active loudspeakers

jackelsson

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Dec 1, 2013
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#41
Preparing my trip to Munich for this year's High End show I just saw that ME Geithain is again showing their large 30k€ mastering monitor ML 811K1 in a multichannel set up with some of their other monitors and subwoofers in conference room K1B on the ground floor, as they already did in the two years before (see the picture below from 2017).

Since this has always been one of the better High End presentations for me I thought I mention it here in this thread. But ok, obviously I like the Geithain house sound.

Incidentally, in the last two years Chris Feickert hosted some of the one hour long presentation slots with his infamouns "DJ sets". Usually not exactly serious high end presentations, more blasting fun sessions. I really hope he will do it again this year. :D

IMG_6937_MEG-ML811K1_1000px.jpg
 

Bruce B

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#42
I've had several occasions to hear ME Geithain. Most of the time, they were playing some metal like Ramstein (or something like that). They do play loud.... but then I got the doppler effect when I started running away.
I have only heard a couple powered speakers that I could live with listening for pleasure. ATC, Genelec and ADAM.... leave it for the studio.
I could probably be able to adjust to Dynaudio..... Dunno what the hype was about the Grimm LS1 either. Never cared for them.....

PTE Phoenix review

and

Focal Trio
 
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jackelsson

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Dec 1, 2013
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#43
Bruce, thanks for the link to the PTE review. Very interesting monitors. Are they available outside of the US? I've never seen them mentioned anywhere over here.

May I ask what it is that you don't like with powered speakers? I mean, at least the way I heard them so far the ATC, ADAM and Genelec you mentioned are three rather different animals. So where do you see the commonality with them that you don't like?
 
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Bruce B

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#44
May I ask what it is that you don't like with powered speakers? I mean, at least the way I heard them so far the ATC, ADAM and Genelec you mentioned are three rather different animals. So where do you see the commonality with them that you don't like?
I never said I didn't like powered speakers. I just said I didn't like THOSE powered speakers. I do like the PTE, Focal and Dynaudio. The ATC, ADAM and Genelec that I had in here were great tools for the mixing/mastering studio, but sitting down to listen to them for pleasure, I just couldn't do it. I could not relax and they were "in your face" so to speak.
 

steve59

Active Member
Jan 7, 2018
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#45
Axpona 2019 ATC ran a comparison between their active and passive version of the same model and tbh I really don't think I could have told them apart in that setting. Hi end loudspeakers appear as a black hole that pulls in all my money once I get them home and they sound NOTHING like the shop demo, so using active speakers like Meridian I can place blame on my room and placement and trust the system.
 

jackelsson

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Dec 1, 2013
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#47
At this year’s Analog-Forum in Krefeld, Germany, Dr. Feickert and ME Geithain did the usual combined presentation of their gear. In the past usually medium sized Geithain midfield monitors had been used here to match the smaller hotel room sizes of the show. This year the companies had one of the bigger rooms and used the opportunity to show the mighty ML 811K1 mastering monitor which to my knowledge so far has only been presented in Munich.

Personally I think that the sound in Munich was still a bit better than in Krefeld because for this loudspeaker the room in Krefeld was still at the lower size limit of what the speaker has been built for (3…8 meters listening distance and generally higher SPLs). Still it’s a rather fascinating beast and it was fun to have another opportunity to audition it.

IMG_1822_MEG-ML-811K1_1200px_web.jpg
 
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jackelsson

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Dec 1, 2013
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#48
I was surprised to also find Backes & Müller at the Analog-Forum show this year. I don't think I have ever seen them there before.

Now I don't really know how well known B&M actually is outside of Germany, but they have been around since 1973, never doing anything else but active, feedback controlled loudspeakers, and they are definitely a sort of a household name in German hifi circles. Backes & Müller is certainly one of the first names that comes to mind over here whenever the topic comes to active speakers.

B&M speakers have always come at a price, and so it's not surprising that the two models on demo in Krefeld this year are also on the somewhat pricier end of the scale. The "smaller" B&M Line 15 goes at 25k€, the larger (although by far not their largest) model B&M Line 35 sells at 75k€.

The B&M house sound has always been a bit of a topic for discussions. Some people just love the speed and energy of these speakers and the resolution that they are capable of, some find them a tad to technical sounding with just too much resolution. Myself I always just loved the bass B&Ms can do, so dynamic and yet controlled, and with such an amazing slam and punch. In regard to the top end I'm still not sure. One of these days I really need to get a decent dealer demo of a Line 35 to really find out what they are capable of.

IMG_1829_Backes_Mueller_800pxh_web.jpg

IMG_1832_Backes_Mueller_800pxh_web.jpg
 
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JackD201

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Apr 21, 2010
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#49
I think powered speakers are great IF you like what the designers put together.

In my case I have quite a few sets but they are utility speakers and not "me time" speakers. I have ADAM monitors for my desktop as well as monitors for the DJ rig. For sorties, meetings and events I have a TurboSound powered set with horn loaded tweeters and 15" midbass drivers and 18" Powered subs run with Klark Teknik DSP.

My one and only audition with the Kii in Hong Kong was an unmitigated disaster. Was it the speaker? I don't know. All I know was it was sounded awful. For all the great NCore sets inside, the sound was strained and compressed leading me to feel like the drivers were being asked to do too much with the little internal volume provided in the package. They weren't even being played loud. Hopefully all this was just a case of them playing crappy files. The Meyer Sound actives were much much better in every way except looks.
 
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KlausR.

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Dec 13, 2010
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#50
Are there any other members here using active speakers, and if so, which ones and for which reasons?
The big MEGs were on my shortlist when I was shopping for speakers back in 2001, but my wife did not like their looks. I then bought the Klein+Hummel O500C, which was the other on my shortlist, which list was short indeed with only two speakers, so the choice was fairly easy.

Why did I buy them? 2x920 Wpc (2x1140 W peak), connect 1 analog + 1 digital source, in-built 10-band IIR EQ, drivers are adjusted using FIR-filters, in-built volume control (master-slave configuration), almost perfect measurements, and this was exactly what I was looking for: honest, revealing, neutral, no fancy gimmicks, no nice 'n expensive woodwork, simply form-follows-function.

They never run out of steam, bass is solid and pronounced, highs crystal-clear, for me still the best speakers out there.

Klaus

IMG_20191105_153001.jpg
 

Robh3606

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Aug 25, 2010
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#51
Well not exactly in the same league as some of the systems posted I have a pair of JBL M308 MK2 in my office at work Use them with 12" sub through a proper 24db L/R active crossover. I actually get a lot of time on them and they are remarkably good for their size and price. They are clean very little noise and image really well. Very happy with them.

Rob :) mkii308-angle_z.jpg
 
May 5, 2020
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#52
Are there any other members here using active speakers, and if so, which ones and for which reasons?
I do, but before getting into the reasons for my using and preferring actively configured speakers, I find it may be prudent to stress the one fundamental aspect of active speakers; namely that the filtering is done prior to amplification. I guess this goes without saying, but quite a few people interested in audio reproduction, even reviewers, refer to active speakers as all-in-one packages mainly, as if this was the only way to address active speakers with all that entails. One of the primary criticisms leveled at these active, bundled speaker packages is that they lend no way for the audiophile to choose between and experiment with different amps, cables and maybe even DAC's, robbing the audiophile of a vital element in his or her hobby.

Well, this needn't be so - indeed tweaking can be taken to a whole new level with an active configuration. Again: active means filtration prior to amplification, and this can be achieved with separate components as well. A daunting prospect perhaps in one area in particular, that of likely setting up the cross-over values by yourself. This is understandable, but once you get your head around using a given digital cross-over and the parameters involved, it's a potentially freeing process and even demystifying of cross-overs. Think about tweaking cross-over settings on the fly and from the listening position via your laptop/tablet in an ultimately rewarding trial-and-error process, eventually heading towards or even landing at the presentation that you prefer. If this however is an intimidating thought or otherwise simply not your cup of tea there are active speakers out there as separate components with factory presets to go by (like Sanders Sound), although they're not to be found in multitudes.

As for the reasons for my using an active set-up, it's first and foremost because - going by the active set-ups that I've heard, at least - that I find them to sound better than passive dittos, simply put. The set-ups that have formed or shaped my frame of reference into this subject are speakers that were passive to begin with and then converted into active, hence my having a direct comparison with the same speakers in one and then the other configuration. In one case different amps (adding more channels) were brought into the mix going active, and in others dual amp set-ups remained to power 2-way speakers actively.

The differences going to active, in all scenarios, had a similar imprinting though; the passive iteration sounded somewhat duller with less transient snap, more smeared and slightly "thicker" as if inertia held on to their presentation. Some might refer to the passive version sounding warmer or more musical here, and they'd be in their right to feel this way about it, but to my ears active is just more transparent and "monitor" in the way of being a more freed, less restricted, less character-inducing and more tonally correct presentation. A recurring phenomena with passive was an irritatingly grainy and "sizzling" character to the high frequencies (and the passive cross-over used here comprised excellent parts quality), whereas with active they became non-intrusive and subjectively better resolved - better ingrained into the whole of the presentation.

"But digital filters are prone to use A/D to D/A conversion on top of D/A conversion from a separate DAC [if such is used], and they're bad for sound," they say. Put into perspective: compared to what? This criticism is often leveled as if a passive cross-over was a transparent set of components to begin with, which is far from the case. Signal level filtration in the digital domain remains utterly impervious to SPL with rock-steady and ultra precise filter values in any case vs. a passive filter (with value tolerances in the first place) taking the full-wattage signal from the amp(s), but most of all it would simply seem filtration on signal level prior to the amps and with the amps seeing directly into the drivers, is the primary reason for the pedigree of active config.; it's also about the amps operating closer to their full potential. Mainly though: the proof is in the eating of the pudding, as they say.

With the summed experience of from-passive-to-active speaker set-ups I opted to buy a pair of used pro cinema speakers, Electro-Voice TS940D-LX (sans passive cross-overs). The DH1A compression driver + horn is fed by a 30 watt pure class-A Belles SA30, the dual EV 15" basses by a Crown Macro-Tech 1200 (soon to be replaced by a Crown K2), and the two MicroWrecker tapped horn subs (CAD drawing of them as my profile pic) are powered by a Crown K2. The EV horns are crossed to the dual 15" EV bass cabs at 789Hz 36dB/octave Linkwitz-Riley, the EV bass cabs are crossed to the tapped horn subs at 83Hz 36dB/octave L-R, and finally the subs are high-passed at 20Hz 36dB/octave Butterworth to protect the 15" B&C drivers below the tune.

EDIT: I forgot to mention a vital component used in my set-up, namely the Xilica XP3060 digital cross-over. It's a professional, very high quality XO, and I have tested it running over passively filtered main speakers in an initial configuration incorporating a sub (these passively filtered main speakers were run with the Xilica XO in the signal chain because they needed to be high-passed), which also had me determine the degree to which the Xilica XO affected the sound quality compared to it not being in the signal chain. To my surprise and by all accounts the Xilica's "electrical presence" went unnoticed - quite an achievement, and a giveaway to its SQ influence compared to a passive filter.
 

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#53
I am new to this forum, but this “active” question applies directly to my work so I have to answer. I am the importer for ATC. ATC and Genelec were both deep in active since about 1982.

The terms powered and active get thrown around as the same but they are very different: powered means an amp after the crossover but inside the speaker box (usually), so this does not achieve the benefits of active.

Active means the crossover is BEFORE the power amps, so no signal manipulation at speaker level (the most imprecise place to do it and the most lossy). True active is line input to a very good balanced crossover, balanced out to individually calibrated amplifiers for each driver (located very close to the driver) and have extremely short cable lengths to reduce the impact of wire on the speaker. With Active, you can adjust phase of each amp/driver system within, making the entire speaker system linear phase. With Active, the speaker sounds consistent across all SPL levels, as a passive system begins to change with heat in the drivers, altering not only the load presented, but other passive crossover behaviors that are audible.

The speaker designers that favor this “active” design believe that phase linearity, consistent behavior at max or minimum levels and proper amplifiers supplying maximum dynamic range to each driver is the goal. Some add a lot of research into drivers themselves, on top of the active nature of the their speakers, The type of amps used are still up to the designer. ATC for example uses class A/B amps with a big linear power supply, but others use Class G or D amps, the lower price points use amps with extremely small power supplies, often switching supplies or wall warts. An active three way should have three different sized amps inside, 2 different sized amps inside an active 2 way.

Brad
 
May 5, 2020
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#54
I am new to this forum, but this “active” question applies directly to my work so I have to answer. I am the importer for ATC. ATC and Genelec were both deep in active since about 1982.

The terms powered and active get thrown around as the same but they are very different: powered means an amp after the crossover but inside the speaker box (usually), so this does not achieve the benefits of active.
I'm sure that's what you meant, but nonetheless: from my understanding and for the above to make sense, "powered" would mean a speaker with build-in amps that could be active - that is, with the crossover before the amps - but mostly it shares a similar signal path as a passive speaker with a passive crossover after the amp(s), right? I guess you could say that when a speaker is active there's no reason to call it powered, as this would be assumed to begin with..

Active means the crossover is BEFORE the power amps, so no signal manipulation at speaker level (the most imprecise place to do it and the most lossy). True active is line input to a very good balanced crossover, balanced out to individually calibrated amplifiers for each driver (located very close to the driver) and have extremely short cable lengths to reduce the impact of wire on the speaker. With Active, you can adjust phase of each amp/driver system within, making the entire speaker system linear phase. With Active, the speaker sounds consistent across all SPL levels, as a passive system begins to change with heat in the drivers, altering not only the load presented, but other passive crossover behaviors that are audible.
Active means the filtration is happening on signal level prior to amplification, yes, as I mentioned above, but I don't see how "true active" is warranted as a definition with reference to a "balanced" crossover, nor that the cable length used to the drivers need be "extremely short." Active is active, truly, qua filtration prior to amplification, not to say there can't be benefits from using very short cable runs; you still get the potential benefits pointed out by you.

The speaker designers that favor this “active” design believe that phase linearity, consistent behavior at max or minimum levels and proper amplifiers supplying maximum dynamic range to each driver is the goal. Some add a lot of research into drivers themselves, on top of the active nature of the their speakers, The type of amps used are still up to the designer. ATC for example uses class A/B amps with a big linear power supply, but others use Class G or D amps, the lower price points use amps with extremely small power supplies, often switching supplies or wall warts. An active three way should have three different sized amps inside, 2 different sized amps inside an active 2 way.

Brad
There can certainly be outright benefits to a speaker design being developed as an active system with care taken into each element of the design, tailormade to complement the whole. As an example the ATC SCM150 ASL Pro are some of the very best speakers I've ever heard, not doubt due to the careful from-ground-up approach taken by ATC. Compared to a variety of other, and much more expensive "high-end" speakers I'd consider them a true bargain, and one needs only add a DAC/preamp or DAC + preamp separate solution.

My advocacy in this particular context though, bearing in mind earlier mentioned definition of 'active,' is that a separates solution is perfectly viable as well, and one that I have implemented myself (as have some of my audio friends). Care can, similarly, be taken into each aspect here, although development on component level would, for most, be exclusive to a manufacturer - like ATC.

That being said: manufacturers would likely prefer to use the term "true active" as an exclusive so to make the game in active speakers their own (best) game, and not something tinkered with from DIY'ers. From my chair, while acknowledging what can be produced from their hands can lead to great results, some of them may also be liable to cut corners here and there to cater to a business model, something that the individual enthusiast, building an active set-up of separates, mayn't have to resort to.
 
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Kal Rubinson

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May 5, 2010
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#55
powered means an amp after the crossover but inside the speaker box
Active means the crossover is BEFORE the power amps, so no signal manipulation at speaker level (the most imprecise place to do it and the most lossy).
I know you are making other distinctions as well but saying "amp after the crossover" and "crossover is before the power amps" is saying the same thing.
 
May 5, 2020
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#56
I know you are making other distinctions as well but saying "amp after the crossover" and "crossover is before the power amps" is saying the same thing.
My initial thought as well, but I'm sure he meant to say the opposite with the definition of powered speakers for what he says further on to make sense.
 
#57
I'm sure that's what you meant, but nonetheless: from my understanding and for the above to make sense, "powered" would mean a speaker with build-in amps that could be active - that is, with the crossover before the amps - but mostly it shares a similar signal path as a passive speaker with a passive crossover after the amp(s), right? I guess you could say that when a speaker is active there's no reason to call it powered, as this would be assumed to begin with..



Active means the filtration is happening on signal level prior to amplification, yes, as I mentioned above, but I don't see how "true active" is warranted as a definition with reference to a "balanced" crossover, nor that the cable length used to the drivers need be "extremely short." Active is active, truly, qua filtration prior to amplification, not to say there can't be benefits from using very short cable runs; you still get the potential benefits pointed out by you.



There can certainly be outright benefits to a speaker design being developed as an active system with care taken into each element of the design, tailormade to complement the whole. As an example the ATC SCM150 ASL Pro are some of the very best speakers I've ever heard, not doubt due to the careful from-ground-up approach taken by ATC. Compared to a variety of other, and much more expensive "high-end" speakers I'd consider them a true bargain, and one needs only add a DAC/preamp or DAC + preamp separate solution.

My advocacy in this particular context though, bearing in mind earlier mentioned definition of 'active,' is that a separates solution is perfectly viable as well, and one that I have implemented myself (as have some of my audio friends). Care can, similarly, be taken into each aspect here, although development on component level would, for most, be exclusive to a manufacturer - like ATC.

That being said: manufacturers would likely prefer to use the term "true active" as an exclusive so to make the game in active speakers their own (best) game, and not something tinkered with from DIY'ers. From my chair, while acknowledging what can be produced from their hands can lead to great results, some of them may also be liable to cut corners here and there to cater to a business model, something that the individual enthusiast, building an active set-up of separates, mayn't have to resort to.

Yes, well said. But the whole “true active” or even just “active” is not a phrase used in marketing, its a phrase used to distinguish between design types and have specific features. If you get down in the weeds, there are some variants of how the active is achieved, these work fine, but they need that phase control over individual amp/driver to make it really work properly. As you say, powered does not mean active. Powered in my world is a term used in live sound (to move amps within PA cabinets).

Brad
 

Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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#59
Yes, well said. But the whole “true active” or even just “active” is not a phrase used in marketing, its a phrase used to distinguish between design types and have specific features. If you get down in the weeds, there are some variants of how the active is achieved, these work fine, but they need that phase control over individual amp/driver to make it really work properly. As you say, powered does not mean active. Powered in my world is a term used in live sound (to move amps within PA cabinets).

Brad
The PA speaker world is almost all digital based dsp crossovers with all manner of corrections from parametric EQ to full blown FIR based room correction, driver linearisation, and time delays. So they are indeed active under your definition unless I misunderstand you?
 
#60
The PA speaker world is almost all digital based dsp crossovers with all manner of corrections from parametric EQ to full blown FIR based room correction, driver linearisation, and time delays. So they are indeed active under your definition unless I misunderstand you?
Yes, the best live sound systems have used active extensively! They are using this for different reasons than in recording, seeking pattern control and room correction. In live, coping with intelligibility at high SPLs in different rooms all the time is very difficult challenge.

Brad
 

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