A big debate question among sound system enthusiasts is if investing in an expensive amplifier is really worth the money. And to be honest, the answer to this question is not simple as it depends on what you are aiming for.
If you just enjoy listening to music in an indoor setting for relaxing purposes, then you are probably fine without one. On the other hand, if you want to have an extraordinary sound system and make that Sunday barbecue event an even better one, then you should absolutely go for it.
Matching speakers with an amplifier shouldn’t be that hard in the end as there are three main things you need to consider – impedance, power, and sensitivity.
As you might know, there are two main types of speakers – active and passive. Along with that, there is the powered speaker type which is usually used synonymously with an active one, even though it doesn’t always mean the same thing.
However, with a passive speaker you will usually need an adequate amp to get a rich, amplified sound. A powered speaker will not require such an investment. But how so, and what type of speaker is right for you? Let’s take a look.
Why Powered Speakers Don’t Need an External Amp
Now, before moving on, let’s get one thing straight – the difference between an active and powered speaker is as follows: a powered speaker can include passive crossover components that would basically make it a hybrid between an active and a passive speaker. It is still plugged into an outlet for power and has the same traits of an active speaker – no external amp needed.
The main reason that powered speakers don’t need an amplifier is the fact that these already have one built-in. And even if you wanted to, most of the powered speakers wouldn’t be connectable to an amplifier.
Some of the common powered speaker examples are those in a desktop computer, iPad, cell phone as well as a wireless surround sound applications.
With this in mind, you are surely thinking why would you ever invest in a passive speaker when the powered one has got you covered with a built-in amp. It doesn’t necessarily have to be better and the sound can still lack richness and power, and given the fact that some powered speakers aren’t connectable to an external amplifier, you might be stuck at a dead end.
The Advantages of a Powered Speaker
The obvious advantage is that investing in a powered speaker sound system will cost you less (in the long term) than if you went for a passive one. It is simple – amplifiers are known to get expensive and the road to finding an adequate one is potentially stressful as well.
Additionally, your sound system doesn’t depend on an external component. Imagine a house party: You are running a passive sound system, and your amplifier goes out – what is the result?
Well, the whole sound system is done with. When using powered speakers, that wouldn’t be the case as even if one speaker went out, you still have few more that will cover up.
Along with that, if you plan on connecting your speakers to a mixer you are much better off doing that with a powered speaker. The chances of the mixer burning out are lower and by adequately combining an unpowered mixer with a powered speaker, you will be able to get a fantastic result.
Last but not least, you will not have to worry through the whole process of finding the right amplifier as the speaker itself will already have an adequate amplifier included, providing a clean and rich sound.
The Cons of a Powered Speaker
Now, if powered speakers are that good why don’t we all invest in them? Well, for two main reasons.
First and foremost, if you are a professional musician, powered speakers might be heavier to transport and usually need to be using with hydraulic stands as well.
While you might be saving money in the long term, a powered speaker is still more expensive (as an initial investment) than a passive one – so if you are just starting off and your budget is not that big, chances are you will not be able to afford a good one.
At the end it is your choice – both the powered and passive speakers have their pros and cons. Still, a powered speaker will not need an external amplifier so it is the right choice for those of you that are tired of all the amp fuss!