We’ve come a long way in a very short time. A few years ago, the audio world was relatively stable; you bought a CD player and an amplifier, wired these to some loudspeakers, and you were away. Computer audio changed all that, but the real depth of that change is only just becoming realised with products like the Active Discreet system, from Audiovector.
Audiovector supplied us with a pair of Si 3 Signature floorstanders with the Active Discreet modules and the little plastic hub that goes with it. The Si 3 Signature is something of a known product to the magazine; we’ve tested the Si 3, and discussed the company’s unique upgrade path from basic Si 3 to top-notch Si 3 Avantgarde Arreté. Which means the Signature model (mid-way in the five-step upgrade path) is a good platform upon which to work up the Active Discreet system. However, the wireless active system can be fitted (or retrofitted) to any one of more than 30 models in the Audiovector catalogue.
The Active Discreet module slips in place of the passive crossover network on the back of the relevant Audiovector loudspeaker. On the outside are two speaker terminals (of sorts) and three switches; one a treble boost or cut, the middle does the same for the bass, and the third flips between channels. Inside the speaker itself, there’s a small custom circuit called ADAC (short for Audiovector Discreet Active Concept), which is a combined DSP crossover and series of Class D amplifiers depending on the loudspeaker used (there are three 70W modules in the Si 3, for example).
The loudspeaker is driven by the Discreet Hub, a small black plastic module designed to wire into any existing sources, or connect wirelessly via aptX Bluetooth or Apple’s Airplay. The really clever part of this is the connectivity. It has all the benefits of active drive, without the need to plug the speakers into the mains AC power. Audiovector went with low voltage power modules inside the loudspeakers, meaning the Active Discreet modules are driven by a bell-wire sized connection cable between hub module and loudspeakers, which sends both power and data. All you have to do is assign left and right channels, by flipping a switch at the back of the loudspeaker, and everything else configures almost automatically. The only big user adjustments involve setting the volume ceiling for a given room and whether you want the Bluetooth pairing process to be protected or open. Either way, you cannot have two competing Bluetooth devices paired at once, for obvious clashing reasons.