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lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
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ChrisIRL said:
Owners of passive systems regularly discuss the downsides of their systems, albeit mostly indirectly by discussing desire to upgrade components, improve sound quality etc.

What are the downsides to active systems? Be honest now. If actives were all that, they'd be all there is surely? Most on here come across as a knowlegeable bunch. There's got to be more to passive/ separates than simply clinging on to how it's always been.

My big no no to actives is the thought of all your eggs in one basket. Supposing the amp failed, you've lost everything. Perhaps initially you think all is great but in time you just don't like the highs, too bright. You're stuck.
Chris, we are a few pages into this thread and I think that 2 very important areas of actives vs passives have not been covered properly.

1. How does the system sound?

2 How much did or would the owner have to pay for it?

I am listening now to a system with an active crossover. This is the 2nd active crossover I've used in this system.

The first crossover that I used was a modern Ashly 4th order adjustable active crossover. When I introduced this to my system at a cost of £115 it sounded as if my amplifiers were having an easier time. Greater dynamic ease. I was also able to mix and match amplifiers and still maintain a relatively neutral overall tonal balance with the right adjustments on the volume pots on the crossover. This was at the expense of the introduction of a certain amount of transistorised hash which was most noticeable in the midrange.

Over time the Ashly developed audible hum through the speakers. I replaced it with a vintage Pioneer SF-700 adjustable active crossover at a cost of about £150. The Pioneer has dials for making it a 1st, 2nd or 3rd order crossover. In this system I've always used it as first order. Hum aside, I prefered the sound of the Pioneer to the Ashly as it sounds more transparent, less transistorised hash.

When comparing the passive version vs the Ashly vs the Pioneer active version the basic sonic nature of the speakers (Bozak Symphonies) remained. So that for example, I would still take the passive version of the Symphonies over my Linn Isobariks - once I'd tweaked room positions to get them optimal for each speaker. From there I would take the Pioneer active version over the passive version of these speakers.

Comparing my Bozaks to my passive EV Sentry III's, the Bozaks have better bass. It's tighter, better textured, more tuneful - more realistic sounding. The Sentries have better midrange: more wide open, unfettered, more bite, better focus and clarity.

Comparing my Bozaks to my EV Patrician 800's they have equally good but different bass. The Patricians have greater bass extension and a more dynamic bass. At similar volumes, bass drums will project out into the room more and sound like they have greater contrast to the background level more with the Patricians. However, the upper bass on the Bozaks is tighter than the Patricians. The Patricians are better in the midrange in the same way that the Sentries are better in the midrange.

I paid £500 for my Symphonies, about the same for the Sentries if I include the repair costs for them. I paid about £5500 for the Patricians.

For the upper frequencies on my Bozaks I use a Coincident Frankenstein 300b prototype that I bought for about £1650. For the bass I used to use an Avondale homebrew for which I think I paid about £700. I now use a JBL 6230 bought for £84. I don't use a pre-amp in my Bozak system.

Those are my thoughts on my systems. Systems I have lived with for a few years.

ChrisIRL, I can give you my thoughts on other active systems I've heard, if you wish?
 

ChrisIRL

New member
Apr 12, 2014
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Well that kicked off some discussion and thanks all for your contributions. The main points I'm still picking up on are;

1. Actives generally offer better sound quality for a lower price. That probably makes them a better consideration for someone who hasn't already invested in a pricey passive system.

2. They offer some degree of space saving. If however you still wanted to use your CD player, Dac or whatever you may have you're not gaining much, if you even needed it.

3. Actives can allow for some degree of upgradability. Defeats the point of considering them for me, moving from one monster to the next!

4. Limited choice of appealing designs at a variety of prices. Not something that would bother me too much but some of the plastic looking "studio" designs are a bit nasty.

5. Amplifier is optimal design for the drivers. In a passive system a good amplifier with decent power connected to well designed speakers can't underperform that much, can it?
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
88
18,670
ChrisIRL said:
Well that kicked off some discussion and thanks all for your contributions. The main points I'm still picking up on are;

1. Actives generally offer better sound quality for a lower price. That probably makes them a better consideration for someone who hasn't already invested in a pricey passive system.

2. They offer some degree of space saving. If however you still wanted to use your CD player, Dac or whatever you may have you're not gaining much, if you even needed it.

3. Actives can allow for some degree of upgradability. Defeats the point of considering them for me, moving from one monster to the next!

4. Limited choice of appealing designs at a variety of prices. Not something that would bother me too much but some of the plastic looking "studio" designs are a bit nasty.

5. Amplifier is optimal design for the drivers. In a passive system a good amplifier with decent power connected to well designed speakers can't underperform that much, can it?
Hi,

I have never heard actives, so you may want some feedback on what they are like when comparing to passives - people on here can provide comparison summaries.

If anything, as others have stated in many posts, get a demonstration of them, to see if you like them. There are many shapes and sizes, ranging from very small to large floor standing (ATC). You can still adjust the sound if so desired, by using room DSP correction.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
ChrisIRL said:
Well that kicked off some discussion and thanks all for your contributions. The main points I'm still picking up on are;

1. Actives generally offer better sound quality for a lower price. That probably makes them a better consideration for someone who hasn't already invested in a pricey passive system.

2. They offer some degree of space saving. If however you still wanted to use your CD player, Dac or whatever you may have you're not gaining much, if you even needed it.

3. Actives can allow for some degree of upgradability. Defeats the point of considering them for me, moving from one monster to the next!

4. Limited choice of appealing designs at a variety of prices. Not something that would bother me too much but some of the plastic looking "studio" designs are a bit nasty.

5. Amplifier is optimal design for the drivers. In a passive system a good amplifier with decent power connected to well designed speakers can't underperform that much, can it?
1. For the A/B demos I've been to, it has been the active systems that have almost always offered worse sound quality for the money spent on them.

5. The optimal amplifier design for the drivers, especially for 3, 4 or 5 way speakers would include a Single Ended Triode (SET) amplifier for the midrange. Midrange drivers are naturally more efficient than bass drivers. Midrange drivers do not need damping from the amplifier. Good SET amplifiers sound better, more trasnparent, more natural, more realistic in the midrange than the finest solid state amplifiers. Any 3 or more way active speaker that does not use SET amplification does NOT have optimal amplification.
 

ChrisIRL

New member
Apr 12, 2014
36
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0
[/quote]

5. The optimal amplifier design for the drivers, especially for 3, 4 or 5 way speakers would include a Single Ended Triode (SET) amplifier for the midrange. Midrange drivers are naturally more efficient than bass drivers. Midrange drivers do not need damping from the amplifier. Good SET amplifiers sound better, more trasnparent, more natural, more realistic in the midrange than the finest solid state amplifiers. Any 3 or more way active speaker that does not use SET amplification does NOT have optimal amplification.

[/quote]

As with a lot of hifi components "optimal" doesn't necessarily mean clearly audibly better than than "good enough". I think I have to get some serious actives to noticeably improve on what I have.
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
207
0
0
While it's interesting to weigh up the pros and cons and comparing passive and active, it's easiest to just consider it as just another option, albeit slightly left field. for me it all boils down to

1) Do you like the sound? Go audition some actives and see whether you can find a pair that satisfies you.

2) Are they suitable for your needs, taking into consideration some of the drawbacks mentioned earlier in the thread.

These 2 may vary in importance. I like them enough that I'm prepared to work around some of the practical and aesthetic issues. However, priorities vary.
 

lpv

New member
Mar 14, 2013
47
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0
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
lpv said:
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
Would you care to name a less important component in the audio chain?
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
88
18,670
lindsayt said:
lpv said:
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
Would you care to name a less important component in the audio chain?
Hi,

That would be cables. As stated many times on this forum, they have no effect at all. So, you can probably remove them completely.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

luckylion100

New member
Nov 6, 2011
72
0
0
shadders said:
ChrisIRL said:
Well that kicked off some discussion and thanks all for your contributions. The main points I'm still picking up on are;

1. Actives generally offer better sound quality for a lower price. That probably makes them a better consideration for someone who hasn't already invested in a pricey passive system.

2. They offer some degree of space saving. If however you still wanted to use your CD player, Dac or whatever you may have you're not gaining much, if you even needed it.

3. Actives can allow for some degree of upgradability. Defeats the point of considering them for me, moving from one monster to the next!

4. Limited choice of appealing designs at a variety of prices. Not something that would bother me too much but some of the plastic looking "studio" designs are a bit nasty.

5. Amplifier is optimal design for the drivers. In a passive system a good amplifier with decent power connected to well designed speakers can't underperform that much, can it?
Hi,

I have never heard actives, so you may want some feedback on what they are like when comparing to passives - people on here can provide comparison summaries.

If anything, as others have stated in many posts, get a demonstration of them, to see if you like them. There are many shapes and sizes, ranging from very small to large floor standing (ATC). You can still adjust the sound if so desired, by using room DSP correction.

Regards,

Shadders.
that you've never actually heard actives yet are the main contributor to this thread. I acknowledge your technical know how and do my best to keep up but surely the unbaised (rare around these parts) subjective listening experience and comparison is equally important? I foolsihly assumed you'd been the victim of actives at some point in your early hi-fi life. Left broken hearted and full of resentment, vowing never to repeat such folly. Wrong again... ;-)

I used EQ settings on my Yamaha WCX-50 to great effect with my chosen make of actives, until I added the sub, now the settings are absolutely neutral and unflavoured. Before hand they were occasionally too analytical.

I truly believe a sub section of this forum should be created so the sillineess of the them and us situation is a thing of the past. An active thread isn't enough.

I believe we can continue going in endless circles comparing the two different methods of delivering musical pleasure but one of the most important aspects or links in the chain is the quality of the source material. Much of the time that alone renders all this talk utterly meaningless.

That's my limited imput to this discussion.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
88
18,670
luckylion100 said:
shadders said:
ChrisIRL said:
Well that kicked off some discussion and thanks all for your contributions. The main points I'm still picking up on are;

1. Actives generally offer better sound quality for a lower price. That probably makes them a better consideration for someone who hasn't already invested in a pricey passive system.

2. They offer some degree of space saving. If however you still wanted to use your CD player, Dac or whatever you may have you're not gaining much, if you even needed it.

3. Actives can allow for some degree of upgradability. Defeats the point of considering them for me, moving from one monster to the next!

4. Limited choice of appealing designs at a variety of prices. Not something that would bother me too much but some of the plastic looking "studio" designs are a bit nasty.

5. Amplifier is optimal design for the drivers. In a passive system a good amplifier with decent power connected to well designed speakers can't underperform that much, can it?
Hi,

I have never heard actives, so you may want some feedback on what they are like when comparing to passives - people on here can provide comparison summaries.

If anything, as others have stated in many posts, get a demonstration of them, to see if you like them. There are many shapes and sizes, ranging from very small to large floor standing (ATC). You can still adjust the sound if so desired, by using room DSP correction.

Regards,

Shadders.
that you've never actually heard actives yet are the main contributor to this thread. I acknowledge your technical know how and do my best to keep up but surely the unbaised (rare around these parts) subjective listening experience and comparison is equally important? I foolsihly assumed you'd been the victim of actives at some point in your early hi-fi life. Left broken hearted and full of resentment, vowing never to repeat such folly. Wrong again... ;-)

I used EQ settings on my Yamaha WCX-50 to great effect with my chosen make of actives, until I added the sub, now the settings are absolutely neutral and unflavoured. Before hand they were occasionally too analytical.

I truly believe a sub section of this forum should be created so the sillineess of the them and us situation is a thing of the past. An active thread isn't enough.

I believe we can continue going in endless circles comparing the two different methods of delivering musical pleasure but one of the most important aspects or links in the chain is the quality of the source material. Much of the time that alone renders all this talk utterly meaningless.

That's my limited imput to this discussion.
Hi,

I have never criticised active speakers. I have always stated that they are the superior technical solution. In my post which you refer to, I state the person needs to have a demonstration to make sure they like the sound. I have asked others who have had the experience to provide a summary, and some people have responded with their views/experience.

I don't think this discussion is going in circles. Each person has offered different views, and the conversation has flowed quite naturally.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

lpv

New member
Mar 14, 2013
47
0
0
steve_1979 said:
lindsayt said:
lpv said:
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
Would you care to name a less important component in the audio chain?
The power cable.
+ 1

also, cloth ears as least important/ desirable link in audio chain, but this does not apply to Lindsay as ( at the same bake off) he could locate subwoofer from 4 meters away saying: " you can hear the bass notes coming from right side"
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
shadders said:
lindsayt said:
lpv said:
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
Would you care to name a less important component in the audio chain?
Hi,

That would be cables. As stated many times on this forum, they have no effect at all. So, you can probably remove them completely.

Regards,

Shadders.
We're getting into semantics here.

I class cables as ancilliaries and not as components.

Cables aren't important enough to put them in the same class as the digital or analogue source, the phono amp, the pre-amp, the power amp, the crossover, or the speakers.

In the context of my definition of what a component is and what an ancilliary is, would anyone care to name a less important component in a hi-fi system than the crossover?
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
lpv said:
steve_1979 said:
lindsayt said:
lpv said:
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
Would you care to name a less important component in the audio chain?
The power cable.
+ 1

also, cloth ears as least important/ desirable link in audio chain, but this does not apply to Lindsay as ( at the same bake off) he could locate subwoofer from 4 meters away saying: " you can hear the bass notes coming from right side"
I was sitting 3 metres from the subwoofer when I made that comment. Not 4.

And yes I could hear that the bass notes were coming from the right hand side on the first test track that was played.

It was the sort of thing that over time my ear adjusted to making it less of deal.

I've been to a performance of Swan Lake tonight. I could hear that the kettle drums were located at the far right of the orchestra pit.

I have no idea if you, lpv could tell that the bass notes at the bake-off from your system were coming from the right hand side or not as you made no comment about it on the day.

I also have no idea how many people in tonights audience could tell that the kettle drums were on the far right hand side, even if they closed their eyes.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
lpv said:
Compare a TVC passive vs a stepped attenuator passive vs a valved active vs a solid state active pre-amp.

First of all in a system unsuited to passive pre-amps - ie source not able to drive the cables, passive pre-amp and power amp input properly.

Then in a system well suited to passive pre-amps.

And preferably do it in a system with speakers with first class resolution / focus / clarity.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
88
18,670
lindsayt said:
shadders said:
lindsayt said:
lpv said:
I remember Lindsay saying at the bake off: crossovers are the least important component in all the audio chain *beee*
Would you care to name a less important component in the audio chain?
Hi,

That would be cables. As stated many times on this forum, they have no effect at all. So, you can probably remove them completely.

Regards,

Shadders.
We're getting into semantics here.

I class cables as ancilliaries and not as components.

Cables aren't important enough to put them in the same class as the digital or analogue source, the phono amp, the pre-amp, the power amp, the crossover, or the speakers.

In the context of my definition of what a component is and what an ancilliary is, would anyone care to name a less important component in a hi-fi system than the crossover?
Hi,

It was a joke. If as per so many posts on forums, cables have no effect, then you might as well remove them, but......that would mean the speakers will not be connected to the amplifier.

Sorry for the confusion.

Regards,

Shadders.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
7
18,795
lpv said:
... he could locate subwoofer from 4 meters away ...
Without wanting to take this thread off topic. :)

When using the DM10s with the AVI subwoofer I find it impossible to locate its position and I sit just 1 meter away with it on my right side. Even now I still regularly feel the need to check that it's still switched on by pressing my palm on top to feel for vibrations.
 

lpv

New member
Mar 14, 2013
47
0
0
lindsayt said:
lpv said:
did u compare them all?
Yes.

I have compared pre-amps from each of those 4 different genres at various bake-offs.

Have you?
blind test? instant switching between preamps? level matched? (and I mean level match, not what we've done at the bake off) ??

btw. I need to ask Andrew how far we were sitting plus if he could locate the sub..
 

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