Knipester

Getting active and never looking back

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Since one of my New Years resolutions was to get more active...

Who has made the switch from passive to active system and what kit was involved, what benefits did it bring you?

has anyone returned back from active to passive and why?

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Super Wammer

I am stuck in between this question so will answer what I can and leave others to draw there own conclusions . Music Room - Passive system with DIRAC Live DSP Filtering . My main music system is passive but only because the speakers I use (Quad ESL57) are too difficult for me to convert to active , If I could I would . Quads sound closer to active speakers , or is it the other way round any way they are very fast with notes starting and stopping quickly with no overhang . Once you have heard this it is very addictive and you look for this quality in all the speakers you listen to .

In my spare room I have a pair of KEF 103 Reference speakers that I have removed the passive crossovers form and made active using the MiniDSP DDRC 24 unit and then using DIRAC Live DSP filter to finesse the sound in the room . I have owned the KEF speakers for a good six or seven years and loved there sound and general musical quality . Having completed a project on another set of speakers taking them from passive to active and hearing that it did not change the fundamental sound of the speakers I decided to be brave and do the same for the KEF 103 .

Results were everything I expected and a little bit more . While I now realise that it is just not possible to get rid of all box colourations they are reduced to a very slight input nw with the KEF's . Sounds have real speed and stop and start making it much more natural . Drive is improved and and imaging is also quite a bit better. Bass is easier to hear but is not overblown or boomy just powerful and very much a part of the music . Intergration is one area of very strong improvement all parts of the spectrum sound in the right place and at the right levels with regard to each other. All the individula strands can be heard but they are emphasised or drawing attention to any any one are instead you get what I was looking for a great musical sound.

I for one would not consider any box speaker if it was not active now as I now that is the driection I am going . Quads are somehting different and I will have to live with them as they are until someone much better equipped than I am comes up with an answer.

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I built an analogue active crossover about 35 years ago*, and used it in various  (2, 3, and 4 way) configurations over the years.  Although I have only once directly compared it with a passive equivalent (Jordan metal cone drivers),  I always felt it removed a layer of "haze" compared to passive.  I must point out this has always been with speakers I have built myself.  So equalisation  may have been different between active and passive,  But mine was used as 4th order (24 dB/octave) which gives 360 degree phase shift, so effectively 0 degrees.  Which, especially with wideband drivers, means resonances outside the pass band can be attenuated rapidly.

My wife complained it was confusing, so I built some passive speakers (http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/Jenzen-NEXT.htm) and have been struggling with the crossovers for the last 5 years!

I have never used a digital crossover, as I would prefer to keep analogue signals in the analogue domain.

*It has been upgraded several times; better ICs, resistors, caps, power supplies, etc.

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I went active last year and, although there are plenty of superb passive speakers about, I think it’s unlikely I’ll go back.

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Moderator

I started playing with actives about a year ago, having discovered what could be achieved using DSPeaker Antimode to integrate a sub with my Lowthers. The first go around used Lowther drivers for mid/treble and Tang Band 8" woofers:

The second experiment involved a pair of Tannoy 8" Dual Concentric drivers:

I've now re-purposed the Lwther cabinets, replacing the Lowther drivers with a pair of Alpair 10.3 drivers:

I will be bringing the Alpair/Tang Band combo to Kegworth, and possibly the Tannoys as well.

Benefits:

- Very straightforward to build new DIY configurations and create appropriate crossovers/EQ using the miniDSP tools. I was always put off the passive crossover approach because of the relative difficulty in making any changes; with DSP, a few mouse clicks and you've made the adjustment. The downside is that you never stop...

- With the Dirac-enabled DDRC-24 that I am using now, the subjective results bring a focus and definition to the sound and soundstage that wasn't there before.

I wouldn't go back to passive speakers.

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Changed to active around three years ago and am pleased with the results. Recently thought about trying some passive speakers again just to scratch that itch but after istening to the actives again I decided  not to bother. Got a strong sense that having the power amps right there with the crossovers and being able to do away with the speaker cables is what helps to make them different. Additionaly, many actives will allow ajustment so that the speaker can be adjusted to your listening environment. 

Edited by wHIZZY

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Active, these days, seems to pretty exclusively mean digital.  As stated, mine is passive (35 years ago there was no domestic digital option, as far as I know), and as such cannot be endlessly tweaked for equalisation.  I did add a baffle step circuit to mine, but other than moving crossover frequencies (plug-in cap changes) and levels (potentiometer) I did no other equalisation.  I am sure there is much more that could be done with it, but I have neither the knowledge nor energy to do that.  However, particularly with wideband drivers, the "cleanness" of the sound has always been apparent.

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Super Wammer

I dipped my toe into the active domain over two years ago after trying using my A370 power amp just to drive my TL sub/bass speakers via a splitter on the output from my pre.  The imbalance between 18wpc of valves for the mid/tweeters and 185wpc of transistor amp was obvious but showed that the huge reserve in the A370 controlled the bass with ease.  

A wammer on here suggested I go active given the amps I had etc and after encouragement from Serge I purchased a behringer dcx crossover and a cheap class d amp to power the top end.

The ability it gives you to 'tune' your system is well worth the effort and the help you get on here is invaluable.

I now run two dcx crossovers and at Kegworth my system will be a fully active 5 way setup......would I ever go passive. - Nooooooooo

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Switched to actives 9 years ago and never looked back! 

Highly recommended if you like accurate low distortion sound.

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19 minutes ago, AlmaAtaKZ said:

Switched to actives 9 years ago and never looked back! 

Highly recommended if you like accurate low distortion sound.

I use a passive pair of loudspeakers (Art Impressions) and they give me lovely accurate low distortion sound.  

There is no "better" or "best" it is what works for you.  Over the years I have extensively listened to active loudspeakers and nearly bought a pair of Meridian M1s .. but they fell short of the Gale GS401s which I ended up buying instead.

There is no single answer (if there was then that would reduce our choices somewhat) and the vital thing is to do what your ears tells you is right. 

I think the main advantage of active loudspeakers is it is unlikely that the crossovers components will become saturated due to the low signal levels it has to deal with .. with passive loudspeakers the problem is manufacturers cut costs on the components used and the cheap capacitors and chokes easily become saturated which means when you turn the wick up they all of a sudden do not sound as good as they did at low volumes.

A well designed passive loudspeaker will give you a very accurate low distortion sound - just as a badly designed active loudspeaker is unlikely to produce an accurate low distortion sound :) 

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Super Dealer

Their only disadvantage is that the opportunities for ‘box swapping’ are severely diminished, 

Keith

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I went active about 6 years ago, doubt I will ever go back. Clarity is one thing that actives seem to have over passives. Power and control is probably another. No need to buy speaker cables either. I tried loads of passive systems in demos and there was always something wrong with them. I have heard of a couple of people going back to passives, think they wanted a warmer sound. What sort of budget do you have?

Edited by BeeRay

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2 minutes ago, BeeRay said:

I went active about 6 years ago, doubt I will ever go back. Clarity is one thing that actives seem to have over passives. Power and control is probably another. No need to buy speaker cables either. I tried loads of passive systems in demos and there was always something wrong with them. I have heard of a couple of people going back to passives, think they wanted a warmer sound. What sort of budget do you have?

I’ve ordered a pair of dutch&dutch 8c’s :cool:, arrive early March  just in time for the wam show

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Super Wammer

My experience of direct comparison is when @TheFlash had the passive ATC SCM 40 mk 2 passives and then got the active version of exactly the same speakers. It was as if everything had been changed - drivers and cabinets included - such was the profound difference in sound. 

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