Difference between active and passive speakers.

Loudspeakers are of two main types - active and passive. What are both?

What are active columns?

Under active it is customary to mean speakers that are equipped with built-in power amplification modules. This option makes it possible not to use an external device of the corresponding purpose. The amplifier in question may be part of a subwoofer.

Active speakers are characterized by:

  • less intensity of intermodulation noise;
  • improved dynamic range.

The main advantage of active speakers is the ability to get better sound with less power of acoustic equipment.

Powered speakers are also characterized by a high efficiency of signal exchange between the actual speakers, which form the sound, and the amplifier. In particular, these signals can be transmitted between devices in both directions. This makes it possible to timely adjust the power level of the amplifier load on the speaker.

Note that the installation of powered speakers often requires the use of grounded electrical outlets. Home PC owners do not always have them, but it is not recommended to use speakers of this type without them.

Another nuance of using active speakers - all their technological advantages will be felt in practice only if they are connected to the same high-tech audio equipment. For example, if this is a PC, then you will need a high-performance and, most likely, expensive sound card on it.

What are passive speakers?

Under passive it is customary to understand the speakers, which, in turn, do not have built-in power amplification modules. But, as a rule, they can be connected to an external device of the appropriate purpose, if necessary.

Strictly speaking, there is an internal amplifier in passive speakers, but it, as a rule, is not the most technological and productive. Passive speakers need to be more powerful to provide sound quality comparable to that of active speakers - unless an external amplifier is to be used.

But even if it connects to speakers, use it carefully. The fact is that the reverse feed of the signal from passive speakers to the amplifier is usually not carried out. Therefore, it becomes not always possible to regulate its power. If the signal is too strong, the speakers may be damaged.

Passive loudspeakers generally do not need to be grounded at an electrical outlet, so they can be easily installed at home. If a medium-quality audio card is installed on a PC, then passive speakers will be the optimal accessory for it, since active ones will most likely require a more technologically advanced microcircuit.


The main difference between active and passive speakers is the presence of a built-in amplifier in the former and the absence of a similar module in the latter.

Powered loudspeakers generally require earthing connections at the electrical outlets from which they are supplied. It is highly desirable to use them together with high-tech audio cards - otherwise their advantages will not be fully felt in practice. Powered speakers provide effective interaction between the amplifier module and the speakers. They are unlikely to receive an overly strong signal that could damage the speakers.

In turn, passive speakers do not require grounding at outlets, are quite optimal for use with mid-range audio cards, but can be sensitive to excessive signal power from an external amplifier.

Having determined what is the difference between active and passive columns, let us fix the conclusions in the table.


Active speakers Passive speakers
Have a powerful built-in amplifierDo not have a corresponding hardware module (but can be equipped with an average quality amplifier) ​​
Requires grounding at socketsGenerally does not need to be grounded at outlets
Provides feedback between the amplifier and the speakers to adjust the signal strengthSensitive to signal strength from amplifier (in particular, external), can not give feedback to the corresponding module
Requires a high-performance audio cardAllows you to use their capabilities when connected to an audio card of average performance