Active or passive speakers?
The question ” active or passive loudspeakers? ” Is asked again and again in the hi-fi area as well as in the recording studio – and rightly so. You can find out what the active / passive speaker differences / similarities are and which one is right for you here.
What is an active loudspeaker?
Active speakers are boxes that have one or more built-in amplifiers. Active speakers equipped in this way are used in particular in sound studios, but are also used as monitoring boxes and PA systems at concerts. In the private environment they are often found as computer speakers, Bluetooth speakers or as part of hi-fi and home theater systems.
The great advantage of active speakers is that an external amplifier is no longer required. In addition, the built-in amplifiers are usually optimally matched to the speakers, with the same compact housing.
Active or passive crossovers are often built into an active loudspeaker. In addition, built-in DSPs (digital processors) have become more popular in recent years. The latter are used as a crossover network, to correct the loudness time differences between tweeters and woofers or for room equalization.
With an active loudspeaker, the line-level audio signal is first routed to an active crossover network, which breaks it down into corresponding frequency ranges. The audio signals are then amplified using the power amplifiers and then sent to the drivers.
What is a passive speaker?
Passive loudspeakers separate the actual loudspeaker from the electronics of the amplifier. To listen to music through passive speakers, you therefore need an external amplifier. This amplifies the audio signal to line level and then sends it to the loudspeaker.
In a passive loudspeaker there are mostly passive crossovers, which first split the audio signal into different frequency bands before it is sent to the appropriate driver.
This type of loudspeaker design is found primarily in private environments, and this division can also be found in many PA systems in professional event technology.
Active or passive: speaker differences
An active loudspeaker comes with its own amplification, crossover network and power supply unit. This only needs to be connected to a mixer, player or audio interface. You can recognize an active (studio) loudspeaker by its power connection.
In contrast, passive loudspeakers have no amplification; an additional external amplifier is required.
In the past few years, active speakers and best monitor speakers under 100 have become increasingly popular because they are more convenient and practical to use. When buying, you only have to choose one model, while with the passive you have to look for both speakers and a suitable amp.
What is better? Active or passive studio monitors?
Whether active or passive speakers are the better option on balance depends on your personal situation. Active studio monitors cost more than their passive versions, after all, there is more technology built in here and thus the development and production costs are higher.
But when we talk about price / performance – are active or best passive studio monitors better? Do the active speakers sound a little better? And the answer is – as is so often the case – it depends.
In the middle and high-end price segment, active loudspeakers offer clear advantages over their passive counterparts. The active models have optimized output stages for each driver (speaker) and protective measures to prevent overload. In the active design, the connections between amplifier and driver are kept short and direct, and the crossovers can be designed very precisely.
All of this speaks in favor of Best active studio monitors, at least in the (semi-) professional area. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.
Advantages of active loudspeakers
Above all, active loudspeakers can score with their compactness and ease of use. They’re not much bigger than a passive speaker and you don’t have to worry about where to put the amplifier. To do this, you have to run two cables to each active studio monitor: power cord and audio.
With good studio monitors, the built-in amplifiers are optimally adapted to the actual loudspeaker. This means that more and better sound can possibly be extracted here. Above all, it means simplicity when buying studio monitors & speakers. You don’t have to worry about a suitable amplifier.
With many active speakers in the studio, not only an amplifier is built in, but a separate and adapted amplifier for each driver. The audio signal arrives at the active box at line level and is then divided using a crossover. The tweeters, mid-range speakers and woofers can then be fed independently of their amp, which can improve the impulse and sound fidelity.
Active speakers are also exciting when wireless transmission of audio signals is desired – for example with typical Bluetooth speakers for the living room
Disadvantages of active speakers
- Boxes are heavier because of built-in electronics
- Two cables must be laid per box
Conclusion: active or passive speakers?
As is so often the case, it depends on what is important to you and where you put your priorities. Anyone who is in the (semi-) professional field of music production will certainly get better with an active box. In this area, a high level of sound fidelity is important, and doing without an external amplifier simplifies the connection to existing music equipment.
It looks a little different in the private area and living room. Anyone who buys a hi-fi system needs the connection of several players from CD players to turntables to a Blu-ray player. All of this can be handled particularly easily by an amplifier.