For years, when we thought of active loudspeakers, often the image was of studio monitors. However, now when you pick up a catalog, it’s obvious that nearly every manufacturer has an active loudspeaker line.
I often hear people ask, “What’s so special about active loudspeakers? Why would you want to put all of your eggs in one basket?” “What are the advantages of active loudspeakers?” “Aren’t they overpriced?”
Read on, let’s find out!
Active Or Powered
Active loudspeakers are also known as powered loudspeakers.
I refer to them as “active” because there’s much more happening inside the box besides amplification. An active loudspeaker includes the enclosure, drivers, electronic crossover, compressor/limiters, delay, equalization, amplifiers, and increasingly, mini mixers and very flexible input/output functionality.
The truth is that powered loudspeakers should sound better than conventional loudspeaker designs. All of the crossover points, equalization, time alignment, compression, limiting and amplification matching are fine-tuned to meet the manufacturer’s intended sound.
The key here is the intended sound quality! We all feel that we can do a better job tweaking the loudspeaker than the manufacturer, right? What most people don’t understand is where the break-point is.
Today, processors give loudpeaker manufacturers more control over crossover points and equalization. Proper gain or power (wattage) matching is one of the most important elements of making a loudspeaker sound good and insuring the longevity of the components.
I come from the old audio school of thought that there is no such thing as too much “available” power. There is, however, such a thing as wasting money on power. You don’t need 5 KW power amplifiers for the high frequencies.
Don’t forget though, that under-powering any loudspeaker can be harmful as as well. The key to success is controlling or harnessing amp power. Quality active loudspeakers match amplifier power (wattage) to component need (i.e. power handling). The manufacturer has already done the math for you.