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Crossover 102 - Electronic Crossovers
by Marty McCann
© 2001

What is an Electronic Crossover?
The electronic crossover is an external electronic signal processor that takes the place of the passive crossover that is in a full range loudspeaker enclosure. In the world of today's high performance sound systems, the electronic crossover minimizes the distortion associated with full range passive crossovers, when the sound reinforcement application includes the complete micing up of the entire backline of stage musical instruments. The Electronic crossover allows for increased performance from the sound system by enabling the loudspeaker system to be run as an active Bi-amped two-way, Tri-amped three-way, or even a four-way (Quad-amped) sound system. The electronic crossover breaks the audio frequency spectrum into two, three, or four discrete bands of frequencies. Each defined bandpass is then actively powered by it's own dedicated power amplifier which then drives a loudspeaker component specifically designed to reproduce this portion of the spectrum. The result is a significant improvement in system performance due the tremendous increase in power amplifier and overall system headroom.

Headroom is defined as simply as possible as space remaining above the signal. It means that the voltage window that the power amplifier provides is not all used up, and there is reserve horsepower remaining above and beyond this nominal or average signal level. (Espacio ariba de senal). A power amplifier is able to produce it's rated output power because there is a positive (+) and negative (-) voltage rail or limit designed into the amplifier. The outgoing signal is said to swing or move between the positive and negative voltage tracks or rails. When either the positive or negative going signal reaches its rail or the limit of its available voltage swing, it is said to clip or stick to the power supplies rail. Power amp clipping is the biggest cause of loudspeaker failure.

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