This is, of course, entirely dependent on the situation. Just a few of the questions we ask in return are: “Will the system be portable or installed?”, “Will the connections on the installed speakers be easily accessible?”, “Will the people using the portable system be able to lift the speakers?”, “Where is electricity more readily available?”, “Is there an air-conditioned spot close to the where the amplifiers will be?”, and so many more.
The long and short (or the “light and heavy”) of it is that you need to think about your application. I personally love using powered speakers for portable church systems, since there are fewer cables to lug around, and I’m strong enough to manhandle the speakers on and off poles. I’ve seen portable setups become semi-installed setups because the people using the system were not able to move the speakers. I tend to prefer the use of passive speakers for installation, but there are many cases where powered speakers are much more practical.
Here are some pros and cons of powered vs passive:
|Predictable: amplifier is matched to the speakers, and the factory has tested it.||Flexible: allows for potential upgrades without replacing both the amp and speaker.|
|Negates the need for an additional equipment rack for amplifiers. All components are in one convenient package. They can be connected directly to a mixer or sound source.||More gear to keep up with, and the amplifier must be located relatively close to the speaker.|
|Greatly reduces audio quality & level loss over longer cable distances, due to the differences between balanced audio wire and speaker wire.||More potential for signal loss over long distance, but gets signal from standard speaker wires rather than needing both XLR and power.|
|Portable powered speakers require more lifting power. Installed powered speakers require additional rigging and support in the room.||Lighter weight, simpler to rig in an installation, and easier to lift for portable systems.|
|Often the amplifier is tuned to the speaker, so little to no equalization is necessary.||The amplifier needs to be matched to the speaker for proper sound quality and volume.|
|In powered speaker installations, amplifier service must be done at speaker location.||Service of the amplifier or speaker is more straightforward. The amplifier is easily accessible, and either component can be exchanged for a temporary one.|
|Simple setup and easier to understand for people unfamiliar with sound systems.||Traditional method, so more people will be familiar with the setup.|
Hopefully you are armed with a little more knowledge – now for some help with the decision making. First, if you are working with a consultant or A/V installation company, describe your situation and concerns and see what they would recommend. They work with this gear day in and out, and are used to dealing with the benefits and drawbacks of powered and passive speakers.
Prioritize your requirements and desires. Even if you feel a powered speaker is better for your portable system, it’s not a good choice if you or the person using it can’t lift it or move it. On the other hand, you may be slightly uncomfortable with the concept of powered speakers, but if there’s no good location for an amp rack and the speakers would be reasonably accessible, powered speakers may be a better installation choice. If either powered or passive speakers would meet your requirements, then see which type satisfies more of your desires.
Finally, if you’re still struggling with the decision, and you’ve done your due diligence on choosing the best option for your church, then pray and rely on God to give you an easy, calm feeling about one versus the other. If this is a big decision, it shouldn’t be rushed – let God do his part. Otherwise, try not to stress. Just pray and go as you feel led.
I personally am interested in both powered and passive but saying that at the moment passive is certainly the technically, sonically and financially more flexible out of the two choices. In respect of portering the units around there really is not a great deal of difference at the moment and these days you can buy lightweight amps such as the American Audio XLT series or a Kam 1U digital amp..couple either of those with a quality graphic equalizer such as a DBX 215s or something along those lines then house the two units in a appropriate flight case and you will have a high quality and very powerful system that will be far superior in actual sound quality than any powered speaker system and for probably half the price! You will also niether have the worry of signal loss if you use balanced XLR/1/4′ jack leads from your mixer or other source. Alternativly if you are using unbalanced leads ie XLR (from amp) to RCA (to source) or RCA to RCA or 1/4′ Jack to RCA then simple keep your amp under the source desk ie within 12 feet of the mixer/source and that way you can run your passive speaker at almost any distance via speakon speaker cable within the church. No need for the power lead for the speakers of which coupled with the XLR lead for your audio input could mean either extra money for extensions on both leads. My opinion and wishing for the Lords approval, I would go passive but environment and circumstance may prove such an option to be a subjective matter regardless. Whatever the case, the Lord be praised!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVICE, THIS WAS HELPFUL TO ME