Definitive Technology Incline Desktop Speakers Review

A

admin

Audioholics Robot
Staff member
Your computer or monitor's speakers leave a lot to be desired when it comes to audio quality. OK, let's just say it: they stink. Why should you settle for inferior sound at your desk? You shouldn't. And Definitive Technology looks to give your desktop setup a major upgrade with their new Incline bipolar desktop speakers. Does Definitive Technology deliver an audiophile-quality desktop system? Read our full review to find out.


Discuss "Definitive Technology Incline Desktop Speakers Review" here. Read the article.
 
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Peart2112

Peart2112

Enthusiast
I saw these in a local Best Buy/Magnolia the other day in Tampa, they were part of a new display that has a few other new Def Tech products. My first thought was "oh great, Def Tech is going all consumer audio like BOSE!".

I pressed the demo button on the display, they sounded good and thumped pretty well. At first, I thought they were a bit pricey until I read your review and saw all the tech they put in them. I would probably never buy these (although I have all Def Tech speakers in my HT system) but I could see an Audioholic who spends time at a desk or a PC gamer playing a shooter being very happy with these.
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
I saw these in a local Best Buy/Magnolia the other day in Tampa, they were part of a new display that has a few other new Def Tech products. My first thought was "oh great, Def Tech is going all consumer audio like BOSE!".

I pressed the demo button on the display, they sounded good and thumped pretty well. At first, I thought they were a bit pricey until I read your review and saw all the tech they put in them. I would probably never buy these (although I have all Def Tech speakers in my HT system) but I could see an Audioholic who spends time at a desk or a PC gamer playing a shooter being very happy with these.
As I wrote in the review and as you heard first-hand, they are really unbelievable for their size and price-point. I had a friend over this past weekend and we were talking audio (he has B&Ws and is a big Sonos fan) and we were talking about speakers and amps and I mentioned the Definitives. He was blown away and loved the sound. He was looking at some options for powered speakers to use with the Sonos. The fact that they didn't auto-power off was the only deal breaker.

I'm glad you had a chance to hear them. Definitive really has a winner on their hands.

Theo
 
A

AllanMarcus

Enthusiast
How do they compare?

Thanks for the review. I saw these at CES, but Def Tech didn't have a listening room, or space, so it was hard to hear them well. Polk, just around the corner, were showing their new Heritage Collection. The Heritage Collection sounded surprising good. In your opinion, how do the Heritage Collection and the Inclines compare to the AudioEngine A5+?
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Thanks for the review. I saw these at CES, but Def Tech didn't have a listening room, or space, so it was hard to hear them well. Polk, just around the corner, were showing their new Heritage Collection. The Heritage Collection sounded surprising good. In your opinion, how do the Heritage Collection and the Inclines compare to the AudioEngine A5+?
Hi Allan,

It was a lot of fun reviewing the Inclines. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to listen to either the AudioEngine A5s or the Polk Heritage desktop speakers. I thus can't offer you an educated opinion on that one to tell you my impressions about the differences between the speakers. Simply from a design and spec's POV, there are a few differences that strike me:

First, the Inclines are bipolar speakers vs. the Audio Engine and the Polks. The bipolar speakers do enhances the sense of soundstage depth and breadth. If that's something you like, then you'll like the Inclines.

Second, on paper the Inclines go down into the low 40's at +/-3dB. The AudioEngine speakers are only listed as going down to 50Hz.

Third, there are connectivity differences between all the speakers. The Polk seems to have the fewest options of all. The Inclines give you lots and a sub out.

Fourth, the Inclines have a "direct" mode as indicated in the review. That may or may not be something of value.

Fifth, they all sure do look different. Aesthetics play a role :)

Like most well-designed speakers this may simply come down to preference and I'd encourage you to try both out in your own setup and decide on which will work best for you.
 
A

AllanMarcus

Enthusiast
Moronic design decision!

Hi Allan,

It was a lot of fun reviewing the Inclines. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to listen to either the AudioEngine A5s or the Polk Heritage desktop speakers. I thus can't offer you an educated opinion on that one to tell you my impressions about the differences between the speakers. Simply from a design and spec's POV, there are a few differences that strike me:

First, the Inclines are bipolar speakers vs. the Audio Engine and the Polks. The bipolar speakers do enhances the sense of soundstage depth and breadth. If that's something you like, then you'll like the Inclines.

Second, on paper the Inclines go down into the low 40's at +/-3dB. The AudioEngine speakers are only listed as going down to 50Hz.

Third, there are connectivity differences between all the speakers. The Polk seems to have the fewest options of all. The Inclines give you lots and a sub out.

Fourth, the Inclines have a "direct" mode as indicated in the review. That may or may not be something of value.

Fifth, they all sure do look different. Aesthetics play a role :)

Like most well-designed speakers this may simply come down to preference and I'd encourage you to try both out in your own setup and decide on which will work best for you.

Thanks for the feedback. I just ordered a pair for my son, but he has a turntable and a computer input. The turntable has a pre-amp built in, so a simple RCA to 3.5mm should work. It's just such a moronic design decision not to have a way to switch inputs. He will have to unplug the turntable to play from his computer. I may have to get him a small pre-amp/switcher. Good think I got the speakers used from amazon for a significant discount.

I imagine DefTech will add an input option in the next version. I would have loved to have heard the engineering pitch for three inputs, but only one can be used. Something like: Our marketing folks tell us that our audiophile customer are idiots, so let's design something only an idiot would appreciate.

At least the sound quality is good.
 
C

Chilly

Audiophyte
This post is a little dated but I have a question I cannot find the answer. I have the inclines and PRO800 sub that are wonderful.

I know the USB connecting uses the built in DAC on the speaker. If I have a sound card connecting to the inclines through an optical cable is the sound controlled by the DAC in the sound card or the DAC in the speaker?
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
This post is a little dated but I have a question I cannot find the answer. I have the inclines and PRO800 sub that are wonderful.

I know the USB connecting uses the built in DAC on the speaker. If I have a sound card connecting to the inclines through an optical cable is the sound controlled by the DAC in the sound card or the DAC in the speaker?
Well, optical connection = digital connection
So, it seems that you must be feeding digi to the DAC in the DT
 
J

Justin1996

Enthusiast
Stupid question but what is Definitive Technology? In brief
 
N

noah katz

Enthusiast
In case @TheoN is still around or someone else can help, I'm puzzled by the following parts of the review.

"It’s not immediately obvious, but the Incline speakers can process the USB signal from your computer in two different ways. The first (and default) method allows you to adjust the volume from your computer. The second method bypasses the computer’s gain stages and volume controls. Definitive says bypassing the computer’s (usually) inferior gain stages and volume controls maintains a purer signal path and gives you the highest sound quality. Once you engage this second method, your computer’s volume controls won’t have any impact on the speakers’ volume. You’ll only be able to adjust the volume from the Incline’s volume keys, located on the right speaker. "


Regarding the first method, if the computer's USB audio output is used, the output is digital and presumably volume is controlled in the digital domain, so there are no gain stages involved.


Or perhaps the problem is that the computer's DAC doesn't have enough bits of resolution so that sound quality is compromised at lower levels?

"The Incline has a great selection of flexible digital and analog inputs: Optical Toslink, USB, and 3.5mm stereo “mini” analog line-level in. If you choose a digital input, the Incline’s built-in 56-bit DSP will handle the processing."

This seems to imply that when using the 3.5mm output, either the DSP/response shaping won't be used, which seems like it would result in radically different/inferior sound, or that the Inclines' will reconvert the signal back to digital before feeding to the DSP.

Can someone straighten this out for me?
 

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