Powered vs Unpowered Speakers: Which Is Better?

Powered vs Unpowered Speakers: Which Is Better?
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There is a long and non-ending battle between powered vs unpowered speakers. For audiophiles, they do have teams for this just like the hardcore teams of Edward and Jacob. However, people who listen to music leisurely might not even know that there are powered and unpowered speakers.

The thing is, why does this matter? It matters because the choice that you go for will definitely affect the music that you are listening to. Not only that, purchasing the right speaker will surely be in line with how you want to hear your music. Definitely, whether you go for the powered speaker or unpowered one, if it fits what you want, then you are not at a loss.

With that said, we are going to move over one’s preferences and try to determine if there is really a better one between the two. In the process of doing so, we are also going to differentiate one type of speaker from the other and talk about the pros and cons of using them.

Powered vs Unpowered Speakers: A Detailed Comparison

Powered Speakers

Technically speaking, a powered speaker is simply a speaker that has its own amplifier built into it, but this does not necessarily imply that it is an active speaker. An active speaker has a built-in amplifier but needs an external source of power so that it can operate. As for the powered speaker, it already has a built-in amplifier and some models also have an internal power source. Compared to active speakers, it can be more portable, compact, and streamlined.


The notable benefits of using a powered speaker are:

  • Easy to set up: You already have an all-in-one speaker; thus, all you have to do is to plug in the line level sound, and you can start using it.
  • Sound comes straight out of the box: For some type of sounds, it is best heard straight from the box. With that said, the default design of the powered speakers is perfect for that.
  • Easy to customize the sound: Settings for this type of tunings are already in the speaker. Some have fine tuning while others do not. With powered speakers, you do not need to have a sound engineer; you can do it all by yourself.
  • Portable: Most powered speakers can be brought from one place to another. At the same time, most of them can be easily attached to a stand and other music accessories.
  • Versatile: If you plan or want to upgrade your sound system and will use other devices to amp up the sound of the speakers, the powered speakers can also be used as monitors.


Powered speakers usually have problems with:

  • Power distribution: This type of speaker might lack in terms of power as it utilizes everything that it has to perform from the get-go. No further adjustments can make the power be at its fullest without using an external source, which may or may not also be present with a powered speaker.
  • Overheat: You have everything packed into one, so when something busts out, everything else will follow. Although there are safeguards in check, there will still be problems when it is overly used.

Unpowered Speakers

Obviously, as the counterpart of the powered speaker, this type of speaker needs to have an external power source to function. Alternatively, it does not also have a built-in amplifier. Does this mean that an unpowered speaker is less powerful than that of a powered one?

The truth is actually farther from that logic. In fact, unpowered speakers can be more powerful than that of a powered one because the speakers itself do not have to bother with amplifying and powering the source. Hence, it can only concentrate on producing sounds.

Additionally, most professional sound systems used an unpowered speaker to have a resounding and clear sound because when paired with external sources, it can really be powerful.


Some of the great things about unpowered speakers are:

  • Easy customization: You can attach a lot of accessories to your already existing powerful speakers. Therefore, you get to customize the result of the music more.
  • Easy to upgrade: With unpowered speakers, you really do not have to replace the entire system if you need to up your sound game. All you just have to do is to pair it with other compatible external sources or amplifiers, even tweeters.
  • Lightweight: They are not as portable as powered speakers, but they are still lightweight because they are just upfront speakers. At the same time, it can be connected easily to other sources.
  • Safeguard against destruction: Since it really needs an external source, once the speakers give out, it will be the only thing that gets affected. All you have to do to repair the damage is to replace the speakers themselves.


Unpowered speakers will have problems in terms of:

  • Compatible devices: As much as we want to say that finding compatible devices with your current speaker is easy, it is most definitely not. In the worst case scenario, the device that you are going to pair it up with might even be the culprit behind the destruction of your present speakers. Frankly, this is a common occurrence with unpowered speakers.
  • Signal loss: Unpowered speakers are notorious for breaking its connection even though it is already synced. This is problematic especially if you are just going to use it at home. At the same time, during professional events, wireless connectivity is not ideal, so there will be many wires present.
  • Voluminous devices: It is a given that there is a need for external devices, which means that it is not advisable to travel with just an unpowered speaker. The result is the same when traveling with those extra amplifiers, which make it not desirable for people who are going to take them from one place to another.


So which is better between powered vs unpowered speakers? It will actually still be based on what you want. We have already given the pros and cons of each, so you just have to determine your priority, but definitely, if you are after power, go for the unpowered speaker. On the other hand, for functionality, go for the powered speaker.

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