Actives.

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tackleberry

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I’m aware of a few on here with active models but would like to know why they are not more popular. I don’t mean budget computer setups, I mean equivalents to what people class as in line with most of our systems.

Personally I was always put off by them, either because I thought “but I won’t have any nice amps to look at or swap later for more nice amps” or “I’m not paying that when there are so many other fab speakers I can swap in and out when I want”

The truth is over the past 20 years or so, the best speakers I’ve heard have all been active. Also I have to add purely accidentally. 3 models In total that re ignited my passion for audio.

SP acoustics. Sealed big cab, scan drivers.
ATC 100 (obviously!)
Grimm ls1. Quirky 3 way.

All had what I can only describe as not breaking a sweat in delivering music and nothing standing out where it shouldn’t be. Just the feeling of I would like to listen to them all all day.

I’m no expert, but I would like to know what others think with their experiences of both camps honestly.
 
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DomT

It’s all about the music
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The main reason why I didn’t get into actives in the 80s was because the entire HiFi press were focused on separate preamps and power amps and that these components needed to be in a vibration free environment and so actives were out of the question and only for jokers.

Subsequently I had a NuVista M3 so didn’t need an active speaker. Then when at KJWest One to buy a decent system they could have recommended actives but didn’t and so I bought an Audio Research LS25 mk2 preamp and VS115 power amp.

In the studio I have used actives since 2002 but no HiFi dealer has ever recommended that route when it could have been an option and it never occurred to me that an active set up could have sounded as good or better as my HiFi system always sounded better than my studio monitors.

Most of my interest now is in standmounts but I am sure to stick with my Harbeths and ATCs. Given that we should start with the speaker first then amps then actives seem to be out of the question for me. I did hear some ATC actives at a Wammer’s home for a couple of hours but it didn’t provoke an epiphany moment that I should try and find an active speaker.
 

hearhere

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 9, 2013
640
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Portsmouth, UK
AKA
Peter
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I’m aware of a few on here with active models but would like to know why they are not more popular. I don’t mean budget computer setups, I mean equivalents to what people class as in line with most of our systems.

Personally I was always put off by them, either because I thought “but I won’t have any nice amps to look at or swap later for more nice amps” or “I’m not paying that when there are so many other fab speakers I can swap in and out when I want”

The truth is over the past 20 years or so, the best speakers I’ve heard have all been active. Also I have to add purely accidentally. 3 models In total that re ignited my passion for audio.

SP acoustics. Sealed big cab, scan drivers.
ATC 100 (obviously!)
Grimm ls1. Quirky 3 way.

All had what I can only describe as not breaking a sweat in delivering music and nothing standing out where it shouldn’t be. Just the feeling of I would like to listen to them all all day.

I’m no expert, but I would like to know what others think with their experiences of both camps honestly.
The only active I've owned was the ATC Active 50. I didn't like them but not because they were active.

All the speakers you mention are "primitive" actives (with electronic crossover to individual amps feeding each driver) and you only save a power amp from your rack. The more recent thinking used by people like Dutch & Dutch and Kii is for speakers primarily designed for digital though they can cater for analogue too. DACs and room correction are built in and often a streamer so not need for any equipment rack piled with boxes and their associated snake-pit of cables! I believe the soon-to-be-released Avantgarde G3 speakers will be fully active, though will retain a facility whereby owners can use their own amps instead of the built-in ones.

Actives have been used extensively in professional applications (recording studios, music arenas, etc), but most domestic users baulk at the apparent high cost (we normally replace one part of our system at a time) and the loss of flexibility we feel (probably wrongly) is essential for our hobby.
 

DomT

It’s all about the music
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Dom
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The only active I've owned was the ATC Active 50. I didn't like them but not because they were active.

All the speakers you mention are "primitive" actives (with electronic crossover to individual amps feeding each driver), not the more recent thinking used by people like Dutch & Dutch and Kii. These are primarily designed for digital though they can cater for analogue too. DACs and room correction are built in and often a streamer so not need for any equipment rack piled with boxes and their associated snake-pit of cables! I believe the soon-to-be-released Avantgarde G3 speakers will be fully active, though will retain a facility whereby owners can use their own amps instead of the built-in ones.

Actives have been used extensively in professional applications (recording studios, music arenas, etc), but most domestic users baulk at the apparent high cost (we normally replace one part of our system at a time) and the loss of flexibility we feel (probably wrongly) is essential for our hobby.
What do you mean by lack of flexibility unless wanting to regularly change a power amp?
 

DomT

It’s all about the music
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Dom
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With actives, you can no longer pick and choose a power amp that you think will best suit your speakers.
Ok but I would assume that someone would only buy active if they did like the power amp in the speaker before purchase.
 

hearhere

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Portsmouth, UK
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Peter
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Ok but I would assume that someone would only buy active if they did like the power amp in the speaker before purchase.
The point is that most so-called audiphiles like messing about with their system from time to time and getting locked in with a particular amplifier worries them - illogically in most cases. Also not many of us can afford to replace everything in one go. We save up for speakers, or a new amp, but rarely both at the same time.

More and more people are getting used to the idea of putting extra elements into a sible box, whether this is an electronics box (eg all-in-ones) or speaker boxes (active speakers). Electronic circuits ae getting smaller so why have a DAC that's effectively the size of a matchbox in a huge case with its own power supply? Likewise preamps, power amps (particulatly Class D) and streamer modules can all fit neatly into a single case and share one extra good power supply - and no need for all those interconnects.
 
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jon

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I use AE1 actives in the home office. For fairly compact speakers, they sound great. I don't worry too much about a limited choice of power amp - I've never heard much difference between decent quality solid state power amps, and the amp-driver combine in the AE1s sounds good to my ears :) The speakers will always have limitations, but these are more about their size - they're never going to have the deepest bass, for example.
 

Beobloke

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Adam
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The truth is over the past 20 years or so, the best speakers I’ve heard have all been active. Also I have to add purely accidentally. 3 models In total that re ignited my passion for audio.

SP acoustics. Sealed big cab, scan drivers.
ATC 100 (obviously!)
Grimm ls1. Quirky 3 way.

My experience was similar - when I think of my top ten favourite loudspeakers I've ever heard, the top three were all active, so it seemed inevitable I'd end up with a pair in my main system.

I don't miss my old power amp in this system, only the nice big power meters it had!
 

StingRay

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Ray
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With actives, you can no longer pick and choose a power amp that you think will best suit your speakers.
Sounds like the wrong way round to me, how are you going the best amp amp for each of the drivers in your speakers? Also you have the passive crossovers to contend with.

Quite a few actives have preamps and DAC inside them, it’s not just a power amp.

Most ATC users prefer the active versions to the passive ones.
 
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tackleberry

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The only active I've owned was the ATC Active 50. I didn't like them but not because they were active.

All the speakers you mention are "primitive" actives (with electronic crossover to individual amps feeding each driver) and you only save a power amp from your rack. The more recent thinking used by people like Dutch & Dutch and Kii is for speakers primarily designed for digital though they can cater for analogue too. DACs and room correction are built in and often a streamer so not need for any equipment rack piled with boxes and their associated snake-pit of cables! I believe the soon-to-be-released Avantgarde G3 speakers will be fully active, though will retain a facility whereby owners can use their own amps instead of the built-in ones.

Actives have been used extensively in professional applications (recording studios, music arenas, etc), but most domestic users baulk at the apparent high cost (we normally replace one part of our system at a time) and the loss of flexibility we feel (probably wrongly) is essential for our hobby.
Mmmm.

Are the Grimm not dsp?

Analogue actives maybe primitive so far as to dsp actives but are they not a refinement on a passive setup?
 
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It Cost How Much!?!

Twisted
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Oct 27, 2008
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Bob
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Have run actives on and off for many years, but the current Cabasse Baltic II and Hovland Radia have the right mix.

No doubt I will run some in the future, but not ATC, not my cup of tea. Class D amps have been a boon for active speaker designers.
 
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MVJ

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I'm a fairly recent active speaker user buying a pair of Event Opals last year which was a total leap of faith as I'd always wanted to try them after reading lots about them.

It was a real eye opener changing from Tannoys & Monoblock valve amps the first impression was how fast and tight the bass was & how they seemed to find the delivery of the music as a whole so easy. I still can't get over how such small stand mounts can produce such deep flawless bass and the best stereo soundstage I've ever heard in my music room.

I am now convinced active speakers are the way to go to achieve the best sound in my room so don't envisage returning to a passive set up anytime soon. I also don't miss the extra boxes it's nice to minimise the box count
to three + TT & Phonostage.
 
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Tony_J

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I also don't miss the extra boxes it's nice to minimise the box count
to three + TT & Phonostage.
Of course, the box count only reduces if you buy actives that are "all in one". Having gone down the DIY route to actives, my 3-way system's box count is now 4x 2-channel amps, 1x digital crossover, 1x analogue crossover, plus streamer and other sources, so it is definitely NOT a smaller box count!
 
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Bokke

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Aug 18, 2018
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With actives, you can no longer pick and choose a power amp that you think will best suit your speakers.
And that is a blessing. Only downside can only listen to music
 
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hearhere

Wammer
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Apr 9, 2013
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Peter
HiFi Trade?
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Are the Grimm not dsp?
I'm not familiar with that rare speaker

Analogue actives maybe primitive so far as to dsp actives but are they not a refinement on a passive setup?
Not sure what you mean by "analogue actives". I was differentiating between simple (I called them primitive, probably inaccurately!) actives that have been around for donkies years and use a simple electronic XO and individual amps for each driver (eg ATC) and more recent thinking that adds a DAC and often a streamer and/otr RC to the mix (eg D&D)

Sorry if you were confused by my earlier message - I thought it was pretty descriptive of how (and why) modern actives for the hi-fi market are different from older and simpler actives used professionally.
 
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