When it comes to loudspeakers the overwhelming majority of people are familiar with only one type of speaker: passive speakers—speakers that they power with a receiver or power amplifier. Passive speakers are not the only design or kind of speaker available. In fact, speakers normally fall into one of three categories: active, passive, or powered. Electronic House has put together a nice summary article on the three kinds of speakers and their differences. It’s a good read and here is the link to the article.