I Was Considering Active, Then I Watched This ...


Although he's incorrect with the clutch analogy, at least with the Buchardts. According to Mads Buchardt, the components are all modular and can be swapped out, simply with a screwdriver. No need to send the whole speaker back for repair.


Came across this thread because it came up while searching for who manufactures the amplifiers in KEF active speakers. Does anyone know who manufactures the amps for various active speakers?

My $0.02 is that active speakers sound better than passives. The thing I like best is how much more dynamic active speakers are than your typical passive setup. Clean sounding high powered amps are expensive. What one would have to spend on amplification for passives to match the level of dynamics of actives is, IMHO, cost prohibitive for those on a typical budget.

Technology has advanced to the point where there is now a large market for buyers who want a simple setup that they can get up and running without having to be an audio expert. Just look at the proliferation of the market for bluetooth speakers. Times have changed and the kids growing up these days just want to buy a box/boxes that work straight away; An all-in-one solution so to speak. As those same buyers age and their buying power increases they will tend to continue to look for the all-in-one solution at whatever price point they can afford. I suspect that will drive the market for even higher end actives for consumers.

As noted, in the Professional space it's ALL actives. Live sound is the same. Active crossovers in front of the amps because they want to lose as little power as possible between the amplifier and the transducers and running the juice through a passive crossover is just plain stupid from an efficiency perspective. Ask any reasonable person if they're willing to collect their paycheck through a process whereby an intermediary robs them of 30% of total. No one in their right mind would take that deal. And so it should go with amplification. Who wants to buy an amp and have 30%+ power loss by routing through a passive crossover?

The reason I ended up coming across this thread was because I recently re-acquired a pair of Paradigm Active 40v2 speakers and was curious who manufactures KEF's amplifiers for their active line. For Paradigm, Anthem was the supplier for their Reference Active line. Anyone that knows Paradigm's history knows the Active 40v2's were the best speakers Paradigm ever produced prior to the Persona series. It was a crime that Paradigm discontinued the Active line because they were a ridiculous bargain, and they still hold up. The reason more folks don't know about the Active 40v2 is because Paradigm discontinued them far too early, and those who purchased them don't sell them very often. They won't compete with the likes of ATC, K&H, PMC, etc. in the Pro space as they are more 'consumer hi-fi' sounding. And by that I mean they're not as dry and precise as you'll tend to find with studio monitors. However, if Paradigm were to produce a fully active version of their Persona speakers that use the Beryllium tweeters I suspect they would have a massive hit on their hands.

Beyond the Active 40v2's I'm hoping my next step up will be ATC SCM50ASLT's and then I can stop buying speakers. Actives are the way to go if you can afford them.

I can't speak for other active speakers but know that ATC designs the internal amplifiers for their active speakers. Each amp is designed specifically for each driver.

I use a pair of ATC SCM20ASL active monitors in my studio and would not describe them as "dry".

@lonemountain wrote:

... I cannot believe there is this much misinformation about active.

Indeed there is. 

As some may know, I’m an avid DIYer when it comes to speakers. I’ve built both passive and active and worked with pro sound speakers in theaters. I am ambivalent. That is, I have two strong opinions about each being a good choice.

Without getting too much into the alleged technical merits of each design, the thing that passive speakers give me is the ability to chose a very colorful amplifier. Consider my favorite amps of all time are CJ Premiere 12s. I don’t consider them neutral, but rather juicy, colorful liars. Heaven.

I just built a fully active, DSP driven center channel. What did I get? Excellent off-axis frequency response and massive dynamic range (comparable to ATC’s claimed figures) in a compact package along with objectively neutral frequency response which doesn’t mind being on a shelf while avoiding the need for yet another amplifier in my rack. Much as I love my Luxman integrated, I keep asking myself if I wouldn’t rather make 2 more active speakers and reduce my combined HT/stereo setup to 1 processor instead.

If you really want to pick your amp, go with passive. If you want to pick a speaker and not have to worry about your amp, go with active, but in no case should you pick speaker A over speaker B based on which of these types they are.

In the consumer world there are a lot of benefits to active speakers we may not care about. Dynamic range and power loss for instance. In the pro world we need every watt, and active crossovers deliver that. In the home world we are fine losing many DB’s of output due to massively overbought amps. 😀 That is, I can point to some technical benefits of active crossovers/speakers which are true, but perhaps irrelevant?

As a consumer, do you really care that building a DSP crossover is much easier (not easy!) than passive, since we aren't swapping parts in and out during the prototype phase?  Not really.  Does the digital time delay and off-axis frequency response matter to you?  Most passive speakers do an excellent job with horizontal dispersion.  The center I built though needed excellent vertical as well as horizontal dispersion, and that's a feature I could only really consider in active/DSP configuration.  Point is, a lot of the technical differences vanish for most of us.