Active vs. passive crossovers

May 7, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

12 comments on “Active vs. passive crossovers”

  1. Bring them on! How about optionally active? The floor standing cabinets should provide sufficient room to add the active filter and amplifier. Especially with the Stellar series, which utilizes the compact and relatively cool (low temperature) operating class d end stages, with class A pre stages.
    I understand that you do not seek the challenge to integrate the BHK with tube pre stage into the AN series of speakers.

    1. Paul said they might build an all active speaker sometime in the future. It would make sense these days. Maybe even offer an optional Bluetooth with the speakers.

      1. I am all for active, but the filters (bass coupler-mid-high) should always remain analog, DSP’s mean additional A-D and D-A PCM conversion and as such make the DSD source issue redundant. It is impossible to perform DSP in DSD signals. This is why I would not opt wireless DSP speakers. However I’d really like to connect the speakers directly to the Stellar Gain Cell DAC and safe the space in my stereo rack for Stellar sources like a Stellar Memory Player (DSD/CD DSP and streamer, incl Bluetooth) and phono stage. I do find optical estatics important and Stellar enclosures look best stacked max. 3 components. But that is only a I divisible opinion off course.

        Another argument for active speakers is, as somebody else mentioned, they solve speaker cable issues and costs.

        1. Do the AN speakers use passive crossovers in both the subwoofer and bass coupler? Is DSP used in the AN subwoofer? I wasn’t sure if Paul said he would use DSP in the bass coupler if he designed an all active speaker or not. I know he wants to stay away from DSP in the midrange and tweeters if and when he builds that speaker. Makes sense to use passive filters in all but the subwoofer. The bass coupler is in a critical area that you don’t want to mess around using DSP.

          1. I checked with Paul, sub and bass coupler are DSP driven. That helps with making the speaker room or close to the wall friendly as well supports the servo control of the sub better.
            PCM conversion resulting from DSP has no negative effect on the low frequencies. DSD becomes effective from the mid up. I really like that concept, budget won’t suffice for the AN but if this technology triples down into the Stellar series, that is a serious set to safe up for.

          2. At one point early in the development of the AN3 we were planning on using DSP for both the subwoofer and the midbass coupler. After many hours of listening and fooling around, we chose to remove the DSP path for the midbass coupler and went analog.

            So, for the moment, AN3 is DSP only in the subwoofer area. All this subject to change as we work on perfecting this beauty.

  2. Paul was it difficult to design the AN without the built in amplifier powering the bass coupler? Was it all about synergy that would be missing if the users amplifier drove the bass coupler?

    1. We have always amplified the midbass coupler from day one so I am not sure I can really answer your question since we never tried it without amplification.

      From day one we copied Arnie’s idea of an amplified midbass coupler which is, in my opinion, one of the cleverest and most useful tools he invented. Arnie was adamant about the coupler and how it helps tune any speaker to the room and he was right.

      1. I agree especially when the only other woofer is a big side firing subwoofer which is not exactly the right size to produce upper bass and lower mids, nor is it located in a place on the lower sides of the speaker to accurately produce upper bass and lower mids that are directional unlike non directional sub bass frequencies. I have a four way speaker system myself with the same concept. I love the sound.

      2. My thought was if the bass coupler was driven by the users main amplifier then there might be better synergy with the speakers bass coupler, midrange, tweeters and the users main amplifier. Especially now that I hear you decided not to use DSP in the bass coupler so you might lose the synergy between the sub and the bass coupler. Are there two separate amplifiers built into the AN3 one for the subwoofer and one for the bass coupler or only one amplifier powering both drivers? If two you could cut some costs by taking one out.

      3. I know your goal is to free the main amplifier of driving all of the lows. Maybe assigning the users main amplifier to drive the bass coupler would not relieve the main amplifier of enough work? I think the crossover is at 70Hz, you could always raise the crossover point of the Subwoofer to 100Hz. That would relieve some of the load on the bass coupler and the users main amplifier or you can go with a 6.5 inch bass coupler for better speed. Just an idea. I could be wrong but you never know unless you try.

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