Active and Passive Speakers: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to choosing speakers for your audio system, you’ve most likely come across the terms “active” and “passive.” These terms describe several types of speakers as well as how they are powered. In this post, we’ll look at Active and Passive Speakers: What’s the Difference? and their advantages and disadvantages, and how to decide which type is best for you.

1. The Active speaker

An active speaker, often known as a powered speaker, is one that includes an amplifier that powers the speaker’s drivers. This means that no external amplifier is required because the amplifier is already embedded into the speaker. Home entertainment systems, studio monitoring, and live sound reinforcement all make extensive use of active speakers.

Active speakers are meant to give a simple and convenient solution for music reproduction because they do not require the usage of an external amplifier. They usually incorporate built-in equalizers, volume controls, and input/output connectors, making them simple to set up and use.

An active speaker often known as a powered speaker

Structure and Function

Active speakers’ construction and function are closely intertwined, as the design of the structure has a direct impact on the speakers’ performance and functionality. Here’s a basic rundown of the structure and operation of active speakers:


Active speakers are compact and self-contained devices that include an integrated amplifier and signal processing circuits. Normally, the amplifier, along with the drivers and crossover circuitry, is located inside the speaker cabinet. The cabinet has been acoustically optimized to provide the best possible sound quality.

The structure of the active speaker includes a number of key components, including:

  • The amplifier is the core of an active speaker, providing the power to drive the drivers (woofers, tweeters, and so on) and produce sound. The amplifier is usually Class D or Class AB, small, and efficient.
  • Drivers are the components that translate an electrical signal into sound. Active speakers frequently include two or more drivers, such as a woofer and a tweeter, that are tuned to produce certain frequency ranges.
  • The crossover circuit separates the audio signal into multiple frequency bands and sends it to the appropriate speakers. This ensures that each driver reproduces only the frequencies for which it was built, resulting in sharper, more accurate sound.
A pair of Audioengine A1s


Active speakers are intended to correctly and effectively reproduce audio impulses with a high degree of fidelity and clarity. Active speakers are designed to provide a variety of vital functions, including

Amplification: An amplifier provides the necessary power to drive the drivers and produces sound in active speakers. The amplifier is tailored to the characteristics of the drivers, producing the right amount of power for each.

Signal processing circuitry in active speakers, such as equalizers, compressors, and limiters, can be used to modify the sound while also protecting the speakers.

Active speakers are intended to correctly and effectively reproduce audio impulses with a high level of fidelity and clarity. The crossover circuitry ensures that each speaker only reproduces the frequencies that it was designed to reproduce, resulting in cleaner and more accurate sound.


Modern design, small size, and simplicity of usage. There is no need for additional equipment; simply connect a signal line to a digital echo or mixer. As a result, it can also be used by persons who are unable to orient the device.

Active speakers are straightforward to set up and use since you don’t have to worry about matching the power output of an external amplifier to the power rating of the speaker. This simplifies the setup of your audio system, especially if you’re unfamiliar with audio equipment.

Passive speakers with external amplifiers are usually lighter and more portable than active speakers. There is no need to transfer an additional amplifier, making it simple to carry and set up your audio system. This is particularly useful for live performances or events when equipment must be quickly put up and removed.

Active speakers are more efficient since the built-in amplifier is tailored to the speaker’s characteristics, reducing power loss and improving sound quality. This means you can get better audio while using less power, saving money on your power bills and minimizing your carbon footprint.

KEF LSX Wireless is a compact active speaker with excellent sound quality


Active speakers are more expensive than passive speakers because they incorporate an amplifier and more current technology. If you’re on a tight budget or don’t need the extra capabilities of active speakers, the cost may be tough to justify.

Active speakers are limited in their variety because they are designed to work with a specific amplifier. The amplifier cannot be simply replaced, which can be a problem if you want to expand your system or experiment with different types of amplifiers.

Because there are more components that can fail or require servicing in active speakers, such as the built-in amplifier or power supply, they require additional maintenance. This can be costly and time-consuming, especially if your speakers need to be repaired by the manufacturer.

Active speakers are more expensive than passive speakers

2. Passive Speaker

Passive speakers are sometimes known as normal speakers. This speaker line, unlike active speakers, lacks built-in power. Instead, the back is provided with additional jack connection ports for easy connection with other devices to build a full sound system.

Passive speakers require an external amplifier or receiver to operate. Because they lack an integrated amplifier, they must be connected to an external amplifier or receiver to produce sound.

The components that work together to produce sound are a speaker cabinet or enclosure, drivers (such as woofers, midrange drivers, and tweeters), a crossover network, a terminal cup for speaker wire connections, and a grille to shield the drivers.

Structure and Function

Passive speakers are made up of multiple parts that work together to produce sound. Here is a breakdown of the major components and their functions:

  • The speaker cabinet, also known as the enclosure, is the exterior casing of the speaker that holds all of the internal components. The cabinet, which is often built of wood, plastic, or other materials, is designed to reduce vibrations and resonance.
  • Drivers: These are the individual speakers that produce sound within the enclosure. Woofers, mid-range drivers, and tweeters are examples of these components. Each driver is intended to handle a specific frequency range.
  • The crossover is an electrical circuit that divides the audio signal into distinct frequency bands and distributes it to the correct speaker. This guarantees that each driver only generates the frequencies for which it was built, resulting in a more precise and balanced sound.
  • Terminal cup: This is the place at which the speaker cables join the speaker. Binding posts or spring clips can be used in the terminal cup.
  • Grille: A grille is a protective covering that sits over the front of the speaker to protect the drivers from harm. It is frequently removable and can be constructed of fabric, metal, or other materials.

A passive speaker’s function is to transform electrical signals from an amplifier or receiver into sound waves that the listener can hear. When an electrical signal is transferred from the amplifier or receiver to the speaker, it goes via the crossover and is divided into several frequency bands. These signals are then routed to the proper driver, which generates the associated sound waves.

Passive speakers must be powered by an external amplifier or receiver. The amplifier generates the electrical signal that powers the speakers and controls the overall sound quality and volume. Depending on their needs and budget, users can link their passive speakers with a range of amplifiers and receivers.

3. Considerations when choosing speakers for your audio system


Because different speaker manufacturers have distinct sound identities and capabilities, it’s vital to investigate and analyze several brands before making a buying decision. Some well-known names in the speaker industry include Bose, Sonos, Klipsch, JBL, and Polk Audio.

Use demand

Consider the purpose of your audio system. Will it be mostly used for music, movies, games, or something else? Various speaker configurations and types may assist various types of information.

The room’s dimensions and layout

The size and configuration of the room in which the speakers will be mounted may influence the type and size of speakers required. More powerful speakers may be required in a larger space, whilst compact bookshelf speakers may be appropriate in a smaller space. The arrangement of the room can also affect the positioning of speakers and the acoustics of the space.

Specifications and compatibility with your existing devices

Specifications are very crucial for technical products in general, and specifically for audio systems. This is the most important information that represents the product’s quality, therefore pay close attention to it.

If you are inexperienced and do not understand this parameter, you can ask the salesperson or a consultant for assistance.

Devices in the same system must be compatible in particular. Choosing products from the same brand is critical because they can easily complement one another.


Although active speakers are easier to set up and operate, passive speakers are more versatile and may cost less. When picking between the two types of speakers, consider your budget, audio needs, and whether you value convenience or flexibility more.


Active speakers feature a number of advantages, including built-in amplification, which eliminates the need for external amplifiers, greater sound quality control, and simpler setup and connection with other audio equipment. They also have greater signal-to-noise ratios and more consistent sound quality across different listening environments.

Passive speakers can be paired with your own amplifier, allowing you to personalize your sound to your tastes. They are also less expensive than active speakers and offer a wider variety of speaker sizes, combinations, and brands.

Depending on your preferences and needs, both active and passive speakers can be suitable for home use. Active speakers may be more convenient if you have limited space or want to avoid the hassle of setting up a separate amplifier. Passive speakers, on the other hand, maybe preferable if you have particular amplifier preferences or want to customize your sound. Personal preference and what works best for your specific setup and listening environment are the deciding factors.

In terms of sound quality, there is no discernible difference between active and passive speakers. Although both types of speakers can produce high-quality music, the quality is governed by factors such as speaker components, amplifier quality, and room acoustics.

Yes, active speakers can be used for live performances, and sound engineers and artists prefer them since they are easier to set up and move. Passive speakers, on the other hand, are commonly used for live performances since they offer more flexibility and connection choices with different amplifiers.

Casual Living USA hopes that after reading this article about Active and Passive Speakers: What’s The Difference?, you will have more knowledge about Active and Passive Speakers and make a wise choice. Thanks for your reading!

Vincent Mason

Vincent Mason sells speaker and audio devices for home and small civil works and has 15 years of experience. He is a US-based expert. Vincent is a well-groomed, early-forties man. His warm, approachable nature helps him connect with consumers and develop enduring connections. Vincent is a good salesman who knows his products and consumers. He's good at matching products to customers' needs and budgets. Vincent spends his free time researching audio technologies and market trends. He loves music and attends concerts and festivals whenever possible.

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