Electronic vs passive crossovers

January 10, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

7 comments on “Electronic vs passive crossovers”

  1. What’s missing from the explanation probably due to the length of time of the explanation is the pluses and minuses of each type of crossover and like everything each type has its advantages and disadvantages. And due to the short length of my reply I’m going to simply postulate that ultimately, sound reproduction wise, the rarely used electronic crossover, when designed for quality reproduction, is superior.

    1. Good afternoon Hahax!
      You happen to be correct about that!
      Because, think about this.
      You have first order, second order, and third order.
      And these types of crossovers, aren’t just passave.
      The electronic or if you will, active crossovers, are the same way too.
      The only thing that’s different, is one is in between the loud speaker and the amplifier.
      The active one, is before the amplifier.
      But what there’s no clear understanding of, is this.
      What is the difference between first second and third order crossovers?
      I would really love for Paul to brake this down for all of us.

      1. You’ve forgotten the most popular order, fourth order. The famous Linkwitz/Riley is usually forth order(it can be second order).

        The main reason active crossovers are better are the amp only has to drive the voice coil, not a complex, harder to drive passive crossover. And there are other advantages too, Of course the big disadvantage is extra amps adding to system complexity and especially to cost.

        1. Good morning Hahax!
          I never knew there was a fourth order crossover.
          Thank you for calling that to my attention!
          I have encountered the three that I spoke of yesterday afternoon.
          But the fourth order crossover, I’ve never heard of it before until now.
          You just gave me some home work to do.
          Again, thank you for this ted bit of information!

  2. I started my hi-fi journey with a bi-amped speaker system. It had an internal 60W for the 15” cone, and a 30W for a segmented horn.
    The benefits have been clear to me with that arrangement, and as I migrated toward newer and higher-fi gear, I stayed with bi-amplification with a powered sub and excellent class A Tandberg mono-blocs for the kids and highs (of course there were passing XO between mid and hi.
    Ahead another several years, I have a hybrid setup with passive floor standers, and powered sub.
    Pros and cons…
    Electronic (active) XOs don’t need to handle the higher currents involved in the outputs of power amps, and likely have more ability to correct the phasing of the passive.
    Pros and cons.

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