Active vs. passive speakers -sound quality and how they work

Active vs. passive speakers -sound quality and how they work

One of the first things you encounter in the descriptions of acoustic enclosures (speakers) refers to their dependence on external amplification – in other words, whether they are passive or active. In this section, we discuss in more detail what each type of speaker involves, to help you figure out which one is right for you.

We will divide the discussion into two parts, one for the active enclosures and the other for the passive ones, and each will present the advantages and disadvantages offered by each type:

What does passive speaker mean?

In short, a passive speaker needs external amplification to function. In other words, it cannot be used without connecting it to a dedicated amplifier, or to an amplifier (which includes a radio tuner) or to a Home Cinema receiver (very popular nowadays).

The operating principle is the following: the audio signal source from a sound card, pick-up, cassette deck or media player or telephone, will be sent to the amplifier, where its power will be increased.

At the same time, it will be possible to add various effects, such as changing the bass and treble, echoes through the sound processor, or other such audio options, which vary from one amplifier to another. The amplified signal will be output through the dedicated outputs, which lead to the connection terminals of a passive speaker, which reproduces the sound.

Inside, the active speakers have only the filter (also called crossover, an element that separates the frequencies for each speaker), the drivers (bass, tweeter, or medium, depending on the model), possibly cotton wool for sound insulation. Therefore, they are quite simple in principle, but that does not mean that they are easy to build. In fact, the vast majority of audiophile enclosures are passive.

Active vs. passive speakers -sound quality and how they work

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