In many forums, articles and car subwoofer test is of course spoken of active and passive subwoofer. But especially as a beginner you can do nothing with the term, but it is so simple. The small difference is that in an active subwoofer the power amplifier is already integrated in the subwoofer. In passive subwoofer, the power amplifier and the subwoofer are separate from each other. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages in installation and purchase. And this is what we are going to tell you about.
The classic: passive subwoofer
The passive subwoofer is a classic, because the original form was already built this way. The subwoofer itself has only one diaphragm and does not generate any power. This power comes from the amplifier. Therefore, the power amplifier needs both power and the input signal from the car radio. In the picture the wiring diagram is very nice to see.
The difference with the active subwoofer is:
- It has more power and plays a stronger bass
- But consumes more power
- It is mainly installed in the trunk
- Is larger than an active subwoofer
The compact: active subwoofer
The active sub combines the power amplifier and the subwoofer and is therefore more compact. For this reason, there are smaller designs than the passive sub and it fits under the passenger seat or in the spare tire recess. But there are also larger models that want to make the passive subwoofer a competition. In the picture you can see the wiring diagram (the subwoofer used is again the JBL GT5-2402BR). It is actually a passive subwoofer, but here it is only for illustration). Here you can clearly see the difference active passive subwoofer, because from two components only one is left.
The differences are again clearly visible here:
- Quick installation
- Easy wiring
- Less power consumption,
- Since the power is less (the bass is weaker)
- Gives several options for placement
The differences in installation
In addition to the characteristics, there are also some differences in the installation. With passive subwoofers, the power amplifier and the subwoofer must be wired separately. So first the power amplifier gets the power supply, cinch cable and remote cable and only then the subwoofer gets a cabling. This is costly and since there are two components, they need more space and each must be fixed separately. The power and the impedance must be matched. You can also bridge the connection in this case to get even more power out of your sub, but there are some rules you have to keep in mind. You can adjust the sound on the power amplifier. The screws are usually finer and better than an active sub.
In contrast, the active subwoofer is much easier to install. It is connected directly with power cable, cinch cable and remote cable. No other connection is necessary. Unfortunately, the settings can only be changed on the sub and are not of such high quality. Also a bridging is not possible, but you save the tuning of the two components to each other.
Also when buying active – passive subwoofer there are differences
Last but not least, there are also differences in the purchase. Because with a passive subwoofer you have to combine all the accessories yourself, unless you buy a subwoofer set. Of course, this gives you a lot of room for up and down. You can get much more out of your audio system and do not have to fixate only on 1 manufacturer. However, the assembly is not always easy. In our reviews, we have always listed the appropriate accessories for you to get the best result with minimal effort. Another advantage of passive systems is that you can change the accessories at any time, even at a later date. For example, if the power amp is defective, you can repair it or just replace it. If this happens to you with the active you can throw away the whole subwoofer.
Besides the disadvantage it has an advantage: the subwoofer is supplied with the accessories. There is no powercap (mostly under 500wrms) or power amplifier necessary. the cables, however, are not included with all of them and may have to be ordered separately.