Active loudspeakers – they can bring forth numerous aesthetic and audible advantages over their passive brethren. The case against centres on the elimination of choice. With electronics living inside the loudspeaker cabinet, no longer are we free to select our own amplifier or DAC. For many audiophiles, being able to mix and match devices is FUNdamental to the pursuit of better sound.
Internalised electronics alone don’t make a loudspeaker active. The amplification stage sitting after the crossover and operating at the driver level is what counts. The former is often a byproduct of the latter.
An active speaker setup looking to keep amplifier and DAC choices in play would see external amplifier/s directly connected to each driver. Two amplifiers for a 2-way loudspeaker. Three for a 3-way. And if the amplifiers are externalised, so too is the crossover.
DEQX’s range of digital pre-amplifiers/processors have offered DSP crossover functionality for many years. That’s one half of the active puzzle already in place.
(We’ve previously covered their Pre-Mate Plus (US$4995) as a loudspeaker- and room-correcting digital pre-amplifier as well as a crossover point between a pair of standmounts and a subwoofer — extremely broad utility for a single box that can also operate as a standalone DAC and/or Roon Ready endpoint.)
DEQX’s offering for 2018 is a range of “synergistically matched” Hypex nCore-loaded shoebox amplifiers that serve to complete the active picture:
“We’ve been looking for ways to offer customers highest-end amplifier performance that’s affordable because many DEQX users need two or three amplifiers per speaker for DEQX’s 3rd generation ACTIVE speaker architecture. Third generation ACTIVE provides about a hundred times more DSP processing compared to traditional DSP (2nd gen) ACTIVE speakers. This is needed to deliver potentially perfect Frequency and Timing/phase response calibration inherent to HD-media.”
The Australian company’s A500x1 monoblock offers 500 watts into 6-8 Ohms; “slightly less” into 4 Ohms. Price: US$1345. On the back panel, we find as expected, a single balanced XLR input and one pair of loudspeaker binding posts. For a normal passive loudspeaker setup where the amplifier would talk to a passive crossover housed inside the speaker, we’d run one per channel: US$2690 all up. Situation normal.
However, when partnering the A500x1 with a DEQX pre-amplifier to activate a pair of 2-way loudspeakers, we’d need two amplifiers per loudspeaker: one for the tweeter and one for the mid/bass driver. That sums to four amplifiers with a total cost of US$5380. Doubling up on amplifier casework can make DIY loudspeaker activation a costly endeavour.
On this, DEQX keeps one step ahead. Anyone not needing 500 watts per driver can look to the A500x2 that separates the A500x1’s internally bridged amplifier modules to push 2 x 250 watts from a single chassis but for the same street price: US$1345 per unit.
The A500x2’s doubling up on balanced XLR inputs and loudspeaker binding posts mean it can be run as a standard stereo power amplifier. Alternatively, an A500x2 can be applied to each loudspeaker to activate a 2-way with half the power, half the amp box count and half the cash down.
But DEQX hasn’t stopped there. Their A500x3 three-channel amplifier (US$1495) allows us to activate a single 3-way loudspeaker from a single box. ‘Round back, a trio of XLR inputs and a trio of speaker binding posts sandwich a trio of internal amplifier modules: 2 x 250 watts for the bass and mid drivers and 1 x 100 watts for the tweeter. This brings the total amplification cost for activating a pair of 3-way loudspeakers down to US$2990.
The A500x3 makes 3-way loudspeaker activation a two-box proposition: one DEQX digital processor connected via XLR cables to one DEQX amplifier, reminding us that sometimes in hi-fi we can have our cake and eat it.
Oh – and DEQX is pronounced “DECKS”.
Further information: DEQX