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Why do passive speakers still exist?

EJ3

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I hope I didn't come across as advocating living with soft, mushy, or non-existent bass. That would have been stupid and counter-productive, given that I'm a subwoofer manufacturer!
I felt that there was a dichotomy in what you were saying: that I (nor anyone else) needs to go as low as 27 Hz because you cannot here it when a piano does it. Then, on the flip side, it was implied that when synth is at that low a Hz, that it shakes the house (without stating if that is a good thing or a bad thing). So I was not sure what to think that your thoughts on the subject are. Now that I know what type of things you manufacture, it makes sense to me. Prior to knowing that, I felt that I had to clarify my position on having that below average Hz of bass. I do not have an AVR & don't do the LFE thing, I just want to be able to reproduce what is there, be it whatever type of instrument it be. The ported boxes that I am using had relatively innocuous 12" woofers and was said to be tuned down to 29 Hz & up to 150 Hz. I replaced the woofers with a pair of Pioneer 12" dual 4 ohm voice coil car competition speakers that move a lot more air. I can play a 20 Hz test tone and with the bass tone control set at 2:00)my speakers play it.
 
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+1 with Duke on this one,

My biggest issue with "all in one" active monitors is they stuff all the electronics in one box. Not a big deal when doing a pair of speakers unless you really depend on them. Pearljam does not strike me as a person that purchases speakers and will remain content with them for many years--basically, purchase what the cool kids run an pitch them when they break. Not something I do, I don't run a pair of speakers any more.

Ya know--multi-channel with Atmos speakers in the ceiling thing. Think of the fun of having amps that need an AC line AND a signal line. Now throw four (or six) of them in the ceiling and give them power? How? No problem, just put wall outlets at the ceiling mounting points and run signal cables through conduit in the ceiling/walls and getter done! Sure, my wife might want to move the living room around, really easy to then put new outlets in the ceiling, patch the old holes then re-route the signal lines because you run those away from power and....

Don't forget the surrounds--be it a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 system or 7.1.6 system you need to power 13 speakers, 13 signal cables and make absolutely sure you have no ground loops because huuuuummmmm really negates any perceieved major increases with active filters. Some people do go through the hassle I guess, saw some really expensive HT systems with things like JBL M2 speakers for the LCR but the 10 surround speakers were passive so the amp rack contained ALL the amps in one spot with no ground loops and no outlets strewn around the ceiling. The JBL M2 speakers are fully actve but have outboard amplifiers that are placed in the amp rack then wired with conventional speaker cable.

Personally, I would prefer to have the amplifiers seperate in the rack then run conventional speaker cable from the amplifiers. Worked great in my PA days as I could swap amps quickly (had a spare in the rack) amps fail, lightning happens and I had a pair of transistors fail 10 minutes into a gig because... dookie happens. Amp swap took two minutes as the show must go on Sure, my car audio system was active with active filters, EQ and amplfiers with the drivers attached with conventional wire.

All electronics fail, just the name of the game and no brand is immune from that. Genelec assembles good boards but they only assemble them as they don't manufacture their own capacitors, inductors, transistors etc. as they buy them from other vendors. The older electronics are easier to repair because they used discrete components without many microprocessors--those days are long gone. They went the way of carbs on cars as they were replaced with SMT, coated boards and so on. Nothing wrong with SMDs, unless you want to fix/repair such things and not likely if you have blown processors or entire boards because the parts go obsolete rapidly. Yeah, even the mighty Genelec can't stop the parts companies from haulting parts production after a few years. The best they can do is stock spare boards but once they are gone--good luck on fixing that stuff. This is an issue with all electronics--you won't see a 2020 Toyota rolling down the road in 2050 as a daily driver--the plastic parts will be out of the inventory and you are stuck. Just the way it is so you design around it.

If I so choose, I can go active with no probems but would only do so with my LCR. I could do it with my surrounds but "the juice is not worth the squeeze" you could say. However, my LCR speakers easily belt out 120dB+ even with passive crossovers and they have the proper PEQ applied to get them smooth. I could gain something going active--maybe slightly better distortion by using steeper filters or something as I don't have any major issues with the speakers. After all, the subwoofers are active complete with delay, parametric EQ, high pass filters and low pass filters that work with the mains and my room acoustics.

Not sure why a person would think full active creates amazing things--it does improve what it can just like parametric EQ can only do what it can. Even full active monitors might need a bit of an adjustment with PEQ stock....and everything active needs to be EQ'd in the bass region in traditional rooms. Throw in the room throws out it's nasties and the beat goes on. If you have ever measured any speaker in a typical room, the chaos will become obvious no matter if passive, active or any speaker---the response goes to hell and must be addressed.

You can make any passive speaker active if you like. A bit of solder, use a 2 to 8 channel amp with full DSP and go. Since you need to measure anyway, not hard to get it all smooth for your room...once you know what you are doing. Active processing audio was common in car audio and PA systems over 30 years ago so not anything "new", not by a long shot. Heck, plenty of computer speakers were acive decades ago so they are not as leading edge as you think.

The reason passive speakers are still around is they work. PEQ is common and can be applied to passive speakers to cure the ills that EQ can fix. As with most things, once you are content with the sound then you press on with other things. Most people don't care about audio equipment, they just want it to sound good....then they press on with their lives. Now tell somebody that they need to run signal cables AND power to four or six locations in their ceiling and make sure they have outlets near their side/rear surrounds... I'm sure that would kill the sale quickly. For most people with most HT systems passive speakers are a superior option because of the power and signal issues. Most people would refuse to run new electrical lines,signal cable conduit through the walls just for something as basic as surround systems. Rather basic to run CL2 wire in your walls, it won't burn the house down and is simple to do. Other options are very thin/wide wire that you can paint over to hide it and so on. Try that with signal cables or extnsion cords.

Nothing wrong with Genelecs but they don't make speakers I can use in my HT system. If I had a much larger room and money to burn, it would not bother me to go full active LCR with JBL M2's--with outboard amps to fit in the rack all snugged up to the processor. Shame that most of the industry makes disposable speakers with the amps crammed into the boxes with ever looming warranty expiration dates and product replacement cycles. Not a big deal with just a pair of them, if you have 13 of them then you are tempting fate. If you want a full active system for HT, the obvious choice is eiher outboard amps with outboard processors or...a soundbar. Don't hate! Soundbars are active to stay with the cool kids. Realisticaly, if you want a full HT active system, you will be using actual HT speaker systems and processors so better have a big enough room to hold them.

I was asked about active speakers for PA and the speakers would be hung 20 feet in the air. They did not have electricity in those locations and they would need to run conduit for the XLR cables. I told them to price the cost for two outlets in the ceiling and the conduit for the signal cables and that cost more than the active speakers! Yeah, in their case using passive speakes and active subs with the amplifiers at ground level in a rack was far, far less expensive and allowed them to upgrade the passive speaker series. If/when they have an amplifier failure it can be swapped over in minutes so they can press on. Seems not a soul that worked there would want to fight a 75 pound active speaker 20 feet up on a ladder above flooring over concrete. Ten years later, the speakers are still there although they have added subwoofers, changed mixers and so on.

Just something to think about--the audio world is far, far larger than a pair of active speakers. Think bigger, grasshopper... :)
 

Duke

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I don't know if anyone already said this, but it is very easy to get into the business of manufacturing passive speakers.
This certainly applies to me. I became a speaker manufacturer after my brick-and-mortar store burned to the ground and the loss was not covered by insurance due to small-town politics. So I sold what little I had left and bought test equipment.

Crossover and port design is well documented and both are simple to make.
Passive crossover design is easy. Good passive crossover design is not.

Going active, especially with DSP adds at least two levels of complexity, and likely requires larger production runs, more engineering expertise and more investment.
I've done a couple of active designs for other manufacturers, but have no plans to ever manufacture an active loudspeaker myself.

The reason is, I feel an obligation to be able to service what I manufacture. I would be at the mercy of my suppliers if THEIR electronics failed, which means that MY CUSTOMERS would be at the mercy of a third party. One of my best friends is a competitor in the prosound world, that happened to him, and it was an expensive and reputation-damaging nightmare.
 
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LTig

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I But for the big main monitors, preference among the experienced leaned towards passive monitors, or towards active monitors with external amplifiers. .
AFAIK almost all big active studio monitors either use external amplification or offer this as option. Reason behind this is that this kind of monitor usually is mounted in wall where airflow for cooling is missing.
 

ctrl

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The best of both worlds would be a speaker with separate inputs for each driver and a passive crossover that could be easily toggled with a switch. You could use a single amp to drive it like a regular passive speaker or separately amplify each driver.

Honestly, I would prefer that speakers came with the inputs to independently drive each driver and dropped the crossover entirely. It would have the advantages of active designs while still letting you choose the electronics. Active crossovers are better these days, and there's no sense spending money on a complex passive crossover that you're not going to use.
Nice if it were that simple, but loudspeaker design doesn't work that way ;)
Linearize the drivers actively and adjust the level, then set the filter at the desired crossover frequency is not enough.
This would work for very few speakers.

Manufacturers would have to provide the active filter design as a download, which they will certainly never do - unless it is ensured that users cannot decipher the filter design.
 
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Pearljam5000

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Claiming that a studio monitor can't be fixed in 20 Years if it breaks can be said pretty much about any electronic device.
 
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Just curious about owners of 7.1 systems with active monitors. How do you turn your system on and off? I assume at turn-on that you turn your pre-pro on first. Then apparently you walk around to each of 7 active speakers and turn them on via the switch on the back? I wouldn't want to do that. I'd want a system with 12V triggers that turn the amps on and off automatically when the pre-pro is turned on and off, eliminating turn-on and turn-off thumps in the process. How many active monitors have 12V trigger inputs (and outputs for daisy-chaining)? None that I know of. But if there are, I'd like to know about them.

Even better, what if you have ceiling speakers? Do you bring in a ladder for the occasion? I get the advantages of active monitors and I like the idea of them. But how many active monitor manufacturers have made even a rudimentary attempt to deal with these mundane and obvious issues?
 

Sancus

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Just curious about owners of 7.1 systems with active monitors. How do you turn your system on and off?
My whole system is active. The Genelecs and KH80s automatically turn on when they sense a signal. It's a feature that I feel basically all actives should have, but many don't. Some Focals have it as well, iirc.

I should note, it's not really all that hard to use smart power strips or 12V triggered power strips to do the same thing if need be.
 
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Purité Audio

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Not every contemporary active speaker have the electronics built in, the new GGNTKT for example, traditionally actives always had separate electronics.
Keith
 

Frank Dernie

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Claiming that a studio monitor can't be fixed in 20 Years if it breaks can be said pretty much about any electronic device.
Not so.
It probably will be a correct statement in 20 years when the surface mount DSP run electronics can not be replaced because what we are doing NOW is building in obsolesence, but of the HiFi kit I still have (I am a hoarder and pretty well never sell anything) all of it could be repaired if it went wrong except the most recent stuff which, you guessed it, have surface mount pcb and digital chips which would need a board change to repair.
I have 14 amps here, only 2 would not be repairable without needing board change.
My 2 pairs of active speakers are 20 and 5 years old. They both still work but probably are not repairable if they fail, the more recent one because of the design, the old one because the drivers are custom made and not available any more, though an equivalent may be possible.
In a way it is fine for cheap fashion label items because people change them due to change in fashion or marketing twist well before they stop working, if for one of the most expensive things you are going to buy, and keep for decades, it is most certainly not IMHO.
 

Frank Dernie

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Just curious about owners of 7.1 systems with active monitors. How do you turn your system on and off? I assume at turn-on that you turn your pre-pro on first. Then apparently you walk around to each of 7 active speakers and turn them on via the switch on the back? I wouldn't want to do that. I'd want a system with 12V triggers that turn the amps on and off automatically when the pre-pro is turned on and off, eliminating turn-on and turn-off thumps in the process. How many active monitors have 12V trigger inputs (and outputs for daisy-chaining)? None that I know of. But if there are, I'd like to know about them.

Even better, what if you have ceiling speakers? Do you bring in a ladder for the occasion? I get the advantages of active monitors and I like the idea of them. But how many active monitor manufacturers have made even a rudimentary attempt to deal with these mundane and obvious issues?
Personally I think home theatre is a different market entirely (to the sort of thing I thought we are discussing) so I can see why anybody with one would stick to passive speakers.
 
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Personally I think home theatre is a different market entirely (to the sort of thing I thought we are discussing) so I can see why anybody with one would stick to passive speakers.
Okay, but then the question of "Why do passive speakers still exist?" becomes, "Why do home theater systems still exist?". Much of the rational approach to audio has its roots in the home theater world (e.g. satellites and multiple subs rather than full-range speakers as being preferred) .

I'm a two-channel guy myself, and would never want to put up with reaching behind speakers to turn them on and off.
 

Purité Audio

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If there was a passive speaker that could match the performance of the active designs I enjoy, I would stock them, SBIR types offer real advantages for the majority of listeners in largely untreated domestic rooms, that’s it.
Keith
 

Frank Dernie

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Okay, but then the question of "Why do passive speakers still exist?" becomes, "Why do home theater systems still exist?". Much of the rational approach to audio has its roots in the home theater world (e.g. satellites and multiple subs rather than full-range speakers as being preferred) .

I'm a two-channel guy myself, and would never want to put up with reaching behind speakers to turn them on and off.
I am old, when I started listening to music on quality music systems a lot of enthusiasts had not moved to stereo yet. For most of my life stereo has been the way to listen to music at good quality levels at home.
I have little interest in films but have bought a HT processor and tried a 5.1 system. I know a few people for whom the superior spatial reproduction of multi-channel music recordings is a huge bonus and they have invested the extra treble the money to achieve it. For me, with all good quality but not at the level of my main speakers, the extra 3 speakers and sub definitely add impact for films, but that is a twice per month benefit and certainly not worth the investment in more even better quality speakers.
That is just me, I seek timbral accuracy in the mainly acoustic music I enjoy most.
OTOH if I want to use the HT I do have to go behind centre, surround and sub to switch them on!
 
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Wombat

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I like my passive loudspeakers. I am a passive listener. Having built speakers I am completely happy with, I no longer listen for faults. No need to 'upgrade'. Just enjoy the music.
 

Frank Dernie

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mhardy6647

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So, now I am even more intrigued as to how to pronounce Genelec! And here I've always thought it was Gen-ə-lec (primary emphasis on the first syllable, secondary empahsis on the schwa).

Genius Electronics* -- at least where I live, genius is pronounced with a long e sound...
so... it's Geen-elec, is it? or is it Gene-lec (two syllables)? And which syllable gets the emphasis?

Man, this globalization stuff is hard! ;)

____________
* Hmm... Genius Electronics -- maybe that's a candidate for the pretentious audio components thread?
 
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