Compact, active "buy or DIY" desktop speakers: meet Little British Monitor MKII

Audiosmile's Little British Monitor MKII
(Image credit: Audiosmile)

What about a pair of hand-built, aptX Bluetooth-enabled, fully active speakers in a choice of walnut or oak real wood veneer that (at only 20cm high and 12cm wide) are hardly bigger than the smartphone they're paired with? 

And what if you could purchase these speakers in kit form – 9mm birch plywood, drivers, baffles, ribbon cable, knobs, port damping foam, comprehensive DIY assembly manual – for £345? That's what's on offer from the Audiosmile Little British Monitor MKII speakers.

Audiosmile Little British Monitor MKII

(Image credit: Audiosmile)

If you don't have a soldering iron (or the inclination to build your own speakers), then for £559 you can buy the product fully realised – built by just one man, in his UK workshop. He'll even throw in a pair of specially designed "little feet" for your LBM MKIIs; optional wooden stands with neoprene isolators and steel plates.

In 2016, the original Little British Monitor project launched on KickStarter to great success, receiving over three times its required funding. Now, an LBM MKII model is here, featuring a new transmission-line front-firing bass port, stainless steel back panel and a variable 'boundary adjustment' dial, which aims to allow the balance of the speaker to be adjusted according to placement.

As each driver is independently powered, you'll get 4x50W of Class-AB analogue amplification, which is quite unusual in desktop speakers. The design goal, as creator Simon Ashton's KickStarter page states, was to "build the best loudspeaker possible in a small size of just 12 x 12 x 20cm (2.8L)" – and, although we can't vouch for its sonic capabilities, there's plenty to like on paper.

As well as an upgraded Bluetooth receiver and metal back panel, inputs now include RCA and a 3.5mm jack. Finally, a volume-controlled subwoofer output has been added. All inputs are selected via a good-looking rotary control, too.

Although the LBM MKII crowdfunding campaign has now ended (having received £28,875 in backing – far exceeding its £8000 goal) you can check back with Audiosmile for availability once all those KickStarter orders have been fulfilled – sometime after February 2020.

If someone you love has always wanted to try building their own hi-fi kit, this could be the ideal gateway project for the new year...


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.