The rise of powered speakers

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by enfield, Feb 8, 2024.

  1. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Essex UK
    Search on the big websites such as eBay and Amazon for speakers in 2024 and you will find a much higher percentage of powered speakers compared to passive than even 2 years ago. The improvements in class D and how small amplifiers can be in the modern age probably part to play.

    There are now some very good powered speakers out there at all price ranges. The Q Acoustics M20 for instance is a great budget choice. Even high end companies such as ATC have great powered options.

    It seems that separate amplifiers are slowly heading down the same route as Turntables. Ie.. Only true audiophiles and those seeking the extra flexibility of regular component swapping will choose a full separates system in the future. Just as only serious audio enthusiasts will seek out non-far eastern components in the future.
  2. brubacca

    brubacca Forum Resident

    I think powered speakers make a lot of sense to get started in this hobby. A great way to get really good sound.

    I just think that as you go higher in your sound requirements a true hifi system will be necessary.
  3. GyroT

    GyroT Forum Resident

    Guess that makes me very serious indeed. I'll stick with separates as I prefer the flexibility and do not have space issues, nor do I want the hassle of dealing with the moment a component fails, day an amp, and I am left bereft of a speaker as well.
    Same reason I don't want a built in streamer in my amp. Amps amplify streamers stream and Dacs do whatever it is they do. Fact is the tech is evolving and when I want to upgrade I don't want to have to change out several components to get the single improvement I am after and no amount of marketing blurb about how products are future proofed is going to convince me join the ranks of the buy 1 get 2/3 brigade.
    I get the convenience angle, just not enough to ever buy into the tech, unless it is for a second, third system for the family, or for taking to work, on vacation, etc. Happy to be a dinosaur, even if it didn't end too well back then.
    Audiowannabee, BrentB and enfield like this.
  4. bever70

    bever70 Let No-one Live Rent Free in Your Head!

    B&O have done nothing but powered speakers for....ages!!! It just took a while for the rest to catch up :D.
  5. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    I get tired of having to open up the boxes to change the tubes.
    razerx, jonwoody, beowulf and 2 others like this.
  6. Rybad

    Rybad Active Member

    United States
    I prefer using seperates with traditional speaker hookups. Powered speakers make more sense when used with a PC/Laptop setup.
    nosliw likes this.
  7. Melkboer

    Melkboer Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    Very satisfied with my active ATC speakers. No need or urge to match amps and speaker wires gives a piece of mind too. At least to me :)
  8. bever70

    bever70 Let No-one Live Rent Free in Your Head!

    So you'd trust companies to make a better choice than you do regarding matching amp/speakers?! I wouldn't because they don't know me and what I like ;)!
    shokhead likes this.
  9. Melkboer

    Melkboer Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    I trust they know what works well. I just don’t want the hassle of endlessly chasing that last bit of performance by constantly switching gear, trying new stuff and so on. I want to focus on the music.
    goer, Brother_Rael, Fireeater and 3 others like this.
  10. bever70

    bever70 Let No-one Live Rent Free in Your Head!

    But that's what this hobby is all about :D! Otherwise go hang out in the music forum :whistle:.
  11. John3655

    John3655 Infinite input

    Hampshire UK.
    ATC were producing active speakers 20 years ago probably before. Benefits are

    • Active crossovers
    • Very short cables
    • Amps optimised for purpose eg bass, treble.
  12. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek I’m a ray of sunshine & bastion of positivity

    I'm just waiting for Comic Book Guy to come in and point out the difference between powered and active speakers.
  13. Lawrencer2003

    Lawrencer2003 Musical Omnivore

    I posted an appreciation yesterday of my Bose Companion 5. For near field , cheap disposable applications they work well. I’d never shell out B&O , Linn money, no matter how cool they are.
    timind likes this.
  14. Carolina Blues

    Carolina Blues Forum Resident

    South Carolina
    When I bought my Paradigm Active 40's in 1998 it was baffling to me why everyone wasn't doing powered speakers. These have built in active crossovers and separate amps for woofers and tweeter along with EQ contour controls. Again, 1998. I still have them and they are still going strong. Back then you had to spend three times as much to get better sound (they were around $2300 a pair if I remember right) but now they easily bested in sound quality (but not low end content...they still thump like subs) by many $1000 passive speakers.

    Of course the drawback of active speakers is that if the amps blow up, you're done. I'm actually shocked that my Paradigms still work. You also have to have power by each speaker.
  15. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Any device like this that has the internals of multiple devices is not something I will consciously own. Just like the integrated DVD players in TVs of old, if one of the devices malfunctions or dies out of old age, or if one wishes to move on from one of the components, you're stuck with the other.

    Active speakers are a good way to keep things neat for those who wish to cut down on the amount of visible devices or wires but I wouldn't assume reliability or performance will be especially terrific.
    BrentB likes this.
  16. namlook

    namlook Forum Resident

    Maybe things have changed with Class D amps, but placing a major heat generating Class AB amp on a PCB inside a (mostly) sealed box that vibrates like hell is not a recipe for success. Those old self powered speakers do not have a great track record of reliability.
    BrentB and John3655 like this.
  17. John3655

    John3655 Infinite input

    Hampshire UK.
    The cheapest active speaker is probably the IKEA symphonisk at £99. It has a networked computer, memory, active DSP and two amplifiers one for bass and one for treble. People on tube have taken the guts out and transplanted them into older passive speakers with good results.
  18. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    I tried a pair of LS50II Wireless speakers and was happy with the sound. After three months or so though, I was jonesing for something to tweak.

    I wish I had your attitude. If I did, I'd be listening to a pair of Kef LS60s until the end.
    Mike-48 likes this.
  19. Melkboer

    Melkboer Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    Perhaps you too will grow tired of the endless chase for better. It’s a nice feeling for sure
    Mike-48, bever70 and timind like this.
  20. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Independent Head

    New Mexico USA
    Active speakers have obviously been an option for a long time and more refined Class D amplification is a plus, but I’m a bit skeptical of this hypothesis that active speakers are trending powerfully and taking over the hi-fi audio market and heading inexorably toward dominance.

    The place where world domination belongs to active is obviously in the now-massive realm of “smart” speakers and Bluetooth speakers, where Sonos and Amazon and Apple and myriad Bluetooth devices etc. rule the “room-filling” multi-room wireless sound world with active-speaker audio. The popularity of this stuff may be influencing the acceptance of active speakers as the default paradigm for a lot of people.

    But in hi-fi my guess is that active speakers aren’t going anywhere — thanks to their main selling point, truly great sound.
    Brother_Rael and unclefred like this.
  21. ChefBrunch

    ChefBrunch Forum Resident

    Perfectly matched powered speakers will soon be top of the chain.

    This is because of DSP built in and bi-Amping or Tri-amp or octo-amping ....the perfect sound the drivers are capable of without the need for crossovers....

    Perfectly matched and DSPed high performance class D amps driving each driver without crossovers will squeeze every drop of performance capable from a design.

    Now will it be to the preference of everyone. No.
  22. BruceS

    BruceS El Sirviente del Gato

    Reading, MA US
    At first, I wasn't so sure about the Kanto TUK powereds I'd bought (plus Kanto 8 sub). After a while—a fairly short while—I became infatuated. And now it has blossomed into love. If I were more concerned about where that leaves in the the world of audiophilia, then I'd have to return to separates. But what with this, that, and the other things going on for me, I'm happy to just enjoy the sound.
    Brother_Rael, rodentdog and enfield like this.
  23. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    I believe I have already grown tired of the search for better. I've had better than I have now, and it didn't bring me anymore joy from the music. Other than swapping speakers, the tweaks I do rarely have any significant effect on the sound I hear. It's just a habit now.
    bever70, Melkboer and jupiterboy like this.
  24. nosliw

    nosliw Delivering parcels throughout Teyvat! Meow~!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I'm currently using the Edifier R1850DB active speakers for my main PC. It's good for what its worth but it does not lend well with a certain amount of bass (example being Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I-IV), as it overdrives the speakers, which made me think I should get a better pair elsewhere.
    timind likes this.
  25. hronists

    hronists Forum Resident

    North Pole
    I still don't get modern way - turntable without any adjustments, crap cartridge, but with bluetooth connection to active speakers. Of course it is better than listening to music on phone speakers or {gasp) soundbar, but still…

    I do have active speakers, but they are for my computer not for music. For music I have a conservative system - amp and passive speakers.
    nosliw likes this.

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