Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Why Active Speakers

Imagine putting the onion on a cake.

Things work well if they are well balanced. Audiophiles dedicate their whole life to experiment with different combinations of loudspeakers, amplifiers, preamplifiers, cables, etc. More separate boxes mean more fun for them and more money for manufacturers, so everyone is happy. Everyone? Well, if you just want to enjoy accurate reproduction of your favorite music and don't want to spend the whole family budget on it, that is not the right path for you, is it?

utopia loudspeakers
Focal Grande Utopia (180.000 US$ Pair)

If  you are a music lover more than an audiophile, you are looking for a well balanced combination of parts and devices, working together their best way. While amplifiers are a part of active (powered) loudspeakers, not a separated device, they can be balanced to work best with loudspeakers (drivers and boxes).

For  appropriate  reproduction of high and low frequencies, most loudspeakers have more than one driver (tweeter, woofer, etc.). Before sent to drivers, signal from the amplifier is divided on a circuit called crossover. With active loudspeakers, crossover divides signal before amplifying it, so every driver has it's own amplifier, adapted to it.

WAVAC HE-833Monoblock (72.000 US$ each)

Acoustic resonance is the tendency of an acoustic system to absorb more energy when it is forced or driven at a frequency that matches one of its own natural frequencies of vibration (its resonance frequency) than it does at other frequencies (Wikipedia). It means, that loudspeaker box will emphasize certain frequencies. With active speakers, we can filter and equalize those frequencies before amplifying them and achive much better results than with an amplifier adapted to "any" loudspeakers.

With all this we can adapt components one to another and achieve great results for a far lower price than the "audiophile" way. No wonder, most studio monitors are active loudspeakers - professionals don't have time to experiment.

First impression

To enjoy high quality music reproduction we usually talk about 5 figure numbers, some of us just can't effort. Do it yourself can drastic lower the price, but we are still talking about few thousand Euros and a big problem to build an amplifier and speakers, which will play together well. Luckily Mr. Siegfrid Linkwitz, an ingenious engineer from San Francisco developed affordable speakers with astonishing sound, which plans he generous shares with the Internet community. For less than 1000 Euros and of course some skills, time and trouble, you can convert your living room into an amazing concert hall.

I finished my pair of Pluto 1.0 last Friday night and just can't stop listening to them!

As said in Audio CriticSiegfried Linkwitz is a quadruple threat. He is (1) a world-class electronics designer, (2) a uniquely original thinker on the subject of loudspeaker systems, (3) a very serious music lover, and (4) more interested in advancing the art than in making a lot of money.