees, and inserted the plug and everything was fine. Note that the manual makes no mention of the plastic covers, while the schematic in the manual shows the connections without the plastic covers installed.
on April 27, 2016
Once I reread the reviews (and realized I didn't read the owners manual), I learned the trick of holding down the power button for five seconds and pressing the down arrow to get the unprocessed sound. At $200 these are really nice computer speakers and the bass is impressive. I wouldn't call them "audiophile" add the manufacturer does. I wouldn't be surprised if the AE A5 sounds better, but that currently cost twice as much plus the purchase of a DAC. If you just power on normally, they're great for music that has a lot of separation between the high and low end (dance music) or isn't too complex (a jazz trio), but I'm convinced that dense, complex music like Steve Reich Music For 18 Musicians or even some Brian Eno produced Talking Heads tracks sounds better in unprocessed mode, I forget what they call it officially. These are not a replacement for a stereo with great bookshelf or tower speakers, but unless you have REALLY nice speakers attached to your computer, these will be a bug step forward. They have capacity for more volume them I will use, and they are attractive.
on February 6, 2015
Long and shot of it, these speakers sound fantastic! End of story. My ears say, "So this is what's been missing in my listening pleasure all these years!" "Excellent!"
Con: Size of speakers.
They are large and do take up some desktop real estate they dwarf others speakers I have.
They make my already cluttered small area, smaller.
Pros: These speakers sound fantastic!
I set the speakers to pure mode and let em’ rip!
I listen mostly to praise and worship and they sound light years better than my Klipsch promedia's, they are more exciting than my Harmon Kardon Soundstick III.
I did listen to Pink Floyd Comfortably numb; the guitar solo gave me chills.
These speakers are big and bold, they are very loud and adding an external subwoofer into the mix takes listening to a higher level.
I didn't have any problems setting the speakers up, or with cables, or removing the back in order to hook up an external sub.
I’m hoping that they last many years…
I would say Definitive Tech Inclines are a work of art in themselves!
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them!
on March 14, 2015
I purchased these speaker about 4 days ago (6 Mar 15) and have been using consistently for about 40 straight hours to break in if that is really necessary in today's world. I have the unit paired with a pretty decent smaller 8" sub as this setup is for my office in my home and I am not watching any high action movies or listening to a lot of high volume type music but I do love my music and have a large audiophile system in my rec room which is set up for that. But, before I call the tech support of Definitive Technology I was wondering if anyone has experienced the same thing as I am. First of all the sound is a very high quality at least for the type and price of this speaker. I have no problem with that at all, however, they are not nearly as loud as any quality speaker set I have used on this computer before. If I ever had to set the volumes in my ITunes and on the computer in general to what I a have to set them now for proper volume it would blown me right out of the room. To point, I am using ITunes with most all music at the 256 kbps bit rate. In order to really get any volume out of the speakers I have to set the audio volume control in ITunes on as loud as it goes, then depending on the type of music I have to set the volume on the computer itself to about 60-70% to get it half way rocking. Yes if I go any higher than that it gets way too loud so total volume isn't my concern, however, I have never had a speaker on this system before that needed the levels set so high on the computer. By the way, I am on a 2 year old IMac running Yosemite which should have no bearing on this. I thought the speakers had amps built in which I know they do but they should be louder at lower set levels on my computer. I have tried adjusting everything including the EQ but that does nothing and of course the volume buttons on the speakers when used only raise the volume slide on my computer. I thought by reading the minimal instructions that came with the speakers if you hold down the on/off switch for 5 seconds and the power light flashes then press the + volume button on the speaker until it stops flashing that the volume would go up. All that does it raise the slider on the computer and I don't see any difference from just pressing the volume switch on the speaker at any time and that is what it does. What am I missing? If anyone see this and has any answers I would really appreciate it. I tried a few time to call their tech support and had trouble getting through so I thought I would write this. Other than that so far I really like the build quality, looks, sound and well worth the money and would give it a full fledged 5 stars if I could get this volume question figured out. I will update if I get any answers if I get any.
OK Update time: I have had these speakers for a few weeks now and I let them play for about 50 hrs straight to break in if that is really necessary but I must admit after that time the speakers sound better and I now use a lower volume setting in my ITunes than originally. I called the Definitive Technology Tech dept. and they said it was common that the Itunes volume would be set to max but the computer volume may well come down after some break in and that is exactly what happened. Now I have the speaker matched with a Martin Sub and for the price they sound wonderful for what they are. I am very happy with the sound and have moved them up to a 5 star as now I do have a fair amount of headroom for volume. Now one more thing and I am not sure it had anything to do with it. I joined ITunes Match and converted most of my library to 256Kbps vs the 128 I had them in the past. It is hard to tell about the quality difference or if that had anything to do with the sound volume but it sounds wonderful now. Also love because the Itunes radio no longer has commercials and that I love when hiking and that quality is also very good. I would really recommend these to anyone looking for a very fair priced quality setup. The Sub is also a nice piece. Buy the way great customer service by selling company. Good listening.