An important part of a home entertainment system is the audio component. Before you buy a speaker, though, you have to understand the different options and audio elements first. What are the differences among powered speaker, passive speaker, and combination? Do powered speakers need an amp?
Unfortunately, not all audiophiles and vendors are as confused as the buyers in using these terms. That is why you have to do your own research to avoid misinformation and save yourself from confusion.
In general, the majority of speakers in the market fall into two categories: active or powered and passive or unpowered. Their differences depend on how they are related to the amplifier that drives them. In this article, you will know the basic information about speakers. This is necessary so that you know what specific kind of speaker will complete your sound requirements.
The term “powered speakers” is almost always interchangeably used with active speakers. This makes sense because it refers to the crossover system or the component. Active speakers have these components to divide the frequency band of the audio signal into minor parts: low, mid-range, and high. These parts are then directed to the distinct speaker drivers to manage the frequencies.
Whether the speaker comes in pair or as a single device, the active speaker is the subwoofer. However, in some expensive audio systems, subwoofers are passive. Powered speakers, as the name implies, require to be connected to a power outlet because the amplifier, being an active electronic device, needs electrical power to function.
Because active speakers already have a built-in amplifier, it limits you to choose the amplifier that best matches specific audio system. Active speakers are expensive too and are rarely available. On another note, not all active speakers are powered speakers.
The terms active speakers and powered speakers can be interchangeably used. However, they are not entirely the same. Technically, the powered speaker has a built-in amplifier, and therefore, needs to be plugged into a power source.
Examples of powered speakers are the speakers installed in desktop computers, single room application, laptops, iPod speakers, etc. It is more compact, portable, and streamlined than an active speaker.
Many users have the misconception that powered speakers produce better sound quality than the passive speakers. This is not necessarily true because a passive speaker may still have the features of the amplifier passive crossover driver chain similarly built into a passive speaker system.
In powered speakers, you don’t have to an amp because it is already built inside. Moreover, they are better at cost-saving and reduce the clutter in a home entertainment system. It also allows the consumer to use wireless speaker system, set up easily, and doesn’t require additional components.
On the other hand, passive speakers have built-in passive crossover parts that separate the audio signals and transmit each signal straight into the loudspeaker drivers. These parts are usually an array of capacitors, resistors, and inductors. A passive speaker has a distinct power amplifier that transmits the entire audio signal to the speaker.
Installing passive speakers in the home entertainment system requires the set up of different components in one. This means that the user needs to match an amplifier for a specific passive speaker, and vice versa.
It has advantages and drawbacks. One advantage is that it allows the user to upgrade or change the amplifier, as compared to the active speaker where the amplifier is already fixed inside the housing.
Amplifiers are “over-built” so that they can match a wide variety of speakers. Therefore, they are generally more expensive and consume more power than active speakers.
The quick and simple answer is no. Powered speakers already have an integrated amplifier and are fed by line-level or low-level signal, which is transmitted along an interrelated cable coming from the preamplifier.
Active speakers are appropriate for home theater and home entertainment systems because they contain the amplifiers and crossover elements in the speaker housing, but this is not always the case. When it comes to active speakers in bigger home theater systems, the amplifiers can be on the outside of the speaker.
The right kind of speaker depends on what matches your entertainment system. A high-end 7.1 channel surround sound speaker is not always the best option. However, one single piece of speaker might not be loud enough for an outdoor party.
Consider your listening habits and your objectives in acquiring (pair of) speakers. If you listen to music or watch movies but are not particularly keen on appreciating sound for extended hours, bookshelf speakers are a good choice.
Yet, if you want a more powerful sound, then floor standing speakers are your best option. For upgrading the audio for TVs or music players, a soundbar or a combo of the soundbar and a wireless subwoofer can be an affordable choice.
In addition to that, it is also important to examine your space. Determine how big your room is so that you can identify which type of speakers it can accommodate.
Lastly, you would want to consider the features that you deem important for your listening needs. Some speakers have wireless connectivity, which allows you to connect mobile devices and play music from a distant. Some feature a LED display, which shows the status of the speaker.
So, do powered speakers need an amp? No, because it has already a built-in amp. Therefore, it is more cost effective and portable than passive speakers. Unfortunately, though, you can’t modify its components or its sound quality.
The categories of speakers and the quality of audio that different speakers produce can still be confusing for many. It is important to understand this basic information so that you can determine the appropriate speaker that can best match your entertainment needs.
Also, you don’t have to spend on high-end speakers to achieve high-quality audio. If you only want to upgrade your movie or TV experience, a pair of subwoofers or bookshelf speakers is great. However, if you are going to have an outdoor party, a pair of powerful outdoor speakers are most appropriate and can produce audio that is loud enough for the open space.