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  1. #1
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    Active Vs. Passive speakers.

    Hello to every one,

    This is my first post in Audio review and I hope you share with me your opinion, and probably generate other discussion that help to understand better about speakers.

    I would like to know from standpoint view regarding using monitor studio speakers in home use if itís right or not?

    I have Magnepan MG-20 speakers and Krell gear, as the case with all main speakers for home use I always encounter frequencies problems and both speaker position and acoustic treatment are critical and hardly I achieved perfect balanced sound.

    As I understand before: Studio monitor with built in amp have better advantages! like the amp match the speaker, electronic crossover, short speaker cable. Plus many custom controls like room EQ, and Gains which these are not available in domestic speakers.

    So im wondering, if I use speakers like Adam active monitors like S2, S3X, S4XÖ. can I achieve perfect sound and better than normal passive speakers? Are demotic passive speakers having any sonic advantages over studio monitor speakers in home use?

    Can any one want to share some good thoughts please?

    Many thanks to all.

    Sincerely,
    Cheers

  2. #2
    Ajani
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    Studio speakers are generally designed for near-field listening (I have mine setup at my computer desk and they sound sweet that way)...

    While I am a fan of active speakers, you do need to remember that they lack the flexibility of passive ones... so you either like the sound or you don't, as there is little you can do to really alter it (no swapping from SS to Tubes, etc)...

    Also Studio gear is often designed to be very detailed and neutral, which is quite different from the smooth and warm presentation that many audiophiles prefer... So you really need to listen to some Studio Monitors and decide for yourself if you like their presentation...

  3. #3
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    Also, keep in mind that Maggies are not your typical speaker. Have you ever tried a box speaker? A good passive box speaker may give you the sound you are trying to get.

    I've heard several systems with Krell and Dynaudio, it is a very dynamic combo. Are you also using Krell for your source component?

    The flexibility Ajani mentions is a good point as well, thinking of cable changes and some speakers are biampable.

  4. #4
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K-High-Fi
    Studio monitor with built in amp have better advantages! like the amp match the speaker, electronic crossover, short speaker cable. Plus many custom controls like room EQ, and Gains which these are not available in domestic speakers.
    Indeed there are numerous advantages to using active speaker systems. Others include more efficient distribution of power and isolation of bass clipping to the rest of the bandwidth. Do you realize that all of those advantages can be applied to your Maggies? They have always been designed for bi or tri-amping since the 70s with the Tympani series. The very first Maggie I heard was a set of T-IIIs tri-amped with Audio Research crossover and amplifiers. That is why the crossover on the MG-20 is external. It requires no modifications to simply bypass altogether.

    There are a number of guys over at the Magnepan Users Group who run theirs using actively (Marchand is a popular choice for active crossover). Or an original Audio Research EC-2 or EC-3.

    Ind

  5. #5
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    I have two hometheaters built around active speakers, and I am a big supporter just for the reasons E-stat mentions. The speakers I own are not exactly nearfield monitors as they are stacked configurations of the M&K 2510P for the front speakers, and single monitors for the sides and rear surrounds.

    http://www.mksoundsystem.com/propages/mkprof_2510p.htm

    The other set of active monitors I have are from PMC, the BB5A active monitor for the fronts, and the AML2 for the side and rear surrounds. These speakers are quite pricey, but the sonic results are audio magic to my ears.

    http://www.pmc-speakers.com/product....de=view&pid=14

    http://www.pmc-speakers.com/product....de=view&pid=41

    I found out first hand there are alot of mediocre active monitors out there, so choose wisely just like you would with any speaker. Listen for neutrality, and look for a speaker that gets louder without changes in the frequency response(many actives fail in this area).
    Sir Terrence

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  6. #6
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    Good point, not all active speakers are "near field". Last I looked at Meridian they were using active speakers exclusively for the home theater set ups. Big dollar though.

  7. #7
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    Thank you very much to all for helpful thoughts.

    MG-20 is one of best sound I heard, the problem they need strong amp to make them sing, with my room size they become over power! One expert has told me: im unable to hear all the frequencies because the short distance wall (11.5 ft wide) I have! The speakers from side wall only 16 inch! Most problem I encounter is the high frequency was very energy or strong and its really disturbing every time the highs go high which sound phenomenal but disturbing! Actually this problem with ALL domestic tower speakers I use.

    I listened to Adam S2A and I have to admit they are SO precise and the resolution almost like MG-20 or probably better! Its not transparent like MG-20 or demotic speakers! But very flesh out and precisely accurate, the only problem they sound bright. I donít know how the S3X or S4X sounded.

    Other alternatives im thinking for Passive speakers are: Dynaudio C1, ProAc Response D two, Harbeth M30 or S-HL5, Kef 201. I never listened to them to be sure! But generally im thinking for bookshelf speaker only, I felt they are simple and precise too, somehow better than tower or big speaker.

    I will be very happy to hear thoughts from anybody.

    Cheers.
    Magnepan MG20/ Krell FPB 200 watt amp/ Krell KAV-500 amp/ Krell KPS 20 IL CD player/ Krell Audio Video Standard Preamp & processor/ Project 9.1 turntable Denon 304 cart/ Arcam FMJ tuner/ Arcam 137 DVD/ Tascam 322 tape deck/ JVC vhs/ AQ interconnects: Colorado/ Transprent cable: Super, Ultra, Rference, XL Reference.

  8. #8
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    K you have some awesome electronics I think you just need to find the right speakers and maybe some room treatments. Dynaudio will be quite a bit better than the towers and Bose you have listed. In my opinion you should pass on the C1's and opt for a Contour or Focus tower. The C1's are very good but may also seem unbalanced to you because they won't have the bottom end one of the towers will have. The C1's will excel some in detail and highs due to the Confidence tweeter. From the way you talk I'd recommend giving the Focus 360's a listen. You don't have to go way up the Dynaudio line to get a fine performing speaker. They are all good in my opinion for their price points, as you go up you get more of what Dyn can do. I think almost any tower Dyn makes would be an improvement over the towers you have. You might also try moving down to a Maggie 1.7 and adding a sub to see if the smaller size fits your room better and performs better if you are into their sound. Sometimes if the room isn't the right size or has issues a large speaker just won't work.

    Krell and Maggies are an interesting combo. I've not heard it. I heard Levinson driving Maggies. I will reserve comment as I'm not a big Maggie fan. Krell excels in dynamics and power, the best set ups I've heard with Krell have always been with dynamic box speakers such as Dynaudio. I'm sure other similar brands will do well but that is the combo I've heard most. I've also heard from people for a sweeter Krell sound that Thiel works well. No matter what speaker you try I don't think you will get a "flushed" or "flesh" sound from Krell. I have and have used Krell for years but it wasn't until switching to tubes that I achieved a more "fleshed" sound or lifting the images off the sound stage sort to speak. To get high power in tubes costs though. Tube gear also very in sound as much as solid state so do your listening before going that direction. If you do listen to tubes one day I certainly recommend Conrad Johnson. They satisfy what I was looking for in music. I've also heard VTL gear I liked as well.

  9. #9
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    My relative has a pair of very large and very expensive Meridian speakers that once belonged to Emmitt Smith. He also has the matching CDP. As much as I've tried to like them for his sake I can't say that I do. The sound, while impressively expansive, seems contrived and not natural to my ears.

  10. #10
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    It's been so long since I've heard Meridian I couldn't begin to argue the point.

    I like the Martin Logan active speakers but they also require ample space around them for best results.

  11. #11
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    Thank you Mr. Peabody for recommendation. Dynaudio C1 was my first choice but two reasons hold my purchase:

    1- has back port for the bass! This is not good in my experince because when the sound hit the back wall and travel and hit other things in the room like furniture, the sound become smeared when arrive to the ear. This problem I faced with Bose 901 and MG-20 too.

    2- Danish made are superior in term of build up quality and resolution, but sounded bit unemotional. I experienced before B&O speakers and Ortofon Red Rondo cartridge which both make in Denmark, both has the sme (unemotional).

    I could be wrong because I never heard Dynaudio, but I have to be little careful. Krell and MG-20 match perfect (in my opinion), however I prefer bookshelf because I feel they lack resonance and coloration. Another point, MG-20 can sound exotic or luxury if fed with more high-end interconnects and cables, something I don’t like because the music doesn’t sounded serious anymore!

    I listened to Adam P22 and right from start sounded best performance. Doesn’t have sweetness or honey or any coloration but perfection and precision, which I always wanted for serious listening. Some friends recommend ProAc Response D28 or D two (bookshelf), others Harbeth M30 or S-HL5, to my knowledge British speakers are bit dark and honey, but not sure about these.

    I will be very happy to hear any opinion.

    Cheers.
    Magnepan MG20/ Krell FPB 200 watt amp/ Krell KAV-500 amp/ Krell KPS 20 IL CD player/ Krell Audio Video Standard Preamp & processor/ Project 9.1 turntable Denon 304 cart/ Arcam FMJ tuner/ Arcam 137 DVD/ Tascam 322 tape deck/ JVC vhs/ AQ interconnects: Colorado/ Transprent cable: Super, Ultra, Rference, XL Reference.

  12. #12
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    1- has back port for the bass! This is not good in my experince because when the sound hit the back wall and travel and hit other things in the room like furniture, the sound become smeared when arrive to the ear. This problem I faced with Bose 901 and MG-20 too.
    I think you are talking about two different things here. Both the 901 and MG-20's throw a full range sound to the rear. Full range rear reflections can be a curse or a benefit, depending on what your taste is. However, a port only outputs the deep bass, and at those frequencies the bass radiates 360 degrees, and fills the room instantly. Bass reflections are not nearly as audible (if at all) when compared to a full range rear reflection which can smear the forward output. A port cannot smear anything in the mid and upper frequencies because it does not output them.

    The Adam speaker line use of the ribbon tweeter give its sound a rather clinical but accurate sound. I have found that you will generally get the same midrange and treble responses throughout their entire line, but the differences between models lie in how much bass output you want from the system. The are excellent studio monitors, but I do not know if I would like them as home speakers. My experience with them showed me that they have a pretty narrow sweet spot which required that my head stayed pretty much in the same place, or I would hear something different in its output.
    Sir Terrence

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  13. #13
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    Don't stereotype sound quality by country of origin. I find the Dynaudio speakers engaging and have used them with several amps, Krell, Arcam, Conrad Johnson & Linn to name a few I've had on my t2.5's. I've driven my Audience 60's with Krell, Adcom to vintage Sansui. The Dyn's are neutral enough to let you hear the various characters of each amp while being consistent with excellent bass response, imaging and detailed.

    As a side note all the Dynaudio speakers I've seen come with port plugs.

    If you want a nice bookshelf see if you can get your hands, ears, on a set of Special 25's.

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    Do I understand Dynaudio sounded closer to Magnepan MG-20 (or at least similer high freq)?

    Can anyone recommend bookshelf or small speaker tower sounded closer to MG-20 from any brand?

    Thanks.
    Magnepan MG20/ Krell FPB 200 watt amp/ Krell KAV-500 amp/ Krell KPS 20 IL CD player/ Krell Audio Video Standard Preamp & processor/ Project 9.1 turntable Denon 304 cart/ Arcam FMJ tuner/ Arcam 137 DVD/ Tascam 322 tape deck/ JVC vhs/ AQ interconnects: Colorado/ Transprent cable: Super, Ultra, Rference, XL Reference.

  15. #15
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K-High-Fi
    Do I understand Dynaudio sounded closer to Magnepan MG-20 (or at least similer high freq)?

    Can anyone recommend bookshelf or small speaker tower sounded closer to MG-20 from any brand?

    Thanks.
    No monopole dynamic driver speaker is really going to sound like a dipole planar spearker. Can't happen.

  16. #16
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    I wouldn't say Dynaudio sounds like Maggies. It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to hear a pair of Maggies so wouldn't try to recommend anything that resembles them. As Feanor stated I don't think anything will be the same. You could maybe get close if you find a box speaker that utilizes some type of ribbon tweeter. If looking for an excellent bookshelf speaker that produces better than average bass response then Dynaudio is worth a listen. The C1's are awesome I just thought their high end might be too much as you seem to want the highs a bit laid back.

    There's a thread here, I think something like "side grading from B&W" where Koven tries a few different pair of speakers. You might find that a useful read.

  17. #17
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    Thank you very much all for help thoughts. Seems hard to find same good sound as MG-20! Sure i will try listen to C1, i heard in small room sounded like floor standing speaker! I think this is great feature so can be used in both small and large applications.
    Magnepan MG20/ Krell FPB 200 watt amp/ Krell KAV-500 amp/ Krell KPS 20 IL CD player/ Krell Audio Video Standard Preamp & processor/ Project 9.1 turntable Denon 304 cart/ Arcam FMJ tuner/ Arcam 137 DVD/ Tascam 322 tape deck/ JVC vhs/ AQ interconnects: Colorado/ Transprent cable: Super, Ultra, Rference, XL Reference.

  18. #18
    RGA
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    it seems to me that your room might be too small for the big Magnepan - Why not try a smaller panel such as the KingSound Prince II - it retails for $6,000 and I think it's a LOT LOT better than "ANY" magnepan speaker I have heard. How your Krell amps might do I can't say. Another panel that I think sounds better and smaller panel IMO is the Summit from Martin Logan which under difficult show condition managed a cohesion of panel/woofer that was as good as I have heard from them. But it was running with tube amplification - err so were the Kings - and Quads - All the best sounding panels at CES were panel makers who brought tube amps and the panels that sounded lousy were the ones running SS gear. Hmm probably just a coincidence...hmm.

    One of the reasons Active works is because the speaker and amp are designed by the same company or are designed in tandem to work strictly for that speaker - it has a synergy or purposes. One reason people are drawn to it is because the alternative is designs running at cross purposes are put together and despite being individually fine pieces are not designed to work for specific applications.

    I find actives to often be somewhat tiresome - high impact and clinical but usually not satisfying long terms. The new Meridian speakers are pretty nice - but at the price - IMO better passivesfor less than 1/2 the price are out there. PMC actives are also good - but I'd rather them inHome theater - and even then the prices start climbing and the advantage IMO isn't really there.

    Give King Sound a try - unfortunately they don't have the prestige factor because they are actually charging at real world prices so they lose some prestige by not being overpriced.

    http://www.kingsaudio.com.hk/index.html

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    Thanks RGA for helpful information. Excellent points, yes I felt Adam monitors are clinical but I thought something I could pass it because they have advantage being very precise and accurate. I will try listening again for longer time before I decide. King Prince II still too big for me.

    You mention interesting points about MG-20: sounded better with tube amp, and there are better electrostatic than MG-20. For example if I use Conrad Johnson tube is there will be huge differences? And what other Electrostatic brands better than MG-20 (beside from Martin Logan and King)?

    Sincerely.
    Magnepan MG20/ Krell FPB 200 watt amp/ Krell KAV-500 amp/ Krell KPS 20 IL CD player/ Krell Audio Video Standard Preamp & processor/ Project 9.1 turntable Denon 304 cart/ Arcam FMJ tuner/ Arcam 137 DVD/ Tascam 322 tape deck/ JVC vhs/ AQ interconnects: Colorado/ Transprent cable: Super, Ultra, Rference, XL Reference.

  20. #20
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K-High-Fi
    And what other Electrostatic brands better than MG-20 (beside from Martin Logan and King)?
    I favor the Sound Lab full range electrostats. I find they are the best of all the electrostats I've heard over the past thirty five years.

    rw

  21. #21
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by K-High-Fi
    Thanks RGA for helpful information. Excellent points, yes I felt Adam monitors are clinical but I thought something I could pass it because they have advantage being very precise and accurate. I will try listening again for longer time before I decide. King Prince II still too big for me.

    You mention interesting points about MG-20: sounded better with tube amp, and there are better electrostatic than MG-20. For example if I use Conrad Johnson tube is there will be huge differences? And what other Electrostatic brands better than MG-20 (beside from Martin Logan and King)?

    Sincerely.
    The problem is that it doesn't matter how good the speaker is if it is too big or overpowers the room your in it will sound poor. Soundlabs sounded pretty poor in part at CES because the room was far too small. Smaller panels suffer from pretty wimpy dynamics and drive. The King Sound Prince II still isn't a bass dynamics champ but it has more of it that other panels around their size (and better than some much bigger ones) and to my ear electroctats sound a lot better than ribbons which tend to sound a bit hissy or lumpy or both.

    To give you full disclosure I am not a Magnepan fan. The more I listen to them the more I dislike them to be perfectly honest. Electrostats simply sound more natural and there are probably piles of reasons why but I would take a Soundlab, Quad over them. Unfortunately they also cost a lot more money. I have heard the U1 and the A1 and Quad 2905 - I'd take a King Sound over them and use the difference to buy a Honda Accord.

    Martin Logan often has driver integration issues - but the Summit at CES had no such trouble and sounded really good - much better than the Soundlab or Quad room and using a less expensive front end to boot.

    My dealer owned Magnepans for four years constantly having problems getting them to sound right in his room due to frequency problems, bass etc - sounds to me like you have the same problem. He sold them off for a boxed dynamic speaker that he likes a lot better. The bottom line my preferences aside - you simply need to find a speaker that works better in your room.

    You want a high impact high "grip" sound with tightly controlled or 'accurate/Neutral some might say bright" leaning speaker which are smaller.

    I would have a serious look into the Gallo 3.5 with your Krell power amps and possibly a tube preamp to soften it up a little better. The Gallo 3.5 is being heavily used in recording studios - they have tremendous authority and terrific bass impact with outstanding start stop speed. The Magnepans sounded like "mud" in comparison and none of the other panels at the show mustered the impact or the bass or the openess or the speed. The 3.5
    Check them out http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=713

  22. #22
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    The problem is that it doesn't matter how good the speaker is if it is too big or overpowers the room your in it will sound poor.
    I agree with RGA... The issue may well be that your MG20s are just too big for your room, so a smaller speaker maybe the only feasible option...

  23. #23
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    Thank you very much. Yes im aware MG-20 being big for my room and im getting ear fatigue sometimes. And yes sometimes I felt muddy and heavy too in some recording.

    However, I like natural sound, dynamic, soft. Just wondering (and im sure RGA knows better ): are there one-way speaker, high resolution and performance?

    Im beginning to like the old fashion speaker with one or two way, I felt they simple and produce better sound than 3 ways or more.
    Last edited by K-High-Fi; 03-10-2010 at 12:14 PM.
    Magnepan MG20/ Krell FPB 200 watt amp/ Krell KAV-500 amp/ Krell KPS 20 IL CD player/ Krell Audio Video Standard Preamp & processor/ Project 9.1 turntable Denon 304 cart/ Arcam FMJ tuner/ Arcam 137 DVD/ Tascam 322 tape deck/ JVC vhs/ AQ interconnects: Colorado/ Transprent cable: Super, Ultra, Rference, XL Reference.

  24. #24
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    Hello all. First post here on audioreview. http://sound.westhost.com/biamp-vs-passive.htm heres a good link which has always been handy to bookmark!

  25. #25
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by K-High-Fi
    Thank you very much. Yes im aware MG-20 being big for my room and im getting ear fatigue sometimes. And yes sometimes I felt muddy and heavy too in some recording.

    However, I like natural sound, dynamic, soft. Just wondering (and im sure RGA knows better ): are there one-way speaker, high resolution and performance?

    Im beginning to like the old fashion speaker with one or two way, I felt they simple and produce better sound than 3 ways or more.
    It depends on the music you like and I am leary on recommending some speakers because I'm not a big fan of big powerful amps like the Krell either.

    The only thing I can suggest is to try something completely different. A SET amplifier with Teresonic Single Driver Lowther speakers ($10k - $14k). Why? Because they have perfect coherence in the midrange and they have good bass - not rock bass but nice bass for stand up bass - probably around 30hz but not the higher impact of the Gallo - though the Teresonics sound nicer and smoother than the Gallo 3.5 (no doubt aided by a much better front end). I always recommend it but that's because it has few peers - the Audio Note J or E (your room size the E would be better - but you need corners) - they don't like Solid state amplifiers however so while they're only $7,600 for the E/Spe HE - you would have to sell the Krells and lose money. There are others like the Acoustic Zen but they're not quite as open as a good panel - but they have more macro abilities.

    The thing to do is to wait and audition and don't judge it on looks or advertising or being "different."

    My analogy is this. Most poor boxed speakers are like looking through a muddy window over a picturesque landscape. You can tell you're looking through a window because you can see all the dirt. (hence some boxes sound muddy or overly resonant). An average panel has a nice clean window that you can see and none of the dirt but some of the glass is rippled and something is not quite right and it is annoying but not dirty. A great panel is a beautiful clean big astoundingly clear (as clear as it gets) window that lets you see the landscape in all its glory without a spec of dirt. Truly amazing window view.

    The best boxes - puts you onto the balcony - forget the stupid window - you are there feeling the breeze, smelling the fir trees, feeling the hot sun on your face. The pressure of the instrument in space where you can practically feel the air pushing past you.

    I highly recommend that you spend your money and go to the audio show in Colorado - RMAF Rocky Mountain Audio Show - or perhaps CES in Jan 2011. For the price of a flight, a 4 night stay in a hotel and choosing cheap hotels you can do this for less than $1,500. Yes you could buy a nice component for that but in reality that money will save you a bucket later on in upgrades.

    I and others can throw out preferences but in the end nothing replaces your experiences. I post my favorites at given prices - I prefer speakers that are comfortable with rock as they are with classical. I think some of the issue is that bass depth and impact is mastingly interpreted as distortion.

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