Passive and Active, difference?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by mebusdriver, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. This has probably been posted before but every time I run a search I come up with nothing. So, what is the difference between active and passive? I'm talking sound, not batteries and crap like that.
  2. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Its not that simple. Active simply means that there is some sort of preamp in the bass or pickups. EMG active pickups have a small preamp built into each pickup.

    The characteristic sound will depend both on the pickup and the preamp. One advantage of active pickups is the tendency for them to be lower noise. However, a well built passive bass can be very low noise as well.
  3. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    I'm not really sure but I was under the impression that active pick ups mean low output and for some reason since output is not a consern you can achive better frequency response then you hit that with a pre amp and it get through your cord to you head no problem. Since passive pick ups are desighned for no pre they have to have a hot enough output to make it through the resitance of the cord and winding them with that requirement is a limitation. Of corse you can still put a pre on those pick ups.

  4. the answer you may be looking for is that active pups as in EMG have a sterile yet predictable sound...i had one an it was ok by me.
    passive are more coloured in sound and vary from pup to pup as the windings and magnets must vary..
    the EMG actives have very spikey top end
    and of course are low impedence.
    and host a good range of post eq electronic pots which i think are cool and dinky.
  5. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    the only thing I can relate this to is like in home audio. The fewer objects in the signal path, the less the original signal is degraded. An onboard preamp (active) adds another piece of hardware to the signal path. If you use long runs of cable, it may be necessary to get the signal to the amp (at the level required). Active eq allows for boost and cut (normally) of bass and treble or bass, treble, and mid. Basically greater flexibility on board. I just realized that after all this, I offered little if any help. Oh well, don't feel like deleting it. :eek: :rolleyes:
  6. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    It is funny that you should say this because being an electronics engineer myself, that is what I would normally think. The funny thing is that since this is the source of the music, a clear accurately reproduced sound isn't necessarily desireable. In fact, get 10 people to listen and they will give you 10 different opionions of how it should sound.

    Strange as it may seem, the only way to really judge pickups and preamps are to hear them. Crisp clean reproduction rarely sounds the best. Although I won't say never because sometimes that is the ideal sound.

    I know this doesn't clear things up, but unfortunately we are in a business that has no absolutes.
  7. brock29609

    brock29609 4 strings, 2 wheels

    May 11, 2003
    Greenville, SC
    I think this is the easiest way to think of it. If you add an active preamp to a passive pickups, it exagerates everthing. It allows you to exagerate the highs, mids or lows. If you want more of something out of your passive pickups, an onboard preamp will let you achieve it.

    Other than playing a few at local music stores, I have no experience with active pickups, just active preamps.