First of all, lets get the subjectivity thing out of the way. Whether passive or active, the job of the speaker is to quite simply disappear. Ideally, the listener would want to listen to the music or soundtrack and not the speaker. Neutrality (and accuracy) is the key here. And yes, some speakers are measurably more accurate than others. Sadly, there is no such thing as the perfect speaker. Many folks spend much time looking and listening for as near neutral a speaker as possible and it really can be an arduous task. So much so that I believe listening itself is no easy thing. Although it sounds pretentious, some of the hugely experienced high end guys (and I'm not talking about 19 year old What Hi Fi reviewers) are almost connoisseurs at this and are actually very good at describing the character or "flavour" of a given speaker. In fact, some actually liken audio listening to wine tasting. Can you taste a red wine and tell me about its components or character. Some folks can. In fact, Charlie Whitehouse can probably tell you the region of origin never mind the country. Of course, we'd always get the "I know what I like the taste of" brigade. They are also right. If they like the character or "flavour of a given speaker thats all well and good. I guess it's like looking out of rose coloured windows. EVERYTHING looks nice. Key word here being nice. What happens if theres something not just "nice" but really stupendous worth seeing outside the window and the rose tint is obscuring this fine detail that we would love to see/hear? Sorry, rose tint only. Now if it was a CLEAR window, we would see this beautiful thing in all its glory. Hence, neutrality is everything. Going back to listening. For example, even the most mundane function such as volume (or db level) can have a huge overall influence on the way we perceive a speakers performance. With most speakers, whether passive or active, your sensitivity to bass and treble increases disproportionately as the volume goes up. Therefore, all things being equal, (and that in itself is impossible) what may sound hugely dynamic with tons of drive played at 85db in a dem room, may sound weak, weedy and woolly played at lower listening levels in your own room. The high frequency snap and thick round bass that you thought this speaker had, is simply not there anymore. In fact, it may well have been that the speaker you listened to in an earlier dem room at lower levels and didn't think much at the time, may have been a far better option. The art of listening is indeed perilous. I'll try and get back to this at some point in the future. There are lots of other areas in which we can go sideways such as equally important acoustics (which is in fact part of the speaker), peripheral equipment such as the hugely important front end, and IMO most important of all, source material. Whether your system is £100 or £100,000, I'm afraid it's rubbish in, rubbish out. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume "all things being equal". Now. Active or passive. Ok, preconceived ideas for the above and how far from the truth. I remember a great quote by Billy Woodman of legendary ATC that for truly accurate, read neutral listening (essential for mastering, mixing and recording purposes) most Hi Fi speakers or Studio monitors were not suitable to deliver the accurate sonics needed. The thought behind this was that while good Hi Fi speakers had reasonable sound quality, they lacked dynamics. Conversely, most studio monitors have good dynamic range but relatively poor sound quality. Taken as an average, and from the hundreds of speakers I've heard thus far, I agree with this 100%. *A side note here* I keep reading that nearfield professional speakers are not much good in the home. This is the biggest pile of poop ever. The vast majority of these speakers are tailored to perform at the optimum listening distance of 10/12 feet. I'll take a guess and say that 80-90% of us listen at this distance. For instance, I happen to watch/listen exactly 11ft away. I would hazard a guess that Martin Tyler does so at approx 10 feet away while Ian is approx 12 ft away. Matt, I'd say you're around 12ft away, correct me if I'm wrong. All speakers, have an optimum listening distance. Ask your speaker supplier/manufacturer. As most know what a passive speaker is and how it works, I'll go straight into the strengths and weaknesses of active speakers. The cons, You're stuck with what you have. With a fully active system, or a hybrid speaker with "powered" woofers, there is no upgrade path. Not enough power, lowly circuit design, or simply rubbish parts quality, you have nowhere to go but the skip. Other negatives, as Brian (JSW) witnessed recently, all active speakers are not created equal. For example, certain manufacturers may have chosen some components correctly, but fell short in other areas. There are competent speaker designers out there who really don't have a clue about amplifier design, or simply underestimate the value of putting resources into high quality electronics, and as a result ends up with a product that is far inferior to the competition. Some "high-end" loudspeaker manufacturers, particularly small specialist companies, simply don't have sufficient engineering facilities to put together an amp worthy of their fine speakers. The staff in these companies are often divided into two groups. They employ experts in cabinetry, French polishing etc and turn their speakers into fine pieces of furniture. They also employ folks with ears to design and customize the sonic colorations of loudspeakers through trial and error of swapping passive crossover components. However, neither of these folks are comfortable or even competent with electronics design. If you mess up a passive speaker, it sounds awful. If you screw up an active one, things go BANG. One thing I have found with some of the lower end active speaker manufacturers is this fixation they have about trying to get small speakers to play really, loud with lots of treble and upper bass. In fact, some of these response peaks were so obvious even with brief listening, it made me wonder if they actually made their speakers less accurate so as to make them sound more superficially detailed. In a visit to a recent Pro gear show in London, the floor was filled with duelling actives. Adzman, you would have loved it.