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What are the features that make the best powered speakers? These compact and convenient speakers are easy to install, easy to configure, and sound great, all at the same time. As such, they make excellent speakers for dorm rooms and small apartments.
If you’re looking for powerful sound quality and plenty of connectivity options, you can’t go wrong with powered speakers. Plus, there are many types available, so you have a ton of flexibility when choosing the right model for your needs.
Read on below to learn more about the best powered speakers, how they are best used within your home, and what features you should look for when purchasing a new pair for your home audio system.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll appreciate that this pair of speakers is made of high-quality wooden material. This means it’s an easy-to-clean option and incredibly durable. It also offers multiple input options and a remote control.
This impressive pair of speakers pack a serious punch when it comes to quality audio. It also is a highly convenient model because it includes a remote control. This means you can control it from wherever you are in the room without walking over and manually changing settings. Unfortunately, while this remote control will make your life far more accessible, it might have some connectivity issues. However, you can usually solve this with basic troubleshooting.
You’ll love being able to connect to this speaker using any of your devices. It includes a Bluetooth connection so you can play music right from your computer, tablet, laptop, smartphone, and more. Beyond this, there are also multiple physical inputs included. You’ll be able to connect using both optical and coaxial interfaces. This broadens your horizons and allows for ultimate control over the connectivity of your speaker set.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This plug-and-play model is straightforward to use. You won’t have to worry about a complicated setup process when choosing these speakers. They will also connect up to two devices at a time.
The dual 2.5-inch drivers included in this set will ensure that they always produce high-quality audio that even the most critical listener will appreciate. The easy-access controls make customizing your speaker set simple and easy. These controls are conveniently located on the front of your speaker. However, if pumped-up bass is the number one need on your list of requirements, this won’t be the best option for you. Consumers report that this set of speakers will struggle to produce bass.
This model is considered a plug-and-play option. This means that you won’t have to worry about a complicated process when you get it set up. You can use the 3.5-millimeter audio jack to connect with the device of your choice, and then you’re ready to play any audio you want. This set provides a frequency range of 57 Hz – 20 kHz, which is impressive for a model in its class. It also has 3.5 watts of RMS power in each speaker. This provides a total of 7 watts of RMS power.
Award: BEST FOR WIRELESS CONNECTIONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you want an easier time connecting to your speakers and playing music from digital mediums, this will be an excellent option. It supports wireless connections across your devices. It also accepts USB digital input.
These speakers are absolutely meant for you if you’re looking for an effortless connection process that doesn’t take forever. They provide wireless connectivity by allowing you to use Bluetooth connections. This means you can play audio right from your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or any other compatible device. Unfortunately, it has been reported by some consumers that this model will struggle to recognize some devices. Problems were mostly reported about computers, but troubleshooting helped.
You’ll enjoy the ability to fill a room with wall-to-wall sound because of the high-powered nature of these speakers. There is a built-in amplifier that maximizes both power and sound quality. This custom-engineered technology means you won’t have to worry about purchasing an amplifier to connect to your speakers. There are multiple connection options available outside of Bluetooth, as well. You’ll be able to use analog RCA, USB, and even digital optical.
Award: BEST FOR PLAYING VINYL
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is an incredibly unique model because it can play vinyl, allowing you to broaden your musical horizons. You’ll love the professional quality audio this set produces, as well as their MDF wooden finish.
This set of speakers is effortless to control. The brand includes multiple knobs so that you can fine-tune your settings until they’re perfect. This includes a treble control, bass control, a function switch, and the main volume control knob. There is also a power indicator, so you never have to guess if your speaker is up and running. You’ll want to keep in mind that numerous folks have said the remote control struggles to connect with this set of speakers sometimes and has a short range. This might be a dealbreaker.
It’s capable of connecting to smart devices using Bluetooth 4.2. That means you can connect using your smartphone, laptop, tablet, and more. You’ll appreciate how many options this provides you when playing audio. It has 2 line inputs to connect up to two devices at a time, a feature that is incredibly unique among speakers. The MDF wood finish is both stylish and durable, allowing the speaker to blend into almost any environment.
Award: BEST FOR SMALL SPACES
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll appreciate the inclusion of 0.75” silk dome tweeters, which allow for a far better range in delicate trebles. This option will produce high-definition audio for your listening pleasure and is highly compact.
Those who live in smaller spaces will appreciate the compact nature of this set of speakers. In fact, they’re called “bookshelf speakers” because they can be put almost anywhere, including on a bookshelf. This compact nature means that you won’t struggle to find a placement in your home no matter how low in space you are. Unfortunately, there have been reports that these speakers are known for producing a low “buzzing” noise. This happens typically after a long time and is a sign of poor longevity.
It also boasts analog class A/B power amplifiers and dual analog inputs. The authentic stereo sound will impress almost any listener, especially those that crave the sound of deep bass. It boasts an astonishing 150 watts of combined peak output. This means that it’s a high-powered option that won’t let you down as far as producing loud audio. Even though they’re incredibly compact, they produce larger-than-life sounds that will fill almost any room they’re in.
Award: BEST FOR SINGLE SYSTEMS
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll be able to make quick, effortless announcements to a crowd or party when you choose this model. It can function as a single system, cutting out half the bulk you find when you go with a speaker set.
If you’re planning on hosting a party or planning a get-together of any type, this will be the best model for your needs. It has a built-in PA system that allows you to deliver crystal-clear messages to the entire room. It also has precision crossover and high-efficiency class D amplifiers to up the ante. However, this ability to function as a single unit does come as a double-edged sword. Most systems include two speakers, which doubles the value of your purchase.
You’ll appreciate this speaker’s ability to produce booming, deep bass. However, it can also produce pristine highs, making it a more complete package. This is a lightweight option that will be easy to move from room to room. That makes it even better for traveling, especially if you have to move it around during a party. The integrated 2-channel mixer is complemented by a dual XLR ¼-inch combo mic and line inputs.
Powered speakers are audio devices that you can use to reproduce music or any other kind of audio recording inside your home or at a venue. A complete powered speaker setup is comprised of at least two separate speaker boxes, each with a built-in amplifier that powers the speakers’ drivers. As such, these speakers don’t need to be connected to a separate amplifier like the Audioengine N22 desktop amplifier to function properly.
At a glance, powered speakers appear to be the same as other types, like stereo speakers. They feature a left speaker and a right speaker connected by speaker wires and have classic conical and circular cutouts in the front.
So, how exactly do they differ from other types of speakers? The answer lies in the way their drivers reproduce sound waves. Traditionally, speakers have always been passive speakers, needing to stay connected to an external amplifier and receiver to work. Powered speakers break that mold by including a built-in amplifier in both the left and right speakers.
Because of this, speakers in this category are much more compact and simple in terms of placement and installation. You won’t need to purchase a ton of extra equipment to play your favorite music on them. Instead, you can plug them in, connect them to your audio source, and go.
It’s also important to understand the difference between powered speakers and active speakers because many consider them the same. The difference comes into play when considering how many amplifiers are used in each type. These powered speakers only feature one amp in each speaker, no matter how many drivers there are. Conversely, active speakers feature an amp for each driver, creating more detailed sound and better overall audio quality.
When it comes to audio reproduction, powered speakers don’t stray from the tried and true path followed by all other speakers. Once connected to a power source and audio source, they receive an audio signal and translate that signal into sound waves through the drivers.
Powered speakers utilize passive crossover, which simply indicates that the audio signal is split after it travels through the separate amplifier inside the speakers. This split then sends the audio signal between higher frequencies and lower frequencies. Passive crossover results in more affordable prices, especially compared to active speakers, but it can result in some audio quality loss.
If you’re looking for simple installation, easy configuration, and minimal space requirements, powered speakers are an excellent option, especially if you prefer a minimalist look. They make for some of the best bookshelf speakers, desktop speakers, and portable speakers. Plus, they offer a more affordable price range overall without sacrificing too much in audio quality and accuracy.
Like other types of speakers, the specific lifespan of powered options depends on a vast number of external factors, like placement, frequency of use, brand, and manufacturer. However, according to most audio experts, you could get anywhere between 10 and 25 years of life from your speakers if you treat them well.
You should generally follow the “You Get What You Pay For” rule with powered speakers. The more you pay for a pair of speakers, the more likely they will last for decades. More affordable options likely won’t last as long.
Choosing the right powered speakers is less daunting than choosing the passive speakers since you won’t need to consider amplifier and receiver needs. However, there are still several key factors to keep in mind.
You’ll want to figure out what exact type of powered speakers you want. Then, consider audio quality, wireless vs wired connection options, high-resolution compatibility, and physical control buttons.
While most powered speakers come in the form of a powered bookshelf speaker or a portable speaker, there are still plenty of options from which to choose. Take a look at some of the most common types to determine which would be best for you:
As stated previously, powered stereo speakers often feature a smaller design than others. The exact size you purchase is ultimately determined by how much space you have available. For example, if all you have is a shelf on your bookcase, a powered bookshelf speaker with a compact size is the best option for you.
Another general rule of thumb to follow for speaker size is that bigger equals louder. If you want maximum volume, you’ll need to purchase a large speaker. If you don’t need as much volume, you’ll be fine with a smaller speaker.
High-resolution audio, also known as hi-res audio, is a lossless audio format that reproduces even the smallest details from an audio recording. Hi-res audio offers the highest audio quality available today, so if you’re looking for powerful sounds and an immersive listening experience, you can’t go wrong with a hi-res powered speaker, also commonly known as Hi-Fi speakers.
Of course, keep in mind that Hi-Fi speakers tend to be much more expensive than standard alternatives. If you’re looking for an affordable speaker, you won’t find one with the Hi-Fi label attached to it. However, the increased audio quality is well worth the extra price.
Your powered speakers’ connectivity options are a critical part of your buying decision. The types of inputs on your speaker determine the types of devices you can connect to it. If you’re limited in your connection options, you might be frustrated. And if you are, consider adding Bluetooth to speakers to expand your options.
Most powered speakers available today offer various connectivity options, including digital audio inputs and standard analog inputs. Both types of inputs still provide room-filling sound quality.
Newer models of powered stereo speakers and smart speakers also give you built-in Bluetooth technology and Wi-Fi connectivity. This way, you can stay connected to your other smart devices and even stream music directly to your speakers from the internet. And, if you like DIY projects, you can learn how to build your own Bluetooth speakers.
There are plenty of extra features and functionalities available amongst the individual models of powered speakers. However, your exact needs will vary from the next customer’s, so here are some common options to consider while you shop: