What Is a Passive Speaker? Everything You Need to Know

What Is a Passive Speaker?

From enjoying music to catching up on the latest movies, sound quality is a top priority for many. And when it comes to sound quality, speakers are an integral part of your setup. But, have you ever wondered about the technology behind the sound that fills your room? Speakers come in a vast variety of types, power options, intended environments for use, and whatnot. Passive speaker is an essential part of the audio world and understanding what they are and how they work is critical for anyone looking to improve their audio experience. 

  • So, what is a passive speaker?

In short – “Passive speakers are speakers that do not include a built-in amplifier and thus require external amplification to operate. These speakers receive their power from the amplifier to which they are connected, removing the necessity for a separate power source. To utilize passive speakers, one must connect their audio devices to the amplifier.”

What Is a Passive Speaker and How Does It Work?

It is likely that you already possess a pair of conventional hi-fi speakers that require speaker cables and an amplifier to function. These are known as passive speakers and operate by receiving an amplified signal.

  • So, what is a passive speaker system?

A passive speaker is a type of speaker that relies on external amplification to produce sound. Unlike active speakers, which have built-in amplifiers, passive speakers use an external amplifier or receiver to power the speakers and produce sound.

Passive Speaker system

Passive speakers work by receiving a line-level audio signal from a source component such as a CD player, music streamer, record player, computer, or phone. This signal is then sent to a preamplifier section which switches between sources and controls the volume level. Once the signal is preamplified, it is sent to a power amplifier that takes the line-level signal and increases it enough to drive a pair of speakers. However, the power amplifier is not directly connected to the speakers’ drive units. Its output signal passes through a crossover filter network that splits the signal into different frequency ranges. Overall, a passive speaker system requires a few extra components, but it allows for greater flexibility in terms of system design and upgradeability.

What Is a 2-Way Passive Speaker?

If a passive speaker enclosure is comprised of two separate drivers, then it’s called a 2-way passive speaker. And each one of those drivers can use a separate, discreet channel of amplification.

Between the two drivers, the driver that carries the high frequencies is also known as a compression driver. And there’s a lower frequency driver which is a 15-inch woofer that can handle all the lower frequencies. These are really designed to handle specific parts of the frequency spectrum. Meaning, if you were trying to do everything with just the low speaker it would sound really muddy. You wouldn’t hear very many highs. Same way, if you were trying to do everything with the compression driver, you wouldn’t get any lows.

Do Passive Radiators Enhance the Sound of Passive Speakers?

Yes, passive radiators enhance the sound of passive speakers.

  • But what is a passive radiator in a speaker?

Passive radiators refer to a component that’s used in modern speakers as they provide a significant boost to the bass response without requiring extra energy consumption. Passive radiators in a passive speaker look similar to low-frequency drivers or woofers. But don’t have a voice coil or any element to produce sound actively.They are often used in place of ports to create a bass reflex design, lowering the resonant frequency of the speaker cabinet and enabling it to reproduce lower frequencies.

Passive radiator speakers deliver the performance of larger speakers while remaining compact. In essence, incorporating passive radiators into a speaker system is an excellent way to achieve a more powerful and resonant bass response from a smaller-sized speaker system.

Pros and Cons of Passive Speakers

Now that we are all aware of what a passive speaker is all about, let’s break down some of its pros and cons.

Passive Speakers in home


  • Passive speaker systems are pretty flexible and easy to upgrade and repair. You can replace or add components, like an amplifier, without needing to replace the entire speaker. If the amplifier in a passive speaker system isn’t working, you can simply fix or replace it. 
  • Passive speakers are convenient because they don’t need to be plugged into an outlet, as they are powered by the amplifier. This means that you can have a speaker system with fewer wires overall. With passive speakers, you can get both power and audio from the same wire, making it easier to set up and use. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about placing passive speakers near a plug socket.
  • Passive speakers give you the freedom to pick your own amplifier. This means you have more choices when it comes to the quality of sound. You can also try out different components until you find the perfect match for your setup.
  • Passive speakers are usually compact and lightweight.


  • One of the main disadvantages of a passive speaker is that it’s not portable. It’s because they need an external amplifier to function.
  • Interference in the signal path is still a possibility in these passive speakers. Noise or interference will be present whenever a signal is carried over a length of wire.
  • Their crossover design is prone to losses and distortion.

When To Use a Passive Speaker?

Passive speakers are an excellent choice for those looking for a customizable and flexible sound system. Unlike active speakers that have built-in amplifiers, passive speakers require external amplification to produce sound, which gives you more options to choose from. You have the freedom to select an amplifier that matches your specific requirements and preferences for sound quality, power output, and other features. This means that if you already have an amplifier that you like or want to invest in a high-end amplifier, passive speakers will allow you to do so without any limitations.

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Nafiul Haque

Nafiul Haque has grown up playing on all the major gaming platforms. And he got his start as a journalist covering all the latest gaming news, reviews, leaks, etc. As he grew as a person, he became deeply involved with gaming hardware and equipment. Now, he spends his days writing about everything from reviewing the latest gaming laptops to comparing the performance of the latest GPUs and consoles.