Passive vs. Powered Speakers – What should I get

So, you are looking for a good set of speakers. Maybe it’s for making music or maybe it is just for personal pleasure. Basically, you want your music system to help produce an orgasmic experience for you or your audience. 

Active or powered speakers are easy to set up and use as they come prebuilt with all or most of the necessary components to output music such as an amplifier. On the other hand, passive speakers have none of that requiring you to connect them to external devices. 

Powered speakers come with built-in amplifiers so they are easier to control and much more portable. Passive speaker does not have built-in amplifiers. So, they need an amplifier to work.

In short, when it comes to passive vs powered speakers, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. It mainly depends on three things. Your intention of use, control, and convenience. 

Let’s take a deeper look into some of the differences between passive and powered speakers:

Powered SpeakersPassive Speakers
Has built-in amplifiers and other components Does not have built-in amplifiers and other components
Easy to set upNot easy to set up
More portableLess portable
Less control over sound productionMore control over sound production
Not upgradableEasily upgradable
Proficiency in audio tech not requiredProficiency in audio tech required
Used by traveling musicians, street performers, and music consumers. Used in churches, live concerts, clubs, etc.

Passive Speakers 

Passive speakers are just basic speakers. They don’t come with any amplification unit and need to be connected to external devices for use. 

This is sort of a double-edged sword. These are great for creating your own DIY sound system. You can choose the speaker you like and connect it to an amplifier of your choice. This allows you to create your own custom sound system and make your own signature sounds. 

Pairing your speakers to different sorts of amplifiers from different brands will almost never produce the same type of audio. Allowing you to handpick the different components to jack up with your speakers and produce just the right sounds according to your taste. 

This can also help to future proof your device. See any new amplifiers in the market? Just swap it with your old one and whammy! You’ve got yourself an upgraded device. 

But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Unless you have a deep understanding on these devices a custom is not for you. 

Passive systems do provide flexibility and control but at a heavy cost of convenience. If you tend to move around a lot and need a sound system to be at your side passive systems will just be too much unnecessary work.


  • Customizable 
  • Future proof 
  • Personalization possible
  • Great for DIY enthusiasts 
  • Easy to upgrade


  • Difficult to set up
  • Not portable
  • Require proficiency in music devices

Powered Speakers 

Powered systems do away with a lot of the complexities that are associated with passive devices. It is the speaker equivalent of a plug and play device. 

Powered speakers have built-in amplifiers and other components that do all the work for you behind the scenes. So, you don’t really have to worry about plugging in a ton of devices to your speakers. Just plug it in into a power socket and a source like a pc or a mixer. And that’s all there is to it. Your speakers will be up and ready to groove in no time. 

As great audio-heads say, with great convenience comes great sacrifices. And it is definitely true for Powered speakers. Sure, these are easy to use but you are going to miss out on fine-tuning your speakers to make them sound just the way you like them. This can be a major drawback for musical artists and hardcore enthusiasts. 

Another not so major problem is not being able to upgrade them. All components of your Powered speakers are specifically made to work exclusively with each other. 

So, swapping them out and replacing them with newer better ones is not going to be easy or in some cases possible. Speaker brands are pretty careful to make sure of that. So, there is not much room for future-proofing.

The but components themselves are specially designed to work with one another. So, you are never going to run into compatibility issues when using powered speakers. 

What you could do is invest good money on a quality device that presumably will last you for a decent while. But that is going to put pressure on your wallet. So, be mindful of that. 


  • Easy to set up 
  • All components are built-in
  • Just plug play
  • Great for traveling musicians 
  • All components are designed for compatibility 


  • No room for upgrades
  • Can be limiting for professional musicians 
  • A good device can be expensive 

Who Are Passive Speakers For? 

Passive speakers are for musicians or hardcore enthusiasts who want full control over what they feed their eardrums. These are great for places where a permanent sound system is required such as a club, live music venue, church, etc.  

Anywhere where full control over audio is required and mobility is not an issue, passive speakers are the way to go.

Who Are Powered Speakers For?

Powered speakers are best for home sound systems and consumer use. They require almost no set up. So, you don’t have to plug it in a bunch of stuff before hitting the play button. Your home is where you relax. No need to bring unnecessary complexities to it. 

Also, powered speakers are preferred by traveling musicians, street performers, and any activity where portability and simplicity are essential. Also, if you don’t have much knowledge of the ins and outs of audio technology then it is better to stick to powered speakers. 

How to Set Up a Passive PA System? 

As we’ve mentioned before setting up a passive speaker system can be a bit tricky. So, for those of you determined to get passive speakers we are providing a complete guide to setting up a passive pa system. 

Here we will be discussing the types of external units you would be needing and how to actually set the full system up. 

Here are some things that you’ll be needing – 

  • Passive speakers (2x)
  • Amplifier
  • Mixer
  • ¼ inch Female XLR jack (2x)
  • Speakon (2x)
  • XLR lead 
  • Microphone (1x)
  • RCA lead – 3.5 mm jack 

After you’ve collected all of these components, we can move on to the actual set up process. 

First, you need to connect the amplifier to your mixer. Take out the L&R main output and plug it into the respective inputs on the amplifier. Next, take the speaker leads and plug them into the output of the power amplifiers and the input of the passive speakers. Connect the microphone to your mixer through the necessary connectors. 

And there you have it. Your passive pa system will be properly set up. To power the system up, first, turn the mixer on then and then the amplifier. And to power off do the opposite. This is to avoid any chance of damage to your equipment.

  How to Set Up a Powered PA System?

Powered pa systems are a bit easier to set up than passive systems. Here’s what you are going to need – 

  • Powered speakers (2x)
  • Mixer 
  • Microphone
  • XLR Leads (3x)
  • RCA Lead – 3.5mm Jack

Powered speakers already come with amplifiers. So, that’s half of the work already done. All you have to do now is connect the mixer. Use the XLR leads for connecting your mixer to your speakers. Plugin one lead into the right output and the other into the right speaker. Do the same for the left speaker.

Microphones should be connected through a line rather than directly. This is because microphones are built to expect a low signal and come with a pre-amp. This is how you set up your powered pa system. Powering it up is the same as passive speakers.


We are at the end of our little guide on passive vs powered speakers. So, what have we learned?

Passive speakers are great for building your own DIY speakers. They are upgradable, give you more control and should provide superior audio quality to most speakers in the market if you know what you are doing. 

Powered speakers are for those looking for ease, simplicity, and portability. If you have the cash to spend on a good pair of speakers you should expect impressive performance for quite a while before needing anything new. 

Summing it up, if you want simplicity, portability and convenience go for the powered speakers. If DIY custom speakers are your thing then go for the passive pa systems as they will provide you with much more versatility and flexibility of use. 

That is all there is to know about passive and powered speakers. Hope this guide helps you to determine which one is the best for you. Wishing you the best of luck. Thanks for stopping by. 

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