Passive or active subwoofer – which one to choose?

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Every lover of top-quality sound knows what a subwoofer is and how big a role it plays. There are variants of passive and active subwoofers on the market. By learning the characteristics of each device, a person considering a purchase will be able to make a choice that will satisfy him. 

What is a subwoofer and what task does it perform?

In the simplest terms, a subwoofer serves as an additional speaker when installed in stereo or multi-channel systems. Most often you can meet with such a solution in home theater sets, which will be used to reproduce sounds with very low frequencies. This allows you to get an amazing effect, similar to that in movie theaters. The subwoofer will emphasize the bass, which will make us more involved in the picture we are watching. With its unique design that sets the air in motion, it creates a shaking effect on the walls and even the equipment in the room. 

What to pay attention to when making a purchase?

There are several elements to pay attention to when deciding on a purchase. First of all, it is about its power, which is presented in watts (W). This parameter indicates the volume that the device has. Here it is necessary to choose a specific power for the room in which we will use the subwoofer. For small rooms it is not worth buying a device that has a lot of power, a device of several tens of watts will be more optimal.

Automatic switching 

We should also be interested in the auto-on function. Thanks to it, the subwoofer, in the absence of an incoming signal for several minutes, switches to standby. When the signal appears again, the device wakes up. This is a feature that makes things easier, as there is no need to keep an eye on whether we have turned off the subwoofer.


Different subwoofers will differ in design. Here you can point out closed and open design. Closed design, as the name suggests, provides a high degree of tightness, which is associated with easier bass adjustment. The open design, on the other hand, will provide users with extremely deep and powerful bass.

Direction of sound emission

The last characteristic to observe is the direction of sound emission. This will be a feature that determines the direction of sound propagation in our subwoofer. Here we can distinguish between devices: 

  • frontfire – sound directed toward the listener,
  • downfire – the sound spreads towards the floor,
  • free air – waves emitted in any direction.

Passive subwoofer and active subwoofer

Among the available subwoofers, there are active and passive devices. The latter type is definitely cheaper. The lower price is followed by the need to purchase an amplifier, which can offset the cost of buying a cheaper version of the subwoofer. 

It should be mentioned that the passive subwoofer and the amplifier must be compatible with each other. When they are not properly matched, the sound will have poor quality or no sound at all. Here it can be noted that not everyone who wants to purchase a subwoofer must be well acquainted with the various models, which will result in an inappropriate selection of devices that will not work well together. 

As you can infer from the description, an active subwoofer has a built-in amplifier. This solution is increasingly used by manufacturers. Thus, the buyer does not need to make additional decisions about the purchase of the right amplifier. The multitude of different indicators (e.g. power, design) means that everyone will be able to find the equipment most suitable for their needs.

main photo: Pou

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