Going active

I’m not sure any speaker was designed to be better passive than active, or even proven equal (even if manufacturers might claim that) - tather tgey may be designed to be the very best that the manufacturer can do passively, restricting it to passive for better marketting because where is very much in the minority (for reason of the extra amo cost if nothing else)

Bruce,

“I'm a bit confused exactly where this thread has ended up but my one observation is that I'd rather have 2 x 250 into SL2 than 2 x 300 into SBLs. DR or not. I own both speakers by the way, and have run both active.”

That is very interesting as I have always preferred SBLs. I think it’s a bit like olive lovers over the classic range. Less neutral but more engaging. I really wanted to like the SL2s when they came out and was ready to buy them. But the Sibbles float my boat even now.

Stu

Thanks, Bruce. That’s very helpful advice.  The cash isn’t so much tight as being something to spread out a bit. I have a policy of doing occasional, large upgrades - so I am on my third pair of speakers in 32.5 years, third TT - the person I got the 250dr cheap From is on his fifth pair of speakers in two years and decided to call a halt while he had some money left

And Stuart, thanks for reminding me that my ears are to be the judge of SBLs v SL2s. I bought my SBLs without hearing them and have not been disappointed but I need to check

I'm sure we could manage a thread on SBL vs SL2 oif we wanted. They are quite different in some ways and I can certainly see why some may prefer the SBLs.

Although I personally prefer the SL2s even a really tidy pair of SBLs are amazing value, and still very special in a good active system. I cannot imagine ever parting with either actually.

have fun listening

Bruce

Running wonky active is something I have had a lot of experience with and I would advocate it as a means to an end.  I would certainly recommend active with the 250/300, as a stepping stone to getting to 300/300.

If anyone is interested, my journey is below.  Against conventional wisdom, I have always put the better speaker on the bass - which is a matter of taste.  It is true, however you do it, it is very much a compromise.  But there is something addictive about the pace active brings.

Now I have finally made it to 3x500, the biggest thing I notice is how it all comes together, fantastic PraT, and less of a tendency to listen to the system and more getting lost in the music.

BTW - fully endorse the comments on the SCDR for the SNAXO and the SL cable between the SC and the 52.  It certainly is a journey...

CDI / NAC82 / NAP180 / SBL

CD2 / NAC82 / NAP180 / SBL

CD2 / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SBL

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SBL

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SB

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 / NAP250 / NAP300 / DB

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 / NAP250 / NAP300 / DBL

CDS3+CD555PS  / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 /  NAP300 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 /  NAP300 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL + full SL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP500 / NAP500DR / NAP500 / DBL + full SL

 

In the light of that I withdraw my cautionary note about wonky.

interestingly Naim advice seems to be to put the better amp on the mid or treble (I’m not clear which, I assume mid as that’s the most critical for clarity) - of course irrelevant when only 2-way, when it is simply the top. However, there are other arguments, in that the one with the best grip on bass (i.e. the 300 in this case) should be on the bass as that is where control may most be noticed, or that bass requires more energy (power) so the most powerful best on bass. Interestingly the specialists that make active speakers like ATC and PMC use less powerful amps on mid and top - however, I think they use amps with the same character, just different maximum power capability. But it is a simple matter to try both ways round and decide which sounds best to you - and the 250 and 300 have tbe same gain, so theoretically at least nothing else needs changing.

Gavin L posted:

Running wonky active is something I have had a lot of experience with and I would advocate it as a means to an end.  I would certainly recommend active with the 250/300, as a stepping stone to getting to 300/300.

If anyone is interested, my journey is below.  Against conventional wisdom, I have always put the better speaker on the bass - which is a matter of taste.  It is true, however you do it, it is very much a compromise.  But there is something addictive about the pace active brings.

Now I have finally made it to 3x500, the biggest thing I notice is how it all comes together, fantastic PraT, and less of a tendency to listen to the system and more getting lost in the music.

BTW - fully endorse the comments on the SCDR for the SNAXO and the SL cable between the SC and the 52.  It certainly is a journey...

CDI / NAC82 / NAP180 / SBL

CD2 / NAC82 / NAP180 / SBL

CD2 / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SBL

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SBL

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SB

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 / NAP250 / NAP300 / DB

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 / NAP250 / NAP300 / DBL

CDS3+CD555PS  / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 /  NAP300 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 /  NAP300 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL + full SL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP500 / NAP500DR / NAP500 / DBL + full SL

 

Galvin, 

a Little bit off topic but du you run a tt as well ..? 

Innocent Bystander posted:

In the light of that I withdraw my cautionary note about wonky.

interestingly Naim advice seems to be to put the better amp on the mid or treble (I’m not clear which, I assume mid as that’s the most critical for clarity) - of course irrelevant when only 2-way, when it is simply the top. However, there are other arguments, in that the one with the best grip on bass (i.e. the 300 in this case) should be on the bass as that is where control may most be noticed, or that bass requires more energy (power) so the most powerful best on bass. Interestingly the specialists that make active speakers like ATC and PMC use less powerful amps on mid and top - however, I think they use amps with the same character, just different maximum power capability. But it is a simple matter to try both ways round and decide which sounds best to you - and the 250 and 300 have tbe same gain, so theoretically at least nothing else needs changing.

Yes, the only way to approach this is to try it yourself. When I first went active with my DBLs, I did try a 250 with my existing 2X500s. I tried this driving bass, mid & tweeter, and it sounded best driving the bass. But even then I was conscious of the different amp wherever I put it, even though I jiggled with the channel gain controls in the SNAXO. That's just my opinion, in my own system though.

Nice write up on active journeys. And a journey it sure is. Mine seems comparatively straight forward. I had a passive 555/552/500/dbl system for over ten years. It was not until I had my 500 serviced and dred that I would think about going active. It was rather steep as I went straight to 3x500dr with snaxo/Scdr. The Investment is not insignificant as it includes six more boxes much more fraims more cables and quite some effort with proper setup.  But for me absolutely worth the effort . 

140 Credo

140 x 2 IXO Credo

140 x2 SNAXO Hicap Credo ( big jump, IXO was a bit rubbish on reflection)

140 x2 SNAXO Hicap SBL

140 x2 SNAXO Supercap SBL (stayed here for a long time)

250 x2 SNAXO Supercap SBL (fantastic system but a nice pair of SL2’s came along..)

250 x2 SNAXO Supercap SL2

250 x2 SNAXO Supercap SL2 plus Superlumina SNAXO cable.

Source and other changes from CDX to CDS3, HDX to NDS not included, not least as I am not quite sure when each happened.

I post this to show that active systems can indeed be thought of as a journey. Few if any of these steps were not worthwhile or enjoyable in their own right. The pleasure is seeing a whole new level of playing pleasure each time you set up. So I would not stop anyone stepping on the active ladder ‘low down’ and just having fun with it.

Bruce

Thanks, Bruce. Interesting. 

Well I heard my first active system yesterday evening and it didn’t do anything for me.  Now, by no means does that mean I don’t like active - there are far too many variables floating about. So the system I heard is source Hugo (if I have remembered that correctly), 52 and supercap (same as me), 2x250dr (300 here) and SL2s (SBLs here). The rooms are different too, of course - mine is L-shaped with stone floor (yesterday’s square with wood floor), my SBLs really are not set up optimally and I have quadraspire whereas yesterday evening’s system is on Fraim (my Fraim is all still in my study in the loft)

There was a harshness in higher notes / voices that on listening to the same tracks at home (particularly noticeable on the first track which was tidal-sourced - don’t know if that had anything to do with anything, the other tracks were on a local server via Roon) is this morning definitely not there on my own system. No idea if that is room-related or due to something else

possibly need to try a 200 with my 300, and 250dr with my 300 and another 300 with my 300. That’ll be a busy day! But going to get the room redecorated before all that - don’t want to do that after all has been set up and disturb it again

as an aside the 250dr that I picked up (at a stupid cheap price) is now playing between my UQ and nSats in my study. A couple of hours in it is a good improvement with hopefully more to come. And of course I need to try it out once run in downstairs in place of my 300 to understand the difference in sound between the 250dr and my (non dr) 300

I started with Nac 42.5, hicap , Nap 140 CD 3.5 and PSB gold stratus speakers, Upgraded to 72 and 250 and CDS2. Followed by a 82 and CDS3. When I found my NBLs I decided to try active and purchased 2 more Nap 250s. Upgraded to Nac 52 and had everything serviced. I do not plan on changing anything. More of everything in spades.

living in lancs yearning for yorks posted:

There was a harshness in higher notes / voices that on listening to the same tracks at home (particularly noticeable on the first track which was tidal-sourced - don’t know if that had anything to do with anything, the other tracks were on a local server via Roon) is this morning definitely not there on my own system. No idea if that is room-related or due to something else

Perhaps the pots in the SNAXO were not set correctly? Apart from that I can't think of a reason why an active system should sound especially harsh.

I remember that my SL2s sounded very different in the system of their previous owner, an olive system with 52, 52PS (IIRC) and 2x250, still very good but much brighter.

Hopefully you can listen to another active system somewhere else. One is essentially on one's own when trying to demo an active Naim system.

I think the only thing I can do, practically, is have the dealer bring another 250dr (a local owner has a snaxo that he has offered to bring round) and I can then hear 2x250dr active with my speakers / NDS etc and in my own room. 

I doubt it is the active that brought the harshness but I don’t know what it was that did - and I did not hear the wonder of active that people rave about, which is the important thing. It is possible that I don’t like the 250dr compared to my 300 - but I can test that at home now

I don’t think the harshness is due to being active - per se.  It sounds like something is wrong with the setup you heard.  Active SBLs using 250’s should give a very lively and exciting sound.  It really benefits live performances (rock).  I had that setup for a good time and I was adicted to seeking out live recordings.

The weakness to my ears, was in the bass performance.  That being more a function of the SBL than anything else.  That motivated my switch to DBL, which proved to be a very expensive move as I really needed to upgrade everything else.  By comparison, DBL’s much more revealing than SBL.

Now I have finally managed to have a balanced system on 500’s, it is really performing and I get the energy of that “active sound” on pretty much all recordings.  Something that the 500’s bring, but for the DBL, does not really come through with 250’s or 300’s.

I hope you enjoy the audition.  It can be a very expensive journey - although the end point is great.  Having run a wonky system for a long time leading up to this, it is really quite a compromise and I would avoid if you can.  However, for me, the end justified the means.

Enjoy!

Thanks, Gavin. The harshness was present on the active SL2s / 2x250dr that I listened to (I should add the owner is very happy with them! We all hear things differently) but not on my own passive 300 / SBLs

the dealer I have been speaking to about going active has advised strongly against going wonky - though his partner suggested 300/250dr would work. Before I decide that I need to be persuaded that I should go active which means a trial at home with 2x250drs. If we can manage it, it should be worthwhile trying 250dr/300 as well even if I decide not to do. I am content to make the decision now, let the bank balance recover from recent spending, and keep my eyes peeled for another used 300 (non dr) and make the jump next year

in an ideal world I would have another 300 lying around to try 2x300...

I've never heard active 250Drs into SBLs, but I ran a 52/ 2X250/ SNAXO/HiCAP/Active SBL system for almost twenty years, and despite listening to many so-called superior alternatives I still preferred my system. It was only when I converted to 552/2X500/SNAXO/SC/ Active sL2s that I felt I'd achieved a substantially improved setup. First time I heard a properly set up pair of active DBLs was at Jon Honeyball's place, and what Immediately struck me about them was their similarity soundwise to SBLs, which figures when you consider they were designed to be SBLs with extra bass (and how!). They were nicknamed FBLs during their development...

Franz K posted:
Gavin L posted:

Running wonky active is something I have had a lot of experience with and I would advocate it as a means to an end.  I would certainly recommend active with the 250/300, as a stepping stone to getting to 300/300.

If anyone is interested, my journey is below.  Against conventional wisdom, I have always put the better speaker on the bass - which is a matter of taste.  It is true, however you do it, it is very much a compromise.  But there is something addictive about the pace active brings.

Now I have finally made it to 3x500, the biggest thing I notice is how it all comes together, fantastic PraT, and less of a tendency to listen to the system and more getting lost in the music.

BTW - fully endorse the comments on the SCDR for the SNAXO and the SL cable between the SC and the 52.  It certainly is a journey...

CDI / NAC82 / NAP180 / SBL

CD2 / NAC82 / NAP180 / SBL

CD2 / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SBL

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SBL

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO2-4 / NAP250 / NAP250 / SB

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC52 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 / NAP250 / NAP300 / DB

CDS3+CD555PS / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 / NAP250 / NAP300 / DBL

CDS3+CD555PS  / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 /  NAP300 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP250 /  NAP300 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP300 / NAP500 / NAP500 / DBL + full SL

CD555 / NAC552 / SNAXO362 + SCDR / NAP500 / NAP500DR / NAP500 / DBL + full SL

 

Galvin, 

a Little bit off topic but du you run a tt as well ..? 

I have a Linn Axis TT.  I did get it set up and had it sitting at the top if the stack (place now taken by the Arcam AIRDAC).  I used it pre CDI, but not much for a long time.  

I always hankered for a LP12 and thought if I used the Axis, I would treat myself.  In turns out, I only used it a couple of times in the course of a year - so it is now relegated to some shelves.  It could be added back in a few minutes - but it probably will not.  The CD555 is pretty seductive given its quality.  I might stream if there is something I haven’t got, but even that doesn’t happen often on the main system.

I have a CDI / 52/ SC / 250 / Kans in the lounge (just gone for servicing).  That I mostly use for streaming,  All the equipment is hidden in a cupboard.  The setup is a bit of a compromise, but does the job.

(Apologies to the OP for the diversion)

No need to apologise, Gavin You have highlighted an issue that affects me - my TT is some way behind my NDS (some years ago I went for a cheap cartridge which with hindsight was not the best idea, though I was funds limited at the time) and I have had to decide if I want to keep my lp12 and bring it up to scratch. Which won’t be cheap. I am rather attached to it (had it 23 years so far) and I cannot bear to part with it and rather hanker after being able to buy vinyl now and again

living in lancs yearning for yorks posted:

....and a pair of SL2s have landed in my living room as a little diversion. I had tipped a local off to their availability - he bought them but decided they weren’t for him. They are sounding happier in my living room (single 300) than in his (active 2x250dr). Maybe it’s the 300?  My room?  Anyway, they are sounding rather 😊 

Thats great news. Congratulations! They sure sing with a 300. isnt there a second 300 in the waiting for your active aspirations ..? 

living in lancs yearning for yorks posted:

There is, Franz!

Great, So bring it on get it going, fire those babies up and throw on your favouite pieces of music 🎶 

No, seruotsly take your time and be careful with each step. It takes a lot of attention to detail to get an active system going for the first time. Best to do it together with somebody who is knowledgeable careful and trustworthy. But the reward should be a real revelation .. excited times ahead for sure 😎

BTW ...what about a snaxo and a psu for it and more cabling ..? 

Well franz you know I have the hicap - and I have some naca5 on the way but no snaxo / nazo. My wife has instructed me not to spend any more on the hifi after the SL2s though - which is a perfectly good and reasonable thing for her to say. So I may have to wait a while - I have to hold off for a month or two anyway as we are having the room decorated and I want to have that done before getting everything in place for active, and we have to finish the cinema room ...

interestingly, you actually introduced yourself as "i'm that bloke who calls himself  LILYFY" -- I recall I was sitting having a cup of tea and cake and chatting to TonyM at the time.

Good luck sourcing a snaxo242 -- i'm sure  'senior management' will approve purchase of critical snaxo soon so you can experience the magic of active 300/SL2s in your house.

All the best and enjoy

/ken

And it is looking like a used snaxo 242 is coming available locally soon. Yikes!  Need to work out how to squeeze 11 shelves’ worth of kit into 10 levels now...

and Ken, I am sorry that I didn’t remember speaking to you. I think I apologised at the time for not speaking to you in one of the dem rooms earlier as I didn’t know who you were. I misremembered that as apologising on the forum for not speaking to you at the event. Six years ago now!

edited to add - it was interesting to me that Jason from Naim has 2x300s active into SL2s - we nearly derailed the ND555 dem before it started by chatting about that to begin with!

living in lancs yearning for yorks posted:

And it is looking like a used snaxo 242 is coming available locally soon. Yikes!  Need to work out how to squeeze 11 shelves’ worth of kit into 10 levels now...

and Ken, I am sorry that I didn’t remember speaking to you. I think I apologised at the time for not speaking to you in one of the dem rooms earlier as I didn’t know who you were. I misremembered that as apologising on the forum for not speaking to you at the event. Six years ago now!

edited to add - it was interesting to me that Jason from Naim has 2x300s active into SL2s - we nearly derailed the ND555 dem before it started by chatting about that to begin with!

no worries and congratulations -- looks like your active system will be up and running soon..!

enjoy

ken

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