Pre/pro + Active speakers = better than the "normal" way?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RichardH, Feb 11, 2002.

  1. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    Just wondering what people's opinion on this is. When I get the funds to really do my home theater the way I want, I envision 7 active speakers plus SVS and a pre/pro, that's it! Nice and simple, with all amps matched to the speakers by the manufacturers themselves, plus no passive crossovers anywhere! I know that active speakers tend to be pricey because they have electronics and amps built-in, but then all you need is the pre/pro, so that helps out some....
    Also, if RAF is reading, I was wondering if you'd ever consider getting something like M&K Pro speakers all around plus a pre/pro like the 950 (well I guess you'd need balanced outs or a balancing unit, like Genelec makes). Just curious! [​IMG]
    So, thoughts, comments?
     
  2. ThomasW

    ThomasW Cinematographer

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    Downside of powered speakers are that if you want to upgrade the speakers you must upgrade the amps at the same time. Or if you want to upgrade the amps you must get new speakers.

    Or if an amp fails you lose the speaker to the repair shop and visa versa if a speaker fails.

    The up side is a more compact installation with less clutter, and potentially better sonic match between the speakers and the electronics.

    But another downside is that the electronics are exposed to the pounding/vibrations from the speakers.

    All in all an investment with limited appeal IMO....
     
  3. Mike_Ch

    Mike_Ch Stunt Coordinator

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    IMHO, active speakers sound incredibly good. Of course, I have limited experience, but having heard a pair of active Tannoy monitors, the clarity, dynamics and exceptional speed of the sound was breathtaking. Matching the amp to the speaker and using an active crossover really has its benefits (factory equalisation etc.). Of course, the price is prohibitive, especially for 7 speakers, but if you go this route, be sure to get a top notch pre (excellent S/N ratio etc) to make the most of your speakers. Going this route limits options for tweaking and upgrading, and the cost of balanced or long runs (or both!) of IC's is expensive, but of course you won't need to buy speaker cable. You'll also need 7 power points in handy and close proximity [​IMG] . Be sure you really like the speakers (and they have the grunt for your room), since you'll probably stick with them for some time!
    Cheers,
    Mike
     
  4. ClaudeD

    ClaudeD Extra

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    I've had active speakers for a year or two. Since they're Linn speakers, I had the opportunity to have them passive first, then passively bi-amped, and then fully active. Linn speakers, in case you're not familiar with them, use external amplifiers with the active xover also external to the speaker (usually inside the amp). Once you've gone active, there's no desire to go back. It is absolutely the way drivers were intended to be driven. My analogy is that an amp driving speakers thru a passive xover is like trying to control a gas pedal with a spring between your shoe and the pedal.

    As for the difficulty of upgrading with active speakers: the whole point is that if you have a system that works effectively, why stay on the upgrade treadmill? The whole point is to get something that works for you, and then direct your attention elsewhere. Constant upgrading is a sign of either bad choices or testosterone poisoning.

    Claude
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Dude, go to town. My dream system has an Integra Research pre/pro with balanced outs going directly to identical Genelec active biamped monitors. [​IMG]
     
  6. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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  7. Ron Alcasid

    Ron Alcasid Stunt Coordinator

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    After owning my Active 40s for a few months, I can honestly say I am not compelled to upgrade them in the forseeable future. However, I choose not go with a completely active setup. The front channels are active, the surrounds are passive. I'll admit I did this to save some money. It seems surround formats are constantly evolving, 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 is probably just around the corner. It would be expensive to keep up.
     
  8. ClaudeD

    ClaudeD Extra

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    RichardH,
    If you're looking into Genelecs, you should consider Linn seriously. I decided for the Linns over the Genelecs for two reasons: 1) their sound was more musical to me, less "monitorish" and 2) the upgrade path is such that there's very little sunk cost.
    Nearly all Linn speakers are sold with passive xovers built in.
    1 You amplify them like any other speaker.
    2 The next step up according to some is to bi-wire them, but I don't find that step very rewarding.
    3 The next step is to passively bi-amp them. This improves the sound to a noticeable extent, but I don't find it very cost-effective.
    4 You flip the special jumper over, and the speaker is ready for active. Older speakers required going inside and snipping the passive xover out of the circuit, but newer speakers have this really clever jumper. You put the appropriate xover into your amp (Linn amps have a receptacle for it; other amps require a separate box for the xovers) and away you go. Shazaam!!!
    The only "wasted" expense is the passive xover that is no longer in the circuit.
    I liked the Genelecs very much at first listen; they were somewhat fatiguing after prolonged listening. But, they're definitely quality speakers, and this is probably a matter of taste and personal preference rather than a question of which brand is "better." I mean, for me, Linn is definitely better, but I wouldn't look cross-eyed at someone who preferred Genelec [​IMG]
    I'm something of an active bigot. I don't personally understand why expensive speakers are ever passively xovered. It just doesn't make sense. I can understand inexpensive speakers; it obviously makes the system more expensive to go active. It also doesn't have to be powered speakers; Linn proves that external amps and external active xovers work well and at reasonable price levels. However, a passive xover, with its thermal issues, power-robbing issues, reactive load issues, etc., just doesn't make sense for expensive speakers. Okay, I feel better now, I'll be quiet again [​IMG]
    Claude
     
  9. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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  10. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    Claude:
    Those Linn speakers are really cool! They seem to offer the best of both worlds! For me, I think the monitor-ish sound will fit better because I may be mixing on them. I do know that Linn is way, way up there in terms of respected audio companies. Well, Genelec is too, we're talking all quality stuff here. In the ultra purist sense, I like the fact that with Linn, the crossovers and amps are external to the speakers. And I'm definitely with you about the expensive speakers having passive crossovers thing. It's interesting to see that Legacy Audio has a new flagship speaker in the works that will be totally active. Dunlavy is looking into this as well.
    RAF:
    I didn't realize that the M&K Pro line came out after the regular line. Since you have already invested in some quality stuff, may I suggest going for 4 monoblocks? (I think I did in another thread). You already have 3 for the fronts, so you know how cool monoblocks are [​IMG] Think how much cooler it would be to have 7 (seven) separate amps!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. ClaudeD

    ClaudeD Extra

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    RichardH,
    I found a link I'd been looking for (just by chance on another forum) that does a great job of describing crossovers and the benefits of active xovers. It does a good job of describing the issues: http://sound.westhost.com/bi-amp.htm
    All the best,
    Claude
     

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