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Pros and cons of active speakers

Discussion in 'audio' started by Neil P, Dec 26, 2021.

  1. h.g.

    h.g. Retired

    Why does it need a vibrating transformer and why does it have to be in the speaker rather than external on the back?
  2. SteveS1

    SteveS1 I heard that, pardon?

    It's all in the implementation, most UK domestic rooms are not great. Mine is no exception athough there are no gross peaks or suck outs. I spent a lot of time getting DSP right, but I certainly wouldn't be without it. Switching it out is quite amusing.
    tuga likes this.
  3. salman

    salman pfm Member

    I spent ages getting room EQ right with TacT (and massive techie frustrations around ‘port not recognised’).

    For Trinnov it was: (1) 20 mins to set up and take the measurement, (2) five system-generated alternatives all of which were a vast improvement on no-EQ including (as per my last post) ‘natural’ that retains the systems core sound but attends to right/left speaker differences, (3) (free) 40 mins on a video call with Trinnov who remotely logged in and helped me tweak. This despite the fact I bought the unit second hand.

    Trinnov is expensive but if/since they can get the EQ for 300 seater cinemas right I guess two channel stereo is a doddle.
  4. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    A simple reality-check for those worried if DSP has taken things too far and is 'robbing' their music of impact/emotion/soul: Listen to the same music on a good pair of neutral headphones. If your DSP'd speaker system sounds lifeless compared to the headphones then this would suggest something is amiss. If, however, the two are similar, then it may well be that your perception of 'lifeless' is an in-room response that's simply had its modal peaks removed.

    I don't use DSP, I prefer to use manual parametric EQ so that I am in complete control of what is going on. When I did use DSP a few years ago, and the DSP I used was £300 DIRAC LIVE, so nothing super fancy, I got much more consistent and repeatable results by limiting the area of correction to bass frequencies. as has already been suggested. When I attempted full-range correction it was extremely hit and miss and repeating the process several times in succession gave different results each time, even when I was fastidiously accurate over mic placement etc. I suspect the loudspeaker design also affects the result here, because I got much better results when full-range correcting JR149s than a pair of Tannoy DCs (I don't think the DSP knew how to handle the scribbles in the Tannoy's HF response!).

    I find manual EQ'ing by ear to be far more reliable and IME produces more natural-sounding results. I use a frequency response graph only to fine tune the centre frequency and Q of each filter, the areas and magnitude of adjustment are entirely led by my ears. I use high-Q filters for the bass peaks and low-Q filters for the mid and treble and the result is invariably a speaker that sounds more transparent and resolving post-EQ and with no loss of dynamic impact except in the modal areas that the room was putting its distorted stamp on.
    tuga likes this.
  5. SteveH

    SteveH pfm Member

    So this is the perfect example of how we all hear things differently, and have different priorities: I had pretty much the same system. After a Kii3 demo in the same room as my Shahinian Obs and Naim oil rig, I was obliged to buy the Kiis - to my ears they demolished my existing system. Why? Far, far more resolving - went deeper, cleaner, and disclosed so much more detail (vocals suddenly revealed as double-tracked etc.). Much better scale as well. All this in a big and very high room. The Kiis recently astonished a mate of mine who, in a past life, spent a couple of years selling big Wilsons, Mark Levinson etc. in central London store. He couldn't believe the price/performance ratio.

    I don't care what conclusions people come to, but IMHO they don't have a horse in the race until they have heard the speaker in question at home against their own kit, and from as unbiased a viewpoint as possible (I certainly didn't want to like the Kiis - they cost me a lot of £££). Indeed it was the D&D/Kii discussion on here that convinced me to listen for myself. Its just speculation otherwise.

    One benefit of the Kii is that there's no microphone / REW etc. needed. Box count reduction was not a major issue for me, it was a welcome by-product.
  6. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    I had forgotten you had Shahinians, I would strongly advise acoustic measurement with REW and a microphone , but keep any EQ to minimal phase regions of the FR which are almost exclusively within the low bass.
    Kii’s latest firmware includes PEQ so worth updating if you haven’t already.
  7. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Manufacturer and Distributor

    And you are expecting the average 50+ year old audiophile with little or no expertise in digital tech to go through all of this? Let alone finding a competent dealer who would understand and do what you have done? It pretty much puts these types of speaker in the techie ownership category.
    suzywong and camverton like this.
  8. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    People like what they like, there’s nothing wrong with preferring a presentation which “uses” the room as opposed to one which is a more accurate rendition of the recording/signal.
    camverton likes this.
  9. matfff

    matfff pfm Member

    I must admit to not agreeing with your point of view on this board many times in the past, but on this, I think you are spot on. I very rarely buy new, never in audio and not much in the rest of my life (!), but with these I was prepared to do so, simply as I knew that expert help and advice was needed. The guy was certainly an expert, was in my listening room seeing what equipment I usually used, measured the hell out of everything and used my music to set them up and demo them. Once again, not sure what else the average punter could do to ‘get’ them.
  10. I'm 51 now, was 50 when i got them, so yes i would expect anyone to be able to spend a day learning, REW is easy to grasp if you put your mind to it and the 8c's are also fairly simple to master once you get your head around the setup.
  11. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Agreed, in part!

    The trick is to get the sense of a musician performing in a real space in front of one without losing the detail that one gets in an extreme way with a cardioid design. When I discussed this with Lee we weren’t sure that it could be done, in that using the room would always soften the detail from a highly resolving pair of speakers. For some music the cardioid approach was better but for classical an omni approach worked better for my ears and way of hearing. Since then I have discovered that it isn’t one or the other but that it is possible to have a very good omni speaker, suitably positioned but in a visually dominating way, coupled with a highly resolving front end and amp to give a system where one no longer yearns for either greater clarity on the one hand or a more realistic presentation on the other. Not cheap though, and makes the D&D active seem like a veritable bargain although the kii with its, for me necessary, BXT module less so.

    I used to use a pair of Meridian actives which sounded very nice and iirc being active allowed the designer to optimise the use of the drivers, although the cynic in me wondered if it allowed the use of cheaper drivers to get a similar sound. There was some physical hum from the amps inside the speaker, as there was with the transformers of my two pairs of Quad 63, so I’m not sure that a loudspeaker is the ideal long term working environment for electronics, or at least more than a necessary crossover.

    In these uncertain times there is a nagging worry that putting all ones eggs in one basket could leave one with an expensive door stop if the manufacturer ceases trading, whereas separate components spread the risk. IME electronics go wrong more often speakers and it is easier to swap and send an amp for repair than an entire active speaker system which could leave one without music for a while.
    tuga likes this.
  12. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    I’ve been using REW for years and it is fairly straightforward for someone with a techie background to get a reading. Actually understanding what the curves mean and how they correlate with what you hear is another matter altogether. Fairly easy to look at a frequency response and spot some bumps and suck outs but then at what smoothing to view, whether to use a single measurement or range and how they are sloped, the orientation of the mic, the effect of filters on phase, frequency and delay etc etc. I think it’s a pretty steep learning curve and for most people not that easy. Only the very clever would call it trivially easy, although sometimes things appear easy because we don’t fully understand them.
  13. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Very true, although there are some excellent installers out there, the problem comes when you decide to have the speakers in another room or maybe move house. Do you then have to get the installer back. Personally, I would only buy this sort of product if I could set them up myself, which as it happens I could, but for many they would be reliant on their dealer. Choice of dealer then becomes as crucial as choice of speaker with some of these designs.
  14. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Although the hobby is called ‘high-fidelity’, set-up of the 8Cs takes minutes, because they are constant directivity, they don’t need acoustic traps, just tell the loudspeaker how far away it is from the front and side walls ( which adjusts bass output and the delay on mid/treble ) via its own APP, because they really. are full-range it is sensible to run an REW sweep which also works out the parameters of any filters and that’s it.
    Anyhoo your Dutch&Dutch retailer should do all of this for you and if you are not near a dealer D&D can set them up remotely.
  15. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    Why does PFM still not have a popcorn emoji?!

    I'm not buying that, Keith. Are you telling me that I could put a pair of D&Ds in my room, rip out all of my acoustic treatments, and still enjoy the same RT60/waterfall decay times that I currently experience? I'll believe it when I see the measurements! :)
    wow&flutter and tuga like this.
  16. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    It really is possible to just not like a product no matter how well it measures or how clever it is.

    If I went down the D&D route I’d want a full install done; I am just not a tinkerer in this regard, I expect things to sound good. My hi-fi sits in a dedicated room so reasonable accommodations can be made.
  17. Knipester

    Knipester pfm Member

    Too much focus is on the d&d parametric EQ, yes it helps but that’s fairly easy to replicate with a seperate box/dsp. the cardioid midrange is the real star of the show as this reduces room issues massively and allows the music to reach the ear in a very unsmeared way. This is a very unique approach in home audio
    tuga, SteveH and Cereal Killer like this.

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