Active vs passive system

Hi,

I have recently sold my NAC 252/SUPERCAP/ NAP250DR System. 

I’m looking to either go Active

NAC52/SUPERCAP olive

Snaxo 362/SUPERCAP

NAP 135 x6

or go for a NAC552 with perhaps a NAP300. 

Any input on which will sound better? 

The general advice is always to improve on the preamp  but I have read the active systems absolutely blow any passive system away. Also how do I run the speakers  can I purchase a normal speaker and have it modified for active use?

thanks guys

 

Khan

Original Post

To my ears, a 552 sounds better than a 252

Active 135's (or 250's in my own case) sound better than a passive 300

I personally love the grip and control that only an active system can offer but, I have not heard the 552 / 300 combination.

I suspect it's got to be one of those things you try, if at all possible, for yourself.

 

Been a while but I went active with 250s and spent allot of time and money trying to balance my system, in the end as many found best to heed the Naim advice source first (and pre amp).

I did not find going active was a massive step possbly for the reasons outlined.

You don't mention your source?

If you are all sold up I would wait (maybe a while) for the Uniti learning flow through to the classic range and maybe as a stop gap consider the Uniti range.

Having had an active system (52, 6x135's & Briks) and now a 552, 500 & DBL's I personally prefer the latter for shear speed, timing and musicality. Whilst there is in air of effortlessness about the active system it can't match what the 552 and 500 can do in convincing you that the musicians are actually in the room. I also found the active system harder to maintain, possibly  because of box count, than the passive system. I know there are some who will argue the merits of the lesser active system, and I can see why but in my situation I went the passive path to maximise the musical 'bang for bucks'. Now, if I was to come into a little money I would definitely think about going active with 500's.

Thanks guys. Harbeths are also now sold. I was so convinced that I will definitely go active I didn’t consider keeping them. But the lure of the 552 has me thinking.

 

My source is a MacBook running Audirvana plus to a wyred4sound Recovery. Connected to a Berkeley audio alpha USB and then to a Schitt Gungnir Multibit DAC. This setup for source is one of the best I’ve heard at any price. 

Also obviously a 552 is better than a 52. But is that a greater difference than the active 135s vs a passive 300 or a 250DR?

i only mention 250DR as I previously owned the 300 and the 250DR in my system beat the 300 in every respect. 

The only way to truly find out is to listen to a passive vs active system in your own home. Not easy I know. I'm a huge fan of active, having used 2x250s/SBLs, 2X500s/SL2s, and now 3/500DRs/DBLs. But then I've heard superb passive systems in other folks' homes. Not terribly helpful, but it really is the best way to find out. You won't go far wrong by picking up a pair of SBLs or, if you can find them, SL2s; maybe a pair of Linn Isobariks? Audiovector speakers can be used active with Naim electronics, but the ones I've heard I've not cared for. I really wouldn't advise going down the road of trying to modify speakers not originally designed to be actively driven, it'll end in tears.

Khan, I’m not sure if you are aware, but with an active system you nend an electronic  crossover that is set for the speakers you indend to use. So a Naim snaxo will work with Naim speakers and some Linn ones. Naim are also able to supply a version for use with active Kudos speakers. So you can’t just take any speaker, tweak it, and use it with Naim. Active systems are very revealing and so you do need a good source and preamp. One option, as you are starting from a zero base, could be a Naim preamp with some Active ATC speakers, say the 40A, or the 50A or 100A if you want something bigger. They have the electronic crossover and power amps on the back of the speakers, avoiding the need for a mountain of Naim amps. You may not like the sound of course, but it’s certainly an option worth investigating.

Hungryhalibut posted:

Khan, I’m not sure if you are aware, but with an active system you nend an electronic  crossover that is set for the speakers you indend to use. So a Naim snaxo will work with Naim speakers and some Linn ones. Naim are also able to supply a version for use with active Kudos speakers. So you can’t just take any speaker, tweak it, and use it with Naim. Active systems are very revealing and so you do need a good source and preamp. One option, as you are starting from a zero base, could be a Naim preamp with some Active ATC speakers, say the 40A, or the 50A or 100A if you want something bigger. They have the electronic crossover and power amps on the back of the speakers, avoiding the need for a mountain of Naim amps. You may not like the sound of course, but it’s certainly an option worth investigating.

Khan

If you are thinking of ATC active speakers, you might like to consider ATC's SCA2 preamp which is in the same ballpark price-wise as the 252 (albeit that needs a SC).  You'd get system synergy and balanced operation.   I, for one would be interested to hear your impressions if you decide to audition such a setup.

Roger

Khan posted:

Hi,

I have recently sold my NAC 252/SUPERCAP/ NAP250DR System. 

I’m looking to either go Active

NAC52/SUPERCAP olive

Snaxo 362/SUPERCAP

NAP 135 x6

or go for a NAC552 with perhaps a NAP300. 

Any input on which will sound better? 

The general advice is always to improve on the preamp  but I have read the active systems absolutely blow any passive system away. Also how do I run the speakers  can I purchase a normal speaker and have it modified for active use?

thanks guys

 

Naim FAQ: What is an Active System?

"We believe that the best way to do the job is to intercept the musical signal as it leaves the pre-amplifier and use a powered [active] crossover (an electronic filtering network) to separate the highs from the mids and the lows. This, naturally, means that we need to use more power amplifiers: one for each band of frequencies. And more loudspeaker cables, of course: one from each amplifier to its dedicated loudspeaker driver connection. 

This is, of course, more expensive than any passive system arrangement but we are convinced - as are many satisfied customers - that the results justify the additional expenditure. Active systems typically sound more precise, clear and controlled than passive systems. The result is music that sounds more like music and less like a hi-fi system. In part this is because active systems inherently produce less distortion than passive systems. [Sorry, for being technical but it's a fact!] "

I'm an Active Fan, if you ask me, it all started with Linn & Naim!

If I recall, DB had a kick ass Active System:

552>Snaxo 362>500> Briks

Just Saying!

Allante93!

PS. As Tonym said, try it out in your home, or just go out on a limb! 

Trust me, you won't fall!

 

Khan

i have just done a similar journey and there is a thread on it called names something like if not SBL or S400 then what...

in summary for you here. 

52/SC >NDX/XPSDR>SBL’s

order best to less good (could not say worse as the 250.2 is still great)

Active 2x250 (one DR)

Passive 300

Passive 250.2

The 300 was very impressive and a great amp for lower box counts. Active was just so engaging and instrument separation to die for. 

Alos hears a demo of Kudos 707 the other month. Passive 300DR v Active 250DR. Again clear th emotion and ebagemnt from active won out over the 300. 

Rob

I've run an active setup with SBLs for about ten years. A mixed bag of amplification as per profile that works very well (originally a 552 which I sold after a few years for financial reasons, a pair of 250.2s and briefly tried a pair of 300s).  

Every now and again I get irrational ideas of maybe simplifying things and lowering the box count a bit, so I borrow a pair of of Neats or Focals or whatever my friendly dealer has handy. But nah, apart from most modern speakers being much too bassy for my liking, the system turns into a blandburger, life and dynamics gone up the spout and passive crossovers doing their obvious stuff. I'll keep what I've got.

Even so I wouldn't make a blanket recommendation for active. A few years ago I went to the home of a local manufacturer (in Aus) to hear their active speakers with built-in amps a la ATC and it was godawful, harsh and generally horrible. Whether or not it was the Class D amps I don't know, but I couldn't get out of there quick enough.

So, as always, there's no substitute for experience. 

Khan posted:

Hi,

 

The general advice is always to improve on the preamp  but I have read the active systems absolutely blow any passive system away. Also how do I run the speakers  can I purchase a normal speaker and have it modified for active use?

thanks guys

 

You need to be able to either bypass or remove the crossover: easy if the speaker is designed for so doing (e.g. many ATCs and PMCs), but varying degrees of more difficult otherwise. You also need either to have crossover details to be set in the active crossover, easy if speakers for which standard setups are already available, e.g snaxos already set up, and not difficult if full crossover info us available including crossover frequencies and slope, otherwise varying degrees of more difficult...

Good question; Active vs. Passive....let’s look at what extra hardware is involved in an full house active system for a 3 way loudspeaker, done the Naim way;

  • an active X-over
  • a X-over power supply
  • 2 extra stereo amps or
  • 4 extra mono amps
  • 4 or 6 rack shelves 
  • 2 or 4 extra sets of speaker cables
  • 3 or 6 extra interconnect cables 
  • Active-ready Speakers 
  • An optimised mains supply for all the boxes

That’s a massive amount of hardware and an aweful lot of money that could be spent alternatively. If spending all that money results in a system playing through DBLs or the very colourful (but highly coloured) Isobariks, I would suggest that the same money could purchase a system in an entirely different league with High end speakers and SOTA digital or analog front ends.

Who would have thought that having the wonderful opportunity to start over a fresh would be such a worry !!!

I'm sure we have all thought about selling everything and going in this direction or that...but reading this thread I can see it is a huge responsibility to get it right first time...not to gradually evolve like so many of us have done..

Good luck to you khan ...I hope you find what you are seeking

Blackmorec posted:

Good question; Active vs. Passive....let’s look at what extra hardware is involved in an full house active system for a 3 way loudspeaker, done the Naim way;

  • an active X-over
  • a X-over power supply
  • 2 extra stereo amps or
  • 4 extra mono amps
  • 4 or 6 rack shelves 
  • 2 or 4 extra sets of speaker cables
  • 3 or 6 extra interconnect cables 
  • Active-ready Speakers 
  • An optimised mains supply for all the boxes

That’s a massive amount of hardware and an aweful lot of money that could be spent alternatively. If spending all that money results in a system playing through DBLs or the very colourful (but highly coloured) Isobariks, I would suggest that the same money could purchase a system in an entirely different league with High end speakers and SOTA digital or analog front ends.

The more fuzz the better, its a hobby in the end.

I'm currently building this system, to be completed in 2019:

NAS >> Nac 272 + 555ps >> Hicap DR >> SNAXO BMR >> 2x Nap 200 >> Ovators.

On the hifi side only 4 mains cables. Using the standard Naim Cables and some Naim Active Leads.

A friend of mine has made the solid shelves. I'm sure it's not as good as an official Fraim, but its rock solid.

I currently have a SuperNait instead of the Nac and PS, but I'm currently listening to them (Rolling Stones - Let it Bleed) and its fantastic. Especially the solid bass which does not seem to impact the treble negatively is what I much like. Its clean, transparent sound.

I'm thinking to put some Active SBL's in the Living room. Thinking how to do that, while re-using the existing stuff and be able to switch. Need another Snaxo for sure.

Love the Active Sound.

On the downside, something like Spotify is not really nice anymore. Better have a lowly system to listen to that.

Japtimscarlet posted:

Who would have thought that having the wonderful opportunity to start over a fresh would be such a worry !!!

I'm sure we have all thought about selling everything and going in this direction or that...but reading this thread I can see it is a huge responsibility to get it right first time...not to gradually evolve like so many of us have done..

Good luck to you khan ...I hope you find what you are seeking

Hint!

https://youtu.be/AFzMuO3K3ZY

Need I say more!

Naim debut it's Reference CDP with it's middle of the road Pre.

CD555>282>Snaxo>3 x 250>DBLs

Wow!

Allante93!

PS. The more things change, the more they stay the same. CES 2007

Ardbeg10y posted:
Allante93 posted:
 

Allante93! Did Rudolf bring you a Snaxo for Christmas? Or will it be next year?

Looks like next year, but japtimscarlet is point on!

Get it right the first time!

Waiting on an reply from NY US, SC has been Recapped, which is key when considering an unit more than 10 years of age.

Also one in the UK, has my attention, but after conversion cost (done by Audio Plus), and shipping cost, and recapping.

Me can't Do!

That's the deal breaker! 

Age of units SN#s 191xxx, 231xxx, even 271xxx is not worth the hassel!

In the meantime!

Cdx2>282

HCDR>282

HCDR> 3 x 250.2> Briks

Perched upon 7 tier 2 stack Fraimlite, ain't bad!

Maybe not the Full Blown Aktiv System I lived with for 2 decades:

LP 12/ Ghenki

Kairin > Linn XO with Bingo Card

3 LK 280s, Dirrack PS and last but not least, my trusty Briks!

Allante93!

PS. I will keep you posted, if I pull the Trigger!

It all depends on the date, and who done the recapping!

I hate being particular, but I have had some close calls, buying Pre-loved Naim Gear!

Audio Plus have came to my rescue, when dealing with an Canadian Dealer, concerning an full warranty demo 250.2, which happened to be over ten years of age, wasn't disclosed!

Getting long winded!

OUT!

lyndon posted:

BLACKMOREC

which speakers would you suggest in preference to active DBLs ?

just curious 

🤔

lyndon

 

Depends what you're looking for. You could go for some exceptional 2 ways speakers paired with active subs, ala Magico,  YG or Raido. Alternatively high efficiency, ala Tannoy or Avantgarde or you could look at SOTA 3 ways like Magico, Wilson, Rockport. A simple passive solution giving truly seductive sounds would be something like the SF Amati Homage.   

Ok so I will have to go with an optimised speaker setup along with a Xover setup for that speaker and accompanying power amplifier setup. I have to agree it’s a daunting task trying to figure out which option will be the way to go for a better performance than what I achieved fro 252/SUPERCAP/250DR. 

So if I went for the 552/ 1x135s in a passive setup. Do you guys think that is a marked improvement on my previous setup?

alternatively. A 552 and the slowly build up a stack of 135s or 250s for active system. Also please can somebody chime in on the snack versions. Are there any 2 way speaker option with 4 135s?

 

My advice: Get a good - no very good source and excellent Pre, like the 552, then good Power Amps(s) like 135 or 300 and a pair of speakers that can be Activated and first run these passive with the above.

Then add more power Amps and an active crossover and Activate. Active is better IMO - far better, but for many an acquired taste that you can't un-aquire as it is very convincing and portrays music in an under-stated natural way where the fireworks in the presentation are there when they are actually there, layers of cloying coloration are gone and resolution of detail excels - but it is a lot of expense, so start with good passive.

DB.

Allante93 posted:
Ardbeg10y posted:
Allante93 posted:
 

Allante93! Did Rudolf bring you a Snaxo for Christmas? Or will it be next year?

Looks like next year, but japtimscarlet is point on!

Get it right the first time!

Waiting on an reply from NY US, SC has been Recapped, which is key when considering an unit more than 10 years of age.

Also one in the UK, has my attention, but after conversion cost (done by Audio Plus), and shipping cost, and recapping.

Me can't Do!

That's the deal breaker! 

Age of units SN#s 191xxx, 231xxx, even 271xxx is not worth the hassel!

In the meantime!

Cdx2>282

HCDR>282

HCDR> 3 x 250.2> Briks

Perched upon 7 tier 2 stack Fraimlite, ain't bad!

Maybe not the Full Blown Aktiv System I lived with for 2 decades:

LP 12/ Ghenki

Kairin > Linn XO with Bingo Card

3 LK 280s, Dirrack PS and last but not least, my trusty Briks!

Allante93!

PS. I will keep you posted, if I pull the Trigger!

It all depends on the date, and who done the recapping!

I hate being particular, but I have had some close calls, buying Pre-loved Naim Gear!

Audio Plus have came to my rescue, when dealing with an Canadian Dealer, concerning an full warranty demo 250.2, which happened to be over ten years of age, wasn't disclosed!

Getting long winded!

OUT!

Hungryhalibut posted:

Khan, I’m not sure if you are aware, but with an active system you nend an electronic  crossover that is set for the speakers you indend to use. So a Naim snaxo will work with Naim speakers and some Linn ones. Naim are also able to supply a version for use with active Kudos speakers. So you can’t just take any speaker, tweak it, and use it with Naim. Active systems are very revealing and so you do need a good source and preamp. One option, as you are starting from a zero base, could be a Naim preamp with some Active ATC speakers, say the 40A, or the 50A or 100A if you want something bigger. They have the electronic crossover and power amps on the back of the speakers, avoiding the need for a mountain of Naim amps. You may not like the sound of course, but it’s certainly an option worth investigating.

 

Hello Allante, been active for 30 years have way too many boxes and starting to clean up a bit,.... always thanks to my great dealer David in Mount Kisco ny "accent on music "' he always guides me in the right direction-

 

 

Hi Khan

My experience is limited but, active is better... relative.

The principles of active over passive also make more sense to me.

We'd all be active if it weren't for more boxes/cables & more $$$. Changing/upgrading speakers also becomes a constraint.

However, as many have said, everything sounds more controlled & detailed. Drums especially excel on my system.

Why not start with 2-way passive that can be upgrade to active?

You've not said what speakers you intend to get & that is key.

Active options are:

2-way = (s)naxo2-4 & either 2 stereo naps or 4 mono naps

3-way = (s)naxo3-6 & either 3 stereo naps or 6 mono naps

My view, Naim products are obviously designed for passive setups. Yes, they can be used in an active setup but the thought of using a NAP to drive a tweeter is a little preposterous.

ATC active speakers on the other hand are designed from the ground up to be active. They make all their own high quality drivers and built in amps that offer a sound quality that is very hard to beat. Well worth an audition.

I have to say that I find it hard to believe some of the posts on this thread.

Since my first Naim purchase over 30 years ago, the holy grail has always been active and if you have ever heard it you would know why.

I currently have 3 250DRs driving NBLs and have for a while been nervous about the lack of active options should the NBLs fail (this was before the Kudos option). Accordingly I asked my dealer, whose opinion I respect, whether I should look to go 500DR passive with my current speakers to 'future proof'. The very short answer, and bear in mind this was turning down a potentially profitable sale, was NO.

I accept that the expense and the box count is not for everybody but to suggest that Naim products are designed for passive set ups just beggars belief.

Halloween Man posted:

My view, Naim products are obviously designed for passive setups. Yes, they can be used in an active setup but the thought of using a NAP to drive a tweeter is a little preposterous.

Err...completely wrong on both counts.

Nick from Suffolk posted:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....repeat until time itself ends.

Using a 140w £20k power amp to drive a tweeter? That's my point. I'm happy for you to disagree but a little common courtesy wouldn't go amiss. If you were to design an active system from the ground up I very much doubt this would resemble your final product.

Halloween Man posted:
Nick from Suffolk posted:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....repeat until time itself ends.

Using a 140w £20k power amp to drive a tweeter? That's my point. I'm happy for you to disagree but a little common courtesy wouldn't go amiss. If you were to design an active system from the ground up I very much doubt this would resemble your final product.

The best amp, and usually this is the most expensive one, has to drive the tweeters. And the funny thing is that even the bass gets better this way. At least according to my experience.

Halloween Man posted:
Nick from Suffolk posted:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....repeat until time itself ends.

Using a 140w £20k power amp to drive a tweeter? That's my point. I'm happy for you to disagree but a little common courtesy wouldn't go amiss. If you were to design an active system from the ground up I very much doubt this would resemble your final product.

I was being courteous.

×
×
×
×