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Will passive speakers be quieter?

Digby

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I'm sitting here at my desk, about 85cm away from active speakers and it has got to the point where the only source of audible noise (from PC, hdds, and so on) is from the speakers (Behringer B2031A). There is a mild hiss coming from the tweeter, but it is annoying when beautiful silence is but a button click away. No music then though. Will passive speakers be noticeably quieter, if I have decent enough (how decent?) amplification.

I did have some Genelec speakers and the noise was the same level from those. There is no humming or squeaking noises when moving windows on screen, so I think I am running up against "baseline" active speaker noise.
 

abdo123

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Yes. That's probably their only advantage.

But make sure to buy decent amplification with low noise floor.
 

NiagaraPete

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I'm sitting here at my desk, about 85cm away from active speakers and it has got to the point where the only source of audible noise (from PC, hdds, and so on) is from the speakers (Behringer B2031A). There is a mild hiss coming from the tweeter, but it is annoying when beautiful silence is but a button click away. No music then though. Will passive speakers be noticeably quieter, if I have decent enough (how decent?) amplification.

I did have some Genelec speakers and the noise was the same level from those. There is no humming or squeaking noises when moving windows on screen, so I think I am running up against "baseline" active speaker noise.
I tried a pair of Kali LP8’s and the noise across the room was awful.
 

DVDdoug

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All amplifiers (and active analog electronics) generate some noise, but it's not always audible. And of course, it's worse when you're close to the speakers.

Is the noise gone when the speakers are on but disconnected from the speakers? If so, you have noise coming from the soundcard.

If not the noise is coming from the amplifier built-into the speakers. In that case a separate amplifier and passive speakers might be better, or worse.
 
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Digby

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Is the noise gone when the speakers are on but disconnected from the speakers? If so, you have noise coming from the soundcard.
Just checked with XLR in and out, same noise at the same level. RME interface - everything is on the same power strip, can't hear anything unusual (squealing/hum), so likely the internal amp noise?
 

tonycollinet

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Just checked with XLR in and out, same noise at the same level. RME interface - everything is on the same power strip, can't hear anything unusual (squealing/hum), so likely the internal amp noise?
You can't tell it is the internal amp, until you have disconnected all inputs. Just the speakers, power and nothing else connected. Do they still hiss?
 

HarmonicTHD

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I'm sitting here at my desk, about 85cm away from active speakers and it has got to the point where the only source of audible noise (from PC, hdds, and so on) is from the speakers (Behringer B2031A). There is a mild hiss coming from the tweeter, but it is annoying when beautiful silence is but a button click away. No music then though. Will passive speakers be noticeably quieter, if I have decent enough (how decent?) amplification.

I did have some Genelec speakers and the noise was the same level from those. There is no humming or squeaking noises when moving windows on screen, so I think I am running up against "baseline" active speaker noise.
Yes that was the main reason I bought the Neumanns KH80 with the newer D class amps as the Genelec idling hiss drove me nuts on my desk.
 
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Digby

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You can't tell it is the internal amp, until you have disconnected all inputs. Just the speakers, power and nothing else connected. Do they still hiss?
Yeah, I meant with the XLR cable in and out (disconnected) and only power cable attached. Yes, sadly they do still hiss.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Passive speakers do not generate noise on their own. Whether a combination of passive speaker and outboard amplifier will be less hissy depends entirely on the electronics driving the speaker. A cheapie Amazon $49 amplifier will probably hiss. Also, the hiss does not necessarily come from the power amplifier itself; it can come from upstream components. Buying quality electronics is the first thing I would do.
 
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Digby

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Seeing as I like the sound of the B2031A and the passive version seems elusive, I was thinking of trying the B2030P. The B2030A seems to use 125w amps, so are there any cheap as chips recommendations for amplification with similar wattage for the B2030P?
 

McFly

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Speaking generally, its not always the amplifiers fault, but it can be improved with a better amplifier:

Active speakers have hiss or static noise because the amplifiers are connected directly to the drivers. The tweeter, generally, is much more sensitive than the mid or woofers, and can make the amplifiers noise floor audible from the tweeter as a hiss or static. This can also be made worse if the tweeter has a waveguide. (There is an exception to this, some active speakers contain 1x amplifier channel per speaker, split through a high level passive crossover inside the speaker before each driver creating the next scenario)

Passive speakers almost always have a resistor in series with the tweeter in the crossover network inside the speaker to bring the tweeters sensitivity down to match the output of the woofer, a positive consequence of this being any external connected amplifiers self noise is attenuated (sometimes in the order of 3-10db) at the tweeter and the "hiss" is barely audible, if at all.

But yes, also generally, external amplifiers have better noise floor characteristics than those of amplifiers built on plates for active speakers. But I refer to "hi-fi" amplifiers, not pro amplifiers like high power crown class D's.
 

gnarly

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Ime, active hiss is pretty much always a result of not having proper gain staging in place.
With high sensitivity drivers, it's important to keep line level high all the way to amp inputs. Which means using less amp gain.
If the amp has variable input attenuation like pro amps, it's easy. If not the line level signal needs to be padded down, going into amp.
 

gfx_1

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I have passive speakers on my desk, no hiss at normal volume. I have to put my ears against the tweeters to hear it, at arm length I don't hear it.
Have used a couple of Marantz amplifiers and now an Iotavx, Ditched a pair of active Teufel speakers because the hiss was annoying.
I read a lot of complaining about KRK active ones.
 

gnarly

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Yeah, i hear you ... but i do think the problem with hiss in small active home speakers is the manufacturers simply don't go to the trouble to use proper gain staging.
There's just no reason to have any hiss.... hiss has a 90% probability of being line level noise being amplified. Not amp noise.
 

AnalogSteph

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OP, you'll probably want to check out this thread.

IIRC the B2031As are in fact known for a bit of hiss. High input sensitivity may be one culprit here, I've seen requests for modding advice because input trim range (which is only 12 dB) was found to be insufficient. Possibly not the last word in gain staging in general. On the upside, schematics are available.

At only 0,85 m, they're rather oversized anyway. That's little more than the bare minimum distance for an 8" 2-way. B2031As still do a good job as home theater speakers at up to 2.5 m. That woofer is a bit of a beast.

The passive Behringers had rather modest, low-order crossovers if memory serves, to the point where a XO mod for the B2031P was developed around 2008. (Mind you, they were cheap as chips, too - like 179€ for the pair or something? So you could afford to invest some parts and elbow grease.)

I tried a pair of Kali LP8’s and the noise across the room was awful.
Yeah, the 1st gen Kalis are pretty notorious for that. Fortunately, all the 2nd wave models are much improved in this respect and now actually are among the quietest you can get. I might give the IN-5 or IN-8 2nd Wave a look if KH120s are a bit too spendy.
 
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Digby

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Ime, active hiss is pretty much always a result of not having proper gain staging in place.
With high sensitivity drivers, it's important to keep line level high all the way to amp inputs. Which means using less amp gain.
If the amp has variable input attenuation like pro amps, it's easy. If not the line level signal needs to be padded down, going into amp.
I have the speakers set to the lowest input setting on the back, they are rather too loud set at 0. This does help reduce noise, but not eliminate it.

There's just no reason to have any hiss.... hiss has a 90% probability of being line level noise being amplified. Not amp noise.
Is that even the case when you remove the input. I did that and noise was the same. It is the amplifier then, no?

At only 0,85 m, they're rather oversized anyway. That's little more than the bare minimum distance for an 8" 2-way. B2031As still do a good job as home theater speakers at up to 2.5 m. That woofer is a bit of a beast.

The passive Behringers had rather modest, low-order crossovers if memory serves, to the point where a XO mod for the B2031P was developed around 2008. (Mind you, they were cheap as chips, too - like 179€ for the pair or something? So you could afford to invest some parts and elbow grease.)
Yes, I think smaller speakers might improve imaging. It is somewhat like wearing a pair of huge headphones, which is nice, in its own way.

How did the XO mod improve things with the B2031P?

I was thinking B2030P (if it has similar sound signature to B2031A, then I will like it) + Topping PA5. Total will be somewhere around £450. I wonder whether there is anything active that can compete, both on sound quality, but particularly on noise. It is a waste of time to buy better active speakers around £500 and have them be audible at 0.85m.

Everything else is below the noise floor, which at night is very low. I doubt most monitors, cheap or expensive, take into account such low noise levels; with lots of studio equipment around you will always have some extraneous noise, so for manufacturers self noise is not a priority.
 

clearnfc

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I'm sitting here at my desk, about 85cm away from active speakers and it has got to the point where the only source of audible noise (from PC, hdds, and so on) is from the speakers (Behringer B2031A). There is a mild hiss coming from the tweeter, but it is annoying when beautiful silence is but a button click away. No music then though. Will passive speakers be noticeably quieter, if I have decent enough (how decent?) amplification.

I did have some Genelec speakers and the noise was the same level from those. There is no humming or squeaking noises when moving windows on screen, so I think I am running up against "baseline" active speaker noise.

Try disconnecting all the inputs and see if the noise persist. If so, its noise from the electronics in the speakers and not the source.

Passie speakers still require power from an amplifier. So, there will be still some hiss.
 

MattJ

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Highly efficient speakers are more likely to pass noise through them. The amp itself also (may) makes noise.
 
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