Powered speakers show audiophiles are confused

17 of 23 speakers in my studio and home theater systems are internally powered. My studio system is all Genelec and sounds very accurate. I know the best new concert and studio speakers are internally powered there are great technical reasons to design a speaker and an amp synergistically, this concept is much more important to sound quality than the vibration systems we often buy. How can an audiophile justify a vibration system of any sort with this in mind.


@steakster , I agree, but confusion is a close second :)


Sorry. Confusion is not even close. False equivalence.

@kota1 I do not want to speak for someone else, but my interpretation of the analog is that it is part of the process flow for mixing, as opposed to the now ubiquitous digital workstation. That would imply at least one additional digital to analog and analog to digital step in the process.

I am hesitant to talk too much about what the Trinnov does as this does not appear to be a receptive crowd. A quick summary. Trinnov comes from the studio world. Their product corrects the speaker response, and the room. It is two separate functions. Their integrated units adding the function of ATMOS and other formats, decoding and processing. It is used for playback. As it corrects the speaker, there are some obvious implications, I think, for the audio system that was described.

@phusis , I am inclined to agree entirely. The best amps I have ever heard have all been Class A at least up to a certain output. These amps can not be put into an active speaker because of the heat they generate. They are forced to use Class D amps for this reason and I have yet to hear a Class D amp I would purchase. Even Class AB amps if run hard are going to generate enough heat to make an active speaker very uncomfortable. "Activeness" can be applied to any system just by the addition of the right processor like the new DEQX units or the Trinnov Amethyst. Then you have the ultimate control over what your system is doing. The DEQX Pre8 has a full two channel 4 way crossover. It will individually control 8 amplifier channels and apply room control to all 8 channels. 

80%, 95% baloney! I want 110%, I want 200%. A home system can easily outperform most concert systems. The best systems are quite capable of fooling you into thinking the instrument is in the room with the right recording. Is this 100%? If you have a fine stereo image and a comfortably realistic volume level on the recording of a stadium concert is that 200%. At the venue what you get is an extremely distorted mono sound at a volume level that hurts. 

A system that approaches Harry Pearson's absolute sound is wonderfully comfortable to listen to. There is no distortion, noise or sibilance. People never realize how loud the system is playing. Images of voices and instruments float in space with black spaces in between. The music is palpably real, you feel the venue breath. You feel each individual low bass note. Your eyes actually blur with a pipe organ's low C. Cymbals shimmer but are not too bright. People listen and their eyes always widen. In my 69 years I have heard exactly three systems that perform at this level and I made a living for 5 years installing very expensive systems in the houses of very wealthy people in Coral Gables Florida. I sold Beverages, Dunlavys  Magneplanar Tympanies and Acoustats. Powered by Krell, Levinson and Accuphase. Not one of these systems approached the absolute sound primarily because décor was always more important then acoustics. I was never given an optimal situation and at the time probably would not have known one even if it hit me in the face. For 30 years I chased the absolute sound trying to figure out how to make a system reliably perform at that level. The three system's that did did so out of shear luck. 

mijostyn I'm surprised you said a good sound system can sound like a real musician in the room. Have you ever done that? Even in the best recording studios in the world the sound in the control room doesn't sound like the sound in the studio. I play saxophone in the same room I listen to music and it's really not even close, my system isn't great but my wife knows when I'm playing saxophone with a backing track (but I do kinda suck, even after 45 years of playing). I'm not talking about live sound through a PA but real musicians playing acoustic instruments? 


Hi all, my two cents. I’m a 40ish year audiophile. For those of us on a budget. Say less than $5K total? Quality active studio monitors are a VERY strong value proposition.

Although this is a hobby, most people do not have the money or time on a limited budget to mix and match / buy and sell speaker and amp combos endlessly to get lucky and find that perfect match of synergy. Further problematic that we only have three seconds of solid audio memory (true for color memory as well). So unless you have the funds to keep multiple sets of amps/speakers in front of you so that you can A/B test within the three-second window (That what Harmon Kardon lab does, Schiit as well in a recent user invitational test of the different versions of Yggy). The differences in the combos will only be memories of impressions, not accurate to the actual sound.

To me playing around with speaker amp combos (I have done quite a bit of it) has been fun but expensive fools folly.

So my pass. Yes in theory class D boards inside the cabinet might do something bad from vibrations? I personally have not experienced that. And thousands of professional studios making their living on the accuracy of sound, that insist on near-perfect accuracy have not experienced that theoretical issue either.

I’ll list my setup at the end. So in the audiophile world, bi-amping is a big deal. Benefits from greater dynamic range, due to splitting into two more powerful amps, maybe skipping crossovers, etc etc. In my 3 way studio monitors. Each speaker has it’s own individual 300 watt hyperion amp. For spec junkies, the hyperions measure near perfect. Each speaker is tri-amped. Not quite true, but this is in spitting distance to saying I am running six monoblocks. Yeah that’s some pretty audiophile mojo. In addition, since the crossovers are handled right before the amps at XLR voltages, the crossovers have less of an impact on the sound.

So here we go. A close to perfectly matched three speakers per cabinet, three amps per cabinet. Analog all the way, no DSP. No muss no fuss, allowing me to focus on other parts of the system.

To the colors of sound. OK, first up everyone’s room is different, and coloring about 60% of what you hear. So now you have the trifecta of hobby swirl. Matching speakers, to amps, to your rooms sound? Man that’s a ton of expensive variables to chase.

The variables that I enjoy chasing are DACs and Preamps. Since I know my actives are stone accurate. Then I can get really nuanced in my perceptions of DACs and Preamps.

So what is my come from presenting these opinions.

My listening environment is a small professional Audio/Visual studio. 12" * 14" with 14" wooden ceilings. The floor is carpeted, with additional thick rugs. The walls and, to a degree, the ceilings are treated with 38 sound blankets. The room is not quite deader than a doornail, but very close. My goal is/was to completely remove the room variable from my critical listening experince.

The speakers are supported by a set of Isoaccoutics feet, and each speaker is placed upon about 200lbs of concrete cinderblock stands. Yes it does make a difference. :-)

The audio gear stack gets it’s own 200lb stack, placed well behind the speakers, and each piece of gear also get’s it’s own Isoaccoutic feet. Blaspheme! That really made an audible difference.

Punchline is I can really hear the gear for what it is and isn’t, no imagination. The gear cannot hide from me.


My current rig:

$1,600 Hedd Type 2 studio monitors. (Purchased literally beat to living crap from a touring band.)

$1,800 Schiit Yggy OG (Love that thing, been through many DAC’s)

$500 Shitt Freya S (Hot rodded with an upgraded TI Opamp, truly amazing)

$800 Schiit Freya + (With added cooling fins. And some wicked, I’m not gonna tell rare tubes)

$400 Tubes (Where I settled after a lot of buy and sell tube rolling experiments.)

$900 HSU 15" sealed sub. (Carefully placed 4’ above the floor, shooting down one of the walls. Each room want’s something different from sub placement to get accurate.)

$6,000 in my room at the moment.

Oddball geek note blaspheme. I do run my preamps through each other in many combos. You would be surprised what you get in a revealing system. These two preamps give me I think a total of seven combinations of signal path color that I can run? Effectively behaving like owning seven preamps that can all be A/B switched within the 3-second window.