How to Connect Electric Drums to Mixer
Many drummers seem to have fallen in love with electric drums since their introduction into the music industry. Electric drums, unlike the traditional cymbals, are ideal for home rehearsal since the sounds they produce can be limited to the hearing of only the drummer. Electric drums can also be played outdoors to the hearing of the audience but you will need to amplify the sounds with an amplifier or a mixer.
If you decide to play your electric drums through a mixer, you should have no problems unless you are not familiar with electric drumming. You can connect your electric drums to a mixer by connecting the output jack of the drum module to any of the input channels on your PA mixer with a quarter inch cable. After connecting the electric drums to the mixer, you can use the drums alongside other musical instruments or mics at the same time.
Mixers can have amplifiers already built into them or may require external amplifiers in the operation. You should therefore know the configuration of your PA system and how to effectively deliver the drum sounds to your audience. In this article, I will share with you how to connect the electric drums to your mixer and what you can do with them afterward. So read on to learn more.
Why Should I Use a Mixer for Electric Drums?
For you to hear the sounds of an electric drum, you need to amplify the sound drum one way or the other, otherwise what you are going to hear is just the sounds of the drumsticks striking a hard surface.
If you want to amplify the drum sounds to the hearing of your listeners, you’ll need to use either an amplifier or a PA mixer.
The good thing is that the mixer has several input channels to which you can connect other instruments, mics, and computers to. You can also play all of your instruments at the same time through the mixer.
PA mixers are generally louder than drum amplifiers so your listeners can hear the sounds of your drums at a much higher volume.
Because of the several inputs on the mixer, it can take a lot of cables that you wish to connect to it. With the electric drum, you connect all of its two inputs, the right and left to your mixer and adjust the tunings on the mixer for a better music experience.
Configuration of PA Mixers
Mixers come in several forms and configurations. If you want to use a mixer in your PA system, the mixer will need an amplifier in order to work properly.
Some mixers have the amplifiers already built into them while those don’t need to have external amps connected to them manually.
The PA system will also require speakers in order to send out the drum sounds to your listeners. Below is a list of possible PA configurations involving the mixers and speakers:
- Active speaker PA system
- Passive speaker and amplified mixer PA system
- PA system with external amplifier and passive speaker.
Active Speaker PA System
In an active speaker PA system configuration, the mixer has no amplifier on its own. The speakers that are used for the mixer are powered independently from the mixer with amplifiers that are built-in speakers.
This PA system arrangement is very common and you can use this setup at home for your drumming rehearsal.
Once you connect the drum module to the mixer and then connect the mixer to the speakers, you will be good to play your electric drums through the mixer to the speakers.
Passive Speaker With Amplified Mixer PA System
If you have a mixer that has an in-built amplifier, you can use it to power your speakers. This is what this configuration is about.
With this setup, the speakers rely on the mixer for their amplification since the mixer has an amplifier that has been built in it.
For the system to work, you should connect the drum module to the input of the amplified mixer and then connect the mixer to the speakers.
However, you should be careful not to connect speakers that do not match the power ratings of the mixer to the mixer.
For example, if your amplified mixer is rated 1,500 Watts and you connect it to speakers that can handle say 500 W at most, you will end up damaging the speakers because the power that will be delivered to the speaker will be so much.
Similarly, using underrated mixers for high-rated speakers will damage the mixer and speaker. So, always use similar-rated mixers for your speakers.
PA System With External Amplifier and Passive Speaker
In this PA system arrangement, the mixer has no in-built amplifier, hence it doesn’t amplify the speakers. The speakers also do not have their own in-built amplifiers.
What amplifies the speakers is an external amplifier which you’ll need to connect to the speakers. You’ll also need to connect the drum module to the mixer and then connect the mixer to the amplifier.
As in the case of the amplified mixer, you’ll need to ensure that the external amplifier’s power rating matches the rating of the speakers in order not to damage the speakers.
How Do I Connect Electric Drums to Mixer?
Connecting an electric drum to the mixer is an easy task once you know where your input and output ports are on the mixer and the electric drums.
After you identify these ports, what will be left for you to do will not be anything more than just plugging in cables to those ports. You’ll need a quarter inch cable or an XLR cable if your mixer and drum module’s ports allow for the use of an XLR cable.
Before you connect the electric drum to the mixer, you should turn off all the devices and unplug them from their power sources. You’ll only turn them on after you are through with all your cable connections.
You can follow the steps below if you want to connect your electric drums to the mixer:
- Choose your mixer configuration
- Set the devices up
- Connect speakers to amps or mixer
- Connect the electric drum to the mixer
- Turn on all devices
- Test electric drums
1. Choose PA Mixer Configuration
Before you connect the mixer to the electric drums, you should know ahead of time which configuration your PA system is. You know whether or not your mixer is self-amplified if your speakers are active or passive and whether or not you will be using an external amplifier.
If your speakers and mixers have in-built amplifiers, there will be no need for an external amplifier.
2. Set The Devices Up
Once you are through with your configuration, you should begin to set the equipment up physically. Place your speakers at your lateral ends, that is your right and left sides, and direct the mic away from your speakers.
Ensure that all the devices are turned off and with their power cables unplug from the power source. You should only place the mixer, electric drums, amp, and speakers at their designated positions at this stage.
3. Connect Speakers to Amps And Mixer
At this stage, connect your speakers to the amplifier if you’re using an external amplifier, and then connect the amp to the mixer.
If your mixer has an in-built amplifier, connect the speaker to the mixer directly using cables such as the quarter inch cable.
4. Connect Electric Drum to Mixer
Here’s where we get to connect the electric drums to the mixer. The electric drum kits have a module where the output jack to the drum set is located.
The output jack is more or less the gate to the electric drums because all the sound signals come out of that port.
On your drum module, you’ll find that port labeled as Output.
What you are going to do is plug one end of a quarter inch cable or an XLR cable into that port and then plug the other end into a channel input on the mixer.
With the plugging done, you have successfully connected the electric drums to the mixer.
What’s next? You’ll have to test the drums and then you can start playing.
5. Turn on All Devices
Now that you are through with all of the cable connections, you can turn on the equipment. Plug the power cables of the mixer and amp into a power source.
Ensure that you turn down the master volumes on the mixer and amplifier before turning the equipment on.
6. Test Electric Drums
Now, adjust the tunings on the mixer and the electric drum module to obtain sounds that are good for the ears.
Remember that, if the set volume is too high, you may hear a lot of distortions in the drum sounds. Also if the volume is too low you may not hear the sounds clearly, so just fine with a moderate adjustment that produces some quality sounds.
How Do I Record Electric Drums With a Mixer?
Mixers generally allow hooking play sounds from several musical instruments and mics all at the same time. If you have your instruments including the electric drums hooked to your mixer, you can easily record the sounds from the mixer by using an audio interface.
You can connect the outputs of the mixer to the audio interface’s input and then connect the audio interface to a computer.
If you want to record only the electric drums, just connect the electric drum module output to the mixer’s inputs and then record the drums with the audio interface after connecting the mixer to the audio interface.
You can channel the sounds to your computer only after you have connected the computer to the audio interface with a USB cable.
As a drummer, you may not be so familiar with the use of mixers with drums especially if you just got introduced to electric drums. When you use electric drums, you will need to amplify the sounds of the drum through a headphone or speaker and this is where mixers come in.
With several channels on a mixer, you connect the output port of the electric drum module to the input channels of the mixer and connect them to speakers or amplifiers for a better sound experience.
Always unplug the equipment before you do the cable connections and only turn them on when you’re done with the connections.