Passive loudspeaker vs. active loudspeaker? The difference doesn’t fall to the amplifier’s location – internal or external – but where it sits in relation to the crossover.
Consider Bryston’s 3-way Mini T standmount. A one-size fits all external amplifier, provided by the end user, is connected via loudspeaker cable to the binding posts to interface with the speaker’s internal crossover that divvies up the audio signal between the three drivers: a 1″ tweeter, a 5.25″ midranger and a 8″ bass driver. Voilà: musique! In other words, the crossover, comprising passive components (resistors, inductors, capacitors), sits between amplifier and drivers.
In activating the same loudspeaker to introduce us to the Mini T Active loudspeaker system, Bryston have done away with the passive crossover network to directly wire the companion 24B3 amplifier’s six outputs – three per channel – to each of the Mini T’s drivers. The crossover is then executed prior to the amplification stage via DSP (software) by the mains powered BAX-1.
From the press release: “At the heart of every Bryston Active system is the BAX-1 crossover. The Bryston BAX-1 is a state-of-the-art digital crossover containing proprietary software… The BAX-1 receives a full-range analog audio signal from the preamplifier and performs the three-way crossover functionality and driver correction for each channel, also applying any user-selected filters for tailoring the bass response of the loudspeakers. The signal is then sent to each amplifier channel.”
Crossover positioned before direct-connected amplifier and drivers, the fundamental technical advantages of an active configuration remain: 1) each amplifier’s output can be tailored to its corresponding driver’s impedance curve; 2) DSP crossover filters can be applied more steeply with lower phase error fall-out; frequency response can be smoothed; drivers can be time aligned.
Like the BAX-1 crossover, the Mini T’s accompanying 24B3 amplifier isn’t folded inside the speaker cabinet. It too remains an outboard implementation, foregoing the lower box count of modern actives offered up by Kii, Genelec and Devialet but picking up the attention of those who think it an unwise engineering decision to put the amplifier inside a box that vibrates.
The Bryston Mini T Active system, featuring the BAX-1, a 24B3 amplifier and a pair of Mini T Active loudspeakers will start shipping in Q2 2018 with an RRP of US$17,690.
But there’s more:
For those who prefer a 40″-tall 3-way floorstander, Bryston will begin shipping the Middle T Active system (US$22,230) in Q2 2018. Once again, the BAX-1 will execute the crossover whilst each of the 24B3 ‘s six channels will power (in each speaker) 2 x 8″ bass drivers, a 5.25″ midrange driver and a 1″ tweeter.
And for the biggest of bellies, the Model T active system separates out the 24B3’s role into a pair of (more powerful) 21B3 monoblocks to drive a pair of 53″-tall 3-way floorstanders, each with 3 x ‘high excursion’ 8″ bass units, 2 x 5.25″ midrangers and two 1″ tweeters. Price: US$33,770.
Standard finishes for all models include Black Ash, Natural Cherry and Boston Cherry with custom finishes available upon request and priced on application.
Further information: Bryston