Active Speakers: The usual suspects ....

I'm interested in purchasing 'active' loudspeakers for a planned surround system. Although the "usual suspects" such as Quad, JBL, Dynaudio, KRK, Genelec, ATC, and PMC are ALL good/great speakers, I am wondering if there are other active speakers to consider that I haven't listed?

I did listen to DigiDesign RM2 active speakers designed by PMC. I felt, like many of the reviewers have stated, that they were overpriced at $3500 pr (and out of my price range).

Again, I'm seeking a suggestion or two concerning active monitors that might not be as well known as those I've listed.

Any and all comments appreciated.

Thank You
Infinity Intermezzo 2.6 are awesome for the price used. I have had mine for many years and just got the upgrade bug after 6 years.
Meyer - HD-2's are real nice
Nova S applause
Blue Sky

to name a few more.
Meridian - ATC
Just a couple more
There is a new Klipsch Active out for like $2500 that is a nice looking speaker for HT and pretty cheap....should be fun to check into and see if its a winner.
I've also learned Focal makes a line of active speakers. The Solo6 Be and Twin6 Be look interesting .... however, neither one has an 'active' digital crossover. I hate to ask: Is that critically important?

I've noticed quite a few of the pro audio monitors are 'active' in terms of amplification, but they don't have a digital crossover. The DigiDesign RM1 & 2, and JBL LSR 4328s do, however, some of the other one's I am considering do not.

Does it matter?

Thank You
I hate to ask: Is that critically important?

Not critical - digital filters are more powerful and flexible than real circuits - but both need to be carefully designed - digital filters can introduce distortion that is unrelated to the music (truncation) and odd effects like pre-ringing and they can do tricks like linear phase - analog circuits however tend to produce harmonic distortion from non-linearities (less of a problem as it is related to the music). In a good design whether you have digital filtering or analog is a minor issue - as the filters will likely be simple and robust. If A to D or D to A conversion frightens you (it shouldn't) then stick to Analog Active speakers.

Emerald Physics CS-2
Check out these:

Websites also contain good information.
Shadorne: Thanks for the in-depth info, although I'm not sure I totally understand everything.

One of the reviewers of the DigiDesign RM2 by PMC stated this: "Unlike analog active speakers, the Digidesign/PMC speaker converts the analog to digital to enable high frequency and low frequency control, as well as the crossover, bass-port emulation and speaker gain. The digital signal is converted back to analog before the final amplifier stage."

He goes on to say "Many speakers companies convert analog to digital in their active speaker systems, and I can attest that many sound very good. But I have talked to high-end engineers who say that multiple stages of digital conversion within a speaker could have a subtle, perhaps audibly degrading effect that could offset the excellent crossover performance capable in a digital design."

I believe you are saying the same thing. I am going back and forth between the Focal, DigiDesign, and possibly one of the baby PMC monitors.
ACT, no one does it better.
I believe you are saying the same thing. I am going back and forth between the Focal, DigiDesign, and possibly one of the baby PMC monitors.

Yes I am saying - that you should not base your decision on the active filter design (Digital or analog active) - BOTH can be excellent - so just choose what speaker rocks your boat.

The other factors in speaker design will be far far more important than this particular point - also be careful - picking up any active speaker is NOT likely to automatically be better than a good passive one - there are a great many fantastic sounding passive speakers as well as all too many poor sounding cheap active speakers targeted for low cost PC based mini home studios market - so whatever you do - LET YOUR EARS DECIDE.
First off, many PMC speakers are not active. I think they call them "activated" -- powered speakers with passive crossovers. They are more of a system convenience.

Mackie is one you didn't list that I'd consider. Ethan Winer uses them in his HT system (I don't recall which model, but not the current mk2 versions) and thinks highly of them.

As you noted, some have analog crossovers and some have digital crossovers. In theory, digital crossovers can be made much steeper and more accurate than analog and that may have an impact on driver integration. It also opens the door to having digital from source to speakers and also digital EQ.

As Shadorne noted, if you are running analog from the source there will be an analog-to-digital conversion that could impact sonics. But, as he said I would not be worried about it only aware of it. I can not think of any reason why there would be multiple stages of digital conversion as you quoted from the PMC review.
Not only shouldn't we confuse powered speakers with active, we shouldn't assume all active speakers are powered. The ones I referred to above all have external x/o and amp. Although one should probably stick with the prescribed x/o, the amps are up to you. Many people criticize active speakers for having built-in amps, their reasons vary. I'm not sure whether it matters, but I can see the benefits of external.
Many people criticize active speakers for having built-in amps, their reasons vary. I'm not sure whether it matters, but I can see the benefits of external.

Internal amps can suffer from microphonics - it requires choosing components and gain designs that are not microphonic (not that difficult). A tube amplifier stage, for example, would be a problem in a speaker. Some potentiometers and caps can be microphonic too. Single box guitar amp/speaker with tubes are well known for this issue - some guitar players insist to have the amp separate. Pink Floyd puts tube amps in an entirely separate room from the speakers. Active speakers started in studios with the amps separate from each driver in an air cooled amp rack. I believe they only migrated into the actual speaker box in the past 25 years or so...initially it was for portability. It certainly limits one to SS amps....
I own the Focal Twin 6's. I use them in my recording studio, but recently had them in my living room form a while. They sound great and have plenty of low end for smaller rooms.
Or you could go with single driver speaker with no x-over and a conventional 2 channel amp.
For your application I'd recommend Klein & Hummel actives. ATC seems a bit over the top -- but great products nonetheless. BTW, the K&H above is wearing the ATC midrange driver.
K&H xover is digital so you feed it a digital signal direct & use its DAC. This is very important if you want to benefit from a dsp's delay facility (why else would you use a digital xover??? It sucks:))

The atc is analogue. So is Mr Linkwitz' Orion, one of the best (the best?) mid-sized active speakers. On the down side, the Orion is very complex.
I have owned/used the Focal Twin6 Be, PMC TB2+ (powered by Bel Canto, McIntosh, Carver, etc.), JBL LSR6328P, Klein + Hummel O300D, some others. All running in a Realtraps treated room.

I would pick the O300 easily as the top choice from that batch -- but -- their dynamics are restricted by builtin limiters, and they will start to trigger at around 86 dB. And activate full time and start to change the response above 92-93 dB or so. Just FYI in case you are running high levels. Some say adding the sub will help that situation, I did not try them that way.

Second place goes to the JBL. A nice pleasing sound, a bit full in the upper bass (sounds like JBLs), a slightly relaxed tweeter. Very rugged and extremely powerful, can really play loud. But keeps good balance at lower levels. The midrange is not as detailed as I wanted, kind of blended. But usable speakers for sure.

PMC... I owned 5 of the TB2+ for a few years, ok for the money at the time compared to the relatively awful Dynaudio BM15 I had been using. But overall the TB2 were very bright and sometimes thumpy, too much smiley-face flavoring to suit me over the long run.

Focal Twin6 -- did not work for me at all, especially in direct comparison to the other models I had available. Heavy upper bass/low midrange, distant treble. I do not like bright speakers and wanted to like these, but they sounded cloudy. The imaging was not to my tastes either, in two different rooms.

But I also extensively compared all these (both listening and recording studio mixing/mastering for several weeks) to the passive Digital Phase EP-SM1 and Zu Druids (with upgraded capacitor) running Bel Canto eVo amps and Zu Libtec cables.... no contest. Those passive setups were by far my top selection for clarity, dynamics, imaging, tonal balance, and especially three dimensional depth. You name it, they had it. The Digital Phase tweeter is phenomenal, as is the proprietary bass resonance design. Easy 35 Hz response from a 2-way bookshelf.

I have no experience with them, but Digital Phase does make their own amps and can fix you up with a mounted 'activated' version if you don't want to chase amps and cables.

these are supposedly the cat's meow in pro studios:

i want to check out a pair myself!
Yeah the MM27 is king of meter bridge monitors for sure - in the tight accurate deep bass department.

A substantial heavy bookshelf sized monitor but with the kind of quality bass at SPL's you normally only get from large 100 liter+ big box cabinets. They are competely void of that typical muddy ported bass sound that you get from almost all ported two way monitors with impressive bass extension.

Barefoot are critcially damped Q=0.71. The subwoofer is actually a SEALED box. You are talking very high quality bass here in a small package. Of course SPL will still be limited/constrained by Hoffman's Law (efficiency of a woofer system is directly proportional to its cabinet volume and the cube of its cutoff frequency) but it is King of anything that size for sure!

IMHO, the raves are justified as there is really nothing like it in the monitor size of speaker unless you add a high sealed quality subwoofer. I think I have heard them called "near-field monitors on steroids". Great choice if you like totally realistic drums.
Shadorne- would they be good for audiophile listening? or is it strictly for nearfield monitoring.
Thank you for the recommendation. Unfortunately, the MM27 comes in at $7,000 pair (street price), which is way out of my price range, although Shadorne is correct, they've received rave reviews.
Unfortunately, the MM27 comes in at $7,000 pair (street price), which is way out of my price range

Yes - but look at what you get for all that! Plug in an iPod into these babies and you will be in serious rock heaven - nothing else required! Jack Black eat your heart out. Four ten inch woofers - OMG - absolutely ideal for highest quality rocking out in a small space! Despite the high price tag this is actually pretty good value.

In my next life I want an iPod and a pair of these in my college dorm room. ;-)
Shadorne, I'd be interested to know what you compared the MM27 to. Some folks I know who bought them have only previously owned NS10 and such. I have not been inclined to listen to Barefoot, since I won't spend that budget and like my separate amplifier setups.

And I have talked with some mixing engineers who own them and were disappointed that they could not turn off/rebalance the integral subwoofers. I far prefer being able to mix/master with switchable subs to have mains only, subs only, mains + subs.

I'd say it is quite similar to ATC SCM100 in sound - really tight bass and a bit less forward in the upper mids - however the dispersion is narrower so definitely more suited to near field or smaller rooms.
Yes, thanks, but I was asking if you did actual hands on (ears on) side by side listening of the MM27 in A/B with other speakers or monitors. In your place or...?


No I have not made direct A/B's. Frankly, when I say "King" I mean it is immediately obvious that nothing else that small without a big sub could sound anything like it. Drums are particularly good. For near-field I think that a cheaper set of Genelec 8050A's and a good sub would be my choice - basically along the lines you suggest but I am sure many people will be sold by the shock and awe of this small but powerful monitor.
Infinity Prelude MTS
Infinity Intermezzo 2.6
with R.A.B.O.S.
Stereophile Class 'A' loudspeakers
Shadorne- could the MM27s be used 10" apart, sitting 12" back?
Shadorne- could the MM27s be used 10" apart, sitting 12" back?

Sure....I think you could just turn them up anytime you needed to blow dry your hair...

Seriously I think NHT Moo or Soo and other much cheaper speakers would be more sensible for a PC workstation setup.
sorry- i meant 9-10 "feet" apart and 12 "feet" back :)

Oh - I am not sure - why not contact Thomas Barefoot and get his opinion - he is careful to say they are "near-fields on steroids" but I don't think he claims these are for far-field use (although I bet they go loud enough for most people).

If you have this much space then why not go for something bigger and less compact?