I've played both passive and active pickups through the years, by far mostly passive. I can't recall ever really comparing them head to head much. I'm in the process of cramming some EMG 89 Xs into a superstrat, and comparing the tones against a Tone Zone in an old Peavey Predator. The Tone Zone is louder and has more treble energy, and sounds a bit more articulate. It sounds more raw and natural. It also has a bit more bass but its looser sounding. The EMGs are tighter sounding, slightly compressed, and somehow make certain things a bit more musical - they seem to roll off some of the extraneous noise (pick and finger squeaks and such). I can see how in the mix they might be better - they're more focused. I think they're more forgiving of less than perfect technique. For some reason I was thinking the EMGs would be hotter. I guess if I were running long cables and lots of effects they would be. If I can get it all sorted I think I'll stay with the EMGs in this guitar (having a hard time finding room for the battery), but I think for sheer power I'm sticking with passives from here.