active speakers, Paradise? Trouble in paradise?

Anyone ever hear or own active speakers that made you forget about all the rest?

Or are active speakers best left to the studio engineers?

And DJ’s?
I just heard a pair yesterday at my buddy's neighbor's. They were the big ATC's, he said they retail for $13k. Source was a blu-ray player, don't remember what brand, pre amp was a Rotel processor, room was smallish and oddly shaped, no noticeable treatments. Sound was astonishing!!! Unbelievably dynamic! Huge soundstage, tons of detail, but not bright or harsh. I was very, very impressed.
I would trust what Ecruz said.
Anyone that owns Gallo 3.1's and is impressed with another speakers soundstage and dynamics is enough for me.
There are many extremely good manufacturers to choose from


They all vary a little in presntation - the first three are extremely dynamic, the last three are a bit smoother and warmer or more polished. All are outstanding if you get one of their top models and select according to your taste.
I own active ones that did exactly that, made me forget about all the passive ones.
I also own a Pair of Fully active speakers. They are called Rushmores , by Pass Labs. Truly Paradise.


Having seen the price for the big ACTS.. I should think being impressed ought to happen when first demoed.

I get the imp from many such reviews, save those on the Quad and Adam monitors, some self powered units have stupendous atack capabilities.

Your note on the presentation not being piercing or painful, is helpful. The big ACTS though, or the big Meridians, etc. are way beyond this campers campfire.

I too heard a pretty nice setup last night.. ML Sumits, Esoteric player, powered by Pass Labs, top pre, and a pr of xa 160.5, and 'The One' cabling. Well treated... maybe too well, but in all a very nice setting, sound,and great gear.... and again, that ain't happening for me without a mask and a gun, or getting all six numbers exactly ringht some weekend.

Thanks for the thoughts.


Thanks for the insights. That list should help a lot to further a gbit of leg work.

I've thought about these for a while... active units that is... and felt they had just loads of obstacles to contend with in order to recreate what non active speakers do... but it would appear their makers ahve figured out how to overcome these barriers.

It's an interesting proposal... I suspect too these reproducers are not difficut to remove the active parts if there is any failure?

...and it seems to me to stand to reason , the active speakers like electrostats get plugged into AC current too.
With a tight budget, KRK VXT8 are amazing active speakers for under 1200/pr. It gives active-newbies a slight taste of what full fledge active speaker system can do.
Active x/o actually solves loads of problems. What's the logic (or benefit) of taking the amplified signal and dumping it into yet another circuit? Passive is for the plug-n-play crowd.
Blindjim, I can appreciate that you're always asking questions, always seeking new angles on the audio game. It's that kind of curiosity which leads to some great breakthroughs.

I also wondered just what the difference would be between active and passive crossovers, so I conducted an informal experiment to find out for myself. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of active x-over to a degree I did not expect. I now use the speaker - you'll see the setup and test criteria in the review - in active mode for reviewing; it's that much superior to passive x-over mode.

When you read the article you will find that I am not yet a fan of active amplification; I find that I prefer to have complete flexibility in matching the amp to the rest of the system. This is especially so with Class D amps. I requested Legacy Audio not put the Icepower amps in the speaker but that it use all outboard amplification, a decision which imo took the speaker to a much higher level of performance. The influence of outboard x-over design is pervasive and powerful on the speakers.
There's currently a pair of Paradigm Active 40s listed for sale on this site @ $950. These may not quite compare with ATCs, et al, but offer an opportunity to "go active" with a (nearly) full range loudspeaker for a very low price of admission. Some time ago, I had the bookshelf Paradigm Active 20s in a second system and thought they represented great value.

Good Luck,

The best for the budget so fare are Event Opal nearfield active monitors powered by over 400Wpc of continuous power.
It's mainly sold in pro-audio stores but performance is on the reference level of high-def standards. They retail for $3000/pr.

Disclosure: I do not sell them nor authorized dealer. They're for purchase at or
Thanks folks... very much.

Again... are active speakers generally speaking, of modular design so if amps fail the whole enclosure doesn't have to ship?

Were I to go down this lane I'm figuring 5K or so will be the bullet I'll use to bring down the prey.


Yeah, I'm at another crossroad. For me these come up infrequently... years vs months for major changes.

While I've been pondering new power amps, and want a new color or design for my main speakers, the notion came to me to consider something I've not yet given much attention... and have scant little info and zip experience with.

Albeit, I'm not actually thinking of a Hybrid speaker, nor purely active speaker per se as the solution. I'm simply considering as amny angles on their path as I can imagine.

So far, as I'm unlikely to doing a live audition, I'm going to cling to the idea that speakers (in general) perform on various levels. Preowned, at $5K +/- some, should retail for 9-11K.... and at 10K I've not heard a dog speaker yet.

In fact, I'll go a bit further and say I've heard way more expensive ones of late and I'll attrivute the experienced sound as more the setup than the speakers. The waht's up front section IMHO always matters more... at least to me.

It continues to get proven time and again.

Consequently, with what I feel is a top tier tube preamp on hand, active speakers appear a viable solution, and a quicker less involved, and simpler path to solving my current audio dissatisfaction and distress. AS well, one which might prove a less troublesome arrangment to maintain too.

Ojgalli >> Active x/o actually solves loads of problems. What's the logic (or benefit) of taking the amplified signal and dumping it into yet another circuit?

But then, isn't that what must happen for any speaker to make noise? Either the X over comes in advance of the power amps, or afterwards?

Ojgalli >> Passive is for the plug-n-play crowd.

Or perhaps in truth… plug & plug & plug & play, and plug in another and play, and plug in another and play… et all… until one finds the ‘Goldilocks amp’, for their passive speakers.

True plug & play loudspeakers must therefore be those fully active speakers. Nothing could be more plug and play… aside from the new owner getting longer Ics. To connect up with., from their source or preamp… in my case it’s a preamp, by choice to the transducers signal input.

Just the sheer number of variables becomes truncated merely by inserting the Active units into the equaition. No speaker cables required. No secondary set of power cables if mono blocks were in use previously.

Some I reaed about online even have a USB input and no need for ICs from preamp to amp, or here… from preamp to speakers… and no need for a preamp then either!... merely a Personal Confuser or digital music server!... as in some of the Meridians.
Yes the Event Opal raised many eyebrows when they came out. Lots of power. Great value - kind of a Genelec knock-off for about about 40% lower price.

IMHO though audiophiles will be most rewarded by getting into a three way active - like Adam Tensor, larger PMC's, larger ATC's or Barefoot MM27. Expensive unfortunately but impressive - hell yes!

I would add that far too many people have room acoustic issues and a high end active studio monitor is going to give them some grief. Unless you are prepared to go down the road of acoustic treatments to get the room closer to ideal then it is hardly worth getting a speaker that is as linear and as accurate as is technically possible with modern technology. One may be better served by getting some audio furniture (nice aesthetics) than investing in technology that clarifies all the warts in the recording and your room.


You keep bringing up good points and that’s outstanding. Thanks.

I was wondering about that dedicated monitor application too, and the environment it usually resides within. Nominally a well treated not too distant, at times near field setting. One wherein critical listening is the norm and not the option.

Rightly so, my own application is going to be a far more contrasting situation… albeit, I feel as always, Transparency and naturalness are among the top keys for me when deciding on loudspeakers…. That and the fact they disappear as point sources, more often than not.

My music genre preffs demand they have some jump factor to them as well as I dig big band blues, jazz, and the now and then Rock aria, Reggae remix, or dance music…. Pop or electronica.

Another note that arises here is the distinction from ‘Active loudspeakers’ being further defined by either Active self powered, or merely active x overed loudspeakers.

In my uninitiated mind, Active loudspeakers meant as I’ve been relaying here, as both fully powered (w/amps) and actively x-overed networks. Such as the top option of the review Doug posted in this thread on the Whispers latest iteration and their list of outfitting choices. Digital power, precise control of the x over via software, and choices for just seeking out one’s own Goldilocks amp or contouring the speakers x over and on board power supply to function with the Goldilocks fuel cell you already own.

That last bit is fascinating, yet mere vapor ware for myself. The DSW speakers have way too much ‘can’taffordium’ in their make up to be even a consideration. Just as the top Meridians, aTCs, and so forth.

‘Course if all that could manifest itself in a $5-6K preowned package… well that could oughta might work, as I say when the English teacher ain’t lookin’.

Thanks for the notes, and the link to your uh, novelette on Legacy’s new notion on musical re-creation in the home. Insiteful and a good read, not to mention educational and well, somewhat mind boggling considering all the choices they provide the owner.

I’ve only heard the Focus. Once. Powered by a Denon receiver and fed by a HK CDP…. and yep.. at a dealers showroom as listed on the Legacy wwebpage. Around the Sunburn State, it seems with many makers, building contractors are the ‘often’ choice for an authorized dealership.

Trust me… having seen many such offices/demo/experiences… they are building contractors that just happen to have maybe, something decent around the shop… now and then. Normally they don’t and it can be ordered.

I’m certain I did not hear the focus in anything close to a decent setup, or at anything nearing it’s best sound.

Anytime you’d care to adopt me and send along a set of those active, powered, DSWs… you can put me on your dependants list with the IRS…. Legally, that is.
Hello all, a bit off subject, but in line with the conversation. I have recently switched to computer audio. I'm using foobar. I have noticed that there are basic eq settings within foobar that would send the info to your dac, so the music would be eq's completely within the digital domain. This would make your dac output the signal already eq'd without adding the issues that normal analog eq's cause. I haven't yet, but I will play with this some over the next week or so, if there is any interest, I'll post my findings. Could be a reasonable solution to Shadorne's correct post.
Digital EQ is wonderful and there is a huge amount of hype and marketing for auto-EQ equipment (hook up a microphone and press a button and presto your sound is "optimized") but it is important to recognize the limitations. First and foremost it is always better to improve room acoustics, speaker and listening positions. After as much acceptable acoustic improvements have been made then it falls to EQ (with digital EQ being the most flexible). Below 100 Hz the wavelengths are 10 feet or longer. These frequencies are a reasonable target for notch filtering as you can remove nasty room modal resonant peaks and have an effect on nearly the entire room because the wavelengths are long enough.

Above 100 Hz my recommendation is not to use any sharp EQ. I am fully on board with any broad treble of bass tilt adjustments to suit your tastes and room general issues but nothing else (for example a room with a tile floor will probably be too bright unless you turn down the treble a wee bit)! The issue is that at 1000 Hz you have wavelengths of the order of 1 foot - this means that you have a peak and a trough of a sound wave over a distance of a mere 6 inches. This makes it impractical to have any meaningful effect on the room at all (the benefit may be fine for one microphone position but detrimental for another). All you can do is correct a little for problems with the recording itself or the equipment itself (and, as with the room, it is first and foremost better to get equipment that works for you without needing tweaks)

In any case room EQ is an important topic but a separate issue from active vs passive speakers as it can be applied to both.

As Doug and several others have mentioned - ridding yourself of the passive X-over and the limitations of passive filtering of high power signals is perhaps the biggest advantage of "active". For the same reasons that single driver speakers sound so lively and clear (but have limited frequency response), active speakers (or at least well designed ones) all share a lively dynamic sound as if a veil has been removed. I believe this is because of the removal of the crossover. Passive crossovers rob some life from the music over quite a wide region - up to a couple of octaves. These passive crossover issues have manifested themselves in the need for massive monoblock amplifiers to breathe life back into the music. (If we look at Active speakers then we find the amplifiers are rather modest in size for the equivalent power output)

Some or much of my own confusion rests in the terminology being used I suspect.

I’m understanding so far, an active speaker may or may not have it’s own power cell to fuel the speakers with, and that active units pre-determine the optimum range for it’s drivers by filtering what portion of the bandwidth gets amplified by which amp for what driver!?

Fine. No prob there.

Apparently these ‘filters’ (adjustable or fixed, and at whatever total amounts of available power/watts) are actually not affecting the signal integrity, but allowing only bits of it to be applied to which ever transducer (s), so these filters are brick wall openings for certain frequencies.

Holes in the dam, huh?

What then, creates such an inoccuous non interfering slicing and dicing of the signal so the intended amp see’s only it’s portion.

What is the electronic dam with holes in it?

Or, in other words, who or what is the traffic cop doing all the directing of the audio signal, to these anxiously awaiting amps and drivers?

I’m having a hard time discerning any diffs from filters used in active x overs, and passive x overs… apart from this one thing.

All the freqs of the signal pass into the passive x over… getting shunted out here and there as they arrive, perhaps with some bleeding over too in areas they were not intended to land.

OK.. but something must stand in the way of the signal at some point to direct which part of it goes where and IMHO.. that sure seems a x over to me, more than a filter….

UNLESS… each amp is built with limits of bandwidth operation… that would do it too, I suppose.

Still the signal can and will be affected by the impedance of the incoming device feeding it/them… all of which changes with frequency and the number of amps the source or preamp has to feed/see.

Or am I way off with this assessment?

The big positive as in the Legacy model was the flexibility in the software which has some end user adjustment/flexibility.

Is the dollar to performance steps in active x over and/or self powered speakers about that of passive ones?

Does your 6K active speaker buying buck get you more speaker than it would in passives?

Jim, you might spend some time reading some of the reviews over at Sound On Sound.

I'll add to Shadorne's list... Focal, Dynaudio, KRK, Mackie, JBL.

I own KRK and JBL.
Virtually every multi driver loudspeaker system has to "slice and dice" the signal with a x-over of some sort. In the broadest sense, if the x-over is ahead of the power amps in the signal path, the speaker can be called "active", because the x-over unit is an active component. Even if the active crossover, power amps and "drivers in cabinet" are each from a separate manufacturer, this is still an active loudspeaker set-up.

A single driver type monitor coupled to a powered subwoofer are, in this sense, an "active loudspeaker".

I think some people prefer to restrict the use of the phrase "active loudspeaker" to an integrated, active loudspeaker system in which all three functions (active x-over, amp, and speaker) are sold as a system.

Personally, I use the broader definition.


BTW, if you use exclusively digital sources (or don't mind A-D-A conversion of your analog sources), you could look at digitally room corrected active systems. In addition to the sophisticated room correcting EQ function, these designs go a step further in refining the "slicing and dicing" function of the x-over. Both Merdian and DEQX powered active speakers (like those from Salk, if they still make 'em), for example, employ active x-overs operating in the digital domain. This set-up offers certain extra benefits (in theory, at least) over even analog active systems.
I’m having a hard time discerning any diffs from filters used in active x overs, and passive x overs… apart from this one thing.

An active line level crossover can use much steeper slopes than a passive kind. The line level signal is much less affected by the sonic characteristics of the capacitor used. The phase of the signal can also be adjusted optimally. There is no need for padding resistors to try to match the sensitivities of the drivers to the lowest common denominator (the least sensitive driver in the passive design). There are no awkward phase angles that may give an amplifier a tough load (high current demand due to complex low impedance).

There really is no contest. Active is just a far better way to skin the cat of distributing the audio signal between different transducers.

OK Bob.. Thanks…

I’ll cruise by Sound on Sound and have a look around.

Makes sense to me, as that definition coincides with my critical thinker. Active meaning all 3 sides of the triangle are in play… filtering, amplification, and drivers in one container… digitally fed with on board dAC or not.

But I think I get it.

The active feature is confining the amps field of operation for the prescribed driver as to optimize the drivers performance. Many have on board power for one or more drivers, and MAY offer a passive option to bypass these items… or not.

A fair amount of active speakers are fully self contained, requiring no additional power.

There really is no contest. Active is just a far better way to skin the cat of distributing the audio signal between different transducers.

This could be very right.

Do you feel active units present a better value for one’s speaker buying buck?

The value question is tough, because the active pro audio gear is usually built to withstand commercial abuse (probably not required for home use), generally less "jewel-like" in finish than passive high end speakers, and also usually very expensive. Also the interconnects are often balanced XLR for studio use, which may mean re-cabling for some buyers. Probably not a formula for great value.

OTOH, the Paradigm Active 40s I mentioned, fed by a quality CD player with variable output, repesents IMHO ridiculously high value. Even if purchased new at MSRP, that set-up punched way, way above its price class. I believe that has also been true of some other consumer/home studio offerings like those from NHT or KRK.

The B&O and Merdian style DRC equipment seems to run more to luxe pricing (relative to passive speakers coupled with DRC equipped preamps plus full range power amps). Most of the OEM DEQX powered gear that I've seen looks like it's priced more or less "competiviely" with passive highend gear.

Bottom line: a carefully chosen active set up can represent unusual value. If chosen without regard to price, high performance active speakers will carry a hefty price tag.

The big disadvantage in the market is not IMHO - performance or performance for money. It's the lack of flexibility. This is a hobby, and hobbyists generally like to mix and match.

Just one more point of view.


Good stuff... great points.

I noticed a lot of what you posted just now by simply looking into the PMC line up and a couple others, more closely. Aluminum cabinets for rigidity and heat sink collaboration… and a more industrial esthetic.

Flexibility too is the facet which increases the value, or bang for buck aspect of any device.... eg., Legacy DSW's, Doug mixed into the thread earlier. Now that is indeed a flexible design, once appointed properly. Had I that sort of green, I'd already have dialed up Legacy... and worried about my room dimensions later.

However, I am getting the feeling here, with active (self contained) speakers, many comparisons and bang for buck notions will hinder an honest approach to acquiring some great floorstanders in my case. Albeit too, great floorstanders, or even above the cut sorts might be past my grasp. I'd want units now that can dip down to a flat 30 or below, With authority and ease. Grace and honesty too when called for and especially in the top end.

I'd like very much, going forward, to make this next move a step up... not a sideways one.

So if there is a Sonata III out there in active loudspeakers with better performance, and affordable, I'm in... otherwise, I'm gonna just pinball my way around till something else grabs me I suppose.
Moving the crossover in front of the amps doesn't force it to be an active filter, but as Shadorne said you can build steeper slope filters using active devices. I've read in several places that passive crossovers are limited to 4th order in practice.

Moving the crossover in front of the amps changes it from a speaker level filter to a line level filter. I've read that this by itself has advantages since the components do not have to handle speaker level voltages and currents. Also, the load the filter sees (being the amp) is now effectively resistive rather than the reactive load of a driver. Thus, the filter will be more precise.

As Marty noted, there are several "DSP Controlled" active speakers on the market now that use digital filters. My JBL LSR4300 are such an example. Dynaudio has their Air line.

I believe without any doubt that active speakers offer the best speaker bang for the buck. So many dollars are saved by NOT having a general purpose amp, designed to power practically any possible load, in the system. Those savings can be applied to better drivers.

Here's an example from today. A buddy is looking to simplify his Oppo 93 -> Pass Labs X1 -> Parasound JC1 -> Martin Logan SL3 (+ Martin Logan Depth + NHT X2 + Velodyne SMS-1) system by going the active route. He borrowed my pair of KRK VXT6 from my office over the weekend. We spoke Sunday afternoon and he couldn't get over how an $800 pair of speakers could be so bloody good. Not just good for the money, but plain good. His amps and speakers are roughly $10K. How could that be replaced by something in the $800 range and not sound terrible in comparison? I went by his place at lunch today to hear them setup in his room. I've never heard them outside of my office. It was quite shocking how good they sound at much higher than normal levels. I didn't think the 6.5" woofers would be enough for his room, but you could just keep turning up the volume with no congestion or loss of control. We listened to a Louis Armstrong with Duke Ellington album, a Dire Straits greatest hits and an early action sequence from the DeNiro film Ronin. It was tough coming back to the office.

The hardest thing for me when I switched to active was worrying about how much I'd give up sonically by spending so much less. I don't believe I've given up anything from my passive system. The other issue, though I've always had the same problem with passive speakers, is where can I go to audition the speakers I'm interested in. Many of the entry level active speakers are targeting home studios and are sold by music stores that don't have listening rooms. I bought my JBLs and KRKs without hearing them and I have no regrets.

I spent many years hunting for floorstanding speakers that I could afford and that I considered full range enough to be satisfying. The last pair were Spendor S8e. I really wanted the 3-way S9e, but the $5K price was more than I could justify.

I added an M&K pro sub and bass management controller to the system and really liked the results. It then dawned on me that much of the S8e cost wasn't being utilized in my setup and that I could, in theory, get better sound with similarly priced stand mount speakers. Since I had an M&K sub, I went with M&K monitors for $1000 less than the S8e. The difference was shocking. Switching back and forth caused the soundstage to switch from being fully developed to disappearing. I had been so happy with the S8e (for about 2 years) until the M&K monitors showed up. That one experience stopped the hunt for floorstanding speakers.

Since then I've read some about reproducing bass in typical rooms and I'm convinced that a sat/sub system has a theoretical advantage over floorstanding speaker systems. Being able to place the bass driver independently of the mid/treble drivers just makes good sense. Richard Vandersteen addresses the issue with his high end models by including onboard EQ.

Take a look at some of the in room response graphs in Stereophile from some reviews of the big Wilsons.

THis is in no way picking on Wilson. All full range speakers will have the same problems in room.
As a technical matter, Bob's point about passive x-overs sometimes being used ahead of the power amps is quite correct. However, that set-up is IME sufficiently rare (I think Vandersteen uses it on some models) that I actually forgot about it. I guess that I should more accurately have said that an active x-over must be ahead of the amps to create an active system.

I stand corrected.

Thanks Bob… and you too Marty

Ever how it shakes out, be the x overs in front of the amps, behind the amps, or under the couch, it’s all fine by me… I’ll not allow any previous bias to invade or affect my choice of speakers. More factors exist in that area which clutter it up already. Size, range, Cost, voice, Esthetic, and flexibility with interfaces, if I go the Active speaker route which really does intrigue me right now. In fact I’m going to make every effort to do just that.

It should solve a couple issues I'm facing currently.... and when all is said and done, and we're sitting in front of the speakers with the lights off and listening to some of our fav tracks, albums, or discs, it's about the sound right then and there... not how much $$$ is in the ear candy erecter set, not the topologies, designs, how many components, drivers, etc., it's all about toe tapping and possum grins and not wanting to turn it off.

For me... that's always the goal... how ya get there is of far less consequence.

Show me a better mouse trap and I'll show you a smarter mouse. What the Hell does that mean? Who cares.It is about the sound. 3wpc or 1,000wpc. 1 driver, or 15. Who cares?

In the dark as someone said centuries ago, it's all the same... is the sound making me happy?

In the voicing area I’m gonna count on something explicitly revealatory, but with some refinement or ease which isn’t necessarily to be construed as warmth. I get the impression, things like laid back, warmth and euphony, simply isn’t on the menu going with active units. That’s fine too.

If they can be honest without being overly critical, and do a great vanishing act, while conveying an involving musical re-creation, I’m ALL IN FOR A PAIR!

I noticed from checking out reviews here and there, some models have come to mind from KRK, ATC, and as soon as I decode the PMC lineup identification process, maybe something from them… and there’s Meridain Meridian but I don’t envision anything arriving here from them too likely anytime soon.

The thoughts on use of a very nice near full range two way (40hz - 20KHz >) or three way stand mount also looks like a pretty good idea. I’ve found out repeatedly, few full range speakers are indeed full range. Very few.

Subs ain’t that difficult to integrate. Plus I’m not keen on having a dominating presence in speakerage staring at me daily.

I’m not giddy about a commercial look either. But with the lights off, who’ll know?

The Exposé floor standers and the VXT 8's just under it, as well as the aTC 50 ASL, and a couple others are attractive. Hell, Best buy carries the KRK line. Wonder what Sam Ash carries?

Naturally, any insights from current owners of other active speakers are more than welcome.

Thank you.
Marty, you're certainly correct that in practice you almost never see passive line level crossovers. I was just pointing out that a line level crossover could be either active or passive. Yes, Vandersteen uses it when integrating his subwoofers. First order filters for him and an aversion for anything active I think.
You should also take a look at at the Meyer Sound product line.

In particular, their studio line.

Shadorne stated:
IMHO though audiophiles will be most rewarded by getting into a three way active - like Adam Tensor, larger PMC's, larger ATC's or Barefoot MM27. Expensive unfortunately but impressive - hell yes!

Had a nice taste of the ATC SCM150ASL Pro...these may very well be my next loudspeaker -- other than a full-range plasma, of course :-)



Thanks much... I did... how come few if any of these folks seldom post prices?

Isn't the 10K input impeadance of the largest portion of active loudspeakers as much a concern as would be the other usual attributes of speakers?

10K input imp is quite low and could account for a poor match between an active preamp and these active monitors... even though the output imp of mine is below 400 i THINK.. AND I BELIEVE AT 1K.

Any thoughts here on the practical application of active line stage pre and active speakers with 10K input imps?

I tossed this about while entertaining thoughts on a new amp (s), forgoing those whose imp were 10K, and seeking ones with 50K or higher instead... to be safe.... er.
10K input impedance is accepted as the appropriate value. Generally a minimum of 10:1 contrast between input and output impedance is desired.

Raising the impedance well above 10K is not going to improve things - in fact it will likely result in greater sensitivity to micro-currents (ground loops, stay EMF etc.) which will make things worse in some situations. Although many active speakers use XLR balanced inputs and if these are well designed and properly balanced with respect to ground then ground loops and EMF/RF induced noise is already minimized significantly compared to RCA.


Thanks... I get the 10:1 ratio on input to output imp. Though as frequency rises, so does it affect the output imp, and as well, if another device such as a sub is being simultaneously by the same line stage preamp, some severe increases in output imp arise or present themselves.

But, it's cool... I'll lug my pre over to the music store and plug it in if I find any units there which interest me.

How do you control the volume of your ATCs... or other active speakers?

and.. If a speaker s is designed for 'near field' use & operation, would it therrefore be unsuitable for any other non near field listening?

I'm hearing 'nearfield' designs (3-5ft or 6ft, max) simply will not do in normal audiophile 8ft to > situations.

Apparently, the field in near field, needs a bit more definition. Is nearfield listening taking place at 3-5ft in studios?

I'm about 7-10ft back from my speaks. usually about 8>, depending on how reclined I am at the time.
Nearfield is indeed 2 to 6 feet. It is an important consideration in many designs as most two-way speakers run a 6 inch woofer up to 3 or 4KHZ. This makes them ONLY suitable for nearfield because already above 1KHz the woofer is starting to beam (i.e. changing from a floodlight dispersion pattern to a spot dispersion pattern). When you sit in the far field it is very important to have a speaker with even dispersion as the room reflections play a much bigger role in what your hear from the mid range and a "spot" presentation will not sound natural at all.

Very few nearfield designs have wide dispersion - you can check this very easily by looking at the X-over frequency. Any design with a X-over at 2 KHz or below (between mid/bass and tweeter) will ensure wide even dispersion.

More farfield designs have wide even dispersion but again you may want to check the X-over frequencies to be sure. (For example B&W make many farfield three way designs with a tweeter X-Over close to 4 KHz and this design will require careful messing around with toe-in/out to get the right mid range balance at the listener and even then the sweetspot on these designs is ALWAYS narrow because of the way upper mid range behaves like a spot light. A good flood light B&W design was their Silver Signature)

Super. Thanks Shaterne.

That pretty much settles it for me then.
That pretty much settles it for me then.

Please note that my comments on nearfield two ways is not limited to active speakers at all.
I agree with Shadorne's point, but I'd just note that there is (at least) one (kinda rare) exception to the high x-over point = beaming rule. Omnidirectional drivers (like those in MBL, Ohm, B&O, etc.) are usually designed with a very high "hand-off" from the mid to the tweeter, yet (due to the omni design) the mid driver doesn't narrow its dispersion pattern near the top of its passpand.


Agreed. I was referring to the majority of conventional two ways. Omni's being a rather a minority.
Shadorne, would you provide some details as to what's happening with the driver that causes the change in dispersion?

In order to disperse evenly and widelythe driver needs to be smaller in diameter than the wavelength of the sound being produced. In order to produce upper midrange frequencies at decent volumes (for farfield applications) it requires the use of a small but extremely robust (expensive) driver (a good size for upper midrange is 3 inch and as I have mentioned a 6 inch mid/bass is simply too large without beaming).

Less expensive to build speakers that beam

This is kind of a "dirty secret" among speaker makers - they know darn well what they are doing when they X-over a 1 inch tweeter with a 6 inch mid/bass woofer at 3 to 4 KHz. Basically they are compromising on sound quality at farfield positions in order to cheaply achieve teh necessary SPL levels (as most 1" tweeters can't cope with the needed SPL levels at 2 KHz).

Life itself is an education... and it's an education on steroids around here with the pros that knows.... Thanks.

I'm still gonna amble on over to the big music store as I'm seeking a keyboard too... and check out the various active uints on display to be sure or get my toes wet. Although I feel given my preffs and budget Actives working well and improving upon what I have already is going to be quite the expensive task.. ala the ATC 50 on here now for $9K! And it might not be suitable at the 8ft + > 16ft distances.

The truly immense thing for me... and now others, is more defined info on the topic sits in the archives, and that's always a boon to anyone as the bulk of info here isn't on particular current models but on applications and technology behind the active loudspeakers camp. Well, more than I've read so far personally. It's been enlightening... and I may yet stumble onto something that floats my boat for an upscale office rig... which ain't gonna take a whole lot to do. Should be fun though and reduce the sense of rush and immediacy I have with desiring a bigger change in my main outfit.

thanks much... naturally, any thoughts or experiences ongoing in the active x over powered loudspeaker (pro - studio) sphere are way more than welcome to further the data here.

You guys are all great thanks.
For several months, I used a pair of Focal Twin 6 actives in my living room while my home studio was being built. They sounded wonderful. So much so, that I was sad when I moved them out of there. They need a bit of break in time, but man they sound nice.
Focal Twin 6 are another active design that are extremely good & very popular - I agree that they would be very good as a home stereo and would make a great surround setup too.

Regarding dispersion and beaming problems that normally compromised speakers have, what is your take on a design like Adam Tensor- if you are familiar with them- they don't use dome tweeters-?

As a side note, I had my mind set on a Beta, but after reading several posts I am now leaning toward the smaller standmount Delta, since I already have a couple of JL subs which can be positioned to a more appropriate location than the left corner speaker would. But, what happens if I have a processor like a Denon a1 to manage the bass split between speakers and subwoofers in regard to phase problems like in passive crossover speakers?

Thank you
Without disputing the discussion re: x-over and beaming which, in my view, is spot on, people might want to consider the other side of the coin.

If you cross from the mid driver to the tweeter much below 2K, you're nearing the a region where our hearing is more sensitive. Some would say that a well designed x-over circuit mated to appropriate drivers anywhere north of One-ish khz minimizes damage, but others disagree. The single driver crowd is all over this one.

I mentioned omnis earlier (and noted that they ARE rare) because they do satisfy both of these concerns. One driver is nearly full range (75hz to 7khz in my case) with only a subwoofer and (effictively) a supertweeter to augment. Dispersion remain essentially consistent without the need for x-over circuits where they MIGHT cause mischief.

Obviously, all designs involve trade-offs. This is just one more "recipe" to consider.


The Ohm design deserves a whole discussion in itself. I do not believe that they are immune from the laws of physics - and a large radiating surface is still going to beam - but by changing the orientation of the cone the beaming will occur towards the ceiling and in the direction of the cone movement (which still yields a reduced dispersion in the horizontal plane at higher frequencies)

Fair observation. However, I have measured on axis (uni mic) and something like power response (multi sweeps with an omni mic) at my listening position. I suspect that you'd be pretty impressed by both the absolute quality of each measurement and by the convergence between them.

BTW, I've treated the crap out of the room (absorbtion, diffusion, hemholtz, etc.) and use DRC EQ below 75hz, which helps.

As I indicated earlier, omnis are merely one more way to
skin this particular part or our common SQ cat and, while I think it's a good approach, I'm the first to admit that it is neither perfect, nor suitable for every taste.

Shadorne, thanks for the driver sizing info and the Paradigm link; very useful.

This thread of info has had me looking at crossover points of various active speakers. I note that Focal does not specify any for the Solo6 or Twin6; KRK does not specify any for the VXT line; the Genelec 8040A is at 3kHz with a 6.5" driver, whereas, the Genelec 8050A is 1t 1.8kHz with an 8" driver; my JBL 4328 are at 2.2kHz (8" driver); the JBL 6328 is at 1.7kHz (8" driver).
My Genelec 8020B have a 4 inch mid/woofer and are crossed over at 3 KHz.

The dispersion is nice and even but the woofer is small and Genelec provide plots (which you can find on line)