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What Makes Active and Passive PA Speakers so Different?

Active and passive PA speakers, just like all the other active and passive speakers, differ by the amplifier type that causes all the differences in terms of their use. The type of the crossover and the amplifier that the speaker uses make all the difference.

Active PA speakers have active crossovers and built-in active amplifiers. That means the crossover is placed before the amplifier and the sound comes to it first. It splits the frequency band into smaller units (usually lows and highs) and sends them to the woofer and tweeter depending on the frequencies supported by these individual speakers. After that, the sound comes to the amplifier built in the back of the PA speaker, which means that the only thing you have to do is to provide a power source (a wall socket or a battery) and a line-level signal (microphone, an instrument or a player) and you are ready to go. These speakers sometimes come with built-in mixers, equalizers and mic pre-amps, which means you can mix the music directly on the speaker.

Passive PA speakers come without all these things and their most important characteristic is the lack of a built-in amplifier. Instead, they come with the passive crossover (resistors, capacitors, and inductors) that split the signal driven by the external amplifier and sends the smaller frequency units to the individual speakers.