|Why Are Audiophiles Afraid of Powered Speakers|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 01 August 2006|
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During a recent trip to an audiophile club meeting in the Pacific Northwest, AVRev.com’s resident speaker setup guru Bob Hodas did a demo with Meyers X10 system that left many (if not all) of the audiophiles drooling and proclaiming it to produce the best sound they have every heard. At the end of the night, one of the members who has the money and the system to easily purchase X10s asked, “If I bought a pair, could I use my own amps?” This is inherently the audiophile problem. To say something was the best you ever heard at the ultimate price point and then want to somehow change what makes its successful describes the definition of the sickness known as audiophilia. I believe AVRev readers are simply more sophisticated and more informed as to the state of the art, leaving them less susceptible to the whims of pocket protector-wearing geeks selling obscure products that will be worth pennies on the dollar the day you walk out the audiophile dealer’s door.
Powered speakers require your attention and consideration in many venues. For the music enthusiast, it is a very simple way to set-up your system and if you believe in the “less is more theory,” then a high-end powered speaker could be for you. The dynamics of powered speakers make them an excellent solution. In the professional arena, many powered speakers go light on the fancy finishes to pack more punch into their transducers at a fair price. If you are burying your speakers behind a fabric wall or screen, then a zebra wood finish isn’t worth an investment from your speaker budget (get professional speaker calibration and room treatments instead).
If I was running a high-end loudspeaker company, I might consider looking at making powered versions of my top speakers. I would license the best, most famous amp designers from the likes of Mark Levinson to Krell to Classe’ to Linn and way beyond to make modules that could be added to and/or removed from my speakers. This way, the audiophile audience that still butters the bread of the top-line speaker companies can allow their clients to play with different amps inside the scope of a more simplified system solution. Additionally, it creates the ability to sell clients five different sets of amps for their speakers, so music enthusiasts who want to collect all five amps can do so.
In the end, fear not the powered speaker – you will be shocked at what you get for the money in terms of power, performance, system flexibility and value.