Powered Speakers?

Powered Speakers?

Why should I use separate speakers and power amps?  Powered speakers have improved dramatically with the use of Class D amplifiers; they are lightweight and efficient with less heat and less power draw than amplifiers from a few years ago. 

But there are some drawbacks: 

  • Very few powered speakers have speaker outputs to slave a second passive speaker. 
  • You are buying an amplifier for each speaker.
  • If the internal amplifier fails, you can’t connect an external amplifier on the fly.  In effect, you loose both the amp and the speaker for the event.
  • You have to run both signal and power cables to each speaker.


Some advantages of separate amps and speakers:

  • A single professional stereo power amp rated for 2 ohms per channel can power 4 to 6 speakers (or 8 speakers in an emergency!).  It’s best to design a system to work at 4 or 8 ohms (usually 1 or 2 cabinets) per channel so that if the situation comes up more speakers can be added.
  • If you bi-amp between subs and mid-high speakers, many modern amps have built in crossovers.  If an amplifier fails, with a slight reduction in power following the above guidelines, you can double the speakers connected to the remaining power amp.  On the fly, gig saved!  Try that with a powered speaker.
  • A modular system is re-configurable.
  • Run a single (speaker) cord to each cabinet.


If you decide to buy powered speakers, I suggest buying only powered speakers with great warranties and customer support.  Be sure to use our Locking IEC Power Cords.  Name-brand speakers and amplifiers have long warranties.  Buy speakersformusic Neutrik speakon cables with a lifetime warranty!  Thanks,  Alan

More Tech Insights to come.