Passive loudspeakers – why do they still exist?

A walk around last week’s135th Audio Engineering Society Convention at the Javits Center New York reminded me again of how passive (non-self-amplified) speakers seem like antiques, despite their continued dominance in high end home audio. Studio monitor speakers are pretty much all self-amplified “active” designs.

At a basic level, amplified sound consists of electrical amplification, to make the electrical signal “bigger,” and speaker transducers, to turn that signal into sound waves. The first step is purely electrical; the second is electrical and mechanical. There is no law that says these must be together or separate, so why does it matter? Continue reading