Speakers: Active vs Passive

If you are in the market looking for speakers, you will come across two types of speakers; active speakers and passive speakers. Now the thing is that this choice can easily confuse between both speakers since it is not an easy job to distinguish between both speakers until you are well versed about the technology that is used in these speakers.

In this article, we are going to be looking at a comparison of sorts between active speakers, and passive speakers. The more people know about how these speakers differ from one and the other, the better it will be. Therefore, without digressing, let’s have a look, shall we?

What Are Passive Speakers?

if you own a pair of speakers, chances are that the pair you own is passive. How? Well, these speakers are super common, and they are your conventional speakers that are available in the market. They are used with an amplifier as well as a cable. As the name suggests, these speakers work via a signal that is amplified. If a speaker comes with more than just one driver, then the signal that is being carried over will be split into the low frequencies as well as the high frequencies in a circuit that is known as crossover.

As far as passive speakers are concerned, they have their own share of benefits and disadvantages. Below, we are discussing both facets of these speakers.

The Benefits of Passive Speakers

As far as the benefits of passive speakers are concerned, they are there, but not as much. Still, it is better to just look at them. The more you know the better, right?

  • Flexibility: One of the biggest benefits of these speakers is the flexibility factor that cannot be overlooked at all.  You can mix and match the cables you want to use, and the best part is that you can upgrade them as well as long as you have the money.
  • Cost Effective: Another benefit that you get from these speakers is that they are cost-effective when compared to the more expensive alternatives known as active speakers.

These are the two most prominent benefits that make passive speakers such as befitting choices for most people in the market. However, at the same time, we must also understand that there are some limitations to these speakers, which we are going to discuss further.

The Downsides of Passive Speakers

There are some obvious downsides that have been talked time and again by the industry experts and the enthusiasts alike. Here, we are going to take a look at some of the downsides that are pretty common in passive speakers.

  • More Desk Space: Since you are going to need external equipment to power the speakers, this means that the speakers will require more desk space for all the equipment.
  • Possible Interference: Another rather common issue with passive speakers is that there is a chance of interference coming in the way. Sure, you can deal with the interference, you will have to go through a number of processes, and that can be a difficult situation, something that is never easy to deal with. This has more to do with the laws of physics than just some minor tinkering.

What are Active Speakers?

In hindsight, active speakers are basically the exact opposite of passive speakers. They do not require any external amplification as it is built into the box. As a matter of fact, most of the active speakers available in the market even come with their own dedicated amplifier for every speaker driver that is present in them. With active speakers, you just need a source; the source can be anything ranging from cables to wireless. The most common use of active speakers is in the professional recording studio.

Now as far as the benefits are concerned, they are certainly there, and the same goes for downsides. Let’s not digress and have a look.

The Benefits of Active Speakers

Now as far as the benefits of active speakers are concerned, they far outweigh the downsides, that is why they are great for almost all the tasks that you have for the speakers to handle. Still, for the uninitiated, we are going to mention some of the benefits of active speakers. Let’s not delay and look.

  • Less Cluttered: If you like your setups clean and without anything coming in the way, then going for something like an active pair of speakers. Since you can even use them wirelessly, so the option is certainly there for you to use.
  • No Non-Sense Setup: Another benefit that you get is the no non-sense setup that comes with these speakers. You do not have to worry about tweaking them or anything that might come in the way. They are completely set up for you right out of the box.
  • Less Interference: Since the internal wiring is so close to each other because of the amp and drivers being close to each other, there is a possibility. This also means that the overall integrity of the signal remains much stronger.
  • The Best Sound Out of the Box: Each driver comes with its own amplifier, you can easily pair them for the best possible sound.

No doubt, the benefits of active speakers are certainly there but this raises another important question. Are there any downsides? Well, to be honest, there are a few.

The Downsides of Active Speakers

With so much to offer, you would be wondering if there are any downsides that you are going to face with these speakers. Thankfully, there is not a lot to worry about. Still, let’s have a look.

  • No Option to Tweak or Upgrade: Unlike passive speakers, you cannot really upgrade or tweak active speakers in any way. This leaves a lot to be desired for people who love making changes to their speakers in order to the sound they want.
  • Expensive: In most situations, active speakers are often more expensive than passive counterparts.

Final Word

Image: B&H

There is no denying that both types of speakers are great, however, they are suited for a different type of audience as well. if you fit the following categories, you should buy active speakers rather than passive ones.

  • You are looking to a no non-sense speaker system without a lot of wires.
  • You do not want any tinkering with the amplifiers.
  • You have a lot of digital music that you listen to.
  • You do not have a lot of space.

Under the circumstances above, a pair of good active speakers should be more than enough. However, if you are from the following category then suiting for passive speakers is the right thing to do.

  • You wish to upgrade the amplifier and tinker with the existing one.
  • You have already invested in the rest of the audio gear.
  • You do not have a lot of budget.

We hope that this comparison between both speakers helped you in deciding which one is best for you. Like we have said before, different speaker systems are made for different people. You can choose either of them and still get the same sound from them, provided you know how to tweak these speakers based on your preferences.

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Bill Wilson
Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.
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