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Mike Rubin

Powered monitor confusion!

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I have been considering powered monitors to use with a microrendu and DSD-capable DAC in a small den in our basement.  I originally looked at monitors with USB inputs but quickly learned that none in which I might be interested can play a DSD file natively or even play a PCM or DoP file with sample rates greater than 192 without downsampling (or at all). 

 

I then figured I would just attach a DSD-capable DAC to the RCA analog inputs of one of these monitors.  At that point, I was informed that any powered monitor with DSP processing would convert the analog signal to digital and that it would be limited to the bit rate and sample rate of the monitor's internal (non-DSD) DAC. 

 

No problem, I figured. I can just get a monitor that only has analog inputs, like one derived from a studio monitor (such as one of the JBL's) or primarily intended for desktop use (like the Audioengines on my desk, through which I play DSD files daily). 

 

I then had a confusing bit of correspondence with a manufacturer's technical services manager.  He assured me that I was mistaken about monitors that only have analog inputs.  He said that it is in the very nature of powered monitors to have DSP processing and, therefore, if I want to play DSD natively or high sampling rate files without downsampling, I need to stick to an external amp and passive speakers. 

 

I am not opposed to a passive speaker solution.  However, I thought there are hundreds of powered speakers, including some not limited to near-field use, that are analog, period, including the Audioengines that I currently use and various other Focal and NHT monitors that I had on my desktop before them.  

 

Am I mistaken about this, as the manufacturer's rep asserts? 

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Bonjour Mike,

I'd think you are correct and your sales rep is a sales man ...

My desktop speakers as an example, active, class A/B, are completely analog, no DSP used.

They are designed by a German manufacturer called ABACUS, called  C3.

I would think, you have received an unqualified response and it may have been meant more as a generalisation, because there is a great majority of dsp'ed active speakers that have wireless (wifi or Bluetooth) input, moreover they use small class D units, that may allow DSP in the digital domain to enhance SQ.

As this type of speakers starts at about 30 up to several k's USD, you'll find everything you can imagine, possibly just not at a lower price point.

Cheers, Tom

France

IMG_20190704_204145.jpg

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The guy you spoke to is either wrong or misunderstood the question.

 

Just connect the RCA jacks of your DAC to the RCA jacks of the powered monitors and you're good to go.

 

Most of the speakers on this page would work:

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/c405--Active_Monitors

 

I'm listening to something similar while I write this:

 

Jriver --> iFi iDAC2 --> Emotiva USP-1 Preamp (for volume control) --> Emotiva Airmotiv 6s speakers


“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone listening to music.”

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15 minutes ago, kumakuma said:

The guy you spoke to is either wrong or misunderstood the question.

 

Just connect the RCA jacks of your DAC to the RCA jacks of the powered monitors and you're good to go.

 

Most of the speakers on this page would work:

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/c405--Active_Monitors

 

I'm listening to something similar while I write this:

 

Jriver --> iFi iDAC2 --> Emotiva USP-1 Preamp (for volume control) --> Emotiva Airmotiv 6s speakers

 

Thanks to Duck Toller and you for confirming what I thought and what I thought I asked clearly of the rep. 

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There are monitors that have DSP hidden inside and make no mention of it.  The sales engineer will know which ones.   In pro, internal DSP for EQ is common now.  If there is any "room correction" or "room measurement" there's DSP for sure.  

 

Brad 


Brad Lunde

www.LoneMountainAudio.com (High End Consumer Importer to the Trade) and www.TransAudioGroup.com (High End Pro Audio Importer to the Trade)

Brands we import to the US are ATC, Tube Tech, Drawmer, MUTEC, Bettermaker 

Brands from the US we distribute are A Designs, Auratone, Daking, LatchLake and Mojave   

 

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I think you may be better able to avoid all of the issues with built in dsp, etc. by buying home audio related powered monitors, not ones associated with or derived from studio monitor use, which can be a much different animal. There is also no guarantee at all that "studio monitors" will sound good in a home environment.

 

JC

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4 hours ago, TubeLover said:

I think you may be better able to avoid all of the issues with built in dsp, etc. by buying home audio related powered monitors, not ones associated with or derived from studio monitor use, which can be a much different animal. There is also no guarantee at all that "studio monitors" will sound good in a home environment.

 

JC

My understanding is that most "studio monitors" are intended for nearfield listening, as are desktop monitors.  My application is in a den and not a studio or an office environment.  Since posting my query, I have been devoting a lot of web time to trying to find audiophile bookshelf speakers without DSP, but am having a tough time finding items that aren't intended for studio or desktop.

 

I am aware that the new ELAC Navis is fully analog, but I hope I can find something smaller and that I don't have to spend that much.  (Budget is about $1000 a pair.). Kumakuma's Emotivas have been discontinued.  Duck Toller's Abacus doesn't seem to be available in the US.

 

Maybe that engineering services guy wasn't so wrong when he said I won't find powered speakers without DSP, at least not ones like his home use product.  I think that I will start thinking twice about how important sampling beyond 192 and DSD really are to me or, instead, look for a small DSD-capable integrated amp (like the Nuprime ida-8) and some decent passive speakers.  

 

Thanks for your input, gents.

 

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Why not just get a pair of passive speakers and a little class D external amp?  You can stack the little amp with your DAC.  Then you can be flexible with it and use whichever pieces you want elsewhere on a whim.  These amps will sound as good as anything that would be placed in the speaker, which are likely to just be another class D amp on a board.  

 

I'm playing such a setup as I type this, with DIY Lance speakers.  And I could have easily built the speaker box to hold the SMSL amp that I'm using since it would fit perfectly into the front of the box with the controls, but I'd have to extend the rear connectors if I wanted to use the RCAs.  Put a Raspberry Pi and DAC hat in and it would run wireless up to 24/384 or DSD 512!

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3 hours ago, zacster said:

Why not just get a pair of passive speakers and a little class D external amp?  You can stack the little amp with your DAC.  Then you can be flexible with it and use whichever pieces you want elsewhere on a whim.  These amps will sound as good as anything that would be placed in the speaker, which are likely to just be another class D amp on a board.  

 

I'm playing such a setup as I type this, with DIY Lance speakers.  And I could have easily built the speaker box to hold the SMSL amp that I'm using since it would fit perfectly into the front of the box with the controls, but I'd have to extend the rear connectors if I wanted to use the RCAs.  Put a Raspberry Pi and DAC hat in and it would run wireless up to 24/384 or DSD 512!

 

Thanks.  The Nuprime that I mentioned is a class D that includes a DAC that can handle those resolutions. I am sure there are other class D options that also can be used with a Logitech Harmony remote.  (Although I did not point this out in my original post, Logitech compatability or programmability also is a requirement because a TV set also will be connected optically and my technophobic wife and family won't use a phone app or select inputs manually.) 

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I’ve been experimenting with the new Sonos AMP and a pair of ATC scm7s.  This seems to be as easy as a Sonos system to use yet sounds much better.   It’s pretty good on my credenza at work.  I might not use it as a reference - I’d probably sonically  prefer a much larger a/b amp/preamp/ dac system- but that would be a stack of gear in my office and significantly more money.   I tried an Apple Music only system before and I liked the ease of use of the Sonos .  My news and sports on XM radio plus other music sources such as apple amazon pandora etc.  Funny how ease of use is so important at work when you are focused on different things. 

brad


Brad Lunde

www.LoneMountainAudio.com (High End Consumer Importer to the Trade) and www.TransAudioGroup.com (High End Pro Audio Importer to the Trade)

Brands we import to the US are ATC, Tube Tech, Drawmer, MUTEC, Bettermaker 

Brands from the US we distribute are A Designs, Auratone, Daking, LatchLake and Mojave   

 

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Powered speakers are just that--speakers with amplification (and possibly basic pre-amplification) built in.

As kumakuma said, if it has RCA in then the RCA out from the DAC should in all likelihood work fine. Just be sure either the DAC or the speakers have some volume control.

 

Speakers with room management (such as my SGR CX4F-2) may do that in the analog domain. Even if they have internal digital processing they will often do that from an analog signal input.

 

If you like the Audioengines you have then I'd be looking at their options. My Audioengine 2 speakers have served my computer use beautifully.

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9 minutes ago, GregWormald said:

Powered speakers are just that--speakers with amplification (and possibly basic pre-amplification) built in.

As kumakuma said, if it has RCA in then the RCA out from the DAC should in all likelihood work fine. Just be sure either the DAC or the speakers have some volume control.

 

Speakers with room management (such as my SGR CX4F-2) may do that in the analog domain. Even if they have internal digital processing they will often do that from an analog signal input.

 

If you like the Audioengines you have then I'd be looking at their options. My Audioengine 2 speakers have served my computer use beautifully.

Thanks, Greg. I pretty much believed what you say when I started this thread.  However, I keep being informed that RCA in doesn't necessarily stay analog and, if it converts to digital, the files it handles in native format are limited to what its internal DAC can handle.  

 

My audioengine 5's are all analog, to be sure, and are okay for what they do, but they definitely seem to be most useful as nearfield monitors. I continue to look for small powered monitors suitable for use in a small den system.

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3 hours ago, Mike Rubin said:

<snip>I keep being informed that RCA in doesn't necessarily stay analog and, if it converts to digital, the files it handles in native format are limited to what its internal DAC can handle.  

 

Yes. If the "speaker" converts the file to digital for processing then the resolution is limited to its internal ADC/DAC's.

3 hours ago, Mike Rubin said:

My audioengine 5's are all analog, to be sure, and are okay for what they do, but they definitely seem to be most useful as nearfield monitors. I continue to look for small powered monitors suitable for use in a small den system.

 

Try the 5s in the den.😀   Stereophile liked the Audioengines. "Monitors" might not be the best for a room system so I'd be looking wider.

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11 hours ago, GregWormald said:

Powered speakers are just that--speakers with amplification (and possibly basic pre-amplification) built in.

As kumakuma said, if it has RCA in then the RCA out from the DAC should in all likelihood work fine. Just be sure either the DAC or the speakers have some volume control.

 

Speakers with room management (such as my SGR CX4F-2) may do that in the analog domain. Even if they have internal digital processing they will often do that from an analog signal input.

 

If you like the Audioengines you have then I'd be looking at their options. My Audioengine 2 speakers have served my computer use beautifully.

good day, the main feature of an active speaker is the crossover before the amplification, and then there is an amplifier for each speaker that is part of the monitor (2, 3 or more vias), and as a final data the amplifiers can be inside or outside the monitor cabinet.
regards

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On 7/11/2019 at 11:02 AM, boxitracio said:

good day, the main feature of an active speaker is the crossover before the amplification, and then there is an amplifier for each speaker that is part of the monitor (2, 3 or more vias), and as a final data the amplifiers can be inside or outside the monitor cabinet.
regards

 

active speaker = active crossover

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2 hours ago, lucretius said:

active speaker = active crossover

Not necessarily.  One can implement a passive crossover between the source/control and the power amplifiers.  I am not advocating this but I have done it in the (distant) past and it is still possible.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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3 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Not necessarily.  One can implement a passive crossover between the source/control and the power amplifiers.  I am not advocating this but I have done it in the (distant) past and it is still possible.

 

Would it be more accurate to say that an active speaker is one for which each driver has its own channel of amplification?

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2 hours ago, lucretius said:

Would it be more accurate to say that an active speaker is one for which each driver has its own channel of amplification?

More accurate.  Unfortunately, wordy.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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