Active Speakers Better? No, per Michael Borresen

The best sounding speaker I have had the pleasure to hear is made by Borresen.

I recently spent time with Michael Borresen in Seattle at a show. It was slow so

I was able to speak with him for a time. I asked him if he plans an active speaker. 

His answer was a definitive and immediate "No". He said separates sound better.


His statement flies in the face of what passes in most audio corners as commonly recognized facts. 


Sadly I am too technically challenged to convey any of his further explanation.


I invite all intelligent commentary on this question. Theoretical or not.


The fun fact is that most studio monitors, i.e. the speakers the producers and sound engineers listen to while the music is being made, are active (near field) speakers.

Most of them don't use monitors to listen to music at home.



Just putting my thought out: aren't passive capacitors and coils (C an L), and maybe even resistors causing a PHASE shift on passive crossovers, and NOT so using active crossovers? 

In my mind, the question is active vs passive CROSSOVER. 

40 years ago, we built our own active crossovers (and tri amped our Electro Voice (I think it was called a Sentry 3?) and made it sound great even on classic music). I know bought (still in box) a miniDSP 4x2HD with hopes it can provide a 2 or 3 way active crossover (to drive my Infinity Quantum 2 with seperate amps for the Watkin bass, mide cone and dome tweeter/EMIT tweeter (maybe tube amp?). 


Over many decades, I have listened and owned many, many speakers, trying to replicate the kind of live sound I was hearing in the mixing room of a friend's recording studio. My hunch is that crossovers are very damaging devices. After all, their goal is to kill music. I think they introduce some form of distortion that I don't like. Phase ? I don't know, but electrostatics sound clean to me, as well as the Dali Callisto 6C active I had. Last year I listented to ove half a milllion $ of speakers for my new home. In the end I chose Borrenses's Raidho X3. In this 2.5 speaker, there are two pairs of mid bass drivers. The designer MB  explains that at the crossover points, there are distortions which attract the attention of the ears. Thus he did two things: make sure that at that point the measured SPL response is reduced, and that the volume of the other pair of drivers is louder than the pair which are  crossing over .  So to me these speakers sound clean, like if they were electrostatics, but with the focus and punch of dynamic drivers.

Active speakers, bi-amping and biwire are ways to avoind crossover distortion. Active speakers can be considerably more economical than their equivalent in separates for a given SQ. 

But still it is possible and fun to tweak the sound with separates and wires of all kinds. My wires alone (Transparent Ultra with The Q concept 500 and Luna Red with Raidhos X3) are worth much more than the actve Dalis and Triangles I had. 

The members of this Forum are probably inclined to follow this latter route. But in some applications, active speakers are certainly a good solution.

Just putting my thought out: aren’t passive capacitors and coils (C an L), and maybe even resistors causing a PHASE shift on passive crossovers, and NOT so using active crossovers?

This happens with active and passive crossovers. it is the natural outcome of using analog circuits to create high and low pass circuits as well as any equalizers. It is not distortion. The concern in either case is that the combined (electrical + acoustical) amplitude and phase match seamlessly across the crossover band.

In terms of design, crossover designers are creating to systems, drivers and circuits, which sum to a final result.  Changes in amplitude go hand in hand with phase shifts.  The one area where things get easier is in the active crossover we can ignore driver impedance as part of the equation.  We pay attention strictly to driver amplitude and phase.

I can see some benefit in isolated situations, but don't see a mainstream use for them.. You are actually expecting a $1,000 active speaker to have the sound quality seen from a $20,000 Amp-speaker Combo. Oh ya, you don' thave to pay $555 for a special speaker cable, But Oh ya, you still do. Unless you are opting for a wireless speaker then all you have to worry about is someone hacking you home for the sidewalk or the HAM operator next door totally overwhelming your Bluetooth signal.