Why HiFi manufacturers don't make active crossovers anymore?


Hello to all,

On the recent days, I noticed that a lot of manufacturers of Hifi 2 channel systems, had plenty of options in a not so long past, of active crossovers, like Luxman, Accuphase, higher end Sony stuff, and many more, why do you think HiFi manufacturers abandoned the inclusion of active cross overs, channel dividers, in their lineup?

Accuphase still makes a digital one.

Appears that this devices are only still relevant in the Pro Audio world, why Home HifI abandoned the active cross over route? It's correct to assume that?

I think that can be very interesting tri-amp a three way loudspeakers with active cross overs, would like to know more about it too...

Share your thoughts about the subject, experiences in bi-amp and tri-amp with active crossovers and etc....

Thanks!
C29d0c0c 8a4a 4032 a11f eb6239f72433cosmicjazz
Was taking a look at the 6 channel amp Accuphase PX-600, I think it's from late 90's, and wondering how amazing can be the option that is showed in there, an example of use this amp with the matching channel divider with three way speakers system...

http://www.accuphase.com/cat/px-600e.pdf
miniDSP will get you there.

The thing most amateurs don't get about crossover design is that active or passive, it's more complicated than you think.

Active saves you a lot of part buying, but there are usually some trade offs, like 3x more amplifier channels, and a lot more parts that go between the singal and the driver.

I'm not against active crossovers at all, but the main advantage pro's like them for, better power efficiency and dynamic range, are not really issues the same way for home enthusiasts. 

Here's an article that describes a lot of what a crossover must do, to give you an idea.
https://speakermakersjourney.blogspot.com/2016/12/crossover-basics-driver-response.html
This only covers a few points. What's still missing is phase matching and baffle step equalization. All doable in an active setup, just saying, there's a lot to do.
@cosmicjazz Bryston and JL Audio make active crossovers. But as @erik_squires mentioned things can get pretty complicated if you really want to do it right, and I also strongly recommend (and offer) miniDSP in large part because of that. Inclusion of Dirac Live is also a big plus.

I imagine that active crossovers have become less popular at the high-end in favor of "full-range" speakers, inclusion of a subwoofer without a crossover, or more advanced solutions. Also, the vast majority of people with 2 or 2.1 setups are still purchasing home theater receivers which have built-in bass management.
The thing most amateurs don't get about crossover design is that active or passive, it's more complicated than you think.
why would it be complicated to make an active crossover work? All you would do is set the crossover slope and point and then adjust the response using EQ to suit your ears. 

Passive is much harder to do because theres no way to adjust the slope or point quickly. 

Its false that active and passive are comparable in difficulty of use. 
Interesting guys, thanks for the thoughts, will check it out the article that you shared..

Let me know what do you guys think about the Accuphase option that I posted above?

Take a look at the brochure, and their option of use the PX-600 amp with the analog active crossover with 3 way speakers (the one with horns)

I was thinking that example, would be a very straight forward and easy to configure, If compared for example: to build the exactly loudspeakers showed on the picture with passive crossovers...

What you guys think would be more easy to configure?

To build the passive cross over for a loudspeaker like that, or to cross over the drivers frequencies using the F-25 and amplify with the multi channel PX-600?

http://www.accuphase.com/cat/f-25en.pdf

I'm planning to build the loudspeakers with the same configuration of the one showed on the brochure of the PX-600, a 3 way, composed of 12" Woofer, Radial Horn, Super Horn Tweeter.

I have the passive cross over plan, but thinking about the route of to use the PX-600 and F-25.

What you guys thins about the pros and cons of the 2 routes? 

I have no experience in build a cross over, so I was thinking that the route of PX-600 and F-25, will me more easy, no?

Thank sirs.
but there are usually some trade offs, like 3x more amplifier channels, and a lot more parts that go between the singal and the driver.

Audiophiles are generally happy to spend quite a lot of money on their equipment. Why would you be reluctant to spend a bit of money on another amp to obtain the benefits of going active, when youre happy to spend thousands on other things like cables and accessories which bring little or no benefits?

There are less not more parts between the amp and driver with active. Less expensive capacitors and inductors. 
If using DSP with analog sources, I presume that the signal is converted to digital right? 

So phono signal for example will be digitalized and converted to analog again....  I think this is the main reason why I'm reluctant in consider DSP if choose to go through the active cross over route...
I’m seriously considering this, instead of build the passive cross over for my speaker project...

http://www.accuphase.com/cat/px-600e.pdf
http://www.accuphase.com/historys/pdf/cx-260e.pdf
http://www.accuphase.com/cat/f-25en.pdf

This multi channel amp and active crossover, would like to know more about if this example can be a more easy solution to divide the frequencies for the speaker’s drivers, instead of build the passive crossover for the woofer, radial horn, and super horn tweeter, as is suggested on the Fostex speaker’s plan.

https://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/speaker_components/pdf/recom_enclose/w300aII_encl.pdf 


More, easy, straight forward configuration, but more expensive for sure... well this amp, preamp and active crossover from Accuphase I found some to sell occasionally on the web, sometimes the preamp and the active crossover appears at a more reasonable price in Japan I think..

Anyway, what do you think about this solution for a 3 way loudspeakers?

I noticed that on the PX-600 brochure, Accuphase shows a picture example with this devices used with 3 way speakers system, with the exactly same design of the ones that I will start to build, take a look... maybe this says something? probably a good match?

All components are from 2001, then, they are soooo vintage to worries about repair, recap, and etc, if considering very well cared units, the F25 is from late 90’s but was re-released in 2005.

Let me know your thoughts about, very interesting stuff....
yes, 3 way with active 3 way crossover and 3  separate amp is step up, but is not for commercial market , not too many customers  gonna buy, and don't make sense put it production, Meridian make this with build in 3 way active crossover and  build in  3 class D amps.  is very costly, and some folks don't like class D, My company Bache get experience to make what  looking for, so only small company can realize you protect
That's why I'm thinking about the option that I posted above, maybe you can cut costs with some "more vintage" components, and a multi channel high end amp...
I have a speaker system, the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition, that can be set up active or passive. I can make either setup outperform the other. I have done this consistently over the years. My perspective is that once you begin changing elements of an audio system it is simplistic to declare one method inherently superior. YMMV 

You can read about this special speaker system that Legacy Audio did at my request, and the article about it at Dagogo.com  


in my  project Bache-audio -002 first edition  we use build in 2 active 
Class D  amp with electonic crossover , sub  20-150hz and upper bass
150-700hz ,  For 700-25000 hz we use only 2 capacitors, one for widerange to protect from low freq and one for  super tweeter same idea, so you can use only one external preferable Tube low power SAT .
But a lot  different combination can be used,  for my point of view 
is not necessary to use 3 same amps,  Class D especially NCORE-Is excellent choice to power bass,tube is better to power mid and high.
If you have more question ,  email  Greg  
The best crossovers are digital and their best use is for subwoofer management. The problem for some analog people is that this requires putting everything in the digital domain which some of them are adamantly against. Other than subwoofers the best crossover is no cross over. Bi and tri amping is fun if you are building your own speakers and digital crossovers can make a speaker hero out of a numb skull. Good speakers are carefully tuned by the manufacturer and messing around with them generally makes them worse. 
Good speakers are carefully tuned by the manufacturer and messing around with them generally makes them worse.
Thats what youre led to believe. But how can they carefully tune it to your taste if they dont even know what you like? They can only be tuned to suit THEM.
Its false that active and passive are comparable in difficulty of use.

Hey @Kenjit,

Still waiting on you to answer any of my questions about your current system, what commercial speakers you like, and what you don't like.

You were pretty demanding when I offered to discuss my own system, and failed to return the courtesy. It would help all of us understand where you are coming from.


Thanks,

Erik
And you can continue to obsess about that and never listen to music, or choice to build your own speakers, or buy speakers that get you close enough to what you want and enjoy listening to music
correction choose not choice
I should also point out that horns are one area where active crossovers seem to be used much more frequently and with less fussing.


@erik_squires 

why do you need to know what my system is? I think ive already answered anyway. I have heard multiple speakers and failed to be satisfied. 
Anyone listened a multi amp system with any vintage Accuphase analog active crossover? 

Appears that the early ones you can find for good prices..


@kenjit

Because none of us have any idea what your perspective is. You claim to love DIY, and active crossovers. OK, show us exactly what you built.  The question of what other speakers you have heard which you like will give us all an idea of your musical tastes and the type of results you are trying to achieve.


After I shared the exact build you complained I didn’t have measurements. Then I showed you where they were. Still, no reply to my question of what you built or listen to.


My perspective, what I like, what I built and what the results were are all out there, and that helps others judge where they might be relative to my tastes. Kind of like knowing you like Evil Dead 2 as the best movie ever. That helps others judge where your own movie tastes are.


Making blanket pronouncements about technology, some things which are dead wrong, repeatedly, and failing to listen, combined with your lack of willingness to share your starting place makes you a lot less persuasive.



Best,


E
In my case I use some pricey power treatments (more than $10k), but it improves everything about my system's sound and allows me to consider less expensive gear that others might overlook. 

I'm building a system with active 3-ways around some inexpensive amps that sounds ridiculously fantastic for what it is. My digital source (Perfectwave transport/Berkley Audio Alpha V2 DAC) goes to a scratch-built pre (just a zero-gain, 4-channel, distribution amp with a Goldpoint atten.) which feeds the 4 amps - highs, mids, low-left and low-right. They cost from $500 to $1,100 ea retail, but I pick them up used all day long from $400 to $700 ea or even less. Total investment for the 4 amps here was $2,050 delivered. The amps are Crown XTi-2 (1002, 2002 and two 4002). I like that they're class-AB, not D, they sound great and with the power treatments here they are clearly not 'just for sub duty only'!

The thing about these Crowns is the suite of digital pro tools built in. It means an extra AD/DA conversion step, but again with power treatments all that is a non issue, sound wise. The key is the infinitely adjustable controls. Slopes from 1rst to 5th order and all crossover points can be made from 20-20k and the crossover point values can be selected on the order of 1/1,000th of a Hz. IOW, you can correct for the overlap or the underlap of, say, your lows and mids in increments of roughly 1/1,000th of a Hz, should you need to. You might not think you could even hear the difference that small, but I'm here to tell you that there are times when you CAN. I know, I've done it. And it was an easy matter to correct by ear in real time from the lp in order to arrive at just the value needed. 

There is just no freaking way that an expert passive crossover designer could give you that kind of dialed-in precision using caps whose values are stated in nice, even numbers like "1 f" or "300 uf"...caps that only have a certain percentage of accuracy and whose true values vary with temp and lifespan...let alone the fact that different gear will behave differently in different systems with different rooms and different ears - all of which can be compensated for by digital crossovers, EQ, gain and delay and that, practically speaking, just can neither be predicted nor be adjusted for after the fact with passives.

There's NO way I would ever go back to passives having heard the difference for myself. It has also made designing my own speakers a no-brainer. I hope more manufacturers can think like Crown and find new affordable solutions for people looking to give 'going active' a try.

Regards
@erik_squires

Ive made a bunch of remarks here in response to what you said about active crossovers and youve chosen not to answer them. The ball is in your court
@ivan_nosnibor  thanks god are you unique , otherwise all high end  business must be dead, 
@bache to be honest, it's really the good quality power treatments that have allowed me to be this unique.
I use passive and active together . I would be scared to death to turn on my system without a passive in place to provide protection to my 076 and 077 tweeters . I use active  to make the first split to biamp . The high end of the split goes to the tube amplifier which runs a nelson pass design passive to mids and highs . Which also provides protection should a clip or mishap with connections rip a tweeter. The low portion of the active goes to a jbl bx63a which splits signal again to the mc2300 (2235 woofers)  and 2x  mc2300bridged (2245 subs) I cannot imagine not using both at the same time . I love  the flexibility to be able to tweak for any recording i come across.  

Active and passive are both necessary , i have no plans to go dsp. Takes the tweaking part out of the hobby. 
@kenjit

You never asked me anything. I am asking you again, you claim to love DIY and active crossovers.

Show us what you've made and where your experience come from.

Erik

ATC Loudspeakers offer active speakers for home audio. They can sound amazing depending on the room.
I have gone active using a couple of the Pass crossovers, as I liked certain drivers that deliver those micro details that are hard to find in my level of affordable speakers.
The wonderful advantage of active electronic crossovers (would not like to use digital ones) is that when you hear another system and like something about it, you can tweak your settings to get the same.
The dis-advantage of active is the numerous amount of amplifiers.
3 to 4 way active with a couple of tube mono blocks, if you choose to go all out; can take up a lot of shelf space too.
Takes a lot of work but when you do get it right to your ears it is very satisfying.
I use a blend of Horns mainly for it’s immediacy and liveliness, and Ribbons for their subtleness and lack of distortion.
Nelson Pass crossovers are made to order products and are still available.

Kenjit, it does not sound like you like listening to anything. You are never going to come up with a loudspeaker better tuned than a Wilson, Magico ,
YG, Sonus Faber, and many others. If you can't find one that you like build your own. Knock yourself out. Or you could buy a great speaker and get full spectrum room control. Then you can make the speakers sound like anything you want. Simplicity is usually best. The only crossovers that really stand out are the digital ones other than that it is 6 of one 1/2 dozen of the other.
Bryston had an active dsp xover at axpona with a couple of their amps. The showman was claiming their approach was so much better than just slapping a couple 'plate amps' on the back of a typical speaker and calling it active. Their dsp xover list at $13,000, then they're amps, then they're speakers. I have a room that I notice thru measuring shows no room gain from ported speakers meaning most full range passive ported speakers roll off at 60 hz and are 20-40 db down by 40 hz! The dsp8000 reaches deep and I don't know if it's because of dsp or driver configuration or the combination. I prefer an active xover if it means I don't need a rack of amps to drive my speakers as most passive systems leech power.
Audio Research made both active and passive crossovers for bi- and tri-amping Magneplanars back in the day.

If you see one for sale today, it is tons of money since, obviously, some people still want to bi- and/or tri-amp their systems.

While the technically descriptive articles above are interesting, if one wishes to use an active or passive crossover to manage their system, I see little reason why this cannot be done.

We set up many systems with these crossovers in the signal path back in the day, and they had no detrimental audible influence on the music.  Possibly that is why these items remain both elusive and expensive today.

Cheers!
Anyone experienced the Luxman A-2003 tube active crossover? 
I think Naim still make Active crossover electronics.  They no longer manufacture the speakers to work with these units though. 
I can't speak to most of the crossovers mentioned in the thread. I use a Bryston 10B two way analog crossover with Magnepan 1.6's and 2 Arcam 10P 2 channel amplifiers. I removed the speakers passive crossovers and rewired the speaker panels to the binding posts. I was able to pick up the crossover and second amplifier used. IMO, it was time and money well spent. It really opened up and cleaned up the sound. 

The Bryston 10B is not as flexible as some of the digital crossover versions (i.e. - limited in slope and crossover point selections, and no room correction) but matches very well with the Magnepans as what choices are available with the Bryston are close to what the original passive crossovers were. I ended up liking different settings more than those matching the original passives.

I believe the Bryston and Pass analog active crossovers are still available and I see them used on rare occasions. Good luck with your project.

JS
@cosmicjazz --

... Accuphase still makes a digital one.

Appears that this devices are only still relevant in the Pro Audio world, why Home HifI abandoned the active cross over route? It’s correct to assume that?

If it’s the case that typical home hifi manufacturers have more or less "abandoned" active cross-overs (I wouldn’t know because I haven’t looked into it), then I’m not the one to decry that - as long as there are quality pro audio items still to be had, and much cheaper at that.

The main reason for my position on this, as indicated, lies in what is brought up by poster @steve59 in his mention of a Bryston DSP XO that retails for an alleged $13k; I can only assume other hifi manufacturers would follow or equal by example in a similar price range with claims to justify the elevated expense not unlike what Bryston has put forth, and yet a pro audio DSP XO like the Xilica XP-3060 retails for about 1/10 of that, measures excellently (even against much more expensive Lake products), and from what I’m able to assess it’s sonically very close to transparent as used in my own setup.

The Xilica unit doesn’t look like much nor caters to hifi aesthetics wrapped in its black, pro audio "clothing" and with rack mounting holes, but it fulfills its purpose as a professional, highly capable, pro audio tested and sonically close-to transparent DSP. In reply to the Bryston "showman" this is not just some plate amp, but a high quality DSP that still retails for about 1/10 of their product. I would dare anyone to put them head-to-head and do their objective findings.

I can only guess as to why active cross-overs aren’t represented by hifi manufacturers more than they are, but it appears active configuration as discrete components is mostly sought out in the DIY and pro arena, and as such is simply not a saleable item in the hifi milieu where active speakers are mostly whole package deals - be they run via DSP’s or "old fashioned" electronic cross-overs.

Myself I still only use the Xilica + amp-direct-to-driver for subs duties, but my main speakers with passive cross-overs are also run through the Xilica implementing a high-pass filter only (no delay or PEQ is used as-of-yet). I am considering by-passing the passive XO in the bass horn of my main speakers to run them fully active - this would be interesting for a variety of reasons. Going full-active with the mids and tweeter compression drivers is something I’ll likely avoid for the time being.
I prefer an active crossover. Adding one to my system was one of the biggest improvements I made. The clarity of the system improved immensely and I am able to play it at a much higher volume if I choose to since the mid/hi amps are not being sucked dry trying to reproduce the low bass signals.

I use a XTA DP448 which is a digital pro piece so no RCA connectors only XLR and it is fully electronically balanced.
I should point out, btw, that active crossovers were never a very popular thing. The advent of Home Theater probably did more to create this market than anything else though, when we consider that every HT receiver with bass management has an active crossover built in.

Best,
E
Hi  @audiorusty,

Can you tell us more about your crossover use? It sounds like you are doing more of a satellite/subwoofer setup than a 3-way, is that right?

Are you also using it for EQ?
That Xilica is awesome and all I use now are pro amps and DSP's and the huge improvement over passives and consumer gear is large. I figure most people who want great sound have not heard a system set up with something like multiple amps and a Xilica and in truth avoid that because they want plug and play and don't want to have to learn to do things other than spend money.
  Active crossovers weren't  a popular thing until buyers started demanding more with home theaters for sure. In the pro world they have been recognized as the essential tool that makes great sound for a long time. A crossover has severely limited purposes and wont control gain nor do EQ or time delay and introduces it's own set of components that have no way of being balanced against the other speaker(s) and crossover(s)
  Find someone close by who has done this and investigate it in real life and if someone tells you passives are the way to go for best sound I would run the other way.
" Myself I still only use the Xilica + amp-direct-to-driver for subs duties, but my main speakers with passive cross-overs are also run through the Xilica implementing a high-pass filter only (no delay or PEQ is used as-of-yet). I am considering by-passing the passive XO in the bass horn of my main speakers to run them fully active - this would be interesting for a variety of reasons. Going full-active with the mids and tweeter compression drivers is something I’ll likely avoid for the time being. "
 That 3060 is what I run too. What do you have for a system? You are right about DIY and pro usage.
" There is just no freaking way that an expert passive crossover designer could give you that kind of dialed-in precision using caps whose values are stated in nice, even numbers like "1 f" or "300 uf"...caps that only have a certain percentage of accuracy and whose true values vary with temp and lifespan...let alone the fact that different gear will behave differently in different systems with different rooms and different ears - all of which can be compensated for by digital crossovers, EQ, gain and delay and that, practically speaking, just can neither be predicted nor be adjusted for after the fact with passives. "
 100% correct.
Thinking about that can be interest we make a list about HiFi manufacturers that offered active crossovers aka channel dividers (as is described by some HiFi manufacturers from Japan), it can be current models or vintage.

Let’s stay with HiFi manufacturers only, no Pro Audio.

I will start with:

Accuphase
Sony
Pioneer
Luxman
Threshold
Mark Levinson
Cello
Technics? produced any in the past? can’t find..


You can add the Beveridge RM-3 to the list. Designed by Roger Modjeski of Music Reference when he worked at Beveridge Audio. The active crossover was part of the RM-1, RM2, RM-3 system that linked with the built in OTL amps of the Beveridge 2SW speaker system. I have been using the RM-3 in my system for a few years now. Two way with input cards for high and low pass, bass, and treble controls.
I could comfortably say that the Nelson Pass analog crossovers are one of the top most crossovers that are available. Super flexibility and transparency. And most of all you keep the full chain analog if you are using a TT or any other analog source. 
Of course if you are a streaming/digital only source, then one would consider the other digital crossover options as they are more cost effective. 
@mahlman --

That 3060 is what I run too. What do you have for a system? You are right about DIY and pro usage.

Just looked over your setup via your profile - great to see you using all-horns as well. Do you use both systems depicted? 

You can view my system via my profile, only change being that the Crown Macro-Tech 1200 sub amp will be replaced by a Crown K2 in the near future. 
" Just looked over your setup via your profile - great to see you using all-horns as well. Do you use both systems depicted? "
 The set of La Scalas is not my main listener and has been sold. The big set however is and it is my daily listener. The twp piece La Scala is an industrial LS rebuilt to be two piece with 25mm Baltic Birch sides, rebuilt crossover, stock K-55V on the mid horn and a set of MAHL large tweeters with B&C DE10 drivers. It was an experiment that turned out really well and was built for a customer so they sadly are not active crossover people, YET! They drool over the big horns every time they are here and they are doomed because they have actually heard great horns properly set up.
Hey phusis that is a nice looking setup and I have heard good things about the lilmikes. What drivers are you using on the top section? I have a rebuild LSI bass bin I am thinking of making into a two way with a 2" compression driver for 500hz to 18khz . Are those Fastrac horns and were they made from stacked Baltic Birch? I have a CNC mill and I an thinking of making some mid horns too.

  I am a Crown guy too. Went the consumer route for a while and tried all that "painless one touch" room correction junk and never was satisfied. You just can't beat the price and clean output of pro amps with consumer gear.
I have a First Watt B4 (designed and built by Nelson Pass) that I will never sell. He also makes a x/o under his Pass Labs brand name, but it's a LOT more money.