Where Should I Plug in Powered Speakers?
Q I’m in the market to buy a new receiver. The speakers I’m using are powered models that I plug directly into the back of the receiver. My question: Will it hurt or decrease the life of the speakers if I instead plug them into a regular AC outlet on my wall? New receivers I’ve checked out with features that I like do not provide AC outlets. —Bill Major / via email
A You won't be hurting or decreasing the life of your powered speakers by plugging them into a regular wall AC outlet. Instead, you’ll be helping them. The switched (turns on/off along with the receiver) and unswitched (always on) outlets on the back of receivers are there to provide a convenient place to plug in source devices like a CD player or turntable. The difference between these and powered speakers is that source devices draw only a small amount of power during operation. The amplifiers built into powered speakers, on the other hand, can require substantial AC current—depending on how loud you play your system, you could end up exceeding the power capacity of the receiver’s outlets and cause it to shut down, potentially damaging your speakers in the process. Anyway, if you do buy a new receiver you’ll have no choice but to plug your speakers into the wall—all the new receiver models I’ve looked at omit convenience outlets.