At first glance, the term "powered speakers" might seem redundant. Don't all speakers need to be powered by something? Well, yes, they do. So what makes powered speakers different from your average stereo speakers? In this deep dive, we've explained everything you need to know about powered stereo speakers. You'll learn the best use cases for these self-contained marvels, the pros, and cons of powered speakers vs. passive, and much more.
WHAT ARE POWERED MONITORS/SPEAKERS EXACTLY?
Every set of speakers needs amplification to work. Most speakers need to be connected to a separate amplifier or receiver so that the speaker drivers have the power to vibrate and produce sound. These are called "passive speakers." On the other hand, powered stereo speakers (also known as "powered monitors" or "active speakers") are designed with built-in amplification, so they don't require a receiver. Instead, you can connect powered speakers directly to a music source, such as a turntable or CD player.
Today's powered speakers even boast Bluetooth functionality (like the R-41PM), so you can play music wirelessly from most mobile devices. Powered speakers with Bluetooth are super easy to use, allowing you to queue your favorite playlists and podcasts in seconds.
So, is there a big difference between powered speakers and bookshelf speakers? While the two speaker types look extremely similar, only the former has built-in amplification. Bookshelf speakers need a separate A/V receiver, but some customers will already have a receiver that they want to use, so they may prefer a passive bookshelf design.
THE 5 BEST USES FOR POWERED SPEAKERS
- Bedroom Music Listening: It doesn't always make sense to install a full stereo system in your bedroom, especially if there are space constraints. Powered speakers with Bluetooth allow you to set up two compact speakers on a desk or bookshelf, plug em in, and start enjoying music from a phone or laptop. It's the easiest and least obtrusive speaker solution for a tight living space.
- Near-Field Music at Your Desk: Whether you work from home, have a dedicated music studio, or need tunes for the office, powered speakers are perfect for near-field (i.e. close) listening. If you're sitting in between the two speakers, you can enjoy an intimate monitoring experience that's great for casual listeners, and accurate enough for music producers.
- Apartment and Dorm Living: Compact powered speakers are ideal for cramped residences because receivers can be bulky and heavy. You can add the R-51PM powered monitors to your TV stand and transform it into a home theater system, without any external amplifiers.
- Backyard BBQs: Outdoor events need a fun soundtrack to liven the mood, but not everyone has the time or money to set up a full PA system. With a pair of powered speakers, all you need is a power source and a smartphone to start the party.
- Connecting to Everything: Even if you already have an A/V receiver, it might be outdated, lacking USB and Bluetooth support. Fortunately, the latest powered speakers have inputs for turntables, digital optical, USB, analog RCA, and Bluetooth wireless technology. You can literally connect to everything but your brain (and that's coming soon).
FOUR REASONS WHY POWERED SPEAKERS SHOULD BE ADDED TO YOUR WISHLIST
There are a bunch of use cases for powered stereo speakers, but what else sets them apart from passive models?
- **Just the Right Amount of Power: ** Amplifiers can be tricky for the average user to set up, especially when it comes to dialing in the correct power rating. Fortunately, powered speakers are designed to work right out of the box
- ** Stereo Separation Benefits:** Unlike surround sound systems, a pair of powered speakers will deliver the separation between your left and right ears, mimicking how you hear a live concert. This effect is called stereo separation.
- Simple to Install: As previously mentioned, powered speakers are easy for the most technophobic person to set up. Just plug the primary speaker into a power outlet, connect the two speakers with the included cable, and connect your favorite media directly (or wirelessly via Bluetooth) to the speakers.
- Work Seamlessly with Powered Subwoofers: Many powered speaker systems have a sub-out line to connect a subwoofer. No receiver required.
Blog adapted from Klipsch.com.