Psilonaught

Going active, what an absolute revelation!?

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Some of you know that I'm a bit of a Magnepan obsessive, and have had many pairs over the years. I had always read on various forums about users going active with amazing results. Frankly it all seemed too complicated, and only the higher end maggies are designed with removable, external crossovers, so never tried it.

I liked the idea though. Not just because of the ability to properly bi-amp, but because you are doing away with a load of caps, inductors and resistance.

Fast forward to the present and I was recently able to secure a mint pair of 20.1s. 

Having used them passive for a couple of months, in order to get familiar with the passive sound, I took the plunge and bought an analogue crossover and monoblocks for bass duties. 

I just have to say that the difference is making my hair stand on end. I'm really quite shocked.

It's as if a wall of resistance has been removed. The 20.1 is a very revealing and accurate speaker, but using a good analogue crossover and no capacitors in between the amps and speakers is like suddenly seeing clearly through a dusty window.

Now I see why so many high end speakers and systems run active. Now I "get" it.

Amazing.

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15 hours ago, Psilonaught said:

Some of you know that I'm a bit of a Magnepan obsessive, and have had many pairs over the years. I had always read on various forums about users going active with amazing results. Frankly it all seemed too complicated, and only the higher end maggies are designed with removable, external crossovers, so never tried it.

I liked the idea though. Not just because of the ability to properly bi-amp, but because you are doing away with a load of caps, inductors and resistance.

Fast forward to the present and I was recently able to secure a mint pair of 20.1s. 

Having used them passive for a couple of months, in order to get familiar with the passive sound, I took the plunge and bought an analogue crossover and monoblocks for bass duties. 

I just have to say that the difference is making my hair stand on end. I'm really quite shocked.

It's as if a wall of resistance has been removed. The 20.1 is a very revealing and accurate speaker, but using a good analogue crossover and no capacitors in between the amps and speakers is like suddenly seeing clearly through a dusty window.

Now I see why so many high end speakers and systems run active. Now I "get" it.

Amazing.

Excellent news sir :)

very happy to know you took the plunge with expected results. 

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Super Wammer

Welcome to the world of active.

Like you, when I decided to build some speakers and use them in an active configuration, I could not believe the improvements over a passive crossover. The next revelation was using DSP to give a flat response in my room. No more Boom and Tizz.

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What was the make and model of the analogue crossover James?

Jack

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6 hours ago, Non-Smoking Man said:

What was the make and model of the analogue crossover James?

Jack

Hi Jack

All info in here over in the DIY section.  Amazingly, the dbx 234xs unit cost less than £200 and is phenomenal, in so much as it seems to have little to no audible impact on signal path. 

The noise floor, to my ear, hasn't changed either which certainly did with the Behringer DCX until I tried previously, and which wasn't very good.

My goal is to now get a miniDSP between my lovely rectified dac and the Innuous and whilst keeping in the digital domain, smooth out a few spikes in the FR I have.

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, Psilonaught said:

The noise floor, to my ear, hasn't changed either which certainly did with the Behringer DCX until I tried previously, and which wasn't very good.

I use the DCX2496 for speaker management in my system, and yes, there is a quiet hiss (although I do not notice at the listening position) when no music is playing, but I have not found it noticeable when music is playing, and the improvements to the overall performance far outweigh that.

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On 25/10/2020 at 23:01, Psilonaught said:

I liked the idea though. Not just because of the ability to properly bi-amp, but because you are doing away with a load of caps, inductors and resistance.

The 20.1 is a very revealing and accurate speaker, but using a good analogue crossover and no capacitors in between the amps and speakers is like suddenly seeing clearly through a dusty window.

It's great that you are delighted with the improvement to the sound quality of your system.

However let's at least be realistic and give a balanced view as to the components in the signal path.

What do you think is in the signal path in your active analogue crossover?

How do you think your active analogue crossover splits the signal between the bass and the upper frequencies?

Do you think it does it by passing the signal through some magic wire or air that splits the signal?

Or do you think it does it by passing the signal through a collection of capacitors, resistors and transistors (most likely collections of transistors inside op amps)?

For sure you now have no capacitors between your power amps and your speakers. But you now have capacitors, resisistors and transistors between your pre-amp and your power amps that weren't there before.

Going active tends to work best on low efficiency speakers. And where the bass drivers via  the passive crossover could do with the additional electrical damping from going active. And where there are frequency anomalies via the passive crossover that would benefit from conversion to active.

Magnepans are good candidates for conversion to active.

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32 minutes ago, lindsayt said:

It's great that you are delighted with the improvement to the sound quality of your system.

However let's at least be realistic and give a balanced view as to the components in the signal path.

What do you think is in the signal path in your active analogue crossover?

How do you think your active analogue crossover splits the signal between the bass and the upper frequencies?

Do you think it does it by passing the signal through some magic wire or air that splits the signal?

Or do you think it does it by passing the signal through a collection of capacitors, resistors and transistors (most likely collections of transistors inside op amps)?

For sure you now have no capacitors between your power amps and your speakers. But you now have capacitors, resisistors and transistors between your pre-amp and your power amps that weren't there before.

Going active tends to work best on low efficiency speakers. And where the bass drivers via  the passive crossover could do with the additional electrical damping from going active. And where there are frequency anomalies via the passive crossover that would benefit from conversion to active.

Magnepans are good candidates for conversion to active.

Hi

Yes obviously the active box adds extras circuitry that wasn't there, but given the additional layer of information retrieval I am hearing, clearly the new component improves over the old passive crossover. Magnepan are notorious for putting nasty caps in their crossovers, even ones costing in excess of £10k. 

:)

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Super Wammer

The lack of components between the power amp and the speaker is IMO, the biggest plus, the extra control and immediacy afforded to the drivers, delivers better attack and decay of notes. Then add in the dsp for controlling room nodes, and you have a winning combination.

I have heard a few active setups now, some have been passive speakers, converted to active use (Bencat, Fourlegs), some like my own, TonyJ and MF100, using older drivers in DIY enclosures, have all sounded superb, and where applicable better than their passive counterparts. This is of course, my ears and my opinion, but hopefully some of the aforementioned may come along to agree or disagree.

I was going to mention the Flash and his active ATC's but I believe he is taking a break, come back, I am missing your witticisms already :) 

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On 27/10/2020 at 08:34, lindsayt said:

It's great that you are delighted with the improvement to the sound quality of your system.

However let's at least be realistic and give a balanced view as to the components in the signal path.

What do you think is in the signal path in your active analogue crossover?

How do you think your active analogue crossover splits the signal between the bass and the upper frequencies?

Do you think it does it by passing the signal through some magic wire or air that splits the signal?

Or do you think it does it by passing the signal through a collection of capacitors, resistors and transistors (most likely collections of transistors inside op amps)?

For sure you now have no capacitors between your power amps and your speakers. But you now have capacitors, resisistors and transistors between your pre-amp and your power amps that weren't there before.

Going active tends to work best on low efficiency speakers. And where the bass drivers via  the passive crossover could do with the additional electrical damping from going active. And where there are frequency anomalies via the passive crossover that would benefit from conversion to active.

Magnepans are good candidates for conversion to active.

Yes this. And it is always good to bring some balance in. It can't be overlooked. Going from sometimes, depending on the speaker obviously a relatively simple set of electronics to something like the dbx, which is far more complex and as has been said even includes additional power supplies as well. Not to mention a load of extra cables even before it gets anywhere near the speaker. And even a load of adjustment pots which also are renowned for degrading sound quality. I can't imagine them being high grade either given its designed for professional use and are small and it costs 150 quid, like some singer uses in you local pub. Where noise is not a consideration. But I'm not knocking it, I'm sure it is giving you what you want, more of what you like. 

23 hours ago, Psilonaught said:

Hi

Yes obviously the active box adds extras circuitry that wasn't there, but given the additional layer of information retrieval I am hearing, clearly the new component improves over the old passive crossover. Magnepan are notorious for putting nasty caps in their crossovers, even ones costing in excess of £10k. 

:)

Additional layers of information are obviously good but you have an additional layer of electronics now. Extra cables, power supplies etc. They can have an effect on the sound, that's why even tube buffers can be so effective and even a revelation to some. It changes the presentation you are now hearing to things you didn't before. It's not good or bad, depending on your perception obviously. What isn't good is adding extra hiss, but as I said its perceptions, if it doesn't bother you and you are happier with the overall effect, it's a winner. It's all a balance and an entertainment medium so it's up to you what you do with it. 

23 hours ago, greybeard said:

I was going to mention the Flash and his active ATC's but I believe he is taking a break, come back, I am missing your witticisms already :) 

I'm not sure of those ATCs aren't they more powered speakers than fully active per se, with dedicated amplifiers for the drivers. And it'll still have some form of crossover (passive I suspect in ATC) but even if they are active crossovers they are still there just in more complex form. Unless it's a speaker driver that's designed to be used with no crossovers and rely on its smooth roll off characteristics then crossovers no matter what type all a form of sound effect no matter what type you use. What I really don't get is night and day statements with active crossovers. If anything well designed speakers with no crossovers will be 'the best' as there is nothing interfering with the sound just energy straight from the amp. 

Edited by eddie-baby
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I love active, don't think I'll ever buy a speaker which at least can't be converted to active at a later date

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14 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

I'm not sure of those ATCs aren't they more powered speakers than fully active per se, with dedicated amplifiers for the drivers. And it'll still have some form of crossover (passive I suspect in ATC) but even if they are active crossovers they are still there just in more complex form.

Extracted from this link

Billy Woodman makes no bones about his preference, on sonic grounds, for active designs. First, with separate amps optimised for each driver’s frequency band, Woodman explains that intermodulation distortion is reduced by around 20dB because the dedicated amps operate over a narrower range. Secondly, the active filters give better filter roll-off characteristics at crossover which, combined with a variable all-pass filter at each crossover point to correct phase response, results in better group delay characteristics, improves polar response and so radiated power response, delivering a large soundstage with precise and stable imaging. Thirdly, a known amp damping factor together with the absence of long cable runs and passive crossovers leaves driver Q unaffected, giving tighter control of low frequencies. Finally, Woodman contends, passive crossovers are inevitably compromised by driver impedance variations that occur with load, resulting in frequency response errors as the filters are forced out of their fixed impedance design parameters. With active speakers, filter response is maintained independent of input power.

ronnie

Edited by Man in a van
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37 minutes ago, Man in a van said:

Billy Woodman....... 

Blindfold Billy, put him in a room with some of the best designed passives and he won't tell the difference. He might just save himself a box count and a load of cabling in the process. 

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As the link above was for the SCM19 actives I'll just say I'm sure the SCM40s are active rather than powered, as I suspect all ATC actives are. And I believe are better as a result.

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1 minute ago, MartinC said:

As the link above was for the SCM19 actives I'll just say I'm sure the SCM40s are active rather than powered, as I suspect all ATC actives are. And I believe are better as a result.

Are the crossovers fully adjustable? 

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