This past weekend a friend and I spent an afternoon listening comparatively to a collection of powered audio monitors. It was by no means a scientific study, just a casual session of listing to music in a focused manner.
We used three Slim Devices Squeezebox 3s as sources, all playing in sync from a music server. The SB3s were running Squeeze Center v7. We setup a playlist of music we both knew well then switched between monitors in pairs.
Some time ago I had installed a couple of in-ceiling speakers into our living room. I did it one Saturday while my wife was out. That was a mistake.
When she got home she was disappointed that I had done this without consulting her. I had mistakenly thought that built-in gear would be inconspicuous and so desirable from her perspective. She, on the other hand, felt that cutting holes in the ceiling of our vintage 1920s craftsman style house was a bad idea. She’d rather leave it as original as possible.
My brother-in-law Fred is something of an audiophile. Not the ridiculous, “I-paid-a months-wages-for-that-rca-lead cantcha-just-feel-the-increased-sonic-emotion*” kind of guy, more pragmatic but with an open mind.
A few years ago Fred built a set of speakers from a kit. It was a pricey kit but they sound great so why quibble. They look great, too. He had fun making them and the reward of making something exceptional with your own two hands cannot be overstated.
A few weeks after the Behringer monitors had arrived I learned of the mating subwoofer, Behringer’s B2092A. This was also a comparable bargain, so I bought two. Yes, stereo subwoofers. Such decadence.
The B2092A is beautiful in a way that many people will not appreciate. It’s a device built to a task with little concern for superficial things like aesthetics. It’s a 4th order double-tuned bandpass enclosure housing two long throw 8” drivers, their amplifier and crossover electronics. The built-in amp provides 360 watts rms below 80Hz with a range of adjustments to compensate for level and placement in the room.
These arrived Friday last week. They were known to be refurbished as they were discontinued last year some time. Even so, they were shipped poorly packaged and one arrived significantly damaged so I’m going to try and get it replaced.
And don’t get me started about UPS. At least in Houston they suck.
Powered monitors make sense for a lot of reasons. Except for very small models they are generally bi-amped, with an active line level crossover filter dividing the high & low frequencies before the amplifier stage. Then a separate amplifier is provided for each driver. In the case of Behringer’s B2031A, there is 150 watts for the woofer and 75 watts for the tweeter.
This approach allows the designer to tailor each amplifier design to suit the specific driver in question. Amplifier/driver interaction is one of the more complicated things in audio reproduction and optimization here can bring big performance improvements. With the amps right in the cabinets there’s effectively no speaker leads to further complicate the amp/driver relationship.