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Thread: The sonic benefits of an external crossover. A discussion.

  1. #1
    Moderator Moderator treitz3's Avatar
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    The sonic benefits of an external crossover. A discussion.

    Hello, ladies and gentlemen of the forum and thank you in advance for your interest and input in the following discussion. This thread will be part of an ongoing series that will concentrate on the "Dissecting a speaker Series". This discussion will be concentrating solely on the sonic benefits of an external crossover and the end result as to what hits your ears.

    Some companies offer an external crossover for their speakers and usually the price tag associated with these type of speakers are pretty hefty. Some of you may have heard throughout your audio journey that going external with the crossover is the "way to go" but have never really learned of the sonic reason as to why. Only theory behind why one would do such a thing. Things that could be considered an attribute are as follows;

    * Ease of swapping individual components within said speaker/customizing/tailoring to suit one's preferences.
    * With loss of vibrations, the values of the individual components retain a better consistency of proper operating performance.
    * The ability to isolate said components just as one would with the rest of the gear.

    What say you?

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to a good analogue reproduction.

    I post my own opinions except when posting as a moderator in green.

  2. #2
    Member Sponsor [Technical Expert] DonH50's Avatar
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    In no specific order:

    • Direct coupling of amps to drivers, providing better control and lower distortion (higher damping factor)
    • No loss through passive crossover components
    • Much more flexibility in designing and optimizing line-level crossovers to reduce interaction among drivers
    • With DSP-based crossovers, no component drift, nearly ideal filters, easy to independently adjust different slopes, gains, phases for each driver; could include room correction as well
    • Allows choice (optimization) of amplifiers to suit drivers and frequency range

    etc.
    Don Herman
    "After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
    Don's Technical Articles on WBF

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    I prefer to have the passive XO right next to the amp so then the cable carrying the full bandwidth audio signal is as short as possible. This allows cables optimized for their respective bands to be used between the XO and the drive units. I use Cat5/Cat6 twisted pairs, paralleled for bass/mid according to current demands. A single pair I use for the tweeter and I reduced the tweeter pad resistor in my XO to compensate for the series resistance.

  4. #4
    This is still a passive crossover in the signal chain after the amplifier, it is just housed outside of the speaker box? It's advantage, then, is that it gives the speaker manufacturer something dubious to differentiate his product from the competition.

    Tim
    In high-end audio, you can't even fight an opinion with the facts.

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    Addicted to Best! Keith_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
    In no specific order:

    • Direct coupling of amps to drivers, providing better control and lower distortion (higher damping factor)
    • No loss through passive crossover components
    • Much more flexibility in designing and optimizing line-level crossovers to reduce interaction among drivers
    • With DSP-based crossovers, no component drift, nearly ideal filters, easy to independently adjust different slopes, gains, phases for each driver; could include room correction as well
    • Allows choice (optimization) of amplifiers to suit drivers and frequency range

    etc.
    I agree with everything Don says. However, I think that Ron is referring to an external, passive, speaker level crossover (PHLXO). In this case, I think the only benefit is the ease in which it can be swapped for an active crossover
    Classical music enthusiast. System photos here.

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    Addicted to Best! A.wayne's Avatar
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    In a nutshell ......... MICRO-PHONICS .....!!!

    Then there are another dubious effects audible to golden ears ones , in short you want caps as close to the driver as possible , inductors away from vibration and stray magnetic field, Shielded drivers are your best friend for the latter , distance from the driver for the former .

    Next is size :

    Big inductors need room to not have any proximity effect , i have measured this in the past to be a min of 3 inches when at right angles , double that when parallel to each other, with big inductors this means room , easiest to remote mount the xover than it is to make room, especially if the enclosure volume is tight and does not permit.

    Best then to remote....

    So you want Mid/tweeter caps and components as close as possible , bass drivers and their inductors away from vibration , best compromise would be to remote, bass driver components.

    Install the rest as close to the drivers as possible .....

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    Addicted to Best! A.wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opus111 View Post
    I prefer to have the passive XO right next to the amp so then the cable carrying the full bandwidth audio signal is as short as possible. This allows cables optimized for their respective bands to be used between the XO and the drive units. I use Cat5/Cat6 twisted pairs, paralleled for bass/mid according to current demands. A single pair I use for the tweeter and I reduced the tweeter pad resistor in my XO to compensate for the series resistance.
    My preference is the opposite , and have wires to drivers as short as possible , the added inductance between xover and driver will smear the mid/top end ..

    Let the voltage source do the work ....

  8. #8
    Member Sponsor [Technical Expert] DonH50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith_W View Post
    I agree with everything Don says. However, I think that Ron is referring to an external, passive, speaker level crossover (PHLXO). In this case, I think the only benefit is the ease in which it can be swapped for an active crossover
    Ooops, my bad, yes I was thinking of an active line-level crossover, not an external passive speaker-level crossover (like my Magnepans have, as a matter of fact). In that case, A. Wayne summed it up pretty well.

    Sorry for the OT diversion, getting senile - Don
    Don Herman
    "After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
    Don's Technical Articles on WBF

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    Moderator Moderator treitz3's Avatar
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    That's alright, Don. We are all, after all, human. Your answer will be good for the next in the series of dissecting a speaker.

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to a good analogue reproduction.

    I post my own opinions except when posting as a moderator in green.

  10. #10
    Use high end components such as Claritycap ESA, MR, or Duelund CAST components and microphonics from the speaker cabinet are no longer an issue.

    Otherwise, I also prefer external.

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