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Thread: active v passive monitors

  1. #1
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    active v passive monitors

    Before I bought my powered Events PS-8's the advice or sales pitch was that active speakers have tighter bass and better imaging. John Vestman says something to the effect that having the electronics in the speaker is a bad idea seeing as it's going to receive all that vibration. Is there any sonic advantage to an active speaker?

  2. #2
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    My pro audio sales guy tells me that the advantage to active speakers is that the amp and the speaker are a perfect match.

  3. #3
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    I've heard that too Tom. But, that sounds like we wouldn't know how to match an amp to a speaker. I'm just wondering if it boils down to convenience so the prosumer doesn't have to work out the details.

  4. #4
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    Powered speakers have got to be right for the simple reason that the cables feeding the drivers are so short. This tightens up the bottom end beautifully. As for being 'perfectly matched', I'm cynical about that... but at least if the HF units fail, then your vendor can't blame the power amp!
    Ted Fletcher

  5. #5
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    Yeah, an off the shelf engineered-together system can have it's advantages.

    On the disadvantage side, you can't really fit a whole lotta amp in one of them things... some call them (under)powered speakers.

    Unless the separate amplifier is significantly better for your purposes than the one in the active monitor, it's tidier at least to go with the active monitor.

    I have these beautiful Manley 440 watt tube monoblocks- you can't fit things like that inside a small speaker cabinet! I like these amps because they reward you amply when you get the sound really nailed, so it translates beautifully, and they never fail to tell you exactly what's wrong with the sound. Not too many are nuts enough to use something like that, but they make critical calls so surefire and easy that it's worth the trouble.

    For example- I had a lot of trouble telling exactly how much HEDD process was called for with good-quality solid state amps- it was easy to way overdo it. Whereas with the 440's, I could tell right away when I had it right.

    So actually I have excellent amps, and very good but not exceptional speakers, and I'm thinking it works better for me than having exceptional speakers and a very good but not great amp.

    A powered speaker that didn't try to be streamlined and tidy could probably incorporate an excellent amp. Also, some fine speakers are dialed in to work really well with a specific amp, I believe, another way to get a amp-speaker system that's engineered to work together- but, without cutting corners where they have to, to get it all in one cute li'l box like that.

    But, unless the amp your using is exceptional, probably it's easiest and most affordable to go with active monitors.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the info. I do have a Hafler P1500 (75Wx2) which powers NS-10's or JBL's. I'm sure it pales in comparison with the Manley. The upgrading just never ends! So, I'd love to get some very accurate monitors to go with the P1500 assuming we all consider that's a respectable amp. If not let me know and it's back to the drawing board.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2001
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    Buying a spkr/amp in the same box is like buying a tv/vcr/dvd/cassette combo. If the amp fails or you need more power you are sol.
    Plus in most units I have seen, the cones are small. Calling a 6" cone a woofer is the height of optimism. A wall of small cones isn't so bad, but a good 12 or 15" cone is better. Also a ported box is actually efficient over a narrow range. In my years of listning/testing, enclosed boxes that were optomized for cone size and damping sounded better. A short P/P cone displacement requires a ported box because of its narrow efficiency range. Try listining to one out of its cabinet. It sounds more like a midrange. Todays designers would benefit from looking at Rudy Bozak's designs. Its efficiency is low, but from 40Hz to 700Hz it is very close to being flat.

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