Active VS passive – specific questions

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Well-known member
Dec 29, 2012
matt49 said:
I wasn't quite sure where to post this, but this old thread seemed like a sensible spot. In fact this post follows on from a thread

which I started under a different user name. (Sorry about that, feeling more comfortable now that my full name isn't on display).

The first stage of a complete upgrade of my living room system is to decide whether I want to go the active speaker route. I decided to test this by trying out actives in the £1-2K range and comparing them with separates in (roughly) the same price range. So yesterday I took a Mac loaded with ALACs to a local dealer to listen to:

Cyrus 6 DAC into Dynaudio DM 2/6 (£1700)

Excellent staging; good sense of space. Good control of (the just about adequate) low frequencies. Very sparkly top end, with a touch of splashiness. A decent system, though I’d prefer more presence at the bottom end and more control at the top.

AVI ADM9RS (with Scanspeak tweeter) (£1300)

Great naturalness of vocal tone; tangible presence in the room. Just a hint of boxiness with some vocals. Lacks the top-end brilliance of the Dynos: for instance, on the Isserlis Bach Cello Suites, I couldn’t make out SI’s fingering. Bottom end entirely absent (e.g. on Saint-Saens’s organ symphony). (I would have liked to hear the ADMs with the AVI sub, but the dealer had sold out of subs.)

Dynaudio Focus 110A (£1700, but reduced to clear at £1200)

Similar character to the AVIs: very proper and neutral. Still lacking the top end sparkle and bass depth of the passives. The upper middle dominates. But more life than the AVIs, definitely a notch or two above.

Cyrus 6 DAC into Dynaudio Excite X12 (£1800)

Markedly better all round, lower frequencies stronger, both more polished and exciting than the DM2/6s. More space in the recording, also more life, involvement and rhythm.

I'm interested in your comments about bass, re the Dyn Focus actually has deeper bass than the Dyn X12s, here is the FR 45 Hz – 21 kHz, there is even a filter setting on them to cut bass below 60hz and 80hzs, I presume you did not have that on?


Well-known member
Apr 7, 2013
Andrew Everard said:
John Duncan said:
I suspect the OP's ears are burning...

Never mind – the fact that his head is probably spinning should help cool them down

Not as problem. Grados are kept in the fridge for just an eventuality.

I did think several times before posting on this thread. And I have my own view about the whole "active speakers can/can't do bass" debate, which I'll keep to myself for now.


New member
Oct 1, 2011
BigH said:
The SCM19s frequency res is 54Hz-22kHz

So I would not expect much bass. The Dyn X12 is 50 Hz – 23 kHz (± 3 dB).

Oh Dear, I would not go by manufacturers specs as gospel, they dont show the whole truth. The SCM19/SCM20 will have significant outut in the 30-40Hz (and lower) range while the standmounts you mentioned will have dropped like a stone by that point. Sealed speakers have a much shallower roll off compared to ported speakers that have a 'hump' around the tuning frequency to 'boost' the bass level.


New member
Nov 9, 2012
steve_1979 said:
matt49 said:
steve_1979 said:
matt49 said:
If anyone could suggest some actives that are (a) big enough to produce decent bass and (b) not over £10K, I'd be keen to demo them.

Event Opal. 8)

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm sure they're great speakers, as are the Questeds, but infuriatingly the style police wouldn't let them in the house.

Your choice will be very limited then. Most active speakers a fugly.

IMO that's the only real advantage that passive speakers have over actives.

Some Hifi kit actually wins coveted prizes for aesthetic design, like the Red Spot design award....

A clue, - they are not speakers in wooden coffins..

But they are active

JB.. :cheers:


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