Amp vs powered speaker confusion….

So, today I’m wondering why people spend a fortune on an amp when powered speakers don’t require a separate amp or do most people prefer passive speakers ?

For sound quality do you think the speakers are more important or the amp? I’m guessing both, provided you have the amp paired up with the right speakers. So, do you guys decide on speakers first then look for an amp or the other way around? So, if you already had speakers then the goal is to find the correct amp for those particular speakers or if a fantastic amp just came out would that make you sell your speakers then find a pair that matches that amp? All pretty complicated to me.



I think most probably look speakers first then amp, the speaker you buy will determine the sort of amp you need. The "problem" with buying powered speakers is you have no options your locked into the built in amps. Some folks love powered speakers and others don't.  It's really not that complicated getting out and listening to gear really helps.

Man, this has gone on and on a thousand times on this site already this year.  Please search this site for "active speakers."


Yes, I have a pair of decent but never used Totem One speakers overseas where I live these days and have settled on a Benchmark system to drive them but I’ll have to wait a month to bring the amp etc over there.

I’ve just came across a pair of powered Paradigm Signature S2v2 speakers in storage - is anybody familiar enough with these to compare them to the Totems? I might consider bringing them overseas with me if people thought more highly of them than the Totems with the Benchmark AHB2 and the Benchmark DAC3 HGC.

Most "overseas" AC mains is 230v then you have import duties and shipping.

The very best speakers are bi-amped or tri-amped with an active crossover.

The cost of the cables alone is prohibitive.

The best active speakers I've heard were Dutch & Dutch.

@thomastrouble , I think it is because people who buy amps like to buy and tinker with amps. I own both the passive and active version of the Paradigm Reference 20 speaker. Even when the passive version is biamped it is no contest, the active version is better.

"why people spend a fortune on an amp when powered speakers don’t require a separate amp "

when you buy powered speakers, you are "stuck" with that sound. If it's good, you are done. Some people don't want to be done. They have different amps, speakers, sources, that produce different sounds. It's like collecting cars, the fun doesn't stop with one car that you label the "best" on Tuesday.

+1 jond

Eliminating speaker cable in Pro sound reinforcement speakers quickly became a no brainer. It also allowed designers to tailor the bandwidth and frequency response of the amplification to provide a more controlled output of the speaker. Now consider you love tube amplification.


+1 kota1  

As a past Paradigm Reference and S customer the active multi amp version clearly have a different presentation. I concluded the brand has an inherent design path which is once again alluded to in a current periodical review of listening and measured performance of their latest model. 

Thomas, If you're questioning the presentation of your Paradigm S2v2's paired with the excellent Benchmark electronics I'm almost certain changing electronics will likely not be a solution.

Sit back, relax and close your eyes. Can you hear the glistening of the S2 tweeter and the foundation of its woofer? I can't do that anymore because I can't differentiate the drivers with my current speakers unless I put my ear very close the the drivers.          

By definition, hobbyists in any hobby -- whether audio, photography, cooking or whatever -- like experimenting with things.  The mere fact that we are all here on an audio forum indicates that we like playing with and talking about all things audio, hence the endless debates about which cartridge, DAC, preamp, amp, speakers and so on are best suited for which listeners and what situations. 

When you have a powered speaker, you've just handed one of your big choices to someone else to make.  No surprise to me that lots of hobbyists are unwilling to give up the option of choosing what they think works best for them.  

Meanwhile, on the pro side, those people are being paid to do a job. They typically walk into a studio that was built and equipped by someone else, so you work with what's there to get the job done -- a much different mindset from that of the audiophile at home.