stp's picture
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: Oct 18 2016 - 11:14pm
In praise of active speakers
commsysman's picture
Last seen: 2 years 4 months ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
stp wrote:

In praise of active speakers

As a recording engineer and audiophile, I've asked myself for years why the audiophile community hasn't caught on to the high-quality and cost-effective active speakers that are common in recording studios but not in home theaters. After the recent Stereophile review of the Dynaudio Focus 200 XD, I was prompted to write this note in praise of powered speakers.

In the $20-50k range (still not "cost-no-object" for sure), one would be silly not to consider these systems before dropping so much on a configuration like those so frequently documented in Stereophile ($10-25k for speakers, $5-15k for amplifier, $1-5k for cables) . I contend (and many audio professionals agree) that in whatever price range you're looking, if add up what you were planning to invest in a power amp, speaker cables and passive speakers, and compare it to what you can get with similarly priced active speakers, critical listening will frequently lead you to the active speaker solution.

Stephen Pope

Some history and trivia:

In 1968 or so, I visited a recording studio/audio store in Long Beach, California, that was run by a man named L. M. Barcus. He recorded using only his proprietary strain-gauge-based acoustic pickups ("no microphones"!!!). He put out a number of nice records of both jazz and bluegrass music. Shelly Manne and Riever Hovde are on the records I still have.

He sold a limited line of audio gear, including some Pioneer studio monitors that were active 3-way speakers with three amplifiers each. They seemed way out of my price range at the time; I suspect they were around $800 each or more. I bought a pair of Wharfedale W70D speakers, which were much less expensive and which I kept for several years

After putting out some very nice recordings on his own label, Repeat Records, he eventually formed the Barcus-Berry company, which produced and manufactured his strain-gauge pickups for guitars and other instruments for many years.

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