Anticipated issues with mixing Active + Passive speakers in Home theatre?

Fellow Agon’ers,

Reaching out for your advice. 

Some years ago I pared down my hifi due to time & space issues and shift into streaming, got myself Dynaudio Excite12 with my Mac using Roon.  (Have a 2Qute + Ultrarendu + STi7)

Now have a slightly bigger place (but still not a lot of time!). My Mac and speakers goes into study. 

Now to the living room. 

I like my music and would like migrate my primary listening to the living room. My wife is serious about her movies. 

So need to architect a system that suits both our needs. Interesting times we live in with the active speaker evolution. 

Would like to have component lean setup for the AV in the living room and would like to assess what’s possible to double up to use it for listening. 

I have the KEF 3005 eggs and a PV1D from the past. 

Living room AV Design:

To design a lean setup. Room is horizontal 4.5m depth x 8m. A third (4.5x2.5) of which will be the AV space.

(Buy) Marantz NR1609 7.1, for 5.1 surround. 

(Use) Ultrarendu + 2Qute ..Hook up to analogue IN on receiver 

(Buy) Dynaudio Xeo 6 for front L/R speakers. These are 2 1/2 way active speakers, 3x50W. 31Hz to 23kHz. ..Hook up to receiver pre-out.  

(Use) KEF eggs passives for Center + Rear L/R  ..hook up to speaker terminal on receiver. Will give 3x50 per channel. 

(Use) PV1D as subwoofer ..hook up to Dynaudio Xeo. 


  • How can I address potential phase problems while mixing Actives and passives on the receiver? Any Agon’er see potential problems with this?
  • Is there a way I can connect my Townshend Supertweeter to my receiver front L/R directly (x/o at 30kHz)?



Normally mixing speakers is a reasonable compromise in a home theater so long as you have adequate room correction and the speakers have no glaring issues or differences in dispersion. 

This particular mix is a terrible idea due to the limited dynamic range, efficiency and output of the KEF's.  The center channel especially needs a lot of output, even when bass limited. 

Unless you are going to be listening at very low volumes, this combo won't work. 

Sorry bud. 

What you could consider is using the kefs for surround only duty and a phantom center. It won't be as good as a true center, especially for dialogue intelligibility, but you won't have the dynamic range issues and distortion I expect from the KEFs.

Even as surrounds though, those are going to be iffy. Get some reasonable 2-way bookshelves instead.


Thanks Erik,

I’m not attached to the KEF’s..if I can’t use it in this setup, will sell them off. 

are you suggesting that I get passive bookshelves for surround? To go with the active Dynaudio fronts. I fancy Wharfedale passives 210/220

Interesting lead with a Phantom center, but can I achieve this on the receiver with active and passive? 

Cheers, Tom. 
Wharferdales perform unusually well for their price range and should be easy to integrate.

Using a "phantom" center has to do with your receiver/processor. See if it has a setting for it. 


OP :

I think there’s a little confusion. There’s no reason (assuming you have the amps for it) you cannot mix active and passive speakers.

The real issue is dynamic range, frequency extension, and smoothness. If your speakers are reasonably close then you can mix/ match even though it is not ideal. When speakers are not smooth, especially in the treble, or limited in dynamic range that is when room correction won’t be able to bridge the gap.

A "phantom" center refers to not having a speaker there at all, but relying on the processor to create a fake (i.e. phantom) center from the incoming 5.1 signal.

Hmmm, I'm not sure if I fully agree with Erik's thoughts.  First off, the Xeo 6 are wireless ONLY speakers.  This means that you are losing some sort of resolution through the wireless communications.  You are dependent on the DAC and the amplifier of the speakers.  The speakers also do not have a very good power cord.  I suppose this is a really good solution if you absolutely need a wireless set of speakers, but wired/amped will always be a superior result.

The other is that, even with some room correction, you will still be able to hear differences between sonic signature of different speakers.  Such as if you combined Xeo 6 left/right with a completely different center channel.  In my opinion, the front 3 channels must be almost exactly the same (different models of the same brand/series).  The surround speakers don't necessarily have to match, but they should be close in sonic character.

The Marantz NR1609 is a very small and light weight receiver.  You won't get the current out of it that you need (my opinion).  It's okay if you are looking for a low cost and lean receiver.  It all depends on your budget.  Better would be one of the upper end Marantz receivers or a separate processor/amp setup.

If you want to use Dynaudio speakers, maybe start looking for an Excite X24 or X28 center channel.  If you absolutely are locked in to using the Xeo 6, the I would still get the X24/X28 center.

Thanks for weighing in auxinput. 
The tail is wagging the dog in my OP. ie the lean receiver. But that can also change. 

The biggest decision are the active speakers or not? With passives. As Erik says, dynamic range matters. 

I was planning to feed the Dynaudio with pre-out on the receiver. ie I want to use my 2Qute DAC. 

The Xeo’s have been getting rave review, as are LS50W massively over the passive setups. I get the catch. A 3-course meal at the restaurant v/s home meal. 

Let me compare the Excites you refer to. 

I would like to keep a finger on the pulse with the mixing active/passive. Can’t find much on Agon. 

Think of the "wireless" as a big weak link in the chain.  If you absolutely need it, then the Dynaudio and KEF offerings are probably towards the best solutions.  But a wired speaker is always going to be better.

"Active" really just means that the speaker contains an amplifier inside it.  Most active speakers will have an analog input (RCA/XLR).  These can be very nice solutions if the "active amplifier" is good enough.  The Dynaudio Xeo is a "wireless active".