• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Marchand XM44 Analog Active Crossover Review

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,313
Likes
134,744
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Marchand XM44-3 3-way Analog Active Crossover. It is on kind loan from a member. This is a modular 3-way system. As configured, it costs US $1,900. So not cheap. Question the owner had was how it compares to a digital crossover which he also send me (review of that later).

Despite being a DIY type of box, there is some style to the XM44-3:

Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Midrange Audio Review.jpg

The controls are selectors and feel pretty substantial.

I appreciated the full set of balanced inputs and outputs which I used exclusively for testing:

Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Midrange Back Panel Connectors Audio Review.jpg

Internally the unit configurable but you have to buy the modules that way (i.e. are not user selectable):

Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Teardown Review.jpg

TI/Bur-brown OPA2134 op-am is used throughout for the implementation which has a stunningly low SINAD of 121 dB. Will we get that kind of performance and transparency? Let's find out.

Crossover Audio Measurements
I treated the unit as a preamplifier and set the test frequency to be in the middle of the midrange band and this is our dashboard:

Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Midrange Audio Measurements.png


The pad module is rated for 6 dB but we are getting 3 dB with balanced interconnection with the gain setting at 0.

We have quite a bit of distortion rising up to -75 dB which limits SINAD to same amount at 75 dB. That is a massive fall from what the opamp is rated for and quite a bit worse than the manufacturer spec as well. I played around with levels and it did not make that much of a difference.

In general, you want to have a 10 dB margin for an in-between device to be transparent. This means that if your amplifier has better SINAD than just 65 dB, its performance would be hurt by the XM44. That's quite poor.

Signal to noise ratio is not bad:
Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Highpass dynamic range Audio Measurements.png


Again, the same rule applies here as SINAD.

Here is the frequency response of all three crossovers filters:

Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Midrange Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Visually they look OK to me. I am too lazy to export them into spreadsheet to confirm. :)

One odd thing is the low pass one resonating or something past 3 kHz.

Speaker designers among us need to decide if the 30 dB or so attenuation is good enough.

I assume some of you care about phase response so here is that for one band:

Marchand XM44-3 Crossover Midrange phase Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
This being the first product of its type I am measuring, I am not passing judgement on it. That said, for this kind of price, I expected far better electrical performance. A lot of money seems to have gone to nice assembly, controls and such instead of optimizing the distortion characteristic.

Given the requirement to know in advance what modules you need, and lack of transparency, the Marchand XM44-3 does not seem like a good bet to me.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

The panthers just realized that all this time I had made them walk around with no shoes. So now they all want a pair. No, I am not going out to buy them and will shop online. What I need is money for it. Please donating money using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

gags11

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 8, 2019
Messages
299
Likes
427
Thank you for the review, Amir!

This is my unit, and I am so glad to see this and correlate with what I hear.

A bit disappointed, I have to say. I have this, MiniDSP, and Behringer crossovers. The biggest subjective difference I could here was in the base. Marchand sounded deeper and more boomy compared to the other 2. MiniDSP seemed to have a high noise floor, but I would like to see measurements for it. Could the cheap Behringer perform better than Marchand and MiniDSP?
 

Newk Yuler

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2019
Messages
155
Likes
235
Marchand has had a niche reputation for a wide variety of pricey, presumed very high quality configurable kit and completed crossovers for a long time. It's a pleasant surprise to find one measured in ASR. I have no idea of how often his designs are updated but they've been around long enough that these somewhat mediocre noise measurements (by today's standards) probably shouldn't be surprising.
 

Ralf Stocker

Active Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
101
Likes
61
What a disappointment! What did they do wrong with such terrible distortions? Then there are hum problems too.
 

dukanvadet

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 18, 2019
Messages
45
Likes
56
So the crossovers are at one fixed frequency? In that case i dont think the resonance on the low pass should be a problem. Most drivers for that low frequency wouldnt have much output where it is worst anyway.
 

jhaider

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 5, 2016
Messages
1,546
Likes
1,990
I think the panther here should be headless and missing at least one limb.

I have no idea what the use case for such a product is regardless of distortion measurements. A good crossover requires rolloffs tapered to work with the driver units' inherent FR, and EQ. An analog unit tailored to specific drive units loaded in a specific cabinet is one thing, but this box just appears to offer textbook slopes that assume infinite bandwidth drivers, and no EQ.

That is at best an obsolete approach.
 

Prana Ferox

Active Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
169
Likes
362
Location
NoVA, USA
It's a crossover with no selectable slopes or frequencies? Or do you pick those at time of order?

If those card inserts are what they look like, the gold fingers are fragile and tend to make crap contact if they lose tension. I assume you made sure the cards were well seated, but it doesn't really matter.
 

John1959

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2020
Messages
86
Likes
147
Location
Netherlands
Yes, you need separate frequency add on cards for this one. See:

https://www.marchandelec.com/xm44-electronic-crossover.html#emb

I did once own (about 20 years ago!) a much simpler Marchand active crossover (2-way, 24 dB/octave slopes) for US$ 250 or so. Those had much smaller modules with only 4 resisters. I little bit surprising he is still in business with more or less the same products of that time long ago.

John
 
Last edited:

617

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Messages
1,538
Likes
3,289
Location
Somerville, MA
Very niche product; not being able to change slope, filter q or add notches makes this pretty limited. DSP also gives you delay which is immensely useful. I always assumed this was targeted at horn type people who really, really didn't want a digital crossover but don't have the technical ability to make an actual crossover (or a passive line level crossover, which is about as weird as it gets.)

Still, if you need it I always assumed this would be a good option, but I doubt performance is much better from pro sound adjustable crossover units made by DBX or whatever.

No one is safe from the ASR magnifying glass I guess; I'd argue this product isn't a good candidate for a review given it's immensely limited appeal and narrow utility but still an interesting data point.
 

John1959

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2020
Messages
86
Likes
147
Location
Netherlands
Well, I just read on their website that delay, notches and more are possible. But only by optional plug-in modules. Choose of 12, 24, 36 and 48 dB/octave is also possible. I am not sure of the Q factor, probably not.
This is actually a 4-band crossover but - again - you need extra modules for that :).

They have also tube versions. That's quite unique I guess! Interesting company. However, I stick with digital DSP these days

John
 
Last edited:

617

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Messages
1,538
Likes
3,289
Location
Somerville, MA
Well, I just read on their website that delay, notches and more are possible. But only by optional plug-in modules. Choose of 12, 24, 36 and 48 dB/octave (LR). I am not sure of Q factor, probably not. This is a actually 4-band crossover but - again - you need extra modules :).

John

Analog delay? Do they use a tape loop?
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2019
Messages
33
Likes
59
Very niche product; not being able to change slope, filter q or add notches makes this pretty limited. DSP also gives you delay which is immensely useful. I always assumed this was targeted at horn type people who really, really didn't want a digital crossover but don't have the technical ability to make an actual crossover (or a passive line level crossover, which is about as weird as it gets.)

Still, if you need it I always assumed this would be a good option, but I doubt performance is much better from pro sound adjustable crossover units made by DBX or whatever.

No one is safe from the ASR magnifying glass I guess; I'd argue this product isn't a good candidate for a review given it's immensely limited appeal and narrow utility but still an interesting data point.

Post #12 above mentions that digital crossovers can add delay. This question will probably reveal my complete technical ignorance, but is it possible to time align the drivers (conventional 2 way with bi-amp inputs) for some nominal listening distance with such a crossover? Thanks.
 
D

Deleted member 2944

Guest
FYI, the rising response above 3khz on the low-pass and the "leveling off" of the other filters is a measurement anomaly. I'm not sure how the AP tests in this regard, but it's not unusual to see this sort of effect with various testing hardware/software.
If you were to just look at the outputs with a 'scope and excitation from a sweeping generator you would see correct roll-off operation well out of band.

The XM-44 is a standard Sallen-Key based topology with cascaded 2nd-order Linkwitz-Riley sections to create the generic 4th-order slopes.

The application for something like this is limited......as noted by some comments......because you'd need to have transducers with level responses and minimal out-of-band nasties for the textbook electrical slopes to create anything even close to a desired acoustic response.

Dave.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Juhazi

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Messages
1,551
Likes
2,492
Location
Finland
Post #12 above mentions that digital crossovers can add delay. This question will probably reveal my complete technical ignorance, but is it possible to time align the drivers (conventional 2 way with bi-amp inputs) for some nominal listening distance with such a crossover? Thanks.

Yes of course. Each channel has delay and gain adjustment, as well as several parametric eq "slots" and both low- and highpass. Input is 2-ch and those have also gain, delay and eq settings.

Minidsp products are most popular nowdays

https://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4-hd

https://www.minidsp.com/applications/dsp-basics/time-alignment
 

617

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Messages
1,538
Likes
3,289
Location
Somerville, MA
Post #12 above mentions that digital crossovers can add delay. This question will probably reveal my complete technical ignorance, but is it possible to time align the drivers (conventional 2 way with bi-amp inputs) for some nominal listening distance with such a crossover? Thanks.

There's a lot which goes into designing a crossover, but with gated on-axis measurements and a minidsp 2x4, you can get a flat and well integrated response in a 2 way pretty easily. One trick - reverse phase of one channel to create a null and adjust delay until the null is as deep as possible. When you flip the phase back, your drivers will be as in phase as they can get, which mostly just means no peaks off axis.
 
Top Bottom