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Speakers information

A speaker, in combination with an amplifier, is responsible for producing the sound of various audio equipment including mixers, DJ sets, musical instruments and even televisions. If a speaker has an amplifier built-in, it's known as an active speaker. For larger spaces, bigger, more powerful speakers are needed. To ensure the best sound quality, it's important to buy the speakers that match your requirements, and that holds true whether you're buying them for home or professional use.

Active Speakers

Active speakers are often professional speakers equipped with a built-in amplifier, a power port and various audio inputs and outputs. As such, they're easier to set up than passive speakers, which can't do anything without an external amplifier and mixer. Active speakers are designed for events, gigs, professional presentations and more and, while they come in all shapes and sizes, the woofer size of the most common models ranges from eight to fifteen inches.

Passive Speakers

Passive speakers don't have a power port or an integrated amplifier, which makes them lighter and cheaper than active speakers but also means they're dependent on external audio equipment. So, what are passive speakers for? Passive speakers are ideal for custom set-ups. If you know what you're doing and you know exactly what you need, a passive speaker system can prove to be a more efficient solution than a pair of expensive active speakers loaded with features you don't need.

Don't be fooled into thinking you can simply get away with a cheap passive speaker system instead of active speakers: passive speakers don't just require a certain degree of technical knowledge but really need an external amplifier.

Which speakers match my amplifier? And how many will I need?

The question we're asked the most is: can I safely use speaker X in combination with amplifier Y? And how many speakers can I hook up to my amplifier?

Below, you'll find a summary of the most important things to think about. See the 'Picking the Right Amplifier for Your Speakers' section in our The Difference Between Active and Passive Speakers blog for a more detailed explanation!

In any situation, you'll need the following information to determine which speakers are compatible with your amplifier:

1. First, check whether the speaker and amplifier have compatible audio ports.
Passive systems often use SpeakON, wire-terminals or jack ports.

2. The power capacity of the speaker
Expressed in Watts, the power capacity can be specified in three different ways: RMS capacity, Program capacity and Peak capacity.

3. The impedance of the speaker
Expressed in Ohms, the impedance basically refers to electrical resistance. When it comes to speakers, it's often 4 Ohms, 8 Ohms or 16 Ohms.

4. The power capacity and the impedance of the amplifier

Now it's time to compare the numbers. At Bax Music, we use the following rule of thumb to ensure proper operation: any amplifier must be able to handle 150% of the RMS power capacity of a given speaker - or the Program capacity as long as it sits significantly below the Peak capacity.

Example: Say you have a speaker that has a 100W RMS power capacity and an impedance of 8 Ohms. In short: 100W at 8 Ohms. In this case, we would recommend an amplifier that's able to deliver 150W at 8 Ohms . Remember that any amplifier must be able to handle 150% of the RMS power capacity of any given speaker, and that the impedance of both the speaker and the amplifier must be the same.

Want to connect two speakers to a single channel? This doubles the power requirements but halves the impedance. Instead of an amplifier that can handle 150W at 8 Ohms, you'll now need an amplifier that can output 300W at 4 Ohms. Please note: make sure the impedance requirement doesn't drop below the specifications of the amplifier when you add any speakers. In most cases, 4 Ohms is the lowest possible impedance, though some amplifiers can even handle an impedance 2 Ohms.

Types of Pro Audio Speakers

Pro Audio speakers are available in various shapes and sizes. Next to your standard full-range speakers, there are subwoofers that cover the low frequencies, floor monitors, line-array speaker systems, installation speakers, and the ever-popular column speaker systems which are made up a subwoofer and a number of small line-array speakers. In addition, there are portable battery-powered speakers as well as unique 100V systems for multi-zone background music or public announcements powered by a single amplifier. DJ and studio monitors are designed to offer honest, uncoloured audio reproduction and are mainly used for mixing and audio production.

Home Audio speakers

Wireless Speakers: Bluetooth and WiFi

Bluetooth speakers: designed for casual listening, compact, sometimes brightly coloured, and fuss-free in use. But Bluetooth technology is also getting increasingly popular in the world of Pro Audio. There are active speakers loaded with Bluetooth functionality so you can stream audio via your smart device , and some Pro Audio speakers use Bluetooth to pair up, setting you up with a completely wireless stereo speaker system.

Some speakers also have WiFi functionality, which means these WiFi speakers can be connected to your wireless network so that various other network applications can be linked to the speakers.

Computer/Desktop/Bookshelf Speakers

When it comes to their desk or bookshelf, most people prefer more compact, space-saving speakers. You might also need very specific inputs, such as USB, mini-jack or Toslink, so that you're able to connect your speakers to your computer or other playback devices. Home audio speakers are nicely compact and take up as little space as possible on your desktop. Usually, the sound of these smaller speakers is also better than that of large, heavy professional speakers when set up in small to mid-sized rooms like bedrooms or living rooms. Most bookshelf speakers are also equipped with Bluetooth, so you won't need any unsightly cables. Lastly, it's worth noting that home audio speakers put a lot of emphasis on enhancing the sound, while pro-level active and passive speakers are designed to sound neutral.

Speaker Accessories

Some speaker accessories like cables are essential, while others like speaker stands and protective covers, bags and flight cases are optional. If you plan to travel with your speakers regularly however, investing in a good-quality cover, bag or case is a sensible idea. Should any part of your speaker ever need replacing, or if you want to build your own speaker, you'll be glad to know that we also have a department dedicated to speaker parts. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Speakers

Which speakers should I buy?

Active speakers are great if you want professional speakers and need to get started quickly, or is you want to you use your audio knowledge to complete a custom speaker system, you can go for some passive speakers. Home audio speakers are perfect for casual listening at home, while studio monitors aid music production, assuring you of a neutral, mix-ready sound.

Which speakers do I need with my amplifier?

First, look up the performance, impedance and power capacity of your speakers and the power capacity and impedance of your amplifier. The outputs and impedance of both bits of kit need to match while the amplifier must be able to deliver 150% of the RMS power output of the speaker.

How many speakers can I connect to an amplifier?

This depends on the impedance and power capacity of the amplifier and speakers. It also matters whether you connect your speakers to your amplifier in parallel or in series. For more information, see our article: The Difference Between Passive and Active Speakers.

Why fit spikes to the underside of speakers?

You can use spikes to counter an uneven floor and reduce contact between the speaker cabinet and the floor, which will result in enhanced acousic resonance and a more accurate frequency response across the board.

Where should I set up my speakers?

This depends on how big the room is and how the acoustics are, but it also depends on the number and type of speakers you want to use. For PA systems, you'll want to use long-throw and short-throw full-range speakers (long-range and short-range) as well as subwoofers. Make sure you can see the 'throats' of the speakers from the most important points in the room. Separate subwoofers are best placed on the floor and in the corner if you need extra bass. It's also recommended that all PA speakers are placed at the front of the venue.

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