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I would like to buy a small external speaker (mono) to use for my laptop and mobile phone, both of which have very poor-quality and low-volume built-in speakers.

However, all that I can find in shops are powered (battery or AC) speakers, and no passive speakers at all. I would be using the speaker at home most of the time, and thus it would not make sense to keep charging the battery every few hours. I don't need the new speaker to have massive volume, thus I'd have thought that a passive solution should be doable.

Also, for convenience, I would prefer the speaker to not require mains plugging, but only a wired connection to the device's audio jack.

Is such a solution at all possible, or will I have to settle for powered speakers?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The jacks are designed for headphones, not speakers. All my laptops have a headphone icon next to the jack. I have even seen schematics with ~30 ohms in series to protect the driver from damage, this will definitely limit the output to below speaker level. You will need powered speakers for your purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mattman944
    May 25 '19 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ But that's not to say that, if I connect external powered speakers through the jack, this will not work, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – z8080
    May 25 '19 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't USB powered speaker viable in your case? \$\endgroup\$
    – Unknown123
    May 25 '19 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what I'd have thought, but searching for that only gives me bluetooth ones, which made me think the former have just gone out of style (don't know much about that these things). Also, having them connected via jack is better than USB as it means I could also use them for my phone and not just for the laptop \$\endgroup\$
    – z8080
    May 25 '19 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which keyword do you use for search? I just search it on Aliexpress with "usb speaker laptop" keyword and found many USB active speaker products with the usual audio stereo TRS jack/connector. \$\endgroup\$
    – Unknown123
    May 25 '19 at 14:10
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This won't work out: the speakers in your devices are as loud as they can be with the built-in amplifiers.

Sure, you could argue that maybe these built-in speakers are very inefficient, i.e. bad at converting amplifier output power to loudness, and you can buy better, higher-efficiency speakers that can make more and better sound out of the same power, but that's extremely unlikely, since mobile devices typically pick astonishingly high-efficiency speakers.

So, with the power you'll get out of these, you're very unlikely to get better sound out of external speakers, unless you're willing to accept less loud speakers, and you won't get much louder speakers, unless you're willing to accept more horrible sounding.

So, you'll need an external amplifier. I don't understand your requirements – you're mostly using them at home (where you have power), but don't want to plug them in – you're making your life unnecessarily hard.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for explaning, this makes sense. I was also confused about amazon.de showing me either large desk-top speakers OR small batter-driven portable speakers. What I'm after as a compromise would be I guess a small pluggable speaker (either single or as a pair). I'll keep looking for that. Thanks again \$\endgroup\$
    – z8080
    May 25 '19 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if you could get a speaker that's powered through a USB port. If the asker is using it for a laptop or other device that has a USB port, that might suit their needs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    May 25 '19 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ The USB option would not be ideal as I would then not be able to also connect it to my mobile phone \$\endgroup\$
    – z8080
    May 25 '19 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @z8080 that's not true. Most phones support USB OTG and have support for the USB Audio device class. \$\endgroup\$ May 25 '19 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll look into that, thank you and please do pardon my ignorance on these topics! \$\endgroup\$
    – z8080
    May 25 '19 at 15:27

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