Naturally, each type of monitor has its advantages, so the choice in favor of one or the other should depend on the specific situation. An active monitor is a monitor with an autonomous power source or with an amplifier built into the chassis.
Active monitors save you from having to buy an additional separate amplifier and the headache associated with this process. Passive monitor does not have its own autonomous power source. This means that you will have to understand the difference between powered and passive monitors then buy a power amplifier.
Passive monitors and amplifiers
In order to work with passive monitors, you just need to connect the mixer with a power amplifier and the amplifier with monitors. If you already have an amplifier, then buying passive monitors will allow you to save a lot. It would seem that everything is simple. But for all the “yes” there is always a “no.” You will have to work with two separate devices: a monitor and a power amplifier (plus connection cables). Here are a couple of things to look out for when using a power amplifier:
Make sure the cooling system is functioning properly! When installing the amplifier in a rack, ensure that the front, side, or rear vents are not blocked. The distance between the side walls of the rack and the amplifier should be at least 2 inches, and the distance between the back wall and the amplifier should be at least 4 inches.
Improper ventilation can affect the performance of the amplifier and cause damage to both the amplifier itself and the monitor speakers.
Choosing the right cable
Carefully study the inputs and outputs on the amplifier and select cables of appropriate thickness (at least 22-24 for amplifier inputs and 16 for monitor inputs, depending on the cable length).
The amplifier can have balanced or unbalanced XLR connectors, balanced or unbalanced 1/4 jack connectors; there may also be banana plugs, etc. For more information about passive vs active speaker, refer to the specific amplifier’s user manual.
Be careful when switching, selecting a signal source and adjusting the output level
Remember that each amplifier has its own sound. Just as the cumulative sound of the microphone and preamp can be assumed, you can imagine the combination of an amplifier with monitors. In other words, the same passive monitors will not necessarily sound the same with different amplifiers.
The main rule when choosing an amplifier for passive monitors is that the amplifier power should be twice as much as is necessary for monitors. Such a power reserve is required. Thus, if the amplifier power is 300 W with a resistance of 8 ohms, the amplifier power should be 600 W and the resistance should be 8 ohms. However, this rule is derived from personal experience and is not mandatory for 100% of cases.
The main advantage of active monitors is that when using them you will at least not have to face all of the above problems. Many of us do not want to know anything about ohms, watts, damped vibrations, protection against overloads, crossovers, etc. It is enough that the monitor sounds great, and all that is needed for it to work is to plug it into a mixer or computer audio interface. This is natural, because the audio equipment is intended primarily for recording and playing music, and to understand it or not is a personal matter. But if you want to know more about the technical advantages of active vs passive monitors, then contact a specialist friend.