Well, you are definately correct, in some cases. Take the ATC speakers. They started out as ONLY doing pro-audio. All of their speakers are internally bi-amped or tri-amped depending on the number of drivers. ATC took home the Stereophile system of the year for 2001 also... 60% of the recording studios have them, including Sony and Todd AO.
You can get a pair of internally powered Active 10's for $2500 or active 20's for $6900. Both are just amazing bookshelf sized monitors.
The Paradigm Active 20's were also an awesome speaker, but they stopped making them due to lack of interest. Internally amping is actually the best way to go if designed properly. On the ATC active 100's for example, they have 50Watts on the Tweeter, 100 Watts on the MidRange, and 200 Watts on the Bass unit. There is nothing sweeter when the amps are engineered for the specific driver right up front!
Secondly, it is better to have a long wire run BEFORE the amp, where an internal amp has a VERY short run from the amp to the driver. Especially with a balanced cable run, you can run much farther without nearly the loss as you would lose with a powered signal. Lastly, Internal passive crossovers are also not as good as an Internal active crossover....
I've never heard the Tannoys, but worth a listen.
Reference quality is something of an over statement, but the Tannoys will provide you will high quality sound. I personally prefer the JBL LSR28Ps (available for less than $1,400 pr.). Spendor, Mackie and ATC also make superior quality active monitors. One thing to be careful about is that these speakers are near field monitors and are intended to be listened to in that manner. You will also need to budget for a high quality stand.
The type of music you listen to may have a large impact. Most studio near-field monitors are meant to be very revealing (so recording engineers can hear what is being done to the signal as they lay down a mix). I have a home project studio in which I use Tannoy NFM 8s (with 8" dual concentric drivers) run by solid state electronics. My listening room however uses tubes and speakers with a rolled-off high end, which I prefer when I'm listening to classical music. For jazz and rock the monitors may be just the thing. You can get a pair of Tannoy Reveal active monitors from www.musiciansfriend.com for $799 with a 45 day money back satisfaction guarantee. Hard to beat.
i personally use ATC active 50's and highly recommend that you take a listen to them as well. the active 10's and 20's are wonderful bookshelf-style speakers and i prefer them to the tannoy line.
listen to both, though, and decide form there. you may prefer the tannoys.
For around $800-900, I'd go for "real" Tannoy studio monitors, i.e., dual concentrics. The Reveals are fine as far as they go, but don't hold a candle to the coaxials that Tannoy has designed for the past 55 years. I picked up DMT 12s for around US$700 and DMT 12 IIs for closer to $900 (used). Even with a single modest amp, they'll blow the Reveals (and most hifi speakers) away. Plus you can enjoy them while saving up for some Bryston Power Packs to bolt to the back to make them into bona fide active monitors.
Active is the definitely the way to go, for it gets rid of the speaker cable (or 99% of it) and allows you to use an electronic crossover which can be made to much tighter tolerances than a passive one. Tannoy makes an active model based on the DMT 12, but a pair is very expensive, list price around $6500, though I did once see a used pair for rather less.
By all means audition ATC and Genelec and Tannoys, but compare models at similar price points. Reveals are Tannoy's compromise, because dual concentrics are much more expensive to manufacture than two physical separate drivers.
My favorite speakers are the ATC SCM50 SL actives. They are my 2nd pair of ATC. In a month's time, I will be able to tell everyone the latest upgrade new tweeters on the SCM50 (Seas Excel, like the SCM70), hope they are worth the cost and effort.
The strong reason to go with ATC is that the amps they integrated are of very high quality. For example, the small Active 10 comes with 200W each side. The Paradigm only has 80W. Also, ATC amps operate nearly in Class A (note how hot the sink gets) only till the very loud passage. The mid/high channels remain Class A all the time.
For other ATC owners, try putting Blue Tak in between the speakers and stands, and try a pair of Totem Beak. < $100 but major improvement in finesse and air.
totem beak? i've got the tak, but what's the totem beak?
totem beak? Heck where do I get blue tak! I've got 5 ATC 100's coming on Tuesday arriving from England.
Blu-Tac is made by Bostik and be had at any large office supply store for around $5.95 a pack, or you can buy it from Audioadvisor for $9.95 and pay $6.95 shipping.. "Man what a mark up" !!!!!. Or you can by the same damn stuff called Tac-N-Stik made by Elmer's for a $1.99 a pack
Not sure what totem beak is. Please en-lighten us on this tweek..
Just to give you a different point of reference, I own a pair of Mackie HR-824 active monitors which I have used for a few years now in sound editing and production work. I love them because they are detailed and image beautifully when they are setup right and you sit right in front of them. They are crisp, detailed and the frequency response in-room is amazingly flat, which surprised the fire out of me.
I picked Mackie over JBL, Yamaha, ATC and Tannoy because I liked the imaging of the Mackies best. I could place sounds on them more accurately than on the others.
Oddly enough, the most annoying quality of the Mackies also is their precission. They pretty much play everything on the album, are very unforgiving. In my opinion, they do not make for the best music enjoyment when just enjoying music.
Ok, try to help a bit more.
If you can get 2 pairs of Totem Beak, it will be best. Due to size of ATC 50 or 100, 2 pairs really should be necessary, consider that they are about 1% of the price of speakers, and they add 5-8% performance, well worth it! Imagine the top of ATC SCM50 having 4 quadrants, my favorite position is putting the beaks in the inner side front, and outer side back quadrants.
Here's a picture of the Totem Beak:
For those having no Blue Tak around, I find the QuakeHold available in Home Depot a nice alternative. The thing is on some other goos, they will discolor and damage the wood finish, or not pliable. Make sure you roll a big enough ball, I would say, 1 slab of Quake Hold cut into 3 or 4 pieces, and roll up, stick between the factory stands and the bottom of the ATC would be fine.
I used 3 pieces, 1 below the woofer, and 2 behind, in a triangle. Quake Hold or Blue Tak instead of the factory adds a tonne of air, and midrange jumps out instead of hiding. I have been using the solution with SCM20 stand mounted, so when I got the SCM50, I was stunned by the defficiency of factory recommended setup.
ATC owners are welcome to send me e-mail. I have used ATC for so long, will be glad to help.