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Why do passive speakers still exist?

Pearljam5000

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#1
In a world where amazing active speakers / monitors exist, why do passive speakers not only continue to exist but are almost 90% of all speakers sold ( i guess).
What are the benefits of a passive speaker vs an active one?
 

Doodski

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#2
One benefit of passive is that the owner can use whatever amplifier they want. Another is the wide selection of passive speakers in the marketplace.

For active they have the amp built in with DSP and that saves cost, saves space, enables tuning the speaker more accurately and oftentimes uses a balanced/differential input.
 

Blumlein 88

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#3
Probably just marketplace momentum as much as anything. And there are some minuses to actives with DSP that Doodski mentioned in reverse.

An active with amps and built in DSP can make for a great speaker. OTOH, if any part of that goes bad, your whole speaker is bad. Could be a DSP chip gets zapped by voltage spikes, could be an amp let go, or anything. Any one part ruins the whole and people don't like that.

Oh, and XLR's just never took over. I wish they finally would for actives and passives. I don't think it will ever happen however.
 
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#4
An active with amps and built in DSP can make for a great speaker. OTOH, if any part of that goes bad, your whole speaker is bad. Could be a DSP chip gets zapped by voltage spikes, could be an amp let go, or anything. Any one part ruins the whole and people don't like that.
This is what has deterred me. Seems the warranty on the electronics is 2-years on many of the active speakers I’ve seen. To me, that’s not long enough on something that could easily cost $4-5K.
 

Χ Ξ Σ

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#5
You see some of these AV receivers tested here have 16 channels? Imagine having 16 powered speakers in your home theater system, you would need 16 more power cables and 16 more outlets than if they were all passive.

I use active studio monitors and probably would never go the passive route, but I think a passive system still has some practical advantages. Sometimes it's not about performance but "path dependency".
 
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Doodski

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#6
and... on a negative note.
The electronics sitting in a vibrating sound chamber are bound to be somewhat microphonic and take a beating. When it comes to the top brands like Genelec and Neumann the owners apparently have nothing but good things to say. I suppose the better quality ones hold up and the lesser quality have solder issues and STK type amplifiers.
 

sweetchaos

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#10
Also the in-house resources req'd to design and make active speakers and then design and make the amp/DSP PCB is much more than passive speakers.
Arguably I'd say that designing active speakers at the same performance level as passives would be less costly. Outsource electronics, fret less about driver quality as DSP-Jesus takes the wheel.
 

Blumlein 88

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#14
And adding on, passives just work for home theater.
I need my AVR and audyssey and the HDMI bypass and everything. Active would be useless in my case!
All you need is a pre/pro in place of the AVR. You'll get performance rivaling the preamp outputs of the AVR, minus any power amps and for only 800% the cost with no loss in video quality vs the AVR. Well you do get XLR connectors and they are so much cooler it is worth it. ;)
 
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#15
Also since preamps in powered speakers are generally fixed 100%, they pick up noise very easily whether its voltage ripples or ground loop noise. Whereas with passive speakers + a receiver that electrical noise tends to be masked significantly. This leads to orders of magnitudes difference difference in sound floors. Even $10,000/pair powered speakers will have a orders of magnitude higher passive noise floor then some cheap $200 passive speakers and a $100 entry level receiver.

If you don't like dealing with high noise floors like hissing tweeters for instance, passive speakers are often the only choice. Especially in the nearfield, if you don't always have content playing. Unless you like reaching around and turning the speakers on/off every time you decide to use it. Otherwise, hissing, amplifier buzzing, electrical voltage swings causing buzzing from the drivers, or ground loops, that kind of stuff is amplified like crazy in near-field powered speakers with built-in amps.
 

thewas

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#16
As said several reasons and advantages:
- Habituation
- No need for a power socket and cable
- "Play factor" choosing amps and cables
- Smaller chance of low level hiss and electric disturbance noise
- Reliability
- Easier to repair and keep running for many decades
 

q3cpma

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#17
Just a little reminder that if you don't use monoblock amplifiers, the argument is reversed: one dead channel and you have to repurchase the whole amp. (Repurchasing being an extreme, as both good active speaker and amplifier manufacturers will usually repair it for you at an inferior price).
 

bennybbbx

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#18
you can not easy plug existing active speaker to a receiver, or do remote control the volume and inputs. the kali lp6 i own produce noise when i connect them not symetrical and even more noise when i connect it with cinch. my surround receiver have no symetrical output and whats happen when connect it to speaker out which can reach for 100 watt 30 volts. i do not know. to go to active speakers first step to do is, produce surround receivers or amps that have a symetrical output for active speakers
 

hyperplanar

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#20
Also since preamps in powered speakers are generally fixed 100%, they pick up noise very easily whether its voltage ripples or ground loop noise. Whereas with passive speakers + a receiver that electrical noise tends to be masked significantly. This leads to orders of magnitudes difference difference in sound floors. Even $10,000/pair powered speakers will have a orders of magnitude higher passive noise floor then some cheap $200 passive speakers and a $100 entry level receiver.

If you don't like dealing with high noise floors like hissing tweeters for instance, passive speakers are often the only choice. Especially in the nearfield, if you don't always have content playing. Unless you like reaching around and turning the speakers on/off every time you decide to use it. Otherwise, hissing, amplifier buzzing, electrical voltage swings causing buzzing from the drivers, or ground loops, that kind of stuff is amplified like crazy in near-field powered speakers with built-in amps.
I agree with this for the most part, especially for budget active speakers, where the parts budget is so constrained that noise is inevitable regardless of the quality of engineering.

However when you get into pricier active speakers made by companies with a solid engineering pedigree (e.g. Genelec, Neumann) it's not much of an issue anymore.

For instance, the KH120's self-noise is rated at 20 dB(A) at 10cm—using the inverse distance law, this translates to 0 dB(A) at 1.0m. In other words, the hiss is for basically all intents and purposes inaudible to a human, even in a dead silent anechoic chamber, at a normal nearfield listening distance. Personally, I can't hear any hiss from my KH120s until I get close enough that one of my ears is literally about to touch the tweeter grille.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that although yes, active designs are more likely to suffer from audible noise issues (and I've certainly experienced my fair share of these in the past), being active does not preclude the possibility of being noise-free, and any competent non-budget active speaker should be as such.
 
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