Designers have gotten adept at doing this, but it leads to an issue in nearfield listening. In nearfield listening, you hear more of the direct (on-axis response) and less of the reflected sound (power response) that you would in normal in-room listening. The result is that many speakers listened to in the near field have a sharpness or sense of elevated response in the midrange that can give them a glassiness or edge.
Sorry for that detour into speaker geekery, but it may be helpful in understanding why I feel somewhat entranced by the Image B4s. The B4s have less of this midrange spikiness than most other speakers I’ve used in a desktop setting. In part that may be due to the small woofer employed here, which has good off axis response up to fairly high frequencies. It may be due to special crossover sauce. In a conversation with Paul Barton, he pointed out that he spent extra time making sure he reduced what is called vertical "lobing", or the existence of hot spots and dead spots as you move your ears up and down (not that you're bobbing and weaving, but lobing can lead to unpredictable response depending on your installation). In any event, the B4s give a sense of smooth, even midrange that is very helpful in transcending is obviously a material distortion in desktop sound present in many speakers used on the desktop.
I also found that the imaging of the B4s in desktop mode was pretty convincing. Lateral spread is excellent and the speakers get the image off the boxes like champs. Of course we’re speaking here within the confines of speakers that are about two feet apart on a desktop.
Put all of that together and you have a genuinely musical desktop speaker. Or at least that’s the way it seems with the music I’ve listened to so far. Stay tuned for our full review.