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Why have actives not made bigger inroads in to HiFi?

Discussion in 'audio' started by drummerman, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod

    I’m happy only when I’m unhappy with my system and fiddling with it. Of course, the converse is true, too.

    Joe
     
    Linds and darrenyeats like this.
  2. awkwardbydesign

    awkwardbydesign Officially Awesome

    Is that still ongoing?
     
  3. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    How many active speakers will still be fully functional 20yrs from now?
     
  4. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    My 1997-vintage Genelec 1029A's are still in daily use.
     
  5. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    if you mean modern integrated solutions in which all the electronics are inside the speaker and it uses DSP, class D and SMPSU's then few or non. If they use more "old fashioned" tech then they should last for years and if all the electronics and power amps are outside the speaker, as in conventional passive speakers, they should be maintainable for years in the same way as any passive speaker and amplifier.
     
    Yomanze likes this.
  6. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    I've been a fan of actives since I first heard Meridian M1s, in the 80's. Although I had ARC050 speakers which were part of the ALSO initiative, I could never afford to activate them, but I eventually had the opportunity to activate my Linn Isobariks, firstly with Linn, and then Naim electronics. My current speakers (ML Summits) have built in amps for the bass drivers, so are sort of active, and I have Meridian M3s in my office, M30s in my TV system as rears, and my kitchen speakers are full DSP actives using MiniDSP and IcePower amplifiers, and they perform way better than any passive speaker could as the cabinets are small (LS3/5a boxes) and the positioning is very sub-optimal.
    The reason actives of all types are less common is that we still tend to see a system as source - amp - speaker and like to upgrade the various bits, and the manufacturers are happy to feed our perceived need to upgrade. Few loudspeaker manufacturers are also amplifier makers. As a user, there will always be that sneaking feeling that something can be improved - which is why a friend of mine, with my help, replaced the amplifiers in his Meridian M1s with three naim NAP180s, and indeed, it was a remarkable upgrade, though it then lost the neat 'one box' paradigm.
     
  7. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    s/active/electrostatic

    It's all a matter of perspective. I won't sell my Adam actives, which have never let me down and are hugely superior to most speakers of their size. However, I currently am going through an electrostatic love-affair and can't understand why they aren't more popular. Apart from the size. And cost. And fragility. And lack of bass (allegedly). And resemblance to mid-century electric heaters. And tendency to bring many's an amp to its knees. And extreme sweet-spot-or-owt presentation. And the inescapable sense of doing something that aligns with allotments, pipe smoking and the light programme....
     
    drummerman likes this.
  8. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I owned a pair of MEG RL-904s for a while. A very decent near/mid-field two-way. Beautifully made in every respect with really nice solidly and traditionally built class AB amp packs and active crossovers on swing-out chassis at the cabinet rear. Really flawless construction in every way as one would expect on what is actually a very expensive studio monitor. The only thing I didn’t like the look of was the sheer number of internal alignment and calibration settings, so whilst these are technically just as well made and long-term serviceable as say an old Quad amp, really they would still need a return to base (Germany) as they’d need recalibrating in MEG’s anechoic chamber or whatever to get back to factory spec. It is just not the sort of thing a third-party service could deal with. I’d be curious to see if ATC, Neumann etc are just the same.
     
  9. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    One of the best sounds I ever heard was from active Linkwitz 521 speakers (they are not available as passives AFAIK) which are also open baffle.. They made every other speaker at a NEBO bake off sound like toys...
     
    darrenyeats likes this.
  10. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    I can't see why they would/may need this unless drive units have been changed and there are internal adjustments to match-in the sensitivity of individual drive unit variation in manufacture (as KEF do in their passive Reference series models and the likes of Spendor do using taps on autotransformers). The class A/B amps, PSU's and the active crossover should be readily serviceable. Even if each crossover is aligned by select-on-test component values to individual drive units it is unlikely these parts would fail and even if they did they could be replaced like for like.
     
  11. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    I did mention that it should be possible to build active, motional feedback, directly coupled without transformers electrostatic speakers (which should be quite something) in a thread on panel speakers a few weeks back but it didn't provoke any comment IIRC... Probably its not been done due to the likely cost of the R&D involved relative to the likely returns from such an expensive niche market product...
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  12. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Haha, that's why I run second and third systems... plus a fourth for my teenage daughter.
     
  13. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    I know my friend who's had a fair few ATC's and they've actually come to him to re-calibrate his speakers. I'm still sort of edging towards 50 Classics, I like the 100s too for their slightly more relaxed sound and more extension, but the 50s on the modernist spindly stands just look "right".
     
  14. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    Seems like opinions are all over the place - some people claiming that active systems don't sell because there is not enough to tinker, and other who say there is too much, and too many boxes.

    Like passive systems, you can be as simple & minimalist as you want, or go on a box-collection spree, including additional opportunities to throw expensive cables and isolation doodads at all the components.

    So, for the first option we have e.g. systems from
    • Meridian
    • Linn Exakt
    • Active ATCs
    and for the second option, there's
    Regarding the two options, I think when staying in the analog domain, the first option is perfectly feasible, but as soon as you throw DSP into it, as others have already stated, you want to be able change individual components without having to replace your expensive all in one speakers as technology moves on and/or standards change.

    Having said that, it seems that Linn and Meridian have a relatively good track record of offering their customers upgrades, Linn did it recently with their Exakt Katalyst DAC upgrades, and Meridian with the SE upgrade for their .2 customers, so there's hope.

    Still, I'd probably have more peace of mind with the Bryston approach with a separate DXO, however it's a bit daft to have, say, a DAC as a source, and then do an ADC / DAC conversion again in the DXO - what seems to be missing in their lineup is a combined Pre/DAC/DXO.
     
    timola likes this.
  15. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    and the likelihood of the expensive smoke escaping, taking people with it ;)

    It's on my to-do list...
     
  16. drummerman

    drummerman pfm Member

    All very interesting views and they kind of explain why Actives will likely never replace separates for many whilst for some they are the answer to a life time of expensive upgrades and changes.

    I will shortly purchase my first actives for keeping (hopefully) but will keep an integrated for pre-amp purposes ... and in case it doesnt work out.

    My previous experience of actives was restricted to the original AVI ADM9, some Dynaudio Focus 110a (tested side by side) and a number of 'Pro' models from Adam, Genelec, KRK and some others I can't remember, heard in a Pro Shop in Poole, Dorset. - All in all a very limited selection and narrowed further to the traditional 2 way with amps in the box. I appreciate this is not exactly representative of what is available but it's what I can afford.

    I have my eyes set on AE's compact active standmount, for size, decent look for domestic purpose, price and owner feedback. This after having owned (and very much liked) a Cyrus system (lately with Hegel amplification) for years.
     
  17. adamdea

    adamdea You are not a sound quality evaluation device

    That pleasure used to be spoilt by the constant nagging worry that it would be ruined at a stroke by the delivery of the dac. I’m much more relaxed about that now
     
    darrenyeats likes this.
  18. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    "We do these things not because they are easy....."
     
  19. mercalia

    mercalia pfm Member

    not every one wants a boom-box music system. Separates mean you can change things if they conk out or need servicing. WOuld you really want a speaker with the equivalent of the Audiolab 8200M's in them - woild weigh a ton or 2
     
  20. Julf

    Julf Evil brother of Mark V Shaney

    No. But I am more than happy with a speaker with 4 x 400 W of class D power. Weight increase was maybe 3 kg.
     

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