A powered speaker has built-in amplification that allows you to connect directly to your source device like a CD player or smartphone and enjoy music. These speakers reduce cord clutter and are ideal for a bedroom or small living spaces where a receiver would be too bulky. Today’s powered speakers (like The Sevens) also offer Bluetooth functionality so you can queue up playlists and podcasts in seconds.
Powered USB speakers are the most common option for computer users who want to stream music, videos or podcasts through their laptop or PC. These speakers usually use a USB connector to provide power for the audio amplifiers, headphone output amplifiers and often phantom microphone input power.
USB-powered speakers are very compact and work with any Mac or Windows laptop. They are a great solution for those with cramped desk space or a love of minimalism. They typically don’t sound as good as systems with RCA aux inputs because they are powered by the same USB port that your computer uses and only gets about 2.5 watts of power (that’s a maximum).
Some powered speakers also include analog RCA inputs and/or digital optical inputs so you can play music from multiple devices at once. Other models may even have a built-in USB hub so you can charge your phone while listening to music or a podcast. For larger spaces, some powered speakers have a sub-out line so you can add a powerful powered subwoofer to improve the bass response.