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Active VS passive – specific questions

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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I currently have the system in my signature.

The only real issue I have is the bass control, posted about in other posts I have made, but not really asking about that this time. I am going to demo a few amps to see what difference they make and go from there.

A few forum members say that they have AVI active speaker systems and they are much better than there previous passive systems including a member with Spendor SA1 speakers.

I have demoed various passive systems but never an active system. Of all the passive speakers I have demoed I liked the qualities of Spendor speakers the most.

Questions.

What is it about the active systems that you prefer?

Would actives suit someone like me who specifically wants a warmer slightly coloured sound?

Do they have a 'different' sound from valve/hybrid amplified speakers?
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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I have only heard some very expensive Linn Actives, but I think you probably can't make generalizations about the sound.

If I was to make a suggestion, it would be the Dynaudio Focus 110A.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I've often heard active speakers being described as too clinical, bright, edgy, etc etc. But i've had three pairs, all studio monitors too, two of them were not a bit bright, the Alesis M1 Active MK2s and the Adam a5x's, whereas the KRK Rokit 8s were on the lively side but not overly so. The Adams were very smooth, hyper revealing, but lovely with it, great speakers.

I'm getting some AVI ADM9Ts in the next couple of weeks, and i expect them to be better again than the Adams, i'll report back when i've got them..
 

moon

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Nov 10, 2011
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ooh.. said:
I've often heard active speakers being described as too clinical, bright, edgy, etc etc. But i've had three pairs, all studio monitors too, two of them were not a bit bright, the Alesis M1 Active MK2s and the Adam a5x's, whereas the KRK Rokit 8s were on the lively side but not overly so. The Adams were very smooth, hyper revealing, but lovely with it, great speakers.

I'm getting some AVI ADM9Ts in the next couple of weeks, and i expect them to be better again than the Adams, i'll report back when i've got them..
Whilst I do like a lot of active speakers, I thought the Adam A5 x's are one of the worst set of speakers i have ever heard and that includes passive. How their "engineers "havnt noticed is beyond me..... All that port noise from the bass......ugg.
 

daveh75

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2008
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Awaits the misuse of the term 'accuracy'.


FWIW, [generalising] actives offer better vfm/bang for buck than any passive system i've ever listned to.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
moon said:
ooh.. said:
I've often heard active speakers being described as too clinical, bright, edgy, etc etc. But i've had three pairs, all studio monitors too, two of them were not a bit bright, the Alesis M1 Active MK2s and the Adam a5x's, whereas the KRK Rokit 8s were on the lively side but not overly so. The Adams were very smooth, hyper revealing, but lovely with it, great speakers.

I'm getting some AVI ADM9Ts in the next couple of weeks, and i expect them to be better again than the Adams, i'll report back when i've got them..
Whilst I do like a lot of active speakers, I thought the Adam A5 x's are one of the worst set of speakers i have ever heard and that includes passive. How their "engineers "havnt noticed is beyond me..... All that port noise from the bass......ugg.
I suppose i could have mentioned that i returned them because of said port noise, two pairs actually. I figured it was because i was driving the little 5 inch woofers too hard using them as midfields.
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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i think first of all, as cno says, you can't really generalise. all the actives i've heard have been different. having said that, they have all had to some degree what i am starting to think is a characteristic of the good ones - a sublime mid and tight control of the bass, as well as a real sense of ease that possibly comes from having a lot of dynamic headroom. i've heard avi, genelec, adam, atc and my event speakers and would say all had similarities in the mids/vocal region when compared to what i now think of as a 'passive sound'. again, same as cno, i reckon dynaudio might veer towards a warmer sound. different to a valve/hybrid powered passive? i'd say the better actives eclipse any similar passive regardless of amp.

read this for some of the benefits of an active crossover.
 

moon

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Nov 10, 2011
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ooh.. said:
moon said:
ooh.. said:
I've often heard active speakers being described as too clinical, bright, edgy, etc etc. But i've had three pairs, all studio monitors too, two of them were not a bit bright, the Alesis M1 Active MK2s and the Adam a5x's, whereas the KRK Rokit 8s were on the lively side but not overly so. The Adams were very smooth, hyper revealing, but lovely with it, great speakers.

I'm getting some AVI ADM9Ts in the next couple of weeks, and i expect them to be better again than the Adams, i'll report back when i've got them..
Whilst I do like a lot of active speakers, I thought the Adam A5 x's are one of the worst set of speakers i have ever heard and that includes passive. How their "engineers "havnt noticed is beyond me..... All that port noise from the bass......ugg.
I suppose i could have mentioned that i returned them because of said port noise, two pairs actually. I figured it was because i was driving the little 5 inch woofers too hard using them as midfields.
I auditioned more than one pair in the end to check I wasnt hearing things. The guy who manages the shop even suggested it was a running joke as to how bad they sound. He was all for Opal, Genelec and Acosutic Energy all the way.
 

Messiah

Well-known member
Jan 13, 2008
205
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I can't speak for all actives but as for the AVIs I would not class them as warm so might not suit, but please try and demo some.

They are great and I moved from a Cyrus/Monitor Audio set up and have never looked back.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
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FennerMachine said:
What is it about the active systems that you prefer?
Better controlled, less boomy bass that sounds tighter than passives. They're more detailed and realistic sounding too.

FennerMachine said:
Would actives suit someone like me who specifically wants a warmer slightly coloured sound?
Do you have any pro-audio shops near to where you live? If you get the chance it'd be worth demoing a few to see what you think yourself. There's loads of different active speaker manufacturers available and all with their own different sound. Adam monitors use a ribbon tweeter that may suit your tastes if you like a warm sound.

My favourites at the cheaper end of the market are probably Dynaudio and Acoustic Energy. If you can spend a little bit more then the ugly Quested active monitors are the best speakers that I've ever heard.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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CnoEvil said:
I have only heard some very expensive Linn Actives, but I think you probably can't make generalizations about the sound. If I was to make a suggestion, it would be the Dynaudio Focus 110A.
+1 for this advice.

If wanting 'hi-fi' looking actives, your choices are more limited, but if you don't mind a more 'function over form' look, pro audio offers much more choice at varying prices.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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I think the advice given above is fair, especially those who advise caution, coming from the sound of the SA1s.

You don't want to lose the characteristics that you so love about these great little speakers, but build on them....be careful that you don't make a sideways step, that removes the enjoyment that you have taken so much trouble to find.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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Overdose said:
If wanting 'hi-fi' looking actives, your choices are more limited
IMO this is the big problem with active speakers at the moment.

Apart from ATC, AVI and Dynaudio there are no active speakers that are designed to look stylish. Speakers need to have grills and vaneers on them if they are to fit in with your living room decor and keep SWMBO happy.
 

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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Thank you all for your suggestions and input.

I notice that lots of actives need a separate volume control, basically a pre amp, also to take the various sources, with AVI having there own built in pre amp.

I think as CnoEvil says I need to be careful not to make a sideways step.

I also don't want to change for the sake of it & spend money when I don't need to.

On pre amps:

I tried my Cyrus aCA7.5 pre amp about a week ago. It sounded better than I remember, having tighter bass and more 'detail' than the Quad 44. It sounded quite good really. I then put my Quad 44 back on. Seemed to lose a bit of bass control and some detail. But after an extended listen I realised that I just prefer the Quad. For short sessions, 1 or 2 songs, the Cyrus is great! But for long listening sessions the Quad is just 'better'. The music is just more enjoyable.

I think I will just stick with what I have for now and maybe demo a few amps later this year. I will also try to demo a few active systems side-by-side with the passive systems when I do this.
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
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Good call. I've only heard one active pair but, whilst they were very good, they weren't the hifi equivalent of the second coming of Christ(©). I've heard plenty of passive systems (at all sorts of prices) that are better, and plenty (at all sorts of prices, including, this week, a £19k one) which were 'meh'. Listen and decide for yourself.
 

fr0g

New member
Jan 7, 2008
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All good advice.

From my perspective, what I have learned is that if you get a well engineered passive system, and a well engineered active system, at the same price, then the active should be better.

I have ADM9Ts, and I think they are extremely good. But even more surprising is how good "most" of the speakers are in the pro-audio world.

I paid a visit to a pro audio shop recently and tried 4 or 5 different speakers. All but one were excellent, my favourites were a pair of M-Audio DSM-1 speakers and some RCF Ayra 6.

The former have built in DAC so just need a digital source. The latter need a pre-amp, but at around £400 a pair are as good as any £400 passive speakers I have heard. Crystal clear sound, controlled bass and all you need is a DAC/pre (something like the Beresford DAC will be perfect)...so for <£600 you have a super detailed, high quality system.

I would never go back to passives.
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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John Duncan said:
Happy birthday by the way ;-)
Thanks John. The Galaxy tab is getting hammered! :) (But I am now sitting using a laptop, as it is far better at this stuff)... :)
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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John Duncan said:
Please also note that my definition of 'better' is 'that which I prefer'...
I would say "better" is based on measurements and "preferable" is based on opinion. Both are equally valid when you choose a system. Many people say active systems are generally "clinical", and they are generally right. But "clinical" can be replaced by the word "accurate".

But that is definitely "general", as there are SHT active systems just like there are SHT passive systems... :)

Oooh lot's of quotes :)
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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John Duncan said:
fr0g said:
The Galaxy tab is getting hammered
You got a Galaxy Tab? Cool. I thought you said you never would...:-D
I may have said that, although I can't remember. I reserve the right to be wrong :) Being of a scientific disposition (not clever enough to be an actual scientist) I think admission of "fail" is rather important. :)
 

relocated

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Jan 20, 2012
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John Duncan said:
fr0g said:
I would say "better" is based on measurements
Though I did read once that there isn't much about an active speaker that can be measured...
I wonder, John, where you might have heard that and was it long ago??

;)
 

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