Most people know what a speaker is. A box that needs to be connected to another box in order to make noise. When shopping for loudspeakers or laying the plans for a speaker system, the terms “active” and “passive” show up quite a bit.
But an active speaker is a different animal. This is a speaker that already has an amplifier built into it. This means the speaker itself is ready to play.
It just needs a source. That can be from a wire to another box or wireless streaming. As you’ll see, there are many types of active speakers out there and many different uses for them.
Speakers are transducers that convert electromagnetic waves into sound waves. If you want a speaker that can play loud with lots of bass or you want to be able to stream wirelessly to it, then an active speaker will fit your bill.
Active Speakers vs Passive Speakers
Passive Speakersare your driver filled boxes which require an external amplifier to drive them. Once the signal from the amplifier reaches these boxes, there's an internal, non-powered crossover built-in to filter the appropriate frequencies to each of the drivers.
Powered Speakers are nothing but passive speakers with an amplifier built into one of the boxes.
Active Speakers, unlike powered speakers, have one dedicated amplifier for each of it’s drivers.
So, a two-way speaker with one tweeter and one mid/bass driver unit will have two power amplifier modules, one for each driver (or 'way').
Since the active powered crossover fed to these speakers work at a much lower voltage than their passive counterparts, their components can be optimized for precision rather than pure power handling, resulting in a potentially better integrated and more precise sound.
To sum it up Active Speakers:
Require power to function
Have built in amplifiers
Have active crossover networks that deal with line level audio signals
Have separate amplifiers for each cross-over band
Heavier in weight per volume than passive speakers
Consolidated meaning require fewer external components
Can only work on their internal amplifiers
Speakers are described as two-way, three-way, four-way, etc. This is a description of the number of speaker drivers handling the different audio frequencies.
A two-way speaker is the simplest type of tower speaker. It has atweeter(for high-frequency) and awoofer (for low-frequency).
A three-way speaker contains a tweeter, a midrange driver(for mid-frequency dialogue), and a woofer.
While it's hard to generalize that a 3-way speaker is better than a 2-way speaker, if you properly design a speaker, one with more drivers allows the speaker designer to have the components dedicated to a smaller range of frequencies, which can result in better and more accurate performance.
You would want a speaker that can produce as much of the full range of frequencies that human ears can hear as possible.
Types of Active Speakers
1. Portable Speakers:
You’ve seen these. They are everywhere these days. People have them strapped to their bicycles, on their back porches, and even in their bathrooms. They stream content to them from their phones, smart devices, or by USB flash drive.
These speakers are usually wireless in that they are battery-powered and rechargeable. Some are very ruggedand can be used outdoors. Others are designed for indoor use and will concentrate on higher fidelity.
Regardless, what you are looking for in a portable active speaker will vary substantially based on how you will use it.
Things to consider are how you will connect to them (make sure it can accept your preferred streaming solution), where it will be used, and how loud you want it to be. In general, larger speakers can get louder and play lower bass.
2. Active Computer Speakers:
Making music sound good has never been easier than today, be it your office space or your home, with a pair of neat desktop stereo speakers to flank your computer or sit on your shelf.
These days, we’ve gotten away from the bass module/satellite speaker setup for computers. Now, we are seeing more and more small (and some large) bookshelf speakers designed with a desk in mind.
Most have one speaker that has all the connections and amplifier and the other is connected to it via speaker wire.
Soundbar is a type ofloudspeaker that projects audio from a wideenclosure. Soundbars are relatively small and can be easily positioned under a display, are easy to set up, and are usually less expensive than other stereo sound systems.
A sound bar's long, slender cabinet contains two or more speakers and may provide either stereo or surround sound.
If you aren’t willing or able to get a full surround sound system, a soundbar is a good way to upgrade the intelligibility and fidelity of the sound from your display.
While shopping for a soundbar you would want something that is easy to mount, something that can be connected to a subwoofer with a regular cable and something which goes well with your display.
The subwoofer connection is something to consider because it is easy to add a subwoofer and that sub can be moved to a full system at a later date.
Hi-Fi is a shortened term meaning high fidelity. Though a bit on the pricier side, when you listen to music on a high fidelity speaker, you are listening as close to a reproduction of that music as possible.
If you weren’t in the recording studio when your favorite artists actually laid down the tracks for your favorite album, then this is the next big thing.
Hi-Fi audio makes certain that signals are converted without loss in fidelity while compressed formats like mp3 take out bits of signal to reduce file size.
Hence, listening to hi-fi audio produced by a good pair of speakers is much more pleasant and comfortable, and can make for a more enjoyable experience for music lovers.
These will also add a cool quotient to the space they would occupy in your home.
For the best listening experience speakers should form an equilateral triangle with your listening position.
The best place to start is by optimizing your speaker setup for the best bass response in the room.Get your favorite bass-heavy track ready to go, whether streaming or playing from your turntable, so you can really hear what your speakers are doing.
Some speakers sound best when near or up against a wall, while others do well when given more breathing room.
Try to avoid placing your speakers in a corner. It may be convenient spatially, but you’ll almost certainly get fat, lumpy bass that will skew the whole balance of the sound.
Pros of Active Speakers:
They have consolidated design
Default amplifier matching
Cons of Active Speakers:
They are more difficult to repair
They have a heavier weight
You must consider investing in active speakers if you want a fuss free system with limited wires, don’t like tinkering with external amplifiers, are fond of listening to a lot of digital music and have space constraints.