I have tried using several active speakers in my home rig but they were all musically unsatisfying to mewhy do you think that is?
- 107 posts total
- 107 posts total
Important to listen to active speakers before buying, perhaps more so. I also think that thinking about long term enjoyment is key. They often sound great out of the gates, but after a few days of listening, they fail to excite. I listened to the Kii three’s and found they delivered a smaller version of the sound I liked. I heard the D&D 8c’s had an even bigger sound so I auditioned those, but they didn’t have the sound qualities I like. I happened by a B&O store and tried the Beo50’s and Beo90s and while the build quality is superlative, B&O has to learn how to set up speakers in their stores for demos. I will keep auditioning to try to find the shoe that fits. I recommend extended auditions if possible.
1) Active speakers (monitors) such as most of the higher-end ones being discussed here are by in large no-nonsense and demanding professional tools. Not only are they not designed to be eye-catching and decorative, as a class they must needs be ruthlessly revealing yet highly listenable at the same time. Thus, they are very apt to tell one everything that’s wrong (or right!) with what comes before them, from recording technique, to mastering, to one’s electronics, to their position and placement in the room (studio). If they don’t sound good to you, it’s very likely that the problem lies elsewhere, including what one expects or is accustomed to. Best possible program material and kit is a given.
2) Well-designed, especially higher-end, active speakers are a highly integrated system. The physical design, the amplification, and the drivers are all rigorously designed to work specifically with the other components in the speaker. Moreover, actives work with either a line-level or a *digital* input (see below). The result is a remarkable degree of flexibility in design throughout. That’s profoundly different from a passive system where the input is an already fully amplified signal. The passive design has to be substantially generic, and try to both accommodate the quirks of an unknown amplifier and crossover the high-powered input to the sundry drivers. That’s challenging and expensive to do well, and it actually allows for less flexibility in design.
3) Active monitors fall into two categories, analog and DSP. The difference is rather obvious. The older, analog, approach is just that, the input signal remains analog throughout the processing, amplification, and reproduction chain. The analog processing, however, can be and often is highly sophisticated. PSI, Questeds, and others, are excellent examples. The DSP monitors are newer and typically rely on digital wizardry to achieve their often remarkable sonic results. Kii three’s, D&D’s, and several others are the hot new guys on the block.
Overall, both types have their merits and, to some degree, drawbacks. Analog monitors only accept a line-level analog input, and then have an assortment of level and EQ controls available (on the back). That makes driving them and setting them up rather straightforward.
DSP monitors will ordinarily accept an analog input, but often also accept, and generally prefer, a digital input, usually @ 96kHz. Even an analog input will be converted to digital for processing. The result can be amazing sound, but the setup and configuration, even the volume control, can also be challenging and complex.
The very first time I heard active speakers were the John Bowers Active 1's waayyy back in 1986. They were shockingly dynamic! There really is something special about getting all those Inductors & Capacitors out from between the amps & drivers. Audiophiles think that "control" is being taken away from them because they cannot choose their own flavor of amplification... but that control is being transferred to the speaker designer... It took me a LONG time to finally buy a pair of actives...... and am now a very happy owner of ADAM S3H's. Yes they are digital, and they are very revealing, dynamic, and fun to listen to. Yes they are a pro monitor, and I have a studio and do mixing.... But these are truly amazing speakers and worthy of any audiophile to consider. Focal also makes really good powered monitors (and not digital). They are prettier than the ADAMs, but in a a side by side comparison, I chose the ADAM.
I prefer partially self-powered speakers, for built in bass power only. I'm looking at Von Schweikert Aktive series and have heard their Ultra series. Great speakers. Legacy audio offers similar type speakers with DSP as well. Full active speakers are restrictive in the end unless it is just the match one desires. I've heard a few dozen and some are very good, but not the equal of my passive speakers or the Von Schweikerts.