Originally Posted by penngray
Active is superior in so many, many ways. Of course you already knew I would post that. I will also disagree with "fringe" benefits but to prove that you would need to take the best passive XO vs the best active XO on the same setup and see the measurements/listening to it in a controlled setting. I did take my passive Ribbon XOs (built by Curt C.) and put them up against what I loved with my active ribbon designs and it mattered. There simply isnt any logical reason for a passive design to reach the potential of any active design since active allows for 100% control of the design. Passive designs will always have many limitations, active XOs give us a whole new set of filters like linear phase filters. BSC??? Who gives a crap about that any more.....driver sensitivity mismatch?? Padding Tweeters? Phase issues? CTC issues?.....blah....superior in so many ways
Im not sure about the cost arguement either. XOs cost $100 or more all the time even for a single 2-way design and if you are a desginer you are stuck with what you buy. If voicing isnt right you have to spend more $$$ on more parts. A DSP is < $200 and you have almost unlimited control. I still want linear phase though I still believe that is the ultimate filter to start using.
I really believe ideas behind passive design are simply outdated for everything accept the cheapest designs. Its one of those "I have done it this way for 30+ years" type things and we need to move beyond that in embrace the digital world we all actually live in.
Linear phase FIR based filters are whole different ballgame. It is also a bit of a non-starter for HT due to the latency and beyond that cost is an order of magnitude greater. I only have a little experience with them so I can't really speak to the audibility side of things.
I'd like to see some measurements of the the passive vs DSP ribbon speaker. Do they measure significantly differently? Could it be that you simply voiced the speaker more to your liking and you could have done the same (or nearly the same) thing with a passive crossover?
Of course, I can get a slightly smoother or closer to target response with DSP, but the difference is not huge. Yes, the design process for passive is more intensive and slower, but once it is done, it is done. Yes, you can tailor fit the BSC and other minor features to the room, but I consider those flexibility benefits. They are legit, and likely part of the reason Seaton uses DSP in his Catalysts. But that doesn't help folks who want a plug-and-play design (either passive or DSP settings). In order to take advantage of those features you have to have some know-how and measuring capability.
I can design a speaker with either DSP (typical IIR based like DCX or MiniDSP) or passive and they will perform nearly the same. Of course, I can't steer the forward axis to the same level of precision with a passive, but with some work it is more than doable. There are some situations where delay is a necessity, but these 2-way horns aren't that complex.
What you can't discount with active DSP is the need for external amps. Most people will use their internal receiver amps. Even if they have external amps, this means doubling their amp count. I'm not even in the expensive amp camp, but even the cheapest solution will cost a decent chunk even chipamps. I'd estimate that going DSP will add at least 30-60% over passive to the per speaker cost (not including the box which varies hugely). That is pretty significant IMO.
I understand why you have a MiniDSP. You play with lots of different drivers and tweaking designs. I'm the same way and I use DSP in that case. But most people are not in DIY for that reason. How many people are attracted to the Pi's or Ewave's? I'm sure you recall how many people would resurrect the "No Quarters" thread asking if the passive was complete.
The last point that bothers me about active DSP is that sometimes it introduces noise. This isn't always the case, but when it is an issue, IMO it is a big issue. It is exacerbated by the high efficiency horn/CD combo. I know you've dealt with it yourself. IME, decent quality HT receivers don't exhibit this issue.