What Is a Passive Subwoofer; Active Vs. Passive Subwoofer
Setting up a home theater is as overwhelming as it is exciting with so many factors to consider. Most people prefer active subwoofers as they produce a deep bass sound. However, if space is a concern, and you’re comfortable with low bass sounds, a passive subwoofer is a better bet.
Wondering what is a passive subwoofer and whether it's the best option to go for? Let's find out.
What Is a Passive Subwoofer?
A passive subwoofer is powered by an external amplifier. Since you have more components to connect, you’ll require more cabling.
These subwoofers provide a simple way of setting up a custom home theater system. The ability to link multiple units can create a dynamic system that distributes the bass sounds throughout the room.
What Is an Active Subwoofer?
This component of a home theater comes with an inbuilt source of power (amplifier). It’s quite easy to set up as it doesn’t contain as many features as the passive subwoofers.
Since the inbuilt amplifier is matched to the power requirements of the entire system, the active subwoofer provides the all-in-one solution to your entertainment needs. They have been configured for optimal bass sounds and can produce quality sound from a single unit without using multiple speakers.
Differences Between the Two Subwoofers
Selecting a robust amplifier for your subwoofer is critical if you want to enjoy smooth bass sounds. You’ll need to provide the right amount of power to every device for the whole configuration to work properly.
To make a better decision, we've listed for you the differences to help you pick the one that suits your needs.
Subwoofers need to derive power from external sources to produce sound. The amount of power you need for your home theater depends on the size of the subwoofer. An active subwoofer comes with a built-in amplifier, so you need to confirm the specifications (size and power) to make sure they suit your preferences.
If you install a passive subwoofer:
- You’ll have can vary the intensity of bass sounds
- You can replace the amplifier at any time
- Wrong power matching can cause problems with impedance
- You can connect two amplifiers and use one or both simultaneously
- You can connect an external equalizer to the passive subwoofer
If you want to connect an equalizer to your passive subwoofer, you need two RCA cables. Connect the first cable to the equalizer. Use the second cable to connect your equalizer’s output to the subwoofer’s input.
The way sound waves bounce across a room can have an impact on sound quality. If you have a large room or an open plan layout, a 100-watt subwoofer is insufficient, and you’ll need more power.
But more watts don’t always guarantee better sound as there are lots of other things to consider. The manufacturers undertake various tests to match the inbuilt amplifiers to the right speakers. However, with passive subwoofers, you have to consider the following:
- Low wattage will result in poor tone and weak output.
- Under powering your subwoofer can damage the speakers designed to handle more power.
- If the amp is not powerful enough, your subwoofer will experience sound distortion.
- Supplying more power than your speaker can handle will damage the electrical components.
- If you have two 100-watt speakers, you need 100 watts of amplifier power, not 200.
It’s important to note the maximum power output of an amplifier and the peak power that the speakers can handle. You need to look at the manufacturer’s specifications.
Avoid connecting your subwoofers without a surge protector since you’ll find plenty of options at a low price. A home theater with the latest audio video features is the perfect addition to your home.
Wireless connectivity is becoming increasingly popular in various electronics. At present, these subwoofers come with wireless connections. These subwoofers come with inbuilt wireless receivers. Wireless home theater systems are even easier to set up as you don’t have to worry about the audio cables.
To connect a passive subwoofer, you need RCA (Radio Corporation of America) connectors. With a Y-shaped RCA connector, it’s possible to connect two subwoofers to the amplifier’s output. You can also connect the subwoofer with an RCA coaxial cable.
As wired subwoofers are rarely affected by interference, they offer high-quality sound than their wireless home theater counterparts. If you experience frequent Wi-Fi outages, you’re better off with wired subwoofers. However, most people enjoy pairing their subwoofers with the phone through Bluetooth devices that transmit audio data.
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The cost of a home theater depends on the cost of individual components. Although the passive subwoofers require more components to operate, they’re significantly cheaper and can help you create the best budget surround sound system.
The subwoofer is quite simple as it contains the woofer, inbuilt amplifier, power supply, input jack, and AC socket with switch.
However, you’ll also spend more on passive subwoofers if you opt for more speakers and amplifiers. By installing multiple speakers in a room, you enjoy significantly better and smoother bass across a wide listening area.
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Finding the right spot when placing the subwoofer is worth the effort. Experts recommend choosing a comfortable listening spot and trying out various places before you set up the subwoofer. Since the booming bass can sound like a thud, take it down a notch and boost the other parameters a few decibels higher.
Choose a spot along the back wall and move the speakers at least two meters from the wall so you can create a home theater surround envelope. You need to access the controls easily from the cabinet so you can equalize the sound. To avoid creating a mess with cables, look for creative ways of concealing them.
When setting up a passive subwoofer, it’s essential to blend your subwoofer and speakers to harness the surround sound. Use several speakers and distribute them evenly to widen the sweet listening spot. When trying out the various locations, focus on the overall sound quality, not just the bass.
Having these subwoofers with numerous speakers is essential in a smart home where you’d like to listen to music or watch movies from various rooms in the house.
Should You Choose an Active or Passive Subwoofer?
Now that you know what a passive subwoofer is and how it's different from an active subwoofer, you can easily choose the better option. While your choice depends on your preferences, many people prefer the active subwoofers as they’re compact and easy to set up. In both cases, you’ll have to pay attention to placement for the best experience. Although the passive subwoofer is cheaper, you’ll need more electrical power for your amplifier.