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What Is The Difference Between Active and Passive Speakers?

What Is The Difference Between Active and Passive Speakers?

Buying new speakers should be exciting, not complicated. Sadly, that’s not always the case and cutting through the jargon can sometimes be a chore. At HifiHut we want to simplify the process and get back to basics, making sure you get the right speakers for you. One of the decisions you might find yourself faced with is choosing between active and passive speakers. The difference between them? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out.


What Are The Main Differences Between Active and Passive Speakers?

Simply put, active speakers are speakers that have a built in amplifier and are powered by mains electricity as opposed to passive, which receive power through an external amplifier. On top of this, there are also variations between the two in sound, signal path and flexibility.


Active Speakers

Active speakers are also known as powered speakers. Usually, they have most, if not all, of the electronics built-in which makes them easy to set up and start enjoying within minutes. Active speakers are ‘plug and play’ in that you simply plug in the speakers, connect to the music source and you are ready to rock. Active speakers use a lot of back end technology, and usually include built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth which makes connecting to other sources a breeze. In general, active speakers ensure a sleek and smooth setup.



Active speakers are configured to work as an integrated unit which means that your sound will come from components that are designed to work together. The technology used today in active speakers means the integrated amplifier and drivers work together better than ever before. Active speakers will often be outperformed sonically by their passive counterparts. In these cases, it’s a trade off — convenience and budget vs performance.



With active speakers, add-on options can be limited. Adding components is not easy, so if you decide in the future that you may want to upgrade the amplifier, it may not be possible. Making sure that you choose active speakers that deliver the sound you strive for, without the need for any additional components in the future should be your objective.


Passive Speakers

In its basic form, a traditional Hi-Fi system consists of a source component, an integrated amplifier and a pair of passive speakers. Passive speakers don’t have a built-in amplifier like active speakers so they need an external power amplifier to power the speakers, a separate box.



Passive speakers are often built to specific price-points, put simply - you get what you pay for. Sound quality depends on the whole system, you can pick and choose your separates, but you need to be sure everything works together.



With passive speakers, components can easily be upgraded according to your own schedule. Users have much more control over their sound system, making it easy to create a fully customised experience. The system of your dreams can become a reality whether built piece by piece, or all in one go depending on your preference.


So, Active v Passive Speakers. Which Are Better?

Active speakers have a host of advantages, there’s no need for long lengths of cable and with the amp integrated into the design, it can be optimised for a specific drive unit. The bottom line is, active speakers give a reliable clean and clear sound with an easy setup that is lightweight and neat, with many options configured for wireless applications too.


However, active speakers have their pitfalls too. Active speakers limit the amount of upgrading possible to the system. You can’t just change the power amps which leaves less scope for mix and match which could be a deal breaker for many audio enthusiasts.


Passive speakers, on the other hand, offer more flexibility. It is an easier system to make upgrades to and replace components, and users have more control over the sound. In like-for-like comparisons, the passive speaker will often edge it sonically.


Which one is right for you will depend on many factors but we are here to help. Chat to us and book your own personal demonstration today. We’ll make sure everything sounds crystal clear.

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