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Knipester

Getting active and never looking back

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Super Wammer
3 hours ago, tuga said:

I have mixed feelings about all-in-ones in general and this applies to active speakers as well.

On the one hand I can see the performance potential and the practical advantages (less stuff).

But ultimately it has serious (for me) downsides:

- if you wish to replace the speakers because you've moved to a smaller or larger room, or abroad, as this requires replacing the whole system at a considerable expense

- if something breaks down the whole system breaks down (you can't just get your backup amplifier from under the bed)

- you're limiting yourself, performance wise, to whatever technology was put into the boxes as both D/A conversion and Class D amplification are not yet fully developped technologies (and DACs and amplifiers don't all sound the same anyway)

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Personally I'd be happier buying actives with AB amplification and leave DSP and file processing to the computer and D/A conversion to a DAC of my choice. It also makes it a lot easier for those using analogue sources.

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The 8Cs are probably the best available option if you want to make a one-time purchase and believe that you will not worry about equipment for a while. And because I haven't listened to them I am open to the possibility that their performance exceeds anything available for a similar price, although that might be asking a bit too much of them if we're considering an alternative system of used gear.

1 hour ago, moo-fi said:

My concern with an all in one solution, is what happens when they fail in a few years time.  I have spent far too much of my life chasing parts that aren't made anymore and chips are some of the worst to source.  

We're drifting here, chaps. All-in-Ones like the Kii 3, D&D 8c and Amazon Echo (latter just to make Ketih splutter on his coffee)  take the whole all-in-one, or more accurately all-in-two, thing to another level with DACs and all that digi-magic.

The post started about passive and active speakers. The only difference is the power amps - where they sit and who chooses them. All other  components - DACs, digital processing (if that floats your boat), pre-amp, streamer etc - are up to you to choose so there is still plenty to play with.

42 minutes ago, bandit pilot said:

I've had plenty of passive and active and I'm also of the opinion that neither is better than the other. Clarity is measured on a personal level I suppose, but like Uzzy I'd also say that a well designed passive is as good as anything active.

In how many of these cases did you directly compare the active and passive versions of the same speaker, where the drivers, cabs etc were identical and the only difference is whether the power amps were inside or not? (For @Tony_J and @greybeard: apologies for ignoring the self-build option for simplicity's sake).

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28 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

The only difference is the power amps - where they sit and who chooses them.

Well not quite, the difference is also the crossover.If you just put the amps inside the speakers then they would be powered not active. Some Actives have pre-amps and DACs inside as well but even so you can choose an external DAC if you prefer or use the one inside the CDP.

Edited by BeeRay

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Sorry to all those who are already conversant with what makes a system active (and it is NOT just where the amps are, physically, located) it is a matter of electronically filtering/splitting the line-level signal for the bass/mid drivers and tweeters before amplification ...

two-way-active-crossover.png

Edited by chebby
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So it’s a topology thing. 

Active systems can be found that occupy separate boxes outside the speaker cabinets (electronic crossovers like Naim Snaxo for example) and complete passive systems can be packed inside the speaker cabinets (so-called ‘powered’ speakers). 

Edited by chebby
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Super Wammer
30 minutes ago, BeeRay said:

Well not quite, the difference is also the crossover.If you just put the amps inside the speakers then they would be powered not active. Some Actives have pre-amps and DACs inside as well but even so you can choose an external DAC if you prefer or use the one inside the CDP.

True, my apologies.

I was trying to get back to the core issue of topology and tripped!

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Super Wammer
11 minutes ago, chebby said:

So it a topology thing. 

Active systems can be found that occupy separate boxes outside the speaker cabinets (electronic crossovers like Naim Snaxo for example) and complete passive systems can be packed inside the speaker cabinets (so-called ‘powered’ speakers). 

Less than 12m ago I thought the key difference between active and passive speakers was whether the power amps were inside the speakers or not. Then I was, er, gently enlightened by generous wammers... notably those who have done the DIY thing and typically (always?) used amps outside the speaker cabinets.

Here is the key topology thing I learned:

  • in a passive speaker system the sequence is power amp --> passive crossover --> drivers
  • in an active speaker system the sequence is active crossover --> power amp --> driver (xN ie. one power amp per driver).

Apologies to Chebby! I didn't see your first post with diagram which says same thing I think

Edited by TheFlash
omission
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Moderator
3 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Less than 12m ago I thought the key difference between active and passive speakers was whether the power amps were inside the speakers or not. Then I was, er, gently enlightened by generous wammers... notably those who have done the DIY thing and typically (always?) used amps outside the speaker cabinets.

Mine are kind of a hybrid - on one, the amps are in boxes attached to the back of the speakers, on the other, I have two external amps...but yes, the key thing is the topology, not where the bits live.

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All my active speakers have outboard amplication in amp 'paks'.  Which I prefer but does lead to a lot of cabling.  I do like what ATC do, even though they are mounted inside the speaker normally. As they are all serviceable, not like some over makes such as the Devialet Phantoms which are considered disposable.

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As an incurable tinkerer I find building 2 amplifiers (for stereo) enough of a chore. Building 6 is not happening, in the foreseeable future. That said I intend to build some a active speakers with current output amps, I can't imagine it is possible to drive a passive crossover speaker with current unless the crossover has been designed to provide a constant resistive load.

So I find passive to suit me better at the moment.

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The only reason I am not active at the moment, is my wife's confusion with the system I had.  Which was: source(s) -  pre-amp - analogue active crossover - power amps - drivers in cabinets.  To add a personal preference, it was EL84 PP amp to tweeters, 845 SE amp to mids (MF1000 has those now), Parasound HCA1205A 5 channel transistor amp to isobaric bass drivers.  4 channels used, one to each driver.  YMMV. :D

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1 hour ago, TheFlash said:

True, my apologies.

I was trying to get back to the core issue of topology and tripped!

Nope you were right on track Nigel ..

The signal splitting is after the output stage with passive and before with active.  Then of course there are digital crossovers on active loudspeakers which make three systems as such (IMO).   

The argument for active always has been the advantages of dealing with lower current which means the crossover will stand less or no chance of becoming saturated (and of course there is the argument about how the crossover can also suck power out of the amp).  However, with an active speaker you now need an amplifier for each driver ..  I contend that a well built passive crossover will produce equally good results.  

The argument as to which sounds best is waste of time .. there are good active speakers and good passive speakers and equally there are bad ones from each as well.   so you ears must be the judge.  Having said that I have listened to many amps in my time (hence why I chose what I have got) and the thing that will always put me off active loudspeakers is you are stuck (usually) with the amps that come built in unless you have an offboard active crossover which of course would need to be installed between the pre and the power amps used.  Of course this applied to one of the worst active loudspeakers built (to my ears) which had a plethora of drive units in a big ugly box usually powered by Naim.

As with anything hifi you should use your ears and decide what is best for you.  The biggest problem with forums is it becomes a kind of gang thing where "mine is better than yours" and many seek for followers or agreement to confirm their choice.  So get what floats your boat and be happy.   

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3 hours ago, BeeRay said:

It is not my experience, none of the passives I have ever heard had as much clarity. Maybe your Art's do but I ones I have heard don't, maybe they needed more powerful amp, I don't know.

exactly .. but perhaps I was lucky having worked in the trade for some years and got to hear many loudspeakers.  What I have learned from that time is that different speakers do different things and I could appreciate why people liked different loudspeakers.  I know what I like and I bought them - others seem afraid to use their own ears.

A good passive with a good amp is no better or no worse than a good active with good amps and vice versa.  There is no one best and I doubt there ever will be.  

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Super Dealer

That may have been the case forty years ago, but actives some at least, have moved on, completely full range, phase coherent, cardioid response, boundary coupled, wide even dispersion, sophisticated boundary filters and built in EQ and tone controls, very different animals.

Keith

Edited by PuritéAudio

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9 minutes ago, uzzy said:

exactly .. but perhaps I was lucky having worked in the trade for some years and got to hear many loudspeakers.  What I have learned from that time is that different speakers do different things and I could appreciate why people liked different loudspeakers.  I know what I like and I bought them - others seem afraid to use their own ears.

A good passive with a good amp is no better or no worse than a good active with good amps and vice versa.  There is no one best and I doubt there ever will be.  

People should and they probably do buy whatever they like best.

But I think that it is always beneficial to discuss the merits and shortcomings of different topologies. Learning about why speakers sound the way they do can help us make better, more informed choices.

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