Speaker Types Explained

Have you ever been in a professional audio department mesmerized by all the gear and wondered “what’s the difference between all these speakers?” Well, you’re in luck because we are here to be a resource to answer these questions for you!

Technology is developing so fast that pro audio equipment is improving and becoming more digital and less analog every year. At this age of live sound, 2000 watts is the industry standard for a full-range powered speakers. Digital processing chips are integrated into powdered speakers allowing for high wattage. Normally to reach 2000 watts, a speaker would need a very heavy amplifier that contains large magnets and capacitors to generate that kind of power. 

There are several types of speakers but the main distinction between the two is whether the speaker is powered or passive.  

Here’s a breakdown of passive and powered speakers:

  • Passive Speakers: Do not have a built in power amplifier
    • Needs External Power from a power amp
    • Best when no power outlets are available
    • Best when running high wattage systems that require 134db SPL and above
    • Each passive system is only as good as its amplifiers (in other words, don’t go cheap on the amp)


  • Powered: Do have a built in power amp
    • Plugs into a wall outlet
    • Easy setup and tear down
    • Little to no user error
      • Powered speakers are easier to use because there is no need to pair a power rating with an external amplifier
    • Has the ability to  plug an instrument or even a phone directly into a powered speaker


Now let’s break down essential speaker types:

  • Full-Range Speakers: Come in both powered and passive
    • Used for the front of house and the main sound source for the audience
    • Generally 12-15 inch 1000 watt speakers


Powered Front of House Speaker


Passive Front of House Speaker


Need a front of house speaker? We recommend the Powered JBL EON 615, this speaker has a robust low end and provides the clarity needed to communicate your message clearly to your audience. Let your message be heard and create an immersive atmosphere with JBL.

Click here to VIEW the EON615

  • Line Array: Come in both powered and passive
    • Line array’s are a speaker design
    • Line array’s create a fan or a c shape
    • The shape helps evenly disperse sound amongst the front, center, and back rows.


Need a line array? We recommend the Powdered QSC KLA12, this speaker is high wattage, high SPL, and a total beast! Balance the sound across the front and back row and eliminate complaints that the audio is too high or low by using a line array speaker system.

Click here to VIEW the KLA12

  • Monitors: both powered and passive
    • Monitor in audio engineering is, a speaker that a musician, singer, or pastor uses to hear themselves
    • Also referred to as floor wedges


Need a monitor? We recommend the Powdered JBL EON612, this speaker can be used as a main or a monitor but its frequency response and wedge angle is ideal for the monitor position.

Click here to VIEW the EON612

  • Subwoofer: Both Powered and passive
    • Used to reproduce pure bass!
    • In a typical live sound setting 18-21 inch subs are used
    • Helps support the main front of house speakers by reducing the amount of low frequencies the main speakers need to reproduce


Looking for a sub? We recommend the Powdered EV ELX200-18S, one of the absolute best subwoofers for any church or live sound environment with ideal wattage and high SPL to protect your system from blowouts!

Click to VIEW the ELX200 SUB!


Thanks for reading through our speaker type guide! if you have any questions reach out to us via Facebook so we can help answer your questions and guide your speaker purchasing decisions.


What’s next in your audio engineering journey? Learn about the LAYOUT OF A MIXER in our next blog post and become an expert for FREE by expanding your knowledge with our professional audio resources!

Take a picture or shoot a video of your audio system and any questions you may have by tagging us with #mychurchsound. Share your knowledge with our supportive audio community and be part of the solution!



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