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Why active speakers cannot easily get rid of hiss like laptop speakers or very tiny speakers?

superbluecat

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Recently I have replaced several pairs of 2.0 speakers for gaming and music on the PC I just built.
However from Steelseries, Pioneer to Audioengine, all speakers have hiss noise (Even if more expensive ones hide those noise better, hiss can still be heard in one feet in queit environment).

Surprisingly, my roommate's Amazon Alexa Echo Dot has no noise even if putting my ear onto it. Likewise, laptop speakers also do not make such white noise.
Why those more expensive and better speakers be made noiseless just like those intelligent speakers and laptop speakers? Given that the small ones are super cheap in price I do not think it requires a lot of money to lower the noise floor. Thanks so much.
 

MaxwellsEq

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You are not comparing like with like. Alexa and laptops are all-in-one which means that the designers can optimise the gain through each stage to minimise noise (and roll off higher frequency a bit). Active speaker designers have no idea what levels they will be fed with and so require sufficient gain for all cases. They also can go much louder, which also means more gain
 

holdingpants01

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I found out that my JBL Flip BT speaker hisses A LOT when actually playing music, but if there's no input signal it instantly mutes itself and is quiet. I wouldn't trust active system with any kind of CPU in this regard
 

antcollinet

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Recently I have replaced several pairs of 2.0 speakers for gaming and music on the PC I just built.
However from Steelseries, Pioneer to Audioengine, all speakers have hiss noise (Even if more expensive ones hide those noise better, hiss can still be heard in one feet in queit environment).

Surprisingly, my roommate's Amazon Alexa Echo Dot has no noise even if putting my ear onto it. Likewise, laptop speakers also do not make such white noise.
Why those more expensive and better speakers be made noiseless just like those intelligent speakers and laptop speakers? Given that the small ones are super cheap in price I do not think it requires a lot of money to lower the noise floor. Thanks so much.

To build on @MaxwellsEq post - active speakers power amp is on at full volume all the time. You are expected to turn down the volume using a preamp. And is MUCH more powerful than small bluetooth or laptop amplifiers. So any noise is going through full amplification.

Also - how are you connecting to the active speakers. If unbalanced analogue then almost certainly a lot of the hiss is coming in on the ground of the analogue input.
 

AnalogSteph

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Also - how are you connecting to the active speakers. If unbalanced analogue then almost certainly a lot of the hiss is coming in on the ground of the analogue input.
I think the OP was referring to consumer-level speakers, which are generally built to not invite a ground loop right away. You would be correct for something like JBL 305s, of course.

Anyway, the answer to this question is a combination of several factors.
1. Small fullrange speakers have substantially lower sensitivity. A 1.5" might score only about 74 dB / W / m, and that's honestly not bad for something that tiny. A 2" can reach the low 80s these days, almost equalling a 3" fullrange of yore. You can expect the mid-80s for a 5", and about 87-88 dB for a 6.5" or 8". Put a 1" dome tweeter inside a sizeable waveguide, and you may be looking at a sensitivity trailing off from about 100 dB to 90 dB, outlining one challenge of "real" active speakers (instead of the powered variety with a passive crossover). And let's not even talk about horns, some of which can be north of 110 dB (while accompanying a 95+ dB 15" woofer).
2. Cheap Class D amplifiers don't vary all that much in dynamic range, maybe a tad over 100 dB on average. So the more powerful ones tend to have more hiss as well. Same goes for basic DSPs with built-in converters.
3. Don't underestimate the power of muting, as already mentioned.
4. Some constructions just don't have very good gain staging.

In sum, making a tiny, low-powered speaker that doesn't audibly hiss is relatively easy. The same for an active PA speaker is going to be a major challenge. PA as well as consumer speakers are very price-sensitive, and a bit of hiss is often considered an acceptable tradeoff. Not always and not to everyone, of course.
 
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superbluecat

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Also - how are you connecting to the active speakers. If unbalanced analogue then almost certainly a lot of the hiss is coming in on the ground of the analogue input.
The hiss in inrelevant to any input singal.
As long as plugged into the wall with the power cable speakers begin to hiss.
For the current Audioengine HD4 I am connecting with USB from ROG Z790 Motherboard.

I would not try any power conditioner and pre-amplifier though; Why not Neumann KH80 if I have got the budget later lol.
 
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superbluecat

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And additional devices are bulky; I am a PC user so the equipment has to be convenient lol.
 

DVDdoug

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It's mostly related to gain. I'm sure your monitors go louder than the Echo Dot or your laptop speakers (more gain and more power). All amplifiers generate some noise and the internally-generated noise, as well as any noise coming-in, gets amplified. The more amplification you have (the more gain) the louder it is.

With some monitors, the noise goes down when you turn-down the volume/gain knob, but it depends on the circuit.

And some amplifiers generate more noise than others and I'm sure some active monitors have no audible noise (at normal listening distance).
 
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superbluecat

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I'm sure some active monitors have no audible noise (at normal listening distance).
For now the cheapest one I have found are Neumann and Genelec 4 inch monitors; there are several old models with AB amplifiers and low sensitivity and hence lower noise, but all discontinued before 2010 (Definitely would not buy them)... Is it like all brands want to get better sound and introducing more hiss?
 

TurtlePaul

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I agree with DVDDoug. It is easier to make a 3 watt speaker silent because even a modest 80 dB sound-to-noise is dead quiet. The power is low enough that a low noise opamp can even be the final output stage.

Some of these more serious systems seek to output 10, 25 or 75 watts to their tweeters without an l-pad and that requires seriously good SNR to be pin drop quiet. The tradeoff is that those speakers can be 20-30 dB louder without distorting.
 

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The hiss in inrelevant to any input singal.
As long as plugged into the wall with the power cable speakers begin to hiss.
For the current Audioengine HD4 I am connecting with USB from ROG Z790 Motherboard.

I would not try any power conditioner and pre-amplifier though; Why not Neumann KH80 if I have got the budget later lol.
A hiss even without a source connected is sign of poor engineering.
 

antcollinet

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A hiss even without a source connected is sign of poor engineering.
All amplification generates internal noise. Audibility depends on the level of that noise, the gain of the amp, and the sensitivity of the speakers. It is not uncommon for active/powered speakers - especially with close listening.
 

Salt

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All amplification generates internal noise. Audibility depends on the level of that noise, the gain of the amp, and the sensitivity of the speakers. It is not uncommon for active/powered speakers - especially with close listening.
Quote OP: "hiss can still be heard in one feet in queit environment" .... is not SOTA, or am I that wrong?
 

antcollinet

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Quote OP: "hiss can still be heard in one feet in queit environment" .... is not SOTA, or am I that wrong?
Failure to be SOTA doesn't mean poor engineering and even if it is not SOTA, it is common. 1ft is not a normal listening distance. If you have to be that close to hear it - in a quiet room to boot - then it is not a problem.
 

Salt

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We're 2023, not 1978, but it's in Your eyes and ears so it may be so.
Leaving.
 
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superbluecat

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Failure to be SOTA doesn't mean poor engineering and even if it is not SOTA, it is common. 1ft is not a normal listening distance. If you have to be that close to hear it - in a quiet room to boot - then it is not a problem.
For my usual use it is about 3fts. I don't notice bad sounds with current speakers, since my computer fans also runs at ~900rpm, which is about 35db.
So I will keep with the ones I have, and seek small neumann or genelec with digital input in the future.
I heard everyone say JBL 305p is also good regarding sound quality, but also heard they can be heard in meters, definitely cannot be used to play video games in a small room:)
 
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superbluecat

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Quote OP: "hiss can still be heard in one feet in queit environment" .... is not SOTA, or am I that wrong?
I don't know what is SOTA and good engineering. But yes I do not want those disturbing sound. I have done something to cut down the hissing in GPU and PSU in my computer actually.

The cheapest SOTA and good engineering speakers you know?
Or should we all just use intelligent tiny speakers to work it through
 

sigbergaudio

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For my usual use it is about 3fts. I don't notice bad sounds with current speakers, since my computer fans also runs at ~900rpm, which is about 35db.
So I will keep with the ones I have, and seek small neumann or genelec with digital input in the future.
I heard everyone say JBL 305p is also good regarding sound quality, but also heard they can be heard in meters, definitely cannot be used to play video games in a small room:)

Generally XLR is quieter than RCA as well. So you don't necessarily have to go digital, but XLR will likely reduce noise in most speakers that have this option.
 

Salt

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SOTA is just state of the art and so should not hiss.
 
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superbluecat

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SOTA is just state of the art and so should not hiss.
I know that there are lots of SOTA in Computer Science.

Any models you know for large power speakers according to this SOTA standard?
The best I see is Neumann, genelec, and gii?
 
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