Active vs Passive Speakers: All You Need To Know

Detailed Differences Between The Two

by Emma Williams | Published On

Table of Contents

Active vs passive speakers

If you are an audio junkie or an audiophile, it would be better to know all about active vs passive speakers. The differences, the benefits, and the ease of useability will highly depend if your speaker is an active speaker or a passive speaker.

At the same time, if your goal is to have an audio setup that is more than just about pleasing your ears, then it would be highly recommended to have accurate information about active and passive speakers.

On the other hand, using other peripherals is highly dependent on whether you are using an active or a passive speaker. For example, the usage of the amplifier, types of inputs, and if your speaker needs a power source will depend on whether your speaker is active or passive.

I guess now you might have understood why you need to know about the different aspects of active and passive speakers.

What Are Passive Speakers?

A passive speaker gets its signals from an amp as these signals are speaker-level signals. At the same time, no power source will be attached directly to the speakers.

The input usage also could give you a fair idea if that is a passive speaker. A passive speaker might have quarter-inch input, speakon input, or a positive and a negative terminal.

As mentioned above, the positive and negative terminal may take their signals from an amp. In the case of the passive speaker, the signal source will be connected to the amp along with the power source, and then the amp will be connected to a speaker.

On the other hand, when it comes to floor-standing speakers, passive speakers could serve you well.

What Are Active Speakers?

Active speakers require a power source/battery connected directly to them. They also have a built-in amplifier and don’t require any additional components.

Speakers like JBL Flip 5 or JBL Flip 6 are active speakers as they can be charged directly and require no external amp as a power or a signal source. Some examples of active speakers could be speakers on wheels as well.

Passive Speaker Benefits

With passive speakers, you only need speaker wire which often comes in 100-foot spools, meaning they may be easier to place. 

You can use as many speakers as you want with passive speakers as they need to be connected to the external amp, and you are good to go.

Upgrading your sound system can be as simple as buying a new amp and speakers with a passive speaker.

Since there are so many options available for individual speakers, you can buy a bunch of new speakers, and your sound system will be upgraded in a jiffy.

Additionally, when it comes to amplifiers, if you feel that the quality of amplifiers needs to be upgraded, you will have to get yourself a new amplifier with a better quality output processing.

After that, you can connect the same to a bunch of speakers you already possess and have an upgraded sound experience.

When it comes to weight, passive speakers beat active speakers hands down. This is because speakers are generally lightweight as they do not have an inbuilt amp within them compared to active speakers of the same size.

As a result, it becomes straightforward for a person to get a bunch of passive speakers and hook them up to a single amp when it comes to building a massive sound system.

With passive speakers, you can control the sound quality and signature in the big sound system.

This is because you will have a single amp that can control all the speakers. As a result, all you need to do is to tweak the amp settings, and all the speakers will start producing the same sound.

Active Speaker Benefits

When it comes to maintaining a small setup that needs to be moved very frequently, having an active speaker setup is a boon.

I personally use an active speaker system for my home. This is because I have to move the system frequently, and I want my active speaker system to be connected to different devices in different instances. So that is the reason I prefer to have an active speaker system.

Active speakers can be a great way to get the most out of your audio system. The included amp is specifically chosen for the drivers and crossover. This reduces worry about under or overpowering the speaker, which can cause a loss in sound quality and potentially damage the speaker.

Additionally, with all parts mapped together, you can maximize performance from an active speaker. 

With the rapid advancements of wireless technology today, direct connection to active speakers is a reality. It comes at an appropriate time as more and more users desire to do away with the clutter of wires and cables. Unfortunately, yet understandable, we still cannot send power wirelessly.

Hence, lines are still necessary for transmitting amplified signals to active speakers. Hence, a wireless connection to active speakers is an excellent step for convenience and functionality in modern setups.

The presence of an amp inside active speakers filters the signal before it’s amplified and has many benefits. One is active bi-amping, where each driver receives its dedicated amplification rather than power dissipating in a crossover after the signal is amplified. This means that more power can be allocated to each driver than to a passive speaker, resulting in higher sound quality as none of the energy is lost in the crossover.

Furthermore, when actively bi-amped, each driver receives the signal simultaneously, resulting in better synchronization and a more balanced soundscape overall.

Active VS Passive Speakers: Which Is Better?

As any audiophile knows, there is much debate surrounding active and passive speakers. Both have their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Active speakers provide more direct amplification for sound but also require external power sources and are limited in inputs.

Passive speakers offer more diverse connection capabilities but need an amplifier to work, so the user must choose between immediate power and versatility.

Ultimately, each type of speaker has its place and which one is best, depends mainly on the your need. For example, if you are looking for a small portable sound system, you should choose an active speaker. However, for non-portable ones, you could go for a multi-channel home theater which has multiple passive speakers included. On the other hand, most Bluetooth water-proof speakers, are active ones.


Passive and active speakers could offer you different features that go hand in hand. For example, passive speakers are usually more straightforward to set up and economical. In contrast, active speakers take the audio game to another level with the combined quality of amplifiers and sound signals.

Home theaters often integrate both speakers to draw out the full range of a given audio experience. However, with passive and active speakers doing different jobs for different types of users, it’s worth an extra moment to understand which type best fits your needs.

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