Passive aggressive

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The vast majority of loudspeakers use passive means to separate frequencies. Capacitors, resistors, coils, do the work of splitting music into two, three, four, sometimes five separate paths to individual drivers. This separation allows the best suited driver to handle a specific range of music: large woofers for bass, smaller woofers for midbass, midranges for the next range, tweeters and super tweeters from the tweeting duties. I have met few speaker designers who, in private, wouldn't prefer to have more control over their speakers than that which passive components provide. Some of the more adventurous have added electronic crossovers, DSP, built in amplifiers, etc. They would be in the minority. After all the years of building and selling speakers, only the built in subwoofer has gained begrudging acceptance—and then only from a handful of brave manufacturers. Perhaps most speaker buyers don't like AC cords coming out of their speaker boxes? Seems we like our speakers in the same way chefs like their ingredients. Raw and untouched. Designers argue the benefits of active speakers till they are blue in the face, yet sell nearly no powered models. In the second phase of this series, I'll take a look at some of the reasons this might be so, what is good and what is perceived as not so good. Stay tuned.
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Paul McGowan

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