Building a Better Desk with Sony’s SS-MB100H Bookshelf Speakers

Building a Better Desk with Sony's SS-MB100H Bookshelf Speakers

I work from home. And like any self-respecting freelancer, I have a well-stocked home office. Mine has a tall corner desk with all the compartments and drawers you could ask for.

But I’m also a bit of an audiophile. I like to listen to music while I work, and I do most of my listening on vinyl.

So instead of sitting at my desk, I do most of my work while lounging on the couch while my records spin. Anyone who knows even a little bit about body language psychology can tell you that this is bad for productivity.

I knew I should be using my desk, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my listening experience. Then, it hit me.

I needed some office speakers.

The market is filled with all sorts of wireless speakers. But I’m a little more old school. I run my system through a vintage KHL receiver that I found for $8 at a thrift store, and that’s not compatible. Jumping to wireless speakers would require me to upgrade my entire system, and I’d probably need to get a payday loan for that.

Instead, I would need to find a pair of bookshelf speakers and some good ol’ fashioned speaker wire—and honestly, finding the speaker wire locally was the hardest part.

Building a Better Desk with Sony's SS-MB100H Bookshelf Speakers

The mythic wall of shelves. The door to the office is just out of frame.

Despite being in different rooms, my stereo system and my desk weren’t far from each other. My office and the living room share a wall, and my massive wall of shelves give ample cover to hide the wires.

I just needed to find the right bookshelf speakers.

I scoured Craigslist and Facebook looking for options. One of my friends was selling a pair of Sony SS-MB100Hs—a simple, no-frills 2-way speaker including just a tweeter and a 5″ bass driver. I wasn’t expecting mind-boggling performance, but it would be better than sitting in a different room than my floor speakers.

Building a Better Desk with Sony's SS-MB100H Bookshelf Speakers

My (quite messy) desk, with speakers in place. Yes, that’s Jar Jar Binks.

Once I had the speakers placed, wired, and tested, I put on a record and sat down.

Due to their size, they probably wouldn’t be a great choice to fill a whole room. But sitting about a foot away from my face, these suckers have some kick. There’s not an ounce of muddiness in the sound at all. My records play with absolute clarity, to the point where I can make out the nuance of every guitar effect. Unfortunately, that means that I can also hear every scratch and fleck of dust with perfect clarity, but that comes with the territory of record collecting.

But what impressed me the most was the low-end on these bad boys. 5″ isn’t usually a number you’d want to be attached to your subwoofer. But again, since I’m sitting so close to the speakers, I’m absorbing every ounce of bass that they can kick out. And, they manage to give that performance without rattling or rumbling the desk itself, which I was worried about.

Before, my arrangement forced me to choose between listening to my music or working in a productive environment. And the latter choice won out very rarely. Now, thanks to these Sony bookshelf speakers, you’d be hard-pressed to find me working away from my desk, blasting music right into my face.

The Sony SS-MB100Hs are out of production but can be found on eBay for under $50.

Source: Personal purchase

What I Like: Clean look; Solid construction; Excellent performance for the size

What Needs Improvement: Wouldn’t be a good choice as a primary set of speakers

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About the Author

Nathaniel Fitzgerald
Nathaniel FitzGerald is a longtime audiophile and independent musician living in South Bend, IN. He has been collecting records and vintage stereo equipment for over ten years. He also runs a blog called A Year of Vinyl, where he reviews every record in his (sizable) collection one disc at a time.