What is The Difference Between Powered Subwoofer and Passive Subwoofer?

If you are searching for the best subwoofer for your vehicle, it is important to take note that not all of them are created the same. There are different factors that will make one better than the other. A lot of you may decide on the basis of price, but such should not be enough to reach the right decision. You need to take time to evaluate the possibilities, such as in terms of their technical specifications and the compatibility with the current setup of your sound system. Another factor that should not be missed is the type of subwoofer to purchase.

As noted above, while there are many considerations, the first thing you have to think about is the type of the subwoofer that is perfect for your needs. A lot of you may end up in confusion, especially for those who are not hardcore audiophiles. With this, keep on reading the rest of this post and we’ll share some valuable insights that will allow you to be armed with the right knowledge. In the end, we hope that it will help to clarify how the two subwoofers are different from each other.

What is a Powered Subwoofer?

A lot of subwoofers, or sound systems in general, may be under-performing. This is especially true if you still have factory-installed components in your car. They have very basic functions and the quality is obviously lackluster. With this, a lot of discerning users opt to upgrade their audio with the use of a powered subwoofer.

Also known as active subwoofer, it comes with a self-contained configuration, which means that it is already inclusive of a speaker and an amplifier. This is the reason why they are usually large, and hence, will not easily fit in small cars.

Powered Subwoofer

When talking about the sound quality of the powered subwoofers, it is impossible to have complaints. It has strong and deep bass, which makes it the perfect choice for bigger vehicles, such as trucks or pickups. You can expect the sound quality to be rich and crisp, making it improve the overall listening experience.

There are several drawbacks that might give you some doubts about this product. Aside from the large size, it is also usually the more expensive option. With this, it might not necessarily be the choice if you are tight in terms of budget. Even if you do not need to buy an amplifier, because of the high-quality of the subwoofer, it can be costly. Also, take note of the fact that its installation can also be quite tricky. With patience and the right knowledge, on the other hand, you will be able to successfully complete its assembly.

With the larger size of this type of subwoofer, they won’t normally fit in the standard location of subwoofers of factory-installed sound systems. They can be placed in the trunk or behind the seats.

What is a Passive Subwoofer?

Simplicity – this is one of the things that will perfectly describe this type of subwoofer that you can use for your car. In its simplest sense, this is a single-component subwoofer. The enclosure contains only a woofer and there is no amplifier that accompanies it. Because of the absence of the amplifier, one of the best things that you can expect from this type is space-efficiency. With its compact size, this is the perfect choice for smaller cars. Because of its size, it will also easily fit in the standard enclosures of cars. Also, having a single component will make the installation effortless to accomplish. It can be completed own.


The use of this subwoofer will require the need to use an external amplifier. You need to choose wisely as this will have a direct impact on the sound quality that will be produced. Make sure that the amplifier has more than enough power that will be needed for the successful reproduction of low frequency sound. The size of the car and the subwoofer will be critical considerations to know the specific type of amplifier that will perfectly complement its functionality.

Nonetheless, it does not come without drawbacks. Among others, one of the disadvantages is that the reproduction of the bass is noticeably lower in terms of quality. You will not have the same oomph as you can expect from an active subwoofer. With this, it might not deliver the best audio quality in the genres of music that will require a heavy bass.

Which is Right for your Car Audio System?

Deciding which one to choose will never be easy. In fact, there is no general rule of thumb with regards to which one is better. At the end of the day, there are several factors that will have an influence on which one is better for your car. Budget, size of the car, and the type of music you often listen to are just some of the things that should be given careful thought.

For a lot of people, they might find the powered or active subwoofer to be the better option. Yes, it can be quite more expensive, but it is sure to provide the best value for money because of its exceptional bass. You can enjoy powerful audio and immersive sound listening experience, even while you are on the road.

If you have a small car, the passive subwoofer is the better option for you. It is space-efficient since there is no amplifier. This is also a good choice if you are a beginner and if you have no patience to deal with complications. Its installation will be a snap to accomplish. Lastly, this can also prove to be the right choice for budget-conscious buyers.

At the end of the day, regardless of which one you decide to settle with, the more important thing is to be responsible enough to look beyond the cost and type. Take a look at other important considerations, making it easy to determine the performance and output that you can anticipate from a subwoofer.

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