“Passive Crossover are the weakest link in every audio chain,
and only you can cast off your chains”
Dr. Gizmo

This is a good opportunity for me to make the connection between emotions, musical aesthetics and audio engineering...and how to improve the quality of your speakers with a non-brainer modification...and I am not talking about buying new speakers.


This is a no brainer: passion compels intimacy. If you feel that strongly, and by that I mean there is an inferno of pleasure burning in your soul.... for anyone or anything, you have a physical urge to be as close as possible to the object of your desire, whether that is your lover. your motorcycle, or music. This is called the urge to merge and every gifted listener, like you, experiences it. Have you ever experienced an intense passion and wanted to be far away from the desired one? Obviously not. So it is with music. If we feel passionately about it, we want to be as intimate as possible; to be as physically close to it as possible.

Now we stumble on one of the great paradoxes of human consciousness: If we surrender to our passions, and are filled with this urge to merge, it is most common for the savagery of our primal soul to emerge. Can anyone of us repress the heat, the lust and greed of passion? There is nothing sober or intelligent about the savagery of passion, and so it is with music. If music is doing its job, we are loosing it...we are loosing all of those armored body controls and slipping into an emotional savagery of pleasure, and nothing feels better and freer than that. Just ask Stravinsky.

What makes audio technology such an important art form is that when it is working properly it permits us to experience this passion, this emotional savagery, in our living room...this intense desire for musical intimacy.

Let me state this metaphorically: If you want to run with the wolves in your living room you must surrender to the most savage emotions, the most primitive desires for musical intimacy...but as you grow and expand in your musical sensitivity this may become increasingly difficult because most gifted listeners, like you,  are wearing rubbers....and you know how hard it is to run with rubbers on.....just give this piece a chance.


Want a great example of audio absurdity? You spend thousands of dollars on electronics, speakers and interconnects and all of your signal winds of at a $3 inductor, and a $1 capacitor. And are you ready for this shock: you spend zillions of dollars on state of the art electronics and interconnects, and they are connected to...the longest wires in your system, which are speaker inductors...and who pays attention to the quality of this hidden wire?

All of those audio savant that are preaching about their circuit refinements ignore the fact that the artistic destiny of their work is controlled by a bunch of cheap parts in a speaker box. The solution?

As you know from my previous ranting I am on a sacred mission to compel all Priests of the Temple of Monkey Coffins to make all of their passive crossovers external to their speakers.  Why is this crusade so compelling? Because your passive crossovers are the rubbers you are wearing...they are preventing you from running with the wolves. They are inhibit the ultimate sensation of musical intimacy.

Accomplishing this simple task, which requires no research or development, will catapult the potential quality, meaning intimacy, of all loudspeakers, because once those nasty passive crossovers are out there in the open, either (1) the manufacturer will be forced to make them with higher quality parts or (2) you will have the options of retrofitting them with higher quality parts. In other words, by simple act of not hiding those crossovers inside the monkey coffin, your options have expanded.

Let me remind you of what every Priest knows, but doesn’t want to tell: the further these passive crossovers are from the drivers the better their electrical performance.

Why do all passive crossovers sing? Are they happy  or are they exhibiting the universal electro-mechanical resonances that Mike VansEvers refers to? Doubt my words? Buy a cheap stethoscope and listen to your speaker’s capacitors and inductors sing along with the music. This is not a good thing and why so many Japanese audiomaniacs, and yours truly, have buried their passive crossovers in sandboxes, or packed them in modeling clay.

Let’s take a pause now, and light up a cigar. While you are puffing and expanding your gizmological metacontext, and as your courage expands concentrate on my intent: I am asserting that your speakers are much better than you imagined, or to put it another way: the quality of midrange drivers, in general, have outpaced the quality of passive crossovers,  so before you consider buying a new pair of speakers, consider upgrading the parts quality of your passive crossover.

Are you still puffing? Coagulate on this: being that the midrange tonality is the most important single element of your music epiphany we want to do everything in our power to maximize it. Because you are the “not normal” audiophile victim (which is a redundancy); because you are an audiomaniac, you can take control of tonal destiny, you are not afraid of using a screw driver and soldering iron, especially because we are not dealing with any voltages here...no voltage, no shocks possible. If you only have one hand, lost your hands in an accident or war, or are still terrified of soldering irons, then enlist the help of your neighborhood audio nerd. Once you get the new crossover parts, fair compensation for this work should be about $25-50, and can be done right in your home.

Those of you who have spiritually advanced and are listening to directly heated triode amps should pay attention to what I am saying because there is only one way to experience the fundamental harmonic wholosity of these tubes...you have to lift your crossover fog.

You will also note how many $20K+ speakers boast using AlphaCore foil inductors.

Let me assure you from my personal experience that if you are into directly heated triode amplifiers, which is the celebration of King Tone, upgrading your crossovers is a major advancement in your aural matrix.


(1) Call up your speaker’s designers and discover if he will cooperate in your adventure. Will he give you the specifications on the inductors used in his speaker? If he tells you that foil inductors wont make a difference...well, he may be right...his speakers may be so poorly designed that you can’t hear the big electrical superiority of foil inductors. If he hems and haws, it is probably because he is embarrassed, which he shouldn’t be. These inductors are much more expensive than “normal” inductors and would make the selling price of your speakers much higher...and not everyone is a gifted listener, like you, who demands more.

(2) Order a copy of Speaker Builder, published by Ed Dell (603-924-9464) and check out all of the different companies that make very high quality speaker crossover capacitors. I will soon do an evaluation of some of these brands and let you know the results.   These caps  will not be cheap, but they are worth it. Most high quality speakers have generic polypropylene capacitors and the “superbrands” are superior. Michael Percey Audio (415-669-7181) is an excellent source for ordering   these capacitors. Madisound (608-831-3433) is also a prime supplier of high quality crossover parts

(3) Replace your existing binding post with Edison Price beryllium copper posts available from Eminent Technology (904-575-5655)...they are unplated. You will hear the difference between plated brass and pure copper...and yes solid silver would be better, but that is my next project.

(4) If you can, change the wire that goes from the speaker terminals to the crossovers. If you can afford it, use AlphaCore silver foil, or the best quality silver wire you can afford. At the very least use the AlphaCore copper foil.

(5) Does your speaker have its crossovers on a printed circuit board? Hard wire all of the passive crossover parts, and eliminate the printed circuit board? This will also be a big improvement.

(6) Mount your crossover externally. Put them in a sand filled box, and or pack them in modeling clay or Mortite.

(7) Sit back, light up a Cohiba cigar and enjoy the expansion of your aural matrix.


When I use passive crossovers, I use crossovers that I have made with AlphaCore foil inductors. Even my $30K Tannoy Westminster Royals came stock with $10 inductors, which I immediately changed , and the process took about ten minutes. I also use AlphaCore Inductors with my Sunlight Engineering 308 drivers, because they deserve them. The AlphaCore silver foil inductors, obviously, sound better, just like their silver foil cables sound better than their coppers, but there is no doubt that their copper foils are better than conventional enameled copper wire inductors.


So let me hit your over the head with a triode hammer: you spend thousands of dollars on your electronics, tubes and speakers. You spend hundreds of hours comparing the sound of different coupling capacitors...and a $3 inductor is controlling your tonal destiny. Do you like listening to the different tone of different brands of 300Bs? Not possible if your passive crossovers are fogging up your midrange. Do you get my drift about the silliness of letting your passive crossovers, which are the weakest link in every system be NOT under your control?

You now know what to do...do as I do...do as every speaker designer does who cares enough to give the very best...

ALPHA CORE: 800-836-5920



Back to The Triode Guild               Back to Meta-Gizmo   

e-mail Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg: drgizmo@meta-gizmo.com

Copyright© 2005    Meta-Gizmo.com™ and Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg      All rights reserved.
All the material contained within the above articles may not be reproduced without his express permission.