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The Basics of  a Passive Soundbar

If you're looking for a new soundbar, or even just looking to improve the audio in your home theater, you might be wondering what a passive soundbar is, and if it's the right choice for you. A soundbar is a great option if you're looking to improve your home theater sound without taking up a lot of space, and when considering a soundbar, there're a lot of things to consider. One of the most important voices to make is between a passive soundbar and an active one. The difference between them is really simple, an active soundbar includes a built-in amplifier while a passive soundbar needs an external amplifier or receiver. If you're considering a passive soundbar, let us explain everything you need to know about them.

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Active vs Passive Soundbars

A passive soundbar is very similar to a regular (or an active) soundbar. There are two major differences between the two, and several things to consider when choosing between the two. First, the amplifier;

An active soundbar has a built-in amplifier, which makes a plug-and-play audio system, it's much easier to set up and you don't have to worry about multiple speakers or the best way to set them up, which can be a daunting prospect. However, because a passive soundbar doesn't have a built-in amplifier, it can instead focus on higher sound quality. If the quality of the sound is important to you, and you're comfortable dealing with a more complicated setup, a passive soundbar is a better option.

Another major consideration might be the cost. Active soundbars are more affordable than passive ones, even before taking into account the amplifier or various wires. With that said though, there is a big advantage associated with individual components in an audio system, you can replace the amplifier or one of the speakers without having to purchase an entirely new soundbar.

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The number of speakers included on a passive soundbar depends on the number of channels it can support. Some produce only stereo sound, meaning the soundbar supports two channels, left and right. Stereo sound is the most popular when it comes to music. However, most commonly you'll find soundbars that support a right channel, a center channel, and a left channel, which makes for better audio quality for movies.

If you choose a higher-end model, you can connect more speakers to your passive soundbar, and set them up to create a surround sound effect. This option can provide you with much more flexibility.

Pros of a Passive Soundbar

  • Sound quality. A passive soundbar will deliver the best audio quality for its price. You may not even notice the difference in the quality from a lower-end soundbar to a high-end one. Though if the sound quality is a priority for you, you may prefer a higher-end option.
  • It's flexible. If your soundbar supports multiple channels, you can connect multiple speakers, which will allow you to create a more complex sound. You can adjust each individual speaker, and update them as necessary.
  • Audio output. A passive soundbar gives you the ability to get the most out of your sound system, you can blend the audio by connecting each channel individually to an amplifier.
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Cons of a Passive Soundbar

  • Installation. If you want a system that's easy to set up, a passive soundbar is not for you. It will definitely take some planning to set up your system, even before the execution.
  • Price. There's a big difference in price between passive and active soundbars, so if you're looking for the best audio quality, you should definitely consider a passive soundbar, but for a casual listener, an active one may make more sense.
  • Complexity. Having a passive soundbar means making a lot more decisions, you'll need an amplifier that's compatible, and, if you choose to have multiple speakers, you'll need to consider the number of channels it can support and compare that to your budget.
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Passive soundbars are a great way to improve the audio in your home theater, but they come with a few caveats. They require more planning and effort to set up, and they are far more expensive. But they also have a lot of pros, and better speakers than active soundbars, which means better audio. Just like with other, complex audio setups, if you're able and willing to put in the work, you'll be rewarded with high-quality sound and a much better listening experience.

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