Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Cables, Power, Tweaks, Speakers, Accessories (DBT-Free Forum) › Questions on Passive and Active Speakers
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Questions on Passive and Active Speakers

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey,

I know passive speakers requires an amp to power and actives don't but is that all the differences? Are they built basically using the same parts but adding an internal amp/dac in the active ones? I am just confused because some people say passives gives better SQ, is it because the speaker itself or the external amp/dac you are using? For example, the Audioengine A2+ and P4 speakers, what are their differences in terms of SQ besides the larger woofer size on the P4? They are both $249 while the P4 requires additional amp and dac. What are the advantages of using the P4 over A2+?

 

Appreciate your time.


Edited by jay628 - 6/11/14 at 7:57pm
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay628 View Post
 

Hey,

I know passive speakers requires an amp to power and actives don't but is that all the differences? Are they built basically using the same parts but adding an internal amp/dac in the active ones? I am just confused because some people say passives gives better SQ, is it because the speaker itself or the external amp/dac you are using? For example, the Audioengine A2+ and P4 speakers, what are their differences in terms of SQ besides the larger woofer size on the P4? They are both $249 while the P4 requires additional amp and dac. What are the advantages of using the P4 over A2+?

 

Appreciate your time.

People say passives have better sound because there are very few higher-end active speakers.  Most active speakers are designed as computer speakers (the Audioengines) or as studio monitors.  That doesn't mean that they won't sound good in a hi-fi setting.  There's nothing intrinsically better or worse about active vs passive.  However, passive speakers give you more control over your system sound, as you can choose the amp and DAC yourself (for example, matching a bright amplifier with warm speakers).

 

The P4 has the same tweeter as the A2+ but a bigger woofer.  The P4 + N22 combination has more bass extension than the A2, but shares a similar mid-range and treble sound signature as the A2.  It's possible the P4's can sound different with other amplifiers.

 

Compared to the larger A5+, the  P4 + N22 combo had a more neutral sound with less lower midrange and bass emphasis.  The P4 + N22 combo costs quite a bit more than the A5+.  I personally think the A2+ and A5+ are better values.

 

If you go for a P4, remember that you'll need an amp and a DAC, or an amp/DAC combo.  In this respect, the A2+ are a very good package in that they contain a halfway decent USB DAC (although I think the entry level USB "stick" DACs like the Audioengine D3 or the Audioquest Dragonfly are significantly better).

 

IMO, all Audioengine speakers need to be lifted off of the table surface to sound their best.  Try yoga foam blocks or books if you don't have small speaker stands.  Six or eight inches should be good.  The small angled rubber Audioengine "stands" are not adequate!


Edited by dizzyorange - 6/11/14 at 8:39pm
post #3 of 9

Active playback systems are intrinsically better. All professional grade and most high end  'audiophile'  systems are active and have been for the best part of 30 years.

 

However a prospective buyer needs to be aware of the difference between true actives and the common practice of putting the amplifiers(s) in the same box as the loudspeaker itself.

 

Active and passive are types of crossover.

 

In an active system the incoming signal is split into 2 or more bands before being sent to the amplifiers. There is one amplifier per speaker cone. Usually in small or mid range parts the amps are included in the same cabinet as the speakers but not always. In high powered, top of the range systems the amps and crossovers can be kept separate.

 

In a system with a passive crossover the incoming signal is first amplified and then sent to the speaker cones via the crossover. The amplifier is usually housed in a separate box. Not always though. A passive system with the amp in one of the speaker cabinets is called a powered system.

 

The advantages of active should be obvious. No power lost as heat in the crossover and an amp specifically designed and tuned for each individual cone. The disadvantage is added cost over passives.

 

The advantages of self powered (both active and passive) is the that they should be cheaper for the same quality due to economies of scale. Selling one product rather than two. The disadvantage is that if it is done too cheaply the proximity of the transformers for the amp and the speaker cone itself leads to higher self noise.

 

So if money is no object active speakers with the amps and crossover located remotely would be best. Leading brands of actives with the amps in the cabinets are also excellent in the near and mid field role. 

 

If you are buying on an limited budget powered systems are almost always better value than separates. 

 

The trick is what to do in the middle range. Sometimes a passive system will sound better for the same money than the equivalent active alternative if the manufacturer has cut too many corners to hit a price point.

 

The bottom end of the true active speaker market is defined by Mackie, Yamaha and JBL. So if you have ~$500 and up to spend then buy active monitors. If you have less than ~$250 buy powered monitors. In between it might make sense to either save up a bit longer or buy separate amp and speakers with a passive crossover.

 

 

ed: rd spl :(


Edited by RonaldDumsfeld - 6/12/14 at 4:47am
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by dizzyorange View Post

People say passives have better sound because there are very few higher-end active speakers.  Most active speakers are designed as computer speakers (the Audioengines) or as studio monitors.  That doesn't mean that they won't sound good in a hi-fi setting.  There's nothing intrinsically better or worse about active vs passive.

Agreed. There are fanatics that will insist one or the other is better. Sort of depends. There are active speakers that are a good price/performance value, and there are passive ones that are. And then your individual listening tastes will be a big factor as well in which ever you like best.

Before going with the P4, I would suggest looking around at other passive speakers options. P4s are mainly popular with people that know of the Audioengine brand name (or those that are loyal to it). There are many other passive speakers out there smily_headphones1.gif
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Can you suggest some of the passive speakers around $200? I am fairly new to speakers, I guess my Magni/Modi won't suffice if I go for passive?

post #6 of 9
The Modi and Magni would work the same whether you go with passive or powered speakers.

I know that these EMP Teks are good for $225: http://emptek.com/e5bi.php

If you want to find out the best deals on passive speakers, I suggest AVS forums speakers forum area. They are to speakers as head-fi is to headphones.
post #7 of 9

You don't drive any speaker with the Mangi unless it's a headphone.

 

The Modi is a perfectly apt digital to analog convert that can source headphone amps, speaker amps, active speakers, etc. 

 

I use a Modi with an rca splitter to to drive my Magni+headphones and/or my active monitors. I have the recently discontinued Samson Mediaone 4a's and I suspect they fit in your price range if you can still find them in stock. I use mine with an active 2-way crossover with a powered subwoofer.

 

Cheers

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay628 View Post
 

Can you suggest some of the passive speakers around $200? I am fairly new to speakers, I guess my Magni/Modi won't suffice if I go for passive?

 

What kind of music do you like?  And do you want a balanced speaker, something bassy and fun, or something resolving and airy?

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

I mainly listen to indie rock/rock, something like the Arcade Fire, The National, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc. I listen to some dubstep too. I guess I will like something bassy and fun. ( I really like the sound of my HE 400)

Thanks everyone for their explanation and suggestions!


Edited by jay628 - 6/16/14 at 5:48pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Cables, Power, Tweaks, Speakers, Accessories (DBT-Free Forum) › Questions on Passive and Active Speakers