What kind of active speakers?

I am setting up a small 3/3.1 system. Due to space constraints within the room and within the TV stand, and maybe preference, I am hoping to use stand mounted active monitors. I'm aware of Paradigms older active 20 series that pops up occasionally for sale here, as well as Quad 12L and the Dynaudio BM actives. Do folks have other ideas? Also, I was planning on using a third monitor for center channel duty. Is this advisable or is there a center channel dedicated active speaker available, or maybe a set?

Thanks for the help!
Meridian makes the best active spkrs IMHO
Good used values on audiogon
Check out NHT also.
No but if you do find a good solution, let us know! Besides the ones mentioned above, I only know of a few brands off hand that would do a superb - reasonably affordable? - active mini monitor offering for such purposes.(Old M&K THX actives, Blue Sky(?), ATC (expensive?), others???
I do very well know the strengths of a well executed active speaker, to be true. So, yea, if you come up with a stellar option, that you think sounds fantastic (dynamic, detailed, clear, coherent, etc), I'm all ears! Cheers and beers...
Mackie HR mk2

Other choices: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/1641/Monitors_Active_Monitors.html

I use the JBL LSR 4328 + 4312 sub in my main system. I use KRK VXT6 + SVS sub in my office system. I waited for 6 weeks for a pair of Mackie 624 and bought the KRKs instead. No regrets at all.

All balanced cabling is Belden 1800F from Blue Jeans

The JBLs are DSP controlled -- digital filters everywhere, room mode correction, networked and remote controlled. The networking is very convenient - turn on any speaker you can reach and they all turn on; make any adjustment to one and they all stay in sync.

The KRKs are a traditional analog active design.

My only regret with active speakers is that I didn't get here years ago.

Using a 3rd active monitor as the center makes perfect sense.
Thanks Bob, Playnaked, and others. I have actives in my main system and I
agree, they work great!
Thanks Bob.
Oh BTW Bob, are those JBL's "near-field monitors" or are they also applicable for typical medium or better domestic living space or average home theater, in terms of design/dispersion, etc?
My first thought is they appear to be near-field.
Iplaynaked, I've not seen any comment in JBL's literature that the 4300s are designed specifically for nearfield. I assume that their design was influenced by Toole, so they should have a wide dispersion. I think this is a trend of all Harman speakers. I also assume (based on price) that home studios using digital audio workstations may be their target market where acoustics are probably lacking, so I don't see why they wouldn't work fine in a typical living room. I have them setup about 7 feet from the listening position in our living room. I have not none any room measurements to determine the effectiveness of the RMC system, but by ear it does seem to smooth out the bass a little.

What is it about their appearance that has you thinking nearfield?
Um, cause I don't see any speakers like this marketed for home theater, that's why! When I think Mackie, Genelec, and then some active JBL's, I automatically think "Pro audio: - and then I think "pro studio" - and then yet again I think "near-field"
Don't get me wrong, I am definitely hoping they are designed to perform for HT. In fact, I hope they are awesome! Cuase then I'd like to hear some and audition them.
To those using active speakers - what music genre do you listen to with the actives ? Also - as to the poster using JBL's in one system and KRK's in the other - comparison between the two ?
What kinds of music? All kinds of course. The thing to understand about active speakers is that they are engineered to ensure proper collaboration between the drivers and the amps. They take the guesswork out picking amps and complimentary speakers or vice versa. Consequently, they typically sound great. Why do you think they entire recording industry uses them? Of course, they are much less popular within the consumer world because they don't allow proper audiphiles to do their tinkering that they love to do.

Paradigm used to make a complete active home theater system. The entire system was available for sale here some time ago. I'm kicking myself for not buying it, @#@!

My Paradigm active monitors are excellent speakers with all kinds of music. They sound wonderful and we listen to them for hours. Yet, they are they most dated part of my system. I'd like upgrade, but that invovles going to seperates, which will require more room and additional expense, both of which I can't really spare. I could spring for some active ATC's or PMC's, but they are cost prohibitive and huge. In my small house, the mid-sized Paradigm actives just make good sense. That's why I'm looking for actives for HT duty presently, albeit unsuccessfully.

I listen to everything. I don't think active speakers have a preferred genre. Active speakers are almost all SS design (for obvious reasons), which would be a limiting factor for some users.
Iplaynaked, I pulled out my History of JBL book and found a small blurb about what "near-field" means. According to that book, near-field described speakers that had limited bandwidth; were small with small drivers that sat atop the meter bridge very close to the engineer. Being that close they didn't have to move a lot of air. I don't know why studio monitors with 6.5" - 8" woofers would be limited to near-field use.

My old office speakers - passive M&K CR2401 used a pair of 4" drivers and where marketed as near-field monitors. Their big brother used a pair of 5.25 drivers and weren't marketed that way.

Ethan Winer of RealTraps uses the first version of the Mackie HR monitors in his personal home theater and claims to love them. It was his recommendation that pointed me to active speakers in general and Mackie in particular.

I think it'd be worth your time to seek out some active studio monitors just for grins.
Musicnoise, my impression between the JBL LSR4328 and the KRK VXT6 is that the VXT6 is more resolving. I attribute that to two possibilities: 1) the VXT6 is literally 30" from my ears on my desktop at work and 2) the LSR4328 is doing an A->D->A conversion. I find them both equally engaging and well suited to the tasks I'm giving them.

I originally was going to pick a smaller JBL (the LSR 6325) for the office, but I wanted to gain experience with another manufacturer.

Regarding what type of music I listen to... Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Basie, Diana Krall, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, etc. The JBL system also serves duty as a 2.1 HT system.
Bob, I actually have presumed - from reading some articles, somewhere - that near field monitors were designed specifically for a "close monitoring" setup, exclusively. I thought that they designed the crossover and driver compliments in these speakers to propagate the sound so that everything came together in closer proximity to the listener. My understanding was that some speakers require you to sit further back to get the phase correct between drivers, but could be misunderstanding here. In fact, I've read more than a few speaker reviews over the years, where engineers and reviewers alike stated that this or that speaker was designed to be listened to from a minimum listening distance for proper sound. Dunlavy and Thiel speakers come to mind. So I'm not sure how all that "near-field" genre works completely.
You may be entirely right, in that it's just a marketing point, or limited response issue. I'm presuming it's more to it that that. Dunno.
Well, guess I could always research the subject. Yes, I'll do that.
But hey, if I'm way off, let me know.
Bob, I actually have presumed - from reading some articles, somewhere - that near field monitors were designed specifically for a "close monitoring" setup, exclusively

That is true - some are definitely designed and voiced this way. They will not work at farfield distances.

Basically, the only speaker that will work at all and any distance (with no worries about toe-in etc.) is one with a wide even 80% dispersion across most of the frequency range (say up to roughly 10 Khz). Any speaker that has a narrow dispersion will only work at a specific suitable distance or at a range of distances that can be achieved by adjusting tilt, toe-in and listening spot for a particular room.

This is simply due to physics, here is an analogy:

1) A narrow dispersion design is like a flashlight with a narrow beam. Stand too close and point it straight at the eyes and it may be too bright. And slight changes of a few inches will almost always completely change the light reaching you and what surfaces in the room are "lit up" (the reflected light in the room). Listener position with respect to the flashlight matters a lot in terms of what is seen. Point the flashlight at a book and you have a great reading light and can see very clearly just the book.

2) A wide dispersion design is like an ordinary incandescent light bulb with no focus. It just lights up the whole room evenly. It is much less sensistive to placement or distance. Given a sufficently powered bulb the whole room can be lit fairly evenly...but it needs a lot more power to do its job and while the room is lit evenly it may not be as bright as one might like in a particular spot.

What we hear (like what we see) is a combination of direct and reflected energy (and this ratio changes as you go further from the source). Only a speaker with an even power response (wide even dispersion) will sound the same over a broad range of locations in a room.

Since the work by Dr Floyd Toole in the late 70's and early 80's, many modern nearfields have moved towards wide even dispersion and are extremely flexible. However, even among "wide dispersion" designs there is a significant degree of variability (as there is with consumer designs too).
Thanks Shadorne and Iplaynaked... A week doesn't go by that I don't learn something from these forums.

Physically, from appearance, would it be correct to assume that a waveguide as in the JBL LSR monitors would lead to wide dispersion and have less directivity, thus being more flexible in setup?
Yeh I too thought that near field speakers were designed for dispersing sound in some narrow listening window, er other. Yes, I don't know the whole story either.
Have also read some about regular home audio speakers having to be listened to at like 6 feet back, minim requirement to sound right.
Would like to know myself how that works really.
If anyone finds some links on more indepth near field design, that would be nice if you could pass it up to us.

Dr. Floyd Toole is an executive at Harmon (JBL) - I believe your speakers are designed using Toole's approach - wide even dispersion with useable signal up to 80 degrees. Most all nearfields are designed this way - and many have a waveguide so that tweeter matches the woofer in dispersion at the crossover. I'd bet your speakers are probably peerfectly flat up to at least 30 degress off axis.
Shadorne, yes Toole is VP of Research (I believe) and his influence seems to be all over the LSR designs (JBL as well as Revel). I meant to pull out the manuals to check the FR graphs, but I believe that the speakers are measured at 78 points within a +/- 30 degree horizontal and +/- 15 degree vertical region. I believe that it was Toole that invented the "directivity index" measure, but I'm not clear on it. Need to read his book (papers again).


So is the waveguide's effect solely around the crossover region?


The idea of sound field integration (if that's the correct term) based on distance to the listener is confusing to me. I don't have a visual image in my head as to what's going on. I recall reading reviews of speakers with 1st order crossovers (like Vandersteen and Thiel) that listening distance was critical. The Vandy's were typically tilted back to compensate.

Can you shed some light on this matter and/or point to some links for additonal reading? Thanks again for all your help.
So is the waveguide's effect solely around the crossover region?

As you go lower in frequency the driver radiates widely - by adding a waveguide it will narrow the radiation pattern and reduce off axis energy. The waveguide will increase the loading on the driver slightly and therefore you can cross it over slightly lower or you can get slightly more SPL out of it before compression. It won't affect the tweeter response much at high frequencies.

The advantage is to get slightly a lower crossover from a tweeter and then to match the dispersion to a 6 inch driver that is already starting to beam. This produces a smooth seamless transition in the off axis response. If it is done well you have absolutely no way to identify that there is a tweeter and separate woofer (from a reasonable listening distance). Also, one can achieve an even power response - this means the speaker has a flat frequency response at all angles - so it excites the room evenly at all frequencies with no imbalances from reflections. This is an example of what you get without a waveguide and a tweeter crossed over quite high. This is an example with a lower crossover ( a smoother off axis response). This is what you get with an even lower crossover at 2.4 Khz and a waveguide - absolutely beautiful!

See also Aeronet and Elliot Sound and Genelec Waveguides
It won't affect the tweeter response much at high frequencies.

But it may help to flatten the off axis response at higher frequencies (at the expense of narrowing dispersion slightly.
The idea of sound field integration (if that's the correct term) based on distance to the listener is confusing to me. I don't have a visual image in my head as to what's going on.

Try to imagine how as a listener you are hearing the direct signal and the reflected signals. Depending on where you sit or where you place the speakers you will hear primary reflections at a different angle. If the speaker off axis curve looks just like the on axis curve ( nice and smooth and matching well if only all around lower in SPL) then the reflected energy will contribute evenly at each frequency to the overall speaker response. This means you get an even power response or you hear the same sound energy and flat frequency regardless of where you sit or where you place the speaker. Move close to one wall and you will hear more reflected energy from that particular angle - but as long as what is reflected is the same frequency response curve that is directly reaching your ears then you hear the combination which is the same sound.

If you have a speaker that beams in a narrow fashion like a flashlight at some frequencies and then widens to a broad floodlight at other frequencies (like the first example I gave) then you will be much more challenged to find a good listening position with an even response - move to one side and you may miss the side wall reflection from the narrow flashlight upper midrange but you will still get the "broad floodlight" tweeter response full in your ear - oops - all of a sudden it sounds different!

This may explain many observations where slight tweaks are adamantly claimed to produce different sounds. The mere movement of the listener a few inches (for example leaning forward) may be enough to audibly change what is heard ( a decibel or so over an octave or two is enough) and this becomes attributed to the tweak rather than being blamed on the speaker.
Of interest to the Floyd Toole fans: Published last year was "Sound Reproduction, Loudspeakers and Rooms" by Focal Press. Mr. Toole does a nice job of explaining what the title suggests. After finishing his book, my impression is that his bottom line is the best way to go for sound reproduction is multi speaker systems. Although that is not my taste, his position is well explained and hard to dispute. Regardless, it is a good read for understanding many of the topics discussed in this thread.
Shadorne, many thanks for the explanations and links. A smooth off-axis response I understood to be important to obtaining a larger listening region, but I had not given any thought to its impact on reflections. That makes sense.

I've seen a paper written by Ethan Winer (Real Traps)showing that for a certain speaker moving the measuring position a few inches in various directions produced quite different response curves. That coincides with your last paragraph regarding tweaks.

I have this book. It is excellent although a bit long winded for a useful reference. (Not enough math for my tastes but plenty of psychoacoustic discussions)
A smooth off-axis response I understood to be important to obtaining a larger listening region, but I had not given any thought to its impact on reflections. That makes sense.

Especially important when you realize that we hear the energy from the room up to the first 40 msec after the first arrival - this is called Haas effect - so the intensity of reflections really do matter and the speaker placement and listener sweetspot will be much more versatile if the speaker has flat frequency response on as well as off axis (it can be of lower amplitude off axis but it should be flat and with no "midrange scoop" or other broad peaks or troughs).