TheFlash

Active and passive speaker topologies with examples

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Super Wammer
2 minutes ago, Tune said:

Guys. Here is my original post if you haven't seen it. I'm simply stating what I have heard. Now if you guys have heard everything out there then I bow to your remarkable experience.

I have owned Dynaudios - basically the same models - both passive and active but again, I would have kept the former rather than the latter.

Another thing that I've done is to own both a digital system and a Pass Labs XVR three way along with design elements and cabinets of my choosing. I could get great sound. I just, try as I might for very long periods of time, get the integration and the seamless whole that others can get.

As I said originally just my experience. Would I compare active versus passive of the same model all the time? No. I would compare the models that sounded good to me. I'd not worry about topology.

There you go then. I think that ticks the "actual experience/direct comparison" box. Nice one.

If it hadn't been for the sarcastic "remarkable experience" I might even have liked your post! ;)

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2 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Applying the same generic model, do you mean this :)

462780511_Bencatsystem.thumb.png.d009082e0b7ecb8063f20db0fc492b20.png

That's the same setup as mine (different amps/drivers obvs) with the minor difference that I have inserted a passive pre (remote controlled analogue volume control and source selector) between the streamer and the DSP.

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Super Wammer
11 minutes ago, Tony_J said:

That's the same setup as mine (different amps/drivers obvs) with the minor difference that I have inserted a passive pre (remote controlled analogue volume control and source selector) between the streamer and the DSP.

Cool. And that's one of the differences I'm sure many people would choose to apply, particularly to avoid some implementations of digital attenuation.

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Super Wammer
26 minutes ago, Tony_J said:

That's the same setup as mine (different amps/drivers obvs) with the minor difference that I have inserted a passive pre (remote controlled analogue volume control and source selector) between the streamer and the DSP.

Actually, on reflection... what does this look like Tony? I'm struggling with the sequence. I thought the only sequence which would work would be streamer <digital signal> DAC <analogue signal> pre-amp. Paint me a word picture to enlighten me? Must do other stuff this morning, catch you later!

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A couple of observations...

Given the surge in the use of DSP in active systems, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find passive and active versions of the same speaker to experiment with. 

Greg Timbers (at JBL) was instrumental in developing the actively driven 43XX series of studio monitors to replace the passive 42XX. Interestingly he made no attempt to 'activate' the top end hifi models, even though, in some cases, the hifi speakers were electrically identical to the passive professional versions.

As an 'old school less is more' type of enthusiast, I find these multiple dacs and A to D and D to A conversions a bit troubling. For that reason I rather favour the integrated 'pro' approach that simplifies the system to a speaker with a single input (analogue or digital) feeding a DSP/crossover/Dac diving the amps and speakers themselves.

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Super Wammer
43 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Applying the same generic model, do you mean this :)

462780511_Bencatsystem.thumb.png.d009082e0b7ecb8063f20db0fc492b20.png

Spot on in my view the shortest and fewest boxes between the signal and the output . Some active units have the Amplifiers within the cabinet and this does reduce the box count but it is essentially the same path .

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7 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Actually, on reflection... what does this look like Tony? I'm struggling with the sequence. I thought the only sequence which would work would be streamer <digital signal> DAC <analogue signal> pre-amp. Paint me a word picture to enlighten me? Must do other stuff this morning, catch you later!

No problem Nigel. The sequence in boxes is streamer - analogue output into passive pre - analogue output into miniDSP analogue input - MINIDSP analogue outputs into 4 amps driving 4 drivers. Andrew is using digital out from his streamer into the miniDSP digital input, so he's not using the streamer's DAC or the miniDSP's ADC, so I pay for the convenience of remote source selection/volume control with two extra conversion stages. Having said that, the difference in sq isn't detectable to me, so hey ho.

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Super Wammer
5 minutes ago, MGTOW said:

A couple of observations...

Given the surge in the use of DSP in active systems, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find passive and active versions of the same speaker to experiment with. 

Greg Timbers (at JBL) was instrumental in developing the actively driven 43XX series of studio monitors to replace the passive 42XX. Interestingly he made no attempt to 'activate' the top end hifi models, even though, in some cases, the hifi speakers were electrically identical to the passive professional versions.

As an 'old school less is more' type of enthusiast, I find these multiple dacs and A to D and D to A conversions a bit troubling. For that reason I rather favour the integrated 'pro' approach that simplifies the system to a speaker with a single input (analogue or digital) feeding a DSP/crossover/Dac diving the amps and speakers themselves.

Fully agree with your comments on the multiple DAC / ADC units and do find it a puzzling as to why you increase the number of steps rather reduce the steps. Just my own view and preference I like to see the signal retained as a digital signal as long as possible and only coverted to analogue whenh it is essential.

Best example of this I have heard was the Kling Klang Studio of Kraftwerk which was removed and tanken out by them on the road for concerts. The Speaker stacks used were very similar to a sound bar with hundreds of small drivers each connected to its own digital amplifier and each fed a digital signal that driectly drove the drivers according to control software. Effortlessly loud with no distortion and bass that could really move the air in your chest .

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51 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

There you go then. I think that ticks the "actual experience/direct comparison" box. Nice one.

If it hadn't been for the sarcastic "remarkable experience" I might even have liked your post! ;)

To be fair, I thought those reading my original post really didn't look at the wording closely enough and consider the implications. I was simply saying I have not heard an active loudspeaker that I would choose over my favourite passives. I would not bother with a direct comparison because that presupposes (as in the case of ATC) that the designers are equally capable in both fields.

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Super Wammer
3 minutes ago, Tony_J said:

No problem Nigel. The sequence in boxes is streamer - analogue output into passive pre - analogue output into miniDSP analogue input - MINIDSP analogue outputs into 4 amps driving 4 drivers. Andrew is using digital out from his streamer into the miniDSP digital input, so he's not using the streamer's DAC or the miniDSP's ADC, so I pay for the convenience of remote source selection/volume control with two extra conversion stages. Having said that, the difference in sq isn't detectable to me, so hey ho.

A great illustration that there are many ways to get to the same final result . I have heard Tony's system and it sounds excellent so much so I could quite happily live with it as my own . Sadly due to the debacle of my main system Tony was not able to hear what that was capable of so hopefully after Kegworth 2020 will mean that Tony can hear what I have produced .

I really like my active system a great deal while it has been out of commision with a blown tweeter I have been able to use bi amped passive Linn Sara 9's they sound excellent and are speakers I love but they miss out on the pace and speed of the active system and that pace and speed is what makes them just that little bit more realistic. It will be very interesting to hear how they compare after I have replaced the tweeter and they are up and running again .

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22 minutes ago, bencat said:

A great illustration that there are many ways to get to the same final result . I have heard Tony's system and it sounds excellent so much so I could quite happily live with it as my own . Sadly due to the debacle of my main system Tony was not able to hear what that was capable of so hopefully after Kegworth 2020 will mean that Tony can hear what I have produced .

Thanks for the kind words Andrew - the setup you heard was minus the passive pre, as I didn't need the source selection at the show, and I used the streamer to control the volume, so it was connected directly SBT digital out -> miniDSP digital in (as you do), thereby removing the extra D-.A, A->D conversions. However, as I said, the extra conversions don't seem to do any audible damage, to my ears at least!

It was a great shame that I couldn't hear your system at the show (should have snuck in on the Saturday for a listen, but was too busy with suitcase systems), so I am very much looking forward to hearing it next time!

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Super Wammer

Thanks Tony

Was not aware the change was not in place at Kegworth as my ability to focus on too much was not great that weekend . I am quite interested in that you feel the addition of the passive pre has made little if any difference on the sound quality .

When I was starting this project and early on I used the SBT in to a DAC and from there to the analogue inputs of the MiniDSP DDRC 24 and this sounded very good . At that time I was just concentrating on getting things working and not really having a step back and look at the system as whole. About two weeks after getting things bedded in I realised that I did not need the DAC and that I could also keep the digital signal in the MiniDSP and only convert from that unit to the power amps . I switched over and I have to say there was a marked improvement on this arrangement . Speed and imaging were the main areas of advance but there was also a small improvement in bass tightness .

Now in my case there was the removal of another active item and the use of digital input . While in your case it is just the inroduction of a passive item which should have little difference anyway . Still goes to show so mant ways can be right and one approach is not the only way . Apologies to all Linn users on here maybe mutliple DAC's  and Digital Crossovers through ADC's does work it just seems to me to be a very long winded way of doing it which means it will be more expensive because you need all those extra components to make it work . What the above does it make me review and see that it may well work .

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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, Tony_J said:

No problem Nigel. The sequence in boxes is streamer - analogue output into passive pre - analogue output into miniDSP analogue input - MINIDSP analogue outputs into 4 amps driving 4 drivers. Andrew is using digital out from his streamer into the miniDSP digital input, so he's not using the streamer's DAC or the miniDSP's ADC, so I pay for the convenience of remote source selection/volume control with two extra conversion stages. Having said that, the difference in sq isn't detectable to me, so hey ho. 

This?

112060998_Tony_Jsystem.thumb.png.c2c245b724e23570dd1b3d477a2fc057.png

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Super Wammer
40 minutes ago, bencat said:

Still goes to show so mant ways can be right and one approach is not the only way . Apologies to all Linn users on here maybe mutliple DAC's  and Digital Crossovers through ADC's does work it just seems to me to be a very long winded way of doing it which means it will be more expensive because you need all those extra components to make it work . What the above does it make me review and see that it may well work .

I struggle to understand the full Linn approach too, but some designs put DACs in the speakers as they seem to argue keeping in the digital domain longest gives the best results.  If you use their streamer you’re starting with a digital signal in any case.  

Here they illustrate that the crossover is digital so they can fine tune each speaker to account for manufacturing tolerances. 

https://www.linn.co.uk/technology/exakt/traditional-vs-exakt

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Posted (edited)

I understand that, since my time experimenting, DSP has come on in leaps and bounds and can produce remarkable results - particularly in multichannel systems.

My good friend sell these systems and tells me of their wonders. He also comes over for a coffee and sits down in front of some passives and grins from ear to ear.

Had a guy over yesterday who used to DJ at Ministry of Sound. Nice guy. Anyway, he was saying that "you still can't beat vinyl" line that we all have.

I played him some Kraftwerk (closest thing I had to that modern house type of electronic music :) ). "But that's not vinyl is it" he said. "Yes" I replied. I took the analogue signal and recorded it to DSD128. Then I convert it back to analogue before converting again it to PCM at 24/192. It's then finally converted from that 24/192 PCM to analogue which is what you are hearing. See? Here's the box set".

You should have seen his face :) "That sound like the best vinyl I've heard"...

Edited by Tune
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