Passive DJ Speakers
Only called ‘passive’ to easily separate them from the newer ‘active’ options, these are what most of us still think of when talking about speakers. Simple left and right boxes, that need wiring up to an amplifier in order to work.
They have been the mainstay in the audio world for decades, being used in Hi-Fi, indoor and outdoor performance systems, installations, and of course for mobile Dj work.
Available in many different sizes, they offer a reliable, long lasting and robust system for the mobile Dj , are relatively inexpensive, and can be matched to any suitable form of amplifier, so are great for hire equipment and for a system that starts on a low budget but is upgraded over time.
Construction is usually wood, either particle board or ply laminate board which are both strong and hardwearing. These are finished in either traditional carpet, or the resin type duratex liquid finish, which is like a textured paint.
Speakers will usually be 2 way or 3 way, with an inline passive crossover unit to split the signal between the drivers at the correct frequencies. The larger Dj and PA orientated speaker units will often feature a larger 12” or 15” bass woofer and either a bullet design tweeter unit or a wide dispersion horn design, with a complimenting midrange driver of 3 to 4 inches.
Inputs for most passive speakers are just the standard classic left and right unbalanced mono, with a positive lead for the voltage, and a negative proving the ground and phase. Depending on the type of speaker, these connections can be 6.35mm (¼”) jack socket, the heavier duty Speakon type socket, or they may have the more traditional 4mm binding posts or spring terminals. This tends to change as the cost and power rating of the speaker increases, as the jack and speakon types are much better for the higher currents of a larger system.
The most important part of a passive system is correctly matching the power requirements of the speakers to your amplifier. Ideally, an amplifier should be at least 50% more powerful than the speakers given maximum rating, as its thermal damage from an insufficient and clipping amplifier that will kill a speaker, not overpowering as many would believe. The amplifier needs those extra reserves to deliver a clean signal to the speakers. Obviously if you hook a 10w speaker up to a 300w amp, then it won't last long, but at the normal ratings of speakers associated with Dj use, say 250w and above, you will rarely ever reach its peak volume limit, so any distortion or loss of clarity will actually be due to the use of an underpowered amplifier.