Is there anything to active speakers and if so why aren't there any DYI's?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Joel X, Feb 1, 2003.

  1. Joel X

    Joel X Stunt Coordinator

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    I have read a few threads about the virtues of active speakers (like so many monitors are) and wonder why the DIY community isn't all over them. I am sure that they would cost more and building the dozen or so amps would take time, that doesn't seem like it would slow most of you down, line array's come to mind...
     
  2. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Second Unit

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    It takes me a few minutes to completely rebuild a passive crossover. It would take a few hours to completely redo an active crossover, just because of the need to layout and build a prototype breadboard.

    My current project is on version 14 of the crossover, in about 7 days. Imagine the extra time I would have wasted if it had been active.

    There are a few active projects. You can try the Linkwitz Orion (www.linkwitzlabs.com), suppoesdly one of the best speakers ever made. Bring your checkbook.
     
  3. Joel X

    Joel X Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan, great to have you respond, your posts are always well thought out.

    Just a few thoughts on this subject...
    *Crossover components seem like they would be smaller and cheaper then their high power counterparts and I would think this might make them cheaper to build and operate.
    *DBX and Behringer come to mind when I think about active crossovers and that they are also very adjustable; it seems like they might do well for the testing phase or permanently. All things considered both companies put out very inexpensive/good-value gear.
    *for HT applications the speakers don't need to be massive and even a two way with 5"ers would perhaps do fine. In this application the internal amps would not need to be too big, 40w/80w perhaps depending on drivers.
    *I suppose that without some good data or at least a respectable A/B test some of my curiosity won't go away...
    *One problem I can see is not finding any amps (14) for a seven speaker system that would not break the bank.
     
  4. Stephen Dodds

    Stephen Dodds Second Unit

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    I have a fully active 3 way dipole system, similar to the Orion.

    The disadvantages are that it is expensive and there are cables and crap everywhere until I figure out a more elegant solution to connecting a crossover, six amplifier channels and ten drivers.

    I use the dbx unit mentioned above, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without the flexibility these new digital crossovers offer.

    The big advantage, of course, is that it sounds wonderful.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  5. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Joel,
    Active systems have advantages, but as others point out, they tend to get expensive and complex. Most passive crossovers in high-end speakers incorporate impedance, frequency, and/or phase correction. With active crossovers, the impedance problem goes away, but frequency and/or phase correction may still be needed. Yes, this can be done in a custom active crossover... but active filter design and fabrication is beyond many DIYers.

     
  6. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Second Unit

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    I have seen rave reviews of actives, but I have also heard many good sets of ears say that an active is not any better than an equally well-done passive with the same drivers. I'm willing to bet whatever gains there are are small. I have also heard that, for systems where the woofer is not called on to do heavy bass duties, that active system have no advantages. Read Rob Elliot's treatise on actives at Elliot Sound Products.

    Impedance is not an issue, because any decent solid state amp should be able to handle any speaker that does not have any design problems. (Low impedance loads are usually an indication that the designer has messed up.) If you are using tube amps, there will still be an impedance swing at Fsa that many tubes won't like.

    For a designer, active does have some advantages, such as excellent control over level matching and the ability to do Linkwitz transform.

    BTW, LspCAD Pro and SoundEasy both have full-featured digital filters for testing. I'm told that a pair of 3-ways will drop a 2GHz PC in it's tracks.

    At any rate, I have not heard enough good things about actives from ears that I trust to bother with them. Maybe someday, though.
     

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