Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?

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roymail

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Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« on: 24 Mar 2010, 01:09 pm »
I admit that I've never tried one, but I've wanted to try the bi-amp thing before.  I like the simplicity of fewer components.  I have to wonder if adding another electronic device would have any negative effect on the overall sound quality of the system. 

Thanks for your input.

jtwrace

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #1 on: 24 Mar 2010, 01:17 pm »
I use an active crossover.  Of course having another piece of gear in the chain technically will reduce the performance.  I strongly believe that the benefit far out weighs the small loss.  Once you have had the experience of an active it's hard to go anywhere else...

My active is http://www.ashly.com/protea324cl-cl-d.html

There are many that work well though.  The Behringer is the best most reasonably priced unit.  That's what I started with...

turkey

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #2 on: 24 Mar 2010, 01:20 pm »
I admit that I've never tried one, but I've wanted to try the bi-amp thing before.  I like the simplicity of fewer components.  I have to wonder if adding another electronic device would have any negative effect on the overall sound quality of the system. 

Thanks for your input.

If you use a decent quality crossover, it shouldn't have any negative effect in that way.

However, it's seldom easy to exactly match the current passive crossover in your speakers with an electronic crossover - unless you're ready to basically re-engineer your speaker system. You would then have to be at least as skillful as the original designer of your speakers.

If you want to, go ahead and try it. It can be fun to play with. But go into it with the idea that it probably won't improve your speakers.


jtwrace

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #3 on: 24 Mar 2010, 01:24 pm »
The main benefit to you (having a passive) would be that you can use REW and your active with its parametric feature to help the room.  Between acoustic treatments, active and REW you would be  :D

Just my opinion of course!

You might also want to check my post here http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=79125.msg754705;topicseen#new

Kevin Haskins

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #4 on: 24 Mar 2010, 03:50 pm »
Engineering is about making trade-offs and the upsides far outweigh the downside.     Of course the biggest issue is getting the design right and a properly designed passive system will always beat a improperly designed active one.     It isn't always about the parts you use but how you use them.


*Scotty*

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #5 on: 24 Mar 2010, 04:13 pm »
If your goal is to approach state of the art as closely as possible then your active crossover has the same power supply and parts quality requirements as your state of the art preamp. It is also quite likely to have a much more complex circuit than a simple line stage preamp. If your preamp cost X dollars, in order to achieve similar performance from an active crossover it will probably have to cost the same or more than your preamp. There is no free lunch,there will be a consequence from inserting another series of active components into the signal path.
Scotty
 

Kevin Haskins

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #6 on: 24 Mar 2010, 04:37 pm »
If your goal is to approach state of the art as closely as possible then your active crossover has the same power supply and parts quality requirements as your state of the art preamp. It is also quite likely to have a much more complex circuit than a simple line stage preamp. If your preamp cost X dollars, in order to achieve similar performance from an active crossover it will probably have to cost the same or more than your preamp. There is no free lunch,there will be a consequence from inserting another series of active components into the signal path.
Scotty

I disagree for two reasons.   First... the cost of the final product doesn't always correspond with what goes in the box.   Second... there is a lot of ambiguity about what constitutes "better" and therefore there isn't an absolute metric.   

For the people that claim it all comes down to sound.... well then there is still a lot of ambiguity because people don't seem to agree on what "sounds" the best.   

The active crossover that Linkwitz uses in the Orion is probably about $50 in small volume parts cost.   That is not expensive and by all metrics... either measured or subjective he seems to get pretty good results from it. 


*Scotty*

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #7 on: 24 Mar 2010, 05:02 pm »
If I understand your position correctly then all we are left with is an ambiguous situation which is dependent on the observer and the unique combination of components in the system under test. Certainly a less than ideal initial starting condition for an experiment
with active crossovers.
Scotty

turkey

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #8 on: 24 Mar 2010, 05:36 pm »
If your goal is to approach state of the art as closely as possible then your active crossover has the same power supply and parts quality requirements as your state of the art preamp. It is

So just what is "State of the Art," and how does it relate to sound quality?


ctviggen

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #9 on: 24 Mar 2010, 05:47 pm »
So just what is "State of the Art," and how does it relate to sound quality?

Tubes and a turntable.  ;-)

Jon L

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #10 on: 24 Mar 2010, 05:48 pm »
So just what is "State of the Art," and how does it relate to sound quality?

Don't know about "State of The Art," but the Bryston 10B crossover does many things correctly IMO.

No op-amps.  Fully discrete Class-A analogue stage.

No switch-mode PS.  All linear PS. 

Options for various slopes and crossover points to optimize settings. 

The only thing I don't really like about it is that Bryston chose to implement level controls for the high frequencies, not bass, like most other crossovers.  And I don't particularly like the sound of that level control, but I get aound it by setting it to Zero and using EVS Ultimate attenuators..

Kevin Haskins

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #11 on: 24 Mar 2010, 05:48 pm »
So just what is "State of the Art," and how does it relate to sound quality?

That is the issue.... different people have different answers to those things.   I know what mine is.... but I don't always have other people in the industry that agree.   They have different metrics for better/worse than I do.   And the frustrating part is that even if you could design a unbiased test.... based upon subjective results.... they still won't accept it. 

So where do you go when debating such an issue with such people?   

stereocilia

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #12 on: 24 Mar 2010, 06:06 pm »
Wow, what a coincidence.  I just hooked up a dbx 223XL last night to sum and split the signal to my DSPeaker 8033 (subwoofer DSP).  Also, I wanted to try it for keeping low bass out of the ACI Sapphire XLs 5.5 in woofers.   This crossover is not what most would consider high end, but it’s less than $200.  The build quality is adequate, there is no on/off switch, the adjustment for the crossover frequency is coarser than I’d like.

Aside from those little quibbles, this is a keeper!  The midrange is now markedly clearer (I did the wife confirmation thing, too – she agrees), and the bass has better definition and punch.  The highs, to my ears, are not adversely affected in any way, and the soundstage is bigger and deeper.  The whole system sounds much more powerful, larger, and more detailed. 

I’ve only had this thing for a short time, but my initial impression is that it’s a huge improvement, better than I expected.

Rick Craig

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #13 on: 24 Mar 2010, 06:52 pm »
It can if not correctly applied, such as wrong crossover points, etc.

Some of the cheaper units also will introduce noise into the system. The benefits in most cases will always give you an advantage over a passive crossover, especially with the woofer section of a 3-way. A passive crossover's inductor(s) in the woofer's signal path will add series resistance so you always lose some sensitivity. The inductor will also change the linearity of the woofer's response. This is why a state-of-the-art 3-way should be active at the very least in the lowpass section. A crossover with parametric EQ will also help remove peaks in your listening room.

mcgsxr

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #14 on: 24 Mar 2010, 07:16 pm »
I figured this thread would see some spirited action!

I use a cheap active Xover for my system (Reckhorn), and would not want to live without it.  Not that it is perfect, but for the price, the ability to trim out bass from my otherwise full range single driver speakers is good - the lows go over to a pro amp, and then on to OB subs.

As I have recently been reworking my system, I have been listening full range to the OB mains - not as good as with the subs and Xover in the chain for sure - and, by playing around with pulling the subs out of the chain, and leaving the Xover in, I am not displeased with noise introduction etc.

I am sure it does vary - choice of Xover, system synergy, individual hearing, goals etc.

Nuance

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #15 on: 24 Mar 2010, 08:01 pm »
Kevin pretty much said everything I would have, so I'll just say this: I agree with Kevin Haskins.  ;)

Angaria

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #16 on: 25 Mar 2010, 09:35 am »
jtwrace - you're the first I've heard of the Ashly XO, and there are no reviews online - care to post a brief one?

Tyson

Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #17 on: 25 Mar 2010, 09:40 am »
If you go active, you will definitely have to gain a very good understanding of speaker design and also purchase a calibrated mic and get some good measurement software.  Luckily, speaker design is not rocket science.  It takes a lot of work to get to the stage where you know what you are doing, but once you are there, you are in a much better place to make design decisions, understand measurements, and make your own decisions about what is best.  Not an easy path, but ultimately more rewarding than buying a pre-existing solution from someone else.

roymail

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #18 on: 25 Mar 2010, 11:29 am »
I'm the OP, and I truly appreciate all the helpful input from you guys.  As always it's a lot to take in, but I'm working on it.  Thanks!   :D

jtwrace

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Re: Does an active crossover diminish sound quality?
« Reply #19 on: 25 Mar 2010, 11:56 am »
jtwrace - you're the first I've heard of the Ashly XO, and there are no reviews online - care to post a brief one?

My biggest reason for replacing the Behringer was the overall build quality.  I was thinking of modding the unit and after speaking with a friend that uses this equipment everyday, he suggested I look at Ashly.  I called them and a person answered the phone and was really helpful.  The unit is extremely well built and very user intuitive.  Those two items are what the Behringer is not IMO.  I really like the Behringer when I started this whole process but was a bit turned off when I was at Sam Ash playing with the driverack 260...the buttons actually felt like buttons and the quallity was much better IMO.  The bottom line for me was quality.  Did I mention it's made in the USA?  I llike it!!! 

The Behringer is a GREAT "inexpensive" unit that does the job very well.  My friend uses his and mine that I gave him and leaves them on and has never turned them off in almost four years.  That's pretty good. 

There are many choices with crossovers.  You need to decide how fine of adjustments you need and then decide what it's worth to you.  At the end of the day, it's all about using the equipment properly and understanding exactly what does what and when you need XYZ.  I'm a user of REW and the active crossover and I can't think of doing it any other way.  It can be frustrating at times but the reward at the end if awesome.

Good Luck!