Powered vs. unpowered speakers

Written by gavin fletcher
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Powered vs. unpowered speakers
When buying speakers you have to consider the trade-offs between the different types. (speaker image by CraterValley Photo from Fotolia.com)

The main difference between powered and unpowered speakers is the presence or lack of an amplifier. When purchasing speakers you want to consider what you can sacrifice, money or convenience, when deciding between speaker types.

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Power speakers, also called active speakers, have built-in amplifiers. Unpowered speakers, or passive speakers, do not have amplifiers and will need to be connected to an external amplifier.


Powered speakers will require their own power source. Trying to find a power source for all the equipment may be a hassle. Powered speakers have a power cord and a wire that goes to the sound source or mixing console. Unpowered speakers only have one wire that goes to the sound source or mixing console.


Something to consider when deciding on speaker types would be costs and ease of transport. Unpowered speakers typically are cheaper than powered speakers. They also are easier to move around because they usually don't weigh as much as powered speakers.

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