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Fitzroyalty

Time to embrace ACTIVE SPEAKERS?!

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I'm an owner of seperates and while I like my gear a lot, it seems like the next upgrade is increasingly looking like an active system. A friend pointed me to the striking take-down in the comments section of what is no-doubt a beautiful and lovely sounding piece of jewelry, I mean amp - a £45,000 D'Agostino integrated. I know, I know.....never read the comments. But this is actually well written and a good run down of the benefits of active speakers. 

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/dan-dagostino-master-audio-systems-momentum-integrated-amplifier-1/?page=3

 

I can fully accept that some people want the magic of certain tube or class-A topologies...that's fine and I don't want to start a war there. And that experience won't be replicated by actives.

 But if you're inclined AT ALL towards AB  then it seems a big, overengineered and pricey amp is increasingly a dead end. Not to mention 2X interconnects + 1 power cable extra. 

 

Does the convenience and superior topology best the ability to tune and colour your sound? Even swapping class AB and class D power amps?

Will these active systems (eg LS50W, Kii3, Dynaudios) be obsolete in 5/10 years time?

 

 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Fitzroyalty said:

I'm an owner of seperates and while I like my gear a lot, it seems like the next upgrade is increasingly looking like an active system. A friend pointed me to the striking take-down in the comments section of what is no-doubt a beautiful and lovely sounding piece of jewelry, I mean amp - a £45,000 D'Agostino integrated. I know, I know.....never read the comments. But this is actually well written and a good run down of the benefits of active speakers. 

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/dan-dagostino-master-audio-systems-momentum-integrated-amplifier-1/?page=3

 

I can fully accept that some people want the magic of certain tube or class-A topologies...that's fine and I don't want to start a war there. And that experience won't be replicated by actives.

 But if you're inclined AT ALL towards AB  then it seems a big, overengineered and pricey amp is increasingly a dead end. Not to mention 2X interconnects + 1 power cable extra. 

 

Does the convenience and superior topology best the ability to tune and colour your sound? Even swapping class AB and class D power amps?

Will these active systems (eg LS50W, Kii3, Dynaudios) be obsolete in 5/10 years time?

 

Fitz - there's 2 kinds of active speakers:

  • fully-contained - like ATCs where the speaker cabinets contain 2 or more drivers plus 2 or more amps.  So all you need to do is plug them into a preamp (ie. there's an interconnect running from the pre to the active speakers).
  • or a situation like mine - which is a passive speaker which has had its passive XOs removed and replaced by active XOs ... and, in my case, 3 stereo amps (or 6 monoblocks).  :)

The advantage of the latter, IMO, is that you would have to have a large amp to deliver the same power that 3 smaller amps can deliver, in an active situation.  And with a digital active XO (like a miniDSP) - you get room correction, as well as just the XOs!  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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@andyr thanks Andy. They aren't Brystons you've got? I know they do a system like that. Sounds like a great idea.

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I have SGR CX3B active speakers for more than 5 years.  Obsolete?  Far from it!  If you like the sound of the active speakers in the first place, there is no need to tune and colour it.

 

Visit SGR Audio in Templestowe and once you have listened to any of their active range, you will understand how good they are and why they will not go obsolete...

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As you are in Melbourne I would reinforce Snoopy8's comment. You most definitely owe it to yourself to get your butt deposited on Harry's lounge to hear their range.

 

I've owned SGR active speakers for ten years, first the experimental MT3A's with external amps, then my current love the MT3.2. Fab gear I can tell you. (Showing my age there)

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Fitzroyalty said:

Will these active systems (eg LS50W, Kii3, Dynaudios) be obsolete in 5/10 years time?

Active speakers have been made for several decades and the good ones don’t generally become obsolete as such, no less than say a good seperate system. But anything over time from both camps becomes less desirable due to age and appearance, except for a few venerable examples that can maintain or increase the price when new and years later e.g. Ls3/5a Speakers selling in 1980s for $800 and now $1500-3000+ and Yamaha NS1000 Speakers in 1980s at $1600-2000 and now the same, due to collectable status and still good sound despite advances in construction.

 

I don’t think it is a question of one being better than the other as once you find a good active speaker, there would be separate system that would keep up and vice versa. To objectively test the question one would need to listen to a large number of active speakers vs an equal number of seperate systems on equal terms (price, same room and source) and not cherry pick and conclude on a few potentially biased setups.

 

For me I would get bored with just one setup no matter how good, so need flexibility to mix and match different speakers with different types of amps plus have an active speaker in the mix.

 

In one of the posts above two types of active speakers was mentioned but in reality what you could have is:

 

1. Active speaker - amp in same speaker box with crossover circuit sorted within the amp itself;

 

2. Active speaker - amp in same speaker box connected to a normal passive crossover (effectively a separate system - amp and speaker under one hood); and

 

3. Active speaker - active crossover circuit in speaker box and you connect separate tri or bi amps.

 

My main concern with examples 1 & 2 is would the amp sections equal or exceed the potential of separate beautiful looking amps or would the direct active amp matching equal or exceed that. In addition, would the passive crossover circuit in a speaker system be inferior to a fully active speaker. Difficult to answer as there is such a wide variety of quality and other issues involved.

 

 

Edited by Al.M

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Ashamed to say I have never heard the SGR speakers. 

Active ATC and the Kii three sound superb to me.

If you have limited space, hate lots of cables/wires etc, dont like lots of components, then active is a very nice option.

Both active and passive can sound great.

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8 hours ago, Fitzroyalty said:

@andyr thanks Andy. They aren't Brystons you've got? I know they do a system like that. Sounds like a great idea.

Not Brystons, Fitz - Maggies.  :)  Amps are Hugh Dean's AKSA N80s on mids & ribbons, and Soraya on the bass panels.

 

Andy

 

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Quote

Active ATC and the Kii three sound superb to me.

If you have limited space, hate lots of cables/wires etc, dont like lots of components, then active is a very nice option.

Both active and passive can sound great.

 

I think anyone who has heard ATC passive and active would choose the active version... an active system is an upgrade

 

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@ericd bought actives recently for his recording studio he might comment

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Moderator

Am a long time fan of my active SGRs with outboard active crossovers and power amps of my choice.

16669439115_82fc232379_b.jpg

16668436802_dc0b05f887_b.jpg

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Posted (edited)

End game right here for most people.

 

 

Edited by yamaha_man

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@Fitzroyalty  Do your self a fav , and check them out:thumb:

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I can't help but think at sometime there will be an active computer driven crossover algorithm of such speed and accuracy that like the trading bots on Wall St, a continual filtering and adjustment process of incoming and outgoing signal information including room correction and cabinet design will ultimately provide high fidelity on a track by track basis.

 

For all intent and purpose I imagine that will be the future domain of the speaker manufacturers.

 

And then I woke up.....

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15 hours ago, Fitzroyalty said:

I can fully accept that some people want the magic of certain tube or class-A topologies...that's fine and I don't want to start a war there. And that experience won't be replicated by actives.

 But if you're inclined AT ALL towards AB  then it seems a big, overengineered and pricey amp is increasingly a dead end. Not to mention 2X interconnects + 1 power cable extra.

If using an outboard active analog or digital crossover then that's not correct, you can use any amplifier you like.

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4 hours ago, allthumbs said:

I can't help but think at sometime there will be an active computer driven crossover algorithm of such speed and accuracy that like the trading bots on Wall St, a continual filtering and adjustment process of incoming and outgoing signal information including room correction and cabinet design will ultimately provide high fidelity on a track by track basis.

 

For all intent and purpose I imagine that will be the future domain of the speaker manufacturers.

 

And then I woke up.....

I think your dream will become a reality, it's just a matter of time.

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I hope that it's not mandatory to wear Active Wear whilst listening to Active Speakers! :)

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9 hours ago, murrmax said:

 

 

I think anyone who has heard ATC passive and active would choose the active version... an active system is an upgrade

 

Had a few pairs of both myself and currently have passive and active scm40’s, the passive are a really nice speaker and when powere by an ME 850 and then an ME 1500 as well as a Primare A32 were excellent. The actives are better in all respects although not as forgiving.

My Scm50asl were bigger and badder again but not for the faint hearted.

I also had both passive and active versions of Legend Big Reds. The passive were nice but the actives were so much better. 

 

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1 hour ago, gat474 said:

The actives are better in all respects although not as forgiving.

 

If you have the time and inclination @gat474 can you please expand on why and how that is the case?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The passives are a slightly more laid back presentation, it’s all still there but the active midrange in the 40’s is more forward and detailed. Bottom end on the passives is tight and tuneful especially with the monster ME1500. The actives can seem to have less bass but in reality it’s just that it’s more accurate with no overhang. I found the same thing with the passive 40’s versus the Active 50’s. It took me a bit of time to get used to what is more accurate but less bass of the 50’s.

When there’s bass to do the actives, whether it’s 40’s or 50’s, let you hear what’s there and nothing more. The 50’s do it better than the 40’s but as they should considering driver size and SL technology of the 50’s.

Edit: The passive 40’s still have the tightest bass of any passive speaker I’ve had.

Edited by gat474

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@FitzroyaltyI’ve never understood active speakers despite a few people explaining it to me and hearing @andyr‘s very revealing and outstanding speakers and @joz‘s giants, which are probably the best I’ve ever heard.

 

Andy what’s the difference beween active, digital and passive crossovers? I understand how a digital crossover works, but not the other two.

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9 minutes ago, Mike13 said:

@FitzroyaltyI’ve never understood active speakers despite a few people explaining it to me and hearing @andyr‘s very revealing and outstanding speakers and @joz‘s giants, which are probably the best I’ve ever heard.

 

Andy what’s the difference beween active, digital and passive crossovers? I understand how a digital crossover works, but not the other two.

A really good explanation of active crossovers (of which digital are a type). Also the first five minutes of the video : https://www.dynaudio.com/dynaudio-academy/2017/may/the-benefits-of-an-active-crossover

 

Also a handy diagram here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powered_speakers

 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Mike13 said:

 

I understand how a digital crossover works, but not the other two.

 

 

You might be ahead of me then!  :lol:

 

21 minutes ago, Mike13 said:

 

Andy what’s the difference between active, digital and passive crossovers?

 

 

A 'crossover' is simply a pair of filters:

  • LP - to roll off the sub, the woofer or the mid, and
  • HP - to roll off the woofer, the mid or the tweeter.

The filters are defined by:

  • a slope ('X' order ... or 'Y' dB), and
  • a knee frequency (the roll-off point).
  • note this is not the start of the roll-off - it's the -3dB point (for some types of filters) and, confusingly, the -6dB point for other types of filters ... such as Linkwitz-Riley.

 

A filter can be implemented as:

  1. a passive filter at speaker level; this consists of inductors & capacitors - with resistors used to match driver levels (the drivers having different sensitivities).  This goes between the amp and the drivers.
  2. a passive filter at line level - a PLLXO; this consists of resistors & capacitors.  This goes in front of the amps.
  3. an active filter; these can be either analogue or digital.  This also goes in front of the amps.

 

With #1, there are components (inductors and capacitors) between the amp(s) and the drivers.

With #2 & #3, the amps are directly attached to the drivers - hence the amps are able to exert an iron-fisted control over the drivers.

(If you define an active system as one where the amps are directly attached to the drivers ... then #2 qualifies as an active system ... even though the components used are passive!  :) )

 

Andy

 

 

Edited by andyr

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Posted (edited)

Good summation of the advantages here - 

http://www.parallelhomeaudio.net/ActivePassive.html

 

Quote

The actives can seem to have less bass but in reality it’s just that it’s more accurate with no overhang. I found the same thing with the passive 40’s versus the Active 50’s. It took me a bit of time to get used to what is more accurate but less bass of the 50’s.

Yes because the direct coupling with the amp there's no overhang means the bass is tighter and more accurate with the perception of less bass you are correct.  

In the same way that because of the lower distortion you tend to listen at higher db's, whilst not being perceptibly loud until you try to talk to someone etc.

 

Edited by murrmax

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3 minutes ago, murrmax said:

Good summation of the advantages here - 

http://www.parallelhomeaudio.net/ActivePassive.html

 

Yes because the direct coupling with the amp there's no overhang means the bass is tighter and more accurate with the perception of less bass you are correct.  

In the same way that because of the lower distortion you tend to listen at higher db's, whilst not being perceptibly loud until you try to talk to someone etc.

 

One reason why I sold my active atc50’s, they would have sent me deaf. It was all too easy just to keep bumping the volume and end up at ear splitting levels. They, and the 40’s, even the passives, love to go loud and exhibit minimal distortion.

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