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passive vs powered (or active) monitors
Old 11th July 2018
  #1
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passive vs powered (or active) monitors

I was looking to some alternative monitors for my set up (mostly TV mixing) and noticed that "powered" or "active" monitors have pretty much taken over the market. In the hifi and mastering world separate amps and passive speakers seem to be what everyone has, music studios some of each. Most of the theatre speakers I've seen up close are passive w/amps, but is that not true in general so much now? Are people building rooms with Atmos or other technology that requires a lot of speakers with passives or powered types? My small experience has been that we've had casualties with all the powered monitors we've had in here over many years, always the amps; while the passive setups have chugged on for decades w/o issues.
Old 11th July 2018
  #2
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Where I am, we have a mix of both - some rooms are passive and some are active. In our case, it mostly has to do with what was available at the time and not a quality difference. My room uses passive JBL 708is in a 7.1.4 configuration. The other rooms here are 708ps. Minimal difference really between the two.

The installation of the powered speakers was much easier than the active ones.

Randall


Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
I was looking to some alternative monitors for my set up (mostly TV mixing) and noticed that "powered" or "active" monitors have pretty much taken over the market. In the hifi and mastering world separate amps and passive speakers seem to be what everyone has, music studios some of each. Most of the theatre speakers I've seen up close are passive w/amps, but is that not true in general so much now? Are people building rooms with Atmos or other technology that requires a lot of speakers with passives or powered types? My small experience has been that we've had casualties with all the powered monitors we've had in here over many years, always the amps; while the passive setups have chugged on for decades w/o issues.
Old 11th July 2018
  #3
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In my little room it was far easier to run just a speaker cable to each unit than to run both an audio line and an AC line to each position... I guess built-in amps is the deal now--I noticed that even the biggest baddest Meyers have internal amps. It's just a much bigger bummer to get a spare of a powered monitor, and I don't understand the greater attrition rate we have with those. I mean, our "separates" have been on for years at a time in some cases... But on RSPE's site (for instance) there was only one non-powered monitor that I saw, so I guess the industry has spoken.
Old 11th July 2018
  #4
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can't really blame the manufacturers trying to sell us active speakers: the built in amps (although mostly oem) seem to match the drivers pretty well and i doubt that buying external amps would be less expensive - however, i like having all components separated and can decide for myself what gear i wanna use.

i've been using my passive coax tannoy's with all different kind of amps for years before settling on lake/lamb amps; slightly over the top you might say, but they never sounded better!
Old 12th July 2018
  #5
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The advantage with Powered Speakers ( for example all the Meyers at "The Dub Stage") is that they have factory crossovers and amps that are designed by the factory. They are optimized by the designer. I find I prefer it that way.
Old 12th July 2018
  #6
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I've read all the talk, marketing and otherwise about how much better it is for us to have the amps be part of the speaker, ie from the same Co designed by them and all. But I'm having reservations about going that way again, partly due to my ongoing internal-amp-death body count. Have I been unlucky? Or do those little amps get stressed more by being inside the box, or other factors relating to their design?
Old 12th July 2018
  #7
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dr.sound's Avatar
 

I think you need to look at the speakers that you have used and the issues with them. Are they a common issue?
For example, I have (and Love) my JBL 6328's.
I had an issue on one amp of the trio that happened when it was less than a month old when bought new, right as they came out.
After it was fixed I have had zero issue. They sound great and translate extremely well.
Old 12th July 2018
  #8
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I still have my LSR28Ps (the model before the 6328Ps) that have been in use for over fifteen years now. I had to replace a driver that i managed to break ten years ago. That’s it so far.
We bought seven 5.1 sets of 4326s in 2013 with subs. We have had two of them break so far. Two out of thirty five isn’t that bad is it?

But today, I think I’d chose to go with 708i. And for one reason only (over tgenpowered model that is), to get the amps out of the studio. It’s just so stupid having to increase the need for quiet cooling to just deal with all those amps in studios. It’s so much smarter to keep them out, cost and installation wise.

But OTOH, I agree that a well matched integrated amp is a lot better than a bad mismatched external one.
Old 12th July 2018
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr.sound View Post
The advantage with Powered Speakers ( for example all the Meyers at "The Dub Stage") is that they have factory crossovers and amps that are designed by the factory. They are optimized by the designer. I find I prefer it that way.
This. Also they are very convenient.
Old 12th July 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanmonkey View Post
This. Also they are very convenient.
They don't seem more convenient to me...having to run AC power to each position vs not. I'm talking about speakers that never move, not speakers that are being moved from session to session. The heat is a bit of an issue too...
Old 12th July 2018
  #11
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I would agree that it's not more convenient, and that the heat can be an issue. My timeline may be off, but I seem to recall that the move to powered studio monitors followed the move to powered sound reinforcement loudspeakers, where Meyer paved the way by first offering products that relied on system processors that were much more than crossovers and gave amazing performance by monitoring input vs. output of whichever amps you had in your racks, adjusted accordingly and inaudibly, and protected your system against the heavy-handed. Meyer then upped the performance by integrating the amps into the cabinets which allowed for much better damping of the drivers by eliminating the cable run. This had the collateral effect of eliminating all of the amp racks from the trucks, reduced your cable weight and connector costs substantially, and your powered speakers still fit in the same road cases as your previous unpowered series. Segue to studio monitors, where impressive performance at reduced cost vs. roll your own can be had without the built-in expense and compromise of power-handling crossovers. But tell that to the mastering guys....
Old 12th July 2018
  #12
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The flip side of this could also be true. In my room, my amps are in a central machine room down the hall. This required 12 x 100' rums of shielded speaker wire which added (IIRC) about $4000 to the install. AES or Balanced analog isn't free, but it is much cheaper by comparison.

Randall


Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
They don't seem more convenient to me...having to run AC power to each position vs not. I'm talking about speakers that never move, not speakers that are being moved from session to session. The heat is a bit of an issue too...
Old 13th July 2018
  #13
Gear Head
 

I consider having to rack up and hook up a separate outboard amp for each set of speakers much more inconvenience with more wiring too. But each to their own.
Old 13th July 2018
  #14
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I guess one major diff between the audiophile-mastering world and a dubstage is the sheer number of speakers in play (esp in Atmos etc world). The folks I see doing passive+amps setups are almost all stereo only, with maybe 2 sets of speakers (and amps), not Atmos or even 5.1 numbers of speakers. Are the "height" speakers on the ceilings your stages powered types too ?
Old 13th July 2018
  #15
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In my case, one ATMOS room has powered heights and the other does not.

Randall


Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
I guess one major diff between the audiophile-mastering world and a dubstage is the sheer number of speakers in play (esp in Atmos etc world). The folks I see doing passive+amps setups are almost all stereo only, with maybe 2 sets of speakers (and amps), not Atmos or even 5.1 numbers of speakers. Are the "height" speakers on the ceilings your stages powered types too ?
Old 13th July 2018
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by quadraphonics View Post
The flip side of this could also be true. In my room, my amps are in a central machine room down the hall. This required 12 x 100' rums of shielded speaker wire which added (IIRC) about $4000 to the install. AES or Balanced analog isn't free, but it is much cheaper by comparison.

Randall
Those long runs also destroyed the damping factor of the speaker/amp combo.
Old 13th July 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Branko View Post
Those long runs also destroyed the damping factor of the speaker/amp combo.
not so much of an issue with modern gear (=heavily oversized amps) anymore, but still not recommended, especially with subs! (quite common in live sound though: somehow you need to get to the pa... but even here, some companies started flying their amp racks!)
Old 13th July 2018
  #18
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OT question--you folks with powered monitors, do you leave the amps on all the time, except maybe when you are down for maintenance or vacation?
Old 13th July 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
OT question--you folks with powered monitors, do you leave the amps on all the time, except maybe when you are down for maintenance or vacation?
No. I have a switch for them and turn them off anytime I am not working for a few hours.i do leave them on at lunch.
Old 13th July 2018
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
OT question--you folks with powered monitors, do you leave the amps on all the time, except maybe when you are down for maintenance or vacation?
Broadcast facilities have their powered monitors running 24-7 for years on end.
Old 13th July 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DominicBartolini View Post
Broadcast facilities have their powered monitors running 24-7 for years on end.
well, not all of them: during the night shift, most studios here get powered down and just in the main room we keep a smaller monitor system running while the larger system gets powered down. also, none of the studios is driving their systems at levels anywhere near a film or music mix studio - save some power pls!
Old 16th July 2018
  #22
mymixisbetterthanyours!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
OT question--you folks with powered monitors, do you leave the amps on all the time, except maybe when you are down for maintenance or vacation?
They get switched off every day. As gets everything else. No issues.
Old 17th July 2018
  #23
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Brian Campbell's Avatar
 

I run passive 3-way for the screen and 2-way for surrounds, power amps are fanless and close to the LCR. I'm using some very clean, powerful dual mono amps that might fit in the larger speaker cabinets but be very difficult to put in the smaller cabinets and impossible if bi-amping. My stereo 'smalls' are passive as well.
The only powered speaker I have is an 18" LFE.
I have spare amps so it's a quick swap if one fails.
The system was put together with used gear and I think a comparable active system would have cost more.
Old 17th July 2018
  #24
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eoats's Avatar
"... power amps are fanless ..." hard to find for me. I had powered LCR (Genelec) and passive surrounds & finding a fanless power amp with enough 'umph' was a challenge.
Old 17th July 2018
  #25
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Passive Amphion 5.1 setup here. Not your typical setup, but in combination with a Blu Sky AMC and it’s DSP a killer set imo.
Old 18th July 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
OT question--you folks with powered monitors, do you leave the amps on all the time, except maybe when you are down for maintenance or vacation?
I used to do exactly that. JBL and Genelec, never really had a problem. The tree hugger in me likes saving energy whenever possible nowadays so having them powered through one common switch is convenient.

I think the newer Genelecs have an auto power mode where they go to sleep after a while and wake up when you send signal.
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