2 months ago I decided to upgrade my speakers and amp. Budget was about £1000-2000. After trying more than a dozen speakers from kef, monitor audio, q acoustics, mordant short, b&w, Dali, rega and tannoy, and not being completely convinced by any of them, I almost gave up. Then I decided to follow a friend’s advice and look at active speakers.
I went to absolute music in Bournemouth where they have a circular rack with dozens of speakers set up and ready to use, and after trying models from Adam, genelec, event, Dynaudio, sonodyne and krk, I walked away with a pair of focal cms 65s.
I've had these for a week now and have been repeatedly blown away. Their sound is different from any passives I've heard. They're certainly the most engaging speakers I know. Detailed yet powerful, with deep bass, lifelike midrange and sweet controlled highs, they’re almost everything I was looking for. They're incredibly dynamic too: I've always been used to hifis sounding a bit weak when the music picks up, like when a verse goes into chorus, but that’s never the case with these. If the music steps up a level, these take you with it. In short they have a very big sound when needed. Perhaps that’s another general characteristic of actives. They are also very rhythmic and have a great soundstage.
They're not without their faults of course. Either other speakers I've heard tend to have a hump around the upper/mid bass or these speakers are lacking in this area. Either way bass drums occasionally sound a bit weak, which can contribute to them sounding a bit hard and bright with rock. They are never sibilant though: for anyone worried about active speakers being like this I can assure you that its something I'm very aware of. One of the first tests I do when trying new speakers is play some James brown songs and see if it hurts my ears. That’s not the case with these speakers, which seem to be in complete control of their highs at all times. They can also be a bit too analytical.
Most importantly these speakers are always musical and fun so I can happily put up with their flaws. I think the biggest compliment I can pay them is that they make me listen to whole albums from start to finish. They simply make the music very enjoyable.
I hope this helps anyone in the situation I was in a few months ago. All I'm saying is give actives a listen, otherwise you'll never know.