Powered Versus Passive Speakers

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charmerci

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #20 on: 17 Nov 2018, 07:14 pm »

I'm really planning on being done with swapping out speakers for a while (no, really, like really really).



Me too!


 :lol:  HA HA HA HA HA!!!

LesterSleepsIn

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #21 on: 17 Nov 2018, 07:23 pm »
As most of us know,Meadowlark is back in business with some attractive Actives, especially the Kite/Predator combo paired with a DSP system that allows for fine tuning for room adjustments. Meadowlark Audio is located not too far from me so I might have to pack up my Bamberg S3s - which I really like btw - and drive to see Pat for an A/B comparison.

http://www.bambergaudio.com/products/series3/3tmw.php

http://meadowlarksings.com

Below, meadowlark’s Pat McGinty comments ... taken from another forum:

“Master speaker designer Joe D'Appolito lays out the basics of taking useful LF measurements:

https://www.audioxpress.com/article/measuring-loudspeaker-low-frequency-response

Back in the day you'd need to spend a bundle on a MLSSA analyzer or equivalent. Now we can get the job done with a Windows based system for just 300 bucks.

https://www.parts-express.com/dayto...ed-precision-room-measurement-system--390-792

If you're venturing into DSP - which gives you delightfully fine control in the bass - knowing Joe's ideas can make the process of aligning your system so much more fun.”

OzarkTom

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #22 on: 17 Nov 2018, 07:31 pm »
Meridian has sold powered for over 30 years. I sold them back in the 80's. I would love to own a set today, but big bucks now. Acoustat first sold their speakers with direct drive tube amps in 1976. I still think they will compete with most speakers today as for clarity and detail. Those was much better than the ones with transformers.

Kii Three is also one I would like to try. Anyone here own a pair?

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #23 on: 17 Nov 2018, 11:37 pm »
I'm currently debating powered vs passive for a 3 way design Jim and Dennis are working on featuring the Be tweeter, AT mid, and 9.5" Satori driver with two 10" passive radiators.

I'm really planning on being done with swapping out speakers for a while (no, really, like really really).  That has me leaning towards passives.  Incorporating the active amp on the back of the active design increases the likelihood that the speaker won't last me 20 years or so.  If Hypex stops making that plate amp and one fails 5 years from now, I'd be stuck with a really nice piece of furniture until I could lug them to Jim or Dennis.  So I'm leaning passive, just so I can keep swapping amps out over the years. 

Am I crazy??

The other thing I read recommended for any active design is a capacitor in front of the tweeter to protect from any DC spikes from the plate amp.  So I guess in that way, passive designs offer some inherent protection already. 

-Jon

I would ask do you really want to spend the next 20 years with a speaker that you knew wasn't as flat as the one you could have purchased for LESS money when you include not having to buy am amp or speaker wires.
Let your ears decide what you like, if you are going to live with these speakers for 20 years choose the best available for your budget.

JonnyFive

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #24 on: 18 Nov 2018, 12:49 pm »
I would ask do you really want to spend the next 20 years with a speaker that you knew wasn't as flat as the one you could have purchased for LESS money when you include not having to buy am amp or speaker wires.
Let your ears decide what you like, if you are going to live with these speakers for 20 years choose the best available for your budget.

I already have the amp and speaker wires, so cost doesn't matter.  And unfortunately I won't be able to audition the active v passive design, so I'll have to pick.

JLM

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #25 on: 18 Nov 2018, 01:17 pm »
I've told this story several times over the years here on AC but it's worth repeating:

18 years ago I visited a shop and auditioned Paradigm Studio 20s ($800/pair 2-way passive monitor) versus Paradigm Active 20s ($1600/pair 2-way active monitor using same drivers/cabinet).  No comparison!  Dynamics just jumped.  Flat frequency response (a revelation in itself).  Bass was super deep and full.  I was gobsmacked by the bass alone.  Passersby that we were listening to Studio 100s ($2200/pair multiple driver floor stander), but imaging was better on the the Active 20s.  You just couldn't get that sound from any other Paradigm (besides the Active 40).

That's why I've used active (not just powered) speakers for 15 years. 

But they also represent great value.  The JBL 305 (original) was a stunning active 2-way monitor listing for $300/pair, beating any comparably priced passive monitor.  But the 305 Mk2, same list price, will out perform any $1000/pair passive monitor.  Again stunningly dynamic, flatter, and more bass.  Allowing the manufacturer to design/match amp the driver and give a direct connection (versus clouding the load with additional drivers and a crossover) is a huge advantage. 

All that's needed is a source and preamp (optimally with XLR outputs).  Even the XLR cables are largely devoid of marketing hype (buy Blue Jean Cable or Mogami if you want what the professionals use).  Combination DAC/preamps like Benchmark (~$2000) or Mytek Manhattan ($2000 if you need phono input) can make life even simpler.  If you're pure digital the PS Audio DirectStream Junior (currently $2580 through underwoodhifi.com factory direct shipping included) would be a step up by adding streaming so you can use a server connected via an ethernet cable.  Dedicated music servers start at $800 from Small Green Computer.

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #26 on: 18 Nov 2018, 02:28 pm »
I already have the amp and speaker wires, so cost doesn't matter.  And unfortunately I won't be able to audition the active v passive design, so I'll have to pick.

Reviews helped me a lot when I was in your shoes. I think this is the one that swayed me the most:

http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/paradigm_active40.htm


Joe Frances

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #27 on: 18 Nov 2018, 11:15 pm »
I already have the amp and speaker wires, so cost doesn't matter.  And unfortunately I won't be able to audition the active v passive design, so I'll have to pick.


I know I am still Rip Van Winkle in the brave new world of audio, but three points come to mind about powered speakers that militate against them for me:

1.  What if the amp function within of of the speakers breaks or just stops working after a long time, and the manufacturer is out of business or more likely say they "can't support" the old version of the amp because it is too old?

2.  What if you like to modify or adapt the sound of your system to get it warmer or brighter or something? I assume there is nothing you can do with powered speakers.  (The only ones I've heard-- except audioengines-- have sounded ok, good, clean, bright, aggressive and anonymous.)

3. What if you want to try tubes or use your older amp that's still good but you don't have other speakers.  Out of luck, right?

I may be wrong about these, but thought I would bring up these considerations that hold me back.




Bendingwave

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #28 on: 19 Nov 2018, 12:56 am »
My main concern is the powered dsp amps failing way before the speaker drivers.....other concerns is if that manufacturer goes out of business and or that exact amp model is no longer available....Also lets say that amp model is not available but they have a up grade model would one have to change ALL the amps on the rest of the speakers as well? Or do all dsp amps sound exactly the same?

JLM

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #29 on: 19 Nov 2018, 02:00 pm »

I know I am still Rip Van Winkle in the brave new world of audio, but three points come to mind about powered speakers that militate against them for me:

1.  What if the amp function within of of the speakers breaks or just stops working after a long time, and the manufacturer is out of business or more likely say they "can't support" the old version of the amp because it is too old?

2.  What if you like to modify or adapt the sound of your system to get it warmer or brighter or something? I assume there is nothing you can do with powered speakers.  (The only ones I've heard-- except audioengines-- have sounded ok, good, clean, bright, aggressive and anonymous.)

3. What if you want to try tubes or use your older amp that's still good but you don't have other speakers.  Out of luck, right?

I may be wrong about these, but thought I would bring up these considerations that hold me back.

1.) Nearly the same argument for integrating any two or more functions into one cabinet.  It's a gamble to save now and possibly pay later or just pay more up front.  But integration has it's own benefits (saves space, cables, manufacturer picks synergistic matches - assuming you trust the manufacturer enough to buy his gear to start with).

2.) Most cheaper active monitors (under say $500 each or found at Guitar Center) do sound as you described, but when compared to similarly priced passive speakers (when taking the cost of amplification into account) beat the pants off them.  Expensive passive speakers sound dull, bloated, colored, and lack detail compared to quality active monitors.  Active studio monitors are workhorses, meant to dig into the truth versus home passive speakers that are meant to tickle particular fancies.  The question is, are you ready for the truth or do you want to chase your tail to satisfy what entertains you?

3.) Bryston has a solution for those who want active and yet pick their own amps, but it's bulky, complex, very expensive, and could sound like crap when you're done inventing your own recipe. 

And besides, active have many sonic advantages, some of which I spelled out above, that make passive obsolete. 

JLM

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #30 on: 19 Nov 2018, 02:13 pm »
My main concern is the powered dsp amps failing way before the speaker drivers.....other concerns is if that manufacturer goes out of business and or that exact amp model is no longer available....Also lets say that amp model is not available but they have a up grade model would one have to change ALL the amps on the rest of the speakers as well? Or do all dsp amps sound exactly the same?

Amps aren't DSP.  Digital Signal Processing is a delay and frequency adjustment to correct for speaker and/or room phase/response issues.  It's often applied in software (REW and Dirac Live are popular) but can also be available in the crossovers of active (not powered) speakers. 

Again, it's one of the old trade off questions between integration or separates.  Save and synergize now taking a risk putting more eggs in the same basket or pay more and go separates, hoping to match/exceed sonics.

Professionals put more value in drivers and type of loading (sealed/ported/etc.) than amps (read soundonsound.com), so shouldn't we?

DMurphy

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #31 on: 19 Nov 2018, 04:19 pm »
I think you're exaggerating the audible differences between a properly designed passive speaker and a competent active speaker, assuming the drivers themselves are reasonably well behaved.  That opinionis based on a number of A-B comparisons, one with passive vs active versions of the same speakers.  However, an active execution is much more flexible.  You don't have to worry about keeping impedance up and you can choose drivers that would be difficult to tame with a passive crossover.  I once did a one-off with Jim using the original and gigantic Heil AMT driver in a 2-way.   I had to throw everything I could think of to flatten out the Heil's wayward response, and it still wasn't as flat as I would have liked.  I probably could have achieved near-perfect linearity with an active crossover. 

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #32 on: 19 Nov 2018, 07:27 pm »
My main concern is the powered dsp amps failing way before the speaker drivers.....other concerns is if that manufacturer goes out of business and or that exact amp model is no longer available....Also lets say that amp model is not available but they have a up grade model would one have to change ALL the amps on the rest of the speakers as well? Or do all dsp amps sound exactly the same?

All components fail at some point or another. What would you do if your amp failed or your pre-amp? Get it repaired or replaced. The same with an active speaker. Have you ever bought a subwoofer before? Was it active or passive? Why don't people buy passive subs for the same reasons you mention, that the amp might fail? :scratch:

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #33 on: 19 Nov 2018, 07:34 pm »

I know I am still Rip Van Winkle in the brave new world of audio, but three points come to mind about powered speakers that militate against them for me:

1.  What if the amp function within of of the speakers breaks or just stops working after a long time, and the manufacturer is out of business or more likely say they "can't support" the old version of the amp because it is too old?

2.  What if you like to modify or adapt the sound of your system to get it warmer or brighter or something? I assume there is nothing you can do with powered speakers.  (The only ones I've heard-- except audioengines-- have sounded ok, good, clean, bright, aggressive and anonymous.)

3. What if you want to try tubes or use your older amp that's still good but you don't have other speakers.  Out of luck, right?

I may be wrong about these, but thought I would bring up these considerations that hold me back.

1. If the amp breaks in an active speaker you take it to your vendor to repair. It is generally a plate type amp that can be removed and shipped to the vendor if needed. No different than if your regular amp would break.

2. If you want to change the sound of your system use a buffer like the iTube between the pre-amp and speaker.
I found using a better power cord yielded excellent results.

3. See #2 above.

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #34 on: 19 Nov 2018, 07:37 pm »
I've told this story several times over the years here on AC but it's worth repeating:

18 years ago I visited a shop and auditioned Paradigm Studio 20s ($800/pair 2-way passive monitor) versus Paradigm Active 20s ($1600/pair 2-way active monitor using same drivers/cabinet).  No comparison!  Dynamics just jumped.  Flat frequency response (a revelation in itself).  Bass was super deep and full.  I was gobsmacked by the bass alone.  Passersby that we were listening to Studio 100s ($2200/pair multiple driver floor stander), but imaging was better on the the Active 20s.  You just couldn't get that sound from any other Paradigm (besides the Active 40).

That's why I've used active (not just powered) speakers for 15 years. [/i]

Those are the exact speakers in my system, thanks for sharing the story. I use the active 40's as bed channels and the active 20's as height channels you see on the stands. I got the Paradigm Shift A2 active speaker for the VOG you see over the sofa:










FullRangeMan

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Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #35 on: 19 Nov 2018, 07:49 pm »
Some years ago at the defuct SACD.NET forum the kind gentleman CEO from BIS Records Mr.Robert inform us the liked Genelec active speakers that he used in the Bis Mastering studio and he praised the bass transients.

Personally I think active speaker are suited to pro-audio market and passive speaker are suited to hifi home audio.

OzarkTom

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #36 on: 19 Nov 2018, 08:01 pm »
Are there any companies making powered Alnico speakers today? That should be the simplest to design.

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #37 on: 19 Nov 2018, 08:23 pm »
Some years ago at the defuct SACD.NET forum the kind gentleman CEO from BIS Records Mr.Robert inform us the liked Genelec active speakers that he used in the Bis Mastering studio and he praised the bass transients.

Personally I think active speaker are suited to pro-audio market and passive speaker are suited to hifi home audio.


I understand why passive speakers are more popular in the home market but why aren't they popular in the pro market? Take a look at this immersive audio setup at Abbey Road using active speakers.



mr_bill

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #38 on: 19 Nov 2018, 08:27 pm »
1.) Nearly the same argument for integrating any two or more functions into one cabinet.  It's a gamble to save now and possibly pay later or just pay more up front.  But integration has it's own benefits (saves space, cables, manufacturer picks synergistic matches - assuming you trust the manufacturer enough to buy his gear to start with).

2.) Most cheaper active monitors (under say $500 each or found at Guitar Center) do sound as you described, but when compared to similarly priced passive speakers (when taking the cost of amplification into account) beat the pants off them.  Expensive passive speakers sound dull, bloated, colored, and lack detail compared to quality active monitors.  Active studio monitors are workhorses, meant to dig into the truth versus home passive speakers that are meant to tickle particular fancies.  The question is, are you ready for the truth or do you want to chase your tail to satisfy what entertains you?

3.) Bryston has a solution for those who want active and yet pick their own amps, but it's bulky, complex, very expensive, and could sound like crap when you're done inventing your own recipe. 

And besides, active have many sonic advantages, some of which I spelled out above, that make passive obsolete.

Hi,
Could you suggest some active speakers that you think highly of?  I know you like the cheaper JBL bookshelf 305, but if you have others that are priced higher but are still great values, I'd love to hear.
Thanks,
Bill

witchdoctor

Re: Powered Versus Passive Speakers
« Reply #39 on: 19 Nov 2018, 08:33 pm »
Hi,
Could you suggest some active speakers that you think highly of?  I know you like the cheaper JBL bookshelf 305, but if you have others that are priced higher but are still great values, I'd love to hear.
Thanks,
Bill

Well of course you should start your search with the Salk Powered monitors  :thumb:

The BIG thing to consider when shopping is how you will use them. Some powered monitors include a DAC and a remote/volume control. If you will be using them in a system that includes a dac and pre-amp all you want is a powered speaker.

The Kef Active LS-50 is an active system including a DAC. For my application in a home theater that would not work. The JBL's are powered monitors which would work fine for a home theater. How will you be using them?