Powered Speaker Buying Guide
Powered speakers have become the favorite choice of today’s music listeners thanks to their simplicity, wireless Bluetooth streaming and compact dimensions. Let’s take a closer look at powered speakers and how to choose the best pair for your listening space.
What Are Powered Speakers?
Powered speakers, or active speakers, are speakers with a built-in amplifier. This means they can play music without the need for a dedicated stereo amplifier. In contrast, passive speakers need to be connected to a separate amplifier in order to play music. With the integration of Bluetooth and wireless streaming, active speakers have become a desirable choice for many music lovers. The performance and simplicity of powered speakers makes them ideal candidates to pair with smartphones / tablets, computers, gaming consoles and televisions.
The Benefits of Powered Speakers
Not only are active speakers more convenient than passive speakers, due to the reduced number of components and messy cabling, but their audio quality is quite impressive despite the lack of wired connection. Finding a perfectly matching pair of speakers and an amplifier is not a simple task, and in the case of powered speakers, the manufacturer has already designed these two elements to produce the best possible audio. As the line between wireless audio and wired audio quality blurs, Bluetooth-enabled powered speakers are becoming the pieces of choice when designing any modern listening space.
Powered speakers are considered an all-in-one music solution, providing the listener with every connection needed for playing music. The KIN Play and KIN Play Mini powered Bluetooth speakers feature wireless connectivity, as well as analog connections like Optical, Line Level and a standard 3.5mm auxiliary. Unlike most powered speakers, these speakers also allow you to connect a turntable thanks to their built-in Phono stage. And if you fancy a more immersive bass experience, simply connect a dedicated subwoofer to their subwoofer output jack. Both the KIN Play and KIN Play Mini feature Bluetooth 4.1 combined with Qualcomm aptX HD technology, ensuring CD quality streaming and crystal clear audio. This versatility makes powered speakers the best option for the next generation of music lovers.
Active Speakers vs. Passive Speakers
Making the choice between active or passive speakers will rely on personal preference, existing setup capabilities, and budget. Budget will play a big factor in deciding between active and passive speakers, but not in the way you might assume. When considering purchasing passive speakers, you will also have to consider the price of an external amplifier to power them. While some passive speakers may seem more affordable than active speakers, the cost of a quality amplifier will seriously affect your budget. While some high-end powered speakers may seem expensive, the cost is well worth it for the convenience of a plug-and-play setup.
How To Choose Powered Speakers
Deciding on which powered speaker setup to buy is the best part, and is actually quite simple. The first step is to choose whether you’d like a stereo pair of bookshelf speakers or a single all-in-one speaker. A pair of powered bookshelf speakers is the best choice if you desire audio with an immersive soundstage, deeper bass, and stereo imaging, due to the use of a dedicated left and right channel. Powered bookshelf speakers typically feature superior quality amplification, better quality drivers, lower bass reproduction, and offer far greater stereo imaging. All-in-one powered speakers, on the other hand, are usually much smaller and hence easier to place in just about any space but these conveniences also compromise sound quality. Some all-in-one models also offer a built-in battery which makes them completely portable, including popular Bluetooth speaker models. Once you’ve decided which is right for you, you can move on to the next step.
Ask yourself what you need from a powered speaker, whether it be high-resolution Bluetooth streaming, wired connectivity to your playback device, or if you want the option to connect a turntable or a dedicated subwoofer. After writing down all your parameters for the perfect powered speaker setup, you can start shopping around. We recommend reading reviews or watching YouTube videos about models you’re interested in to get the best impression before testing them yourself.
The technical specifications section of each model will give you an idea of their performance. This is also where you’ll find all the information you need on whether or not this model is right for your setup and if it has the appropriate connectivity options.
Once you’ve made your list of compatible models, you can go forth and test some speakers! We recommend checking out your local audio retailer or floor-model demonstration for the best in-person experience. This is the easiest way to tell whether or not a pair of speakers will truly work with your setup, based on size, sound, and capabilities.