I wanted to know the difference in sound between active and passive pickups, but for i can't test a guitar with active pu and another with good passive pu, i tried to figure out the difference listening to some tests on youtube or around the web.

So i wanted to discuss this topic here, there will be certainly someone with some experience in this matter.

From what i had understood, the mainly difference (pulling apart the battery and the way they work and cap the sound) is that passive pickups are more "muddy" and less defined (especially on fast picking), but respond better to the difference in playing (more "organic" i read somewhere), and they are more warm. Instead the actives are more "metallic" and have way more trebles than basses, are less dynamic and sound a little "digital" (from what i read again xD), but the clarity and definition of the sound is the best, perfect for fast playing like thrash or death (in which i'm interested).

Is this all correct? Anyway i wanted to ask a couple of things:
1) how much does the battery with actives lasts?
2) do you think playing hardcore punk with actives makes the songs lose their "rawness"??

Thanks to everyone!
Actives work the same as passives, except they use very weak magnets and contain a pre-amp to boost the signal, which also colours their tone. The pre-amp is what needs the battery.

You can get passives that aren't muddy, and actives that are muddy. I also hear that actives are getting more articulate, from the 57/66 set that EMG have introduced.

Actives were originally designed for Jazz players, so they were never designed for metal players in mind, yet the fact they wield so much output is what interests metal players. You can get very high output passives however, and they tend to be less dynamic than the lower output passives.

The batteries should last 100s or 1000s of hours, obviously it depends on the brand of battery and how long you play each day.

The difference in passives versus actives alone would note define how raw your sound will be in hardcore punk, it's more about the amp and how the band play.
I wouldn't necessarily describe passives as muddy, there are very clear passives out there, but you're right about them responding differently to the picking dynamics, where as actives tend to give you a bit more of a compressed sound, so it tends to make everything sound about the same volume. The frequency response of the pickups (treble, mids, bass) really does depend on the pickup. As for your actual question, I don't really know how long the battery lasts, but I do know that the battery is being drained all the time you have a jack in the guitar, so unplugging it when you're not playing will make them last longer. As for the punk question, it really does depend on the sound you want. If you want some good passives, I'd recommend looking at bareknuckle, they do some really high output stuff (which I'd assume you'd want as a hardcore/metal player).
This is utterly stupid and glossing over so many important factors, I don't even know where to begin.

What passive pickup? What active pickup? Are we comparing an EMG 81 humbucker to a Fender Texas Special single coil? Are we talking about a Shadow pickup, with their built-in EQ controls? Do you want to know about the original active pickups which were intended for jazz playing? Do you know about the variations in passive pickup design, about scatterwinding or unoriented magnets? What type of tone are you testing pickups with? What amp? What playing style? Are we including hybrid systems in this?

There are a hundred different active pickups on the market. There are ten thousand different passive pickups available. You can't even remotely begin to compare active, as an entire design philosophy, to passive design. It is far, far too open a subject. You might as well be asking "how are red and blue different?"

The one and only consistent factor—and I do mean only—is wholly active pickups will always have lower impedance than wholly passive pickups. Everything else is subjective to model; even how much lower the impedance is varies between models of pickup. All you can know for sure is that high impedance for an active pickup is still impossibly low for a passive. That's it. That is the only thing you can say about the two designs this broadly.

Quote by Alexander Nero

Is this all correct? Anyway i wanted to ask a couple of things:
1) how much does the battery with actives lasts?
2) do you think playing hardcore punk with actives makes the songs lose their "rawness"??
1) Depends on the model of pickup, how many pickups you have, the batteries you use and how you take care of the guitar. You can have guitars with active pickups that last for 3,000 playing hours before needing to change battery and you have others that can eat through a battery in 15 playing hours.
2) Entirely subjective to your ears and your taste, not to mention your amp, the guitar and your precise playing style. You can play anything with actives, just as you can play anything with passives. Shielding a pickup and adding a battery-powered preamp has no bearing on what it should or shouldn't be used for.
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Last edited by MrFlibble at Apr 8, 2013,
I think Flibble's got it right. Beyond a few very basic properties inherent to the design, like lower output impedance and lower magnet pull, there are just too many differences for this to be a useful discussion.

If you want to know about specific pickup sets for your style of playing, post the type of thing you play, your amp and guitar, and your budget and we'll get rolling. But 'active vs passive' as an overarching topic just doesn't achieve anything.