A subwoofer is essential in any home theater and cinema. It is loved by musicaholic as it produces the low-frequency sounds known as bass and we all love bass. When it comes to buying a subwoofer there are two types available in the market passive and active. Both are subwoofer but there are little tweaks that make them separate.
In this post, I will explain in depth the differences between the two. I will also explain is active subwoofer good for you or is the passive one you should buy. Active vs Passive Subwoofer which is better? We will discuss in detail.
The main difference between an active and a passive subwoofer is of the amplifier. Active subwoofers have a built-in amplifier which is matched with the subwoofer but passive subwoofers don’t have a built-in amplifier. You have to connect a separate amplifier in order to run the passive subwoofer.
When it comes to buying a subwoofer for home theater, cinema, Tv or anything you should pay a close attention to subwoofers.
What are Subwoofers?
A professional speaker system is made up of 3 different parts
All of these 3 speakers produce a different range of frequencies.
Tweeters produce a high frequency that ranges from 2000 to 20000 HZ, for humans the top audible range is 20000 HZ.This means that above the range of this frequency we cannot hear any sound.
The easiest way to identify a tweeter is that when you see a speaker then the smallest speaker will be the tweeter as smaller the size the easy it is to produce a large frequency.
A woofer is a next thing that comes after tweeter.A woofer is big in size and they produce sound in the frequency range from 20 to 2000 Hz.Most of the speakers we use are woofers.
Woofers are everywhere in our car, computer, Tv, laptop etc.They produce a little bit of bass and they are not much expensive.
So the last one is Subwoofer.As the name suggests subwoofer so they are below a woofer.They are huge in size bigger than a woofer.The frequency range of a subwoofer is 20 to 200HZ.
This range makes the subwoofer to produce high Bass. As bass is dependent on frequency so lower the frequency higher the bass.Subwoofers are used in home theater, cinema as they are perfect to produce thundering sound, explosion, and all the movie effects when you watch an action movie.They shake the wall, make booms and really low-frequency bass that when there is an explosion in a movie you will feel it in your room.
Subwoofers also protect small speakers.Since the small speakers are unable to produce low-frequency tones so subwoofers handle these frequencies and do not put much load on small speakers.
So I think that I have made clear what an audio system is made up of and the purpose of 3 different kinds of speakers.
As you have understood the basics of the subwoofer so you might be wandering Active vs passive subwoofer which is better? Yeah, I am going to explain it to you.
Passive subwoofer as the name suggests ” passive” they require an external amplifier for their working, this is same as most of the other speakers need a separate amplifier. As they don’t have a built-in amplifier so you need to match the amplifier and the subwoofer for the best output possible. This is not difficult but if you messed it up then your home theater experience will be just junk and the subwoofer will not produce bass you want to get.
A subwoofer can easily be connected to an amplifier as the traditional speakers connect to an amplifier. Just connect speaker wire from an amplifier to the passive subwoofer and you are done.
Passive subwoofers are widely used in inexpensive home cinema as passive subwoofer are budget-friendly and if you already have an amplifier then it will not cost you much to make a perfect home theater. Passive subwoofers are suitable for small rooms as they don’t require powerful bass.
As they require an extra amplifier so if you are buying a high output subwoofer such as 200W or higher then you also need an amplifier that can handle this output. Such amplifier costs much, sometimes amplifiers can get more expensive than the actual subwoofer.
Active subwoofer or sometimes called Powered subwoofer is the most common type of subwoofer that you will find in the market. Passive subwoofer requires an external amplifier and there are chances of power or lacking in amplifier etc active subwoofers are used.
The key feature that separates an active and passive subwoofer is the amplifier. Active contains an amplifier built in while passive does not. As both the amplifier and the subwoofer is contained in the same space so they are perfectly matched for the best sound experience. You don’t have to worry about the amplifier or the subwoofer they will give you the best output sound you have ever heard.
Active subwoofers only need a single cable connection from a home theater receiver, the benefit of this configuration is that this arrangement allows the load to draw less power and the power is supplied to the woofers and the tweeters. Which result in best sound quality.
Also Read: In-wall speakers vs Floor standing speakers
Read the short video on active vs passive subwoofer which is better?
Is my subwoofer active or passive?
Checking your subwoofer if it is active or passive is an easy task but if you’re new to home audio then it can get little difficult. The best and the easiest way to check for the subwoofer type is to go to Amazon and type your subwoofer model in the search bar. Amazon will show the result. The active subwoofer is also known as powered subwoofer so don’t get confused it is the same thing.
The second thing in which active differ from passive is Size. As active subwoofer has a built-in amplifier so it would be in large in size. Bigger in size the heavier it is. Active subwoofers are much heavier than passive ones because of the amplifier.
The next thing you want to check if your subwoofer is active or passive is to look at the back of the subwoofer. The passive will only contain one wire which is only connected to the main unit or receiver while the active one will have two wires. One will be for the socket to power the amplifier and the second one will be from the main unit computer etc.
This is all it takes to find if the subwoofer you have is active or passive. If you have any confusion or questions you can simply type them in the comment box. I will make sure that they get answered.
Do I need a powered subwoofer?
The answer to this question might be little confusing. It all depends upon the taste of music and application of the subwoofer. Active or powered subwoofers are by far the most common type of subwoofers used in the market. Passive also have some share but they are way behind active. Powered subwoofers have a built-in amplifier which is matched with the subwoofer so that you don’t have to worry about buying a separate amplifier.
Powered subwoofers are big in size, heavier and costly then passive ones but they do a great job for the price. Passive one is also good but you need a seprate amplifier to power them and also you nedd to match your passive subwoofers with an amplifier to make them work properly. In case you connected high power amplifier with small power subwoofer then there will be chances of blowing out of your subwoofers.
As of y opinion, I will advise you to choose Powered subwoofers since they suitable for every room condition and with buit-in amplifier it reduces a lot of effort.
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Active vs Passive Subwoofer which is better?
All the other things that you will find in a typical subwoofer is same in the active and passive subwoofers. Your subwoofer will produce all the low-frequency bass that matches your home theater. If we discuss which is the most common or most used in home and elsewhere it is the active subwoofer. It is used frequently as it does not require a separate amplifier and the built-in amplifier provide you the hassle-free placement of active subwoofer.
If we discuss these two subwoofers in terms of size and weight then active subwoofers are heavy and little big in size although the driver is almost of the same size in both of them.
The amplifier for passive subwoofers can be expensive than the subwoofer itself and you also have to match the specifications of the amplifier and the subwoofer to get best sound output. On the other hand, active does not require separate amplifier as it built in the subwoofer itself and is perfectly matched.
If I give you my personal opinion then I would definitely choose Active subwoofer because it has a built-in amplifier which saves time trying to find the best match for the subwoofer and also you can place it anywhere without worrying about the amplifier.