Passive PA Speakers
The traditional speaker system, using a separate power amplifier, signal source, and standard ‘passive’ or unpowered speaker cabinets.
Passive set ups have taken a beating since the drop in price of active systems, especially in the mobile market, but they still have their place in several areas.
For the established Dj or performer, who already has their amplifier and rig in place, and is just looking to replace or upgrade their cabinets, or for the beginner on a budget, just starting out and piecing together a system as they can afford to, they are significantly cheaper to purchase than active units.
They also offer a considerable weight saving over active speakers due to not having the amplifier onboard, which also offers the benefit of them not requiring a mains supply, which can limit their placement.
The biggest use for passive systems is in installation. Nightclubs, social clubs, workplaces, bars, events arenas, either as refurbishments or as new installs. A multiple speaker installation such as a nightclub, which will often have placements on walls, in ceilings, or hanging from rigging, and benefits from the modular nature of a passive system, along with the fact that the input levels, gain and eq can be set for the whole system from one location, rather than needing access to the rear of every speaker.
These larger systems, often with multiple subwoofer placements too, would just be impossible to control accurately as individually powered components, and are far better off being brought back to a centralised system control, where amplifiers can be bridged together, and the entire system can be run through an active crossover network. This also makes servicing and troubleshooting an installation a much simpler task as all the electrical equipment is on hand in one location.
Unlike active systems, which generally favour the use of ABS enclosures, many of the available passive speakers still use the classic wood and carpet finish, as the lack of rear amplifier mounting negates the need for complex internal cabinet shapes, and also the lack of extra weight allows the structure to be made of heavier materials and still be manageable. This helps keep the overall cost down as wooden enclosures are significantly cheaper to manufacture than the ABS units.