If you want a hi-fi system but are daunted by the prospect of multiple speaker and amplifier boxes, you may want to consider active speakers – that is, speakers with amplification built in.
While most of the active speakers on this list look just like standard speakers, don't be fooled: there's a lot of clever processing going on inside these cabinets, and many of them support hi-res audio. Some are also complete all-in-one systems, double as Bluetooth speakers and also have music streaming services built in. Not only are these more practical and neater than a bunch of separate components, but they are also often cheaper, too.
And we've tested every pair in our testing rooms to bring you our pick of the best active speakers you can buy. Read on to find out which suits you the best.
How to choose the best active speakers for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
To decide which active speakers are best for you – or whether you want them in the first place – it's useful to know what they are and how they work. Stereo speakers can be categorised into two different species – active and passive. Passive speakers are your 'standard' driver-filled boxes that require an external stereo amplifier to make a sound. Once the signal from the amplifier reaches these boxes, an internal crossover filters the appropriate frequencies to each of the drivers.