Passive, Active and Hybrid flat panels, what are the differences?
If you’re orienting to buy a new loudspeaker you might be overwhelmed by the broad range to choose from. Even if you’ve narrowed your search down to just Electrostatic speakers there is still plenty to choose from. We hope below brief overview will help you in defining your preference.
In general, most passive loudspeakers are built with separate drivers for low, mid, and high frequencies. Inside and sometimes outside the loudspeaker enclosure is a passive crossover filter. You need external amplifiers to feed passive loudspeakers. Active loudspeakers usually do also have separate drivers, but every driver is powered by an internal amplifier, dedicated to the specific driver. Onboard is also an active crossover filter. In the market you can find many variations. Think about active loudspeakers with one full range driver or ‘drivers only’ loudspeakers with their passive or active filters and amplifiers literally ‘out of the box’.
Final flat panel electrostatic loudspeakers are available in a passive, active or hybrid form. A passive Final panel needs an external amplifier. For every stereo system, consisting of two passive Final panels, you can do with a two-channel amplifier. A Final active panel does have an internal power amplifier. You need a preamplifier, streamer or DAC with a volume control.
Final also provides hybrid loudspeakers. A flat panel, combined with a dynamic woofer. Smaller flat panels do not provide extended low frequencies. Together with a dynamic driver, you can get full range sound in a compact package. The hybrid can be fully active with two internal power amplifiers. Some hybrids are only active for the lower frequencies. You need an external amplifier to drive the panel for the midrange and the higher frequencies.
Active loudspeakers do have some advantages in comparison with passive ones. The manufacturer can match every internal amplifier close to the driver’s specs. Most of the time, it’s difficult to find the best matching amplifier for driving a passive model. With active loudspeakers you don’t have to fiddle with (expensive) loudspeaker cables. Two reasons why active loudspeakers can sound better than their passive family. Every internal amplifier is also adjustable in volume. You can dial in the optimal tonal balance for your specific acoustic environment.