When you are thinking about buying a speaker, you must decide if you want an active speaker, a passive speaker, a powered speaker or a combination.
The words passive, active and powered tend to be confused and utilized inappropriately. These terms are often used in reference to speaker amplification or speaker crossover. Many people don’t know the terms and tend to get confused. For this reason, active is usually confused with powered, and passive with unpowered.
What Are Active Speakers?
In this kind of speaker, the term active normally refers to the crossover components. The crossover components in an active powered speaker divide the frequency band of the audio signal into 3 frequencies (low, high, and mid-range). These frequencies are sent to specific speaker drivers designated to handle them.
In some cases, active speakers are powered. In this case, electrical crossover components and amplifiers with power have been added for each controller. For this reason, active and powered are often utilized synonymously.
Most of the active speakers used for home entertainment are powered, but this is not always the case. Using an active speaker system, you will usually see “active speaker” with “bi-amp” or “tri-amp” option, making reference to active crossover and 2 or 3 independent amplifiers for the separate drivers.
What about Passive Speakers?
Surely you will find on the internet all kinds of false arguments about the concept of passive speakers from different people. The truth is most of these people don’t know anything about the matter and just want to sell you their products.
A passive speaker is a speaker that does not have volume controllers or frequency drivers on its back. This kind of speakers only has plugs entries to connect the mixer, or one active speaker, or to connect the cables of the device with which you will play the sound.
If you want to modify the volume and frequencies (low, high, and mid-range) you must connect a mixer or a unit that fulfills this function. You can also do it by connecting your laptop and with the help of some software such as Virtual DJ.
There are currently active speakers on the market to which you can connect passive speakers. This depends on the brand and the active speaker you are using.
And Powered Speakers?
A powered speaker is technically an active speaker that has its own amplifier built into the speaker to give it more power.
The characteristic to have a built-in amplifier in a powered speaker reduces the needs for extra, expensive elements.
There are many definitions found on the Internet about active and passive speakers. With this article, we want to clarify the confusion that exists between active and passive speakers. The difference depends on the presence or not of volume controllers and audio frequencies.