How To Connect Passive Speakers To Mixer (Helpful Guide)
When you are setting up a PA system, you will come across several components ranging from amps to mixers and speakers. For the PA system to work perfectly, you need to connect all these devices the right way – mixers to amps and amps to speakers. If you have passive speakers and you are wondering how to connect them to your PA mixer, keep reading this guide for more information on how to do that.
You can connect your passive speakers to a mixer by connecting the mixer to an external amp which will be used to power the passive speakers. After connecting the mixer to the amplifier, you will have to connect the input jacks of the passive speakers to the output jack of the external amp via speaker wires or speakon cables.
If your mixer is not an amplified mixer, connecting it to an external amplifier first is the right way to get it hooked up to your passive speakers. In this article, I will be explaining in detail how to determine whether or not your speakers are passive and how to connect them to a non-amplified mixer via an external amplifier. So read on for more details.
What is the Difference Between Active Speakers and Passive Speakers?
Now that you are getting introduced to passive speakers, you may be wondering if your speakers are passive or not. Well, when it comes to speakers in a PA system there are two types – active speakers and passive speakers.
Here’s the difference. Active speakers have in-built amplifiers, so they do not need an external amplifier for them to work.
Passive speakers on the other hand do not have in-built amplifiers. Therefore they need to be powered by external devices such as amplifiers or mixers.
If the mixer you are using in your PA system does not have an in-built amplifier, you should use an external amplifier to power up your passive speakers.
You can notice a passive or active speaker right away by observing the speaker. Usually, active speakers have a power socket on them beside other ports.
The passive speakers do not have power sockets. They only have the usual ports that are used for cable connections.
What is an Amplified Mixer?
All mixers are not the same. Standard mixers generally only have channel inputs and output ports which allow them to carry signals to other equipment.
The standard mixers do not have in-built amplifiers and so they are called non-amplified or non-powered mixers.
Some mixers, however, have in-built amplifiers which work almost the same way as a standard amplifier. This kind of two-in-one equipment – it mixes sounds and amplifies them. They are therefore called amplified mixers.
In your PA system, you may have either an amplified mixer or a standard one.
Can Mixers Power Passive Speakers?
The simple answer is yes. However, it depends on the type of mixer that you are using.
Because amplified mixers have in-built amplifiers, they can easily power the passive speakers. In such a case, you do not need an external amplifier to power the passive speakers since the in-built amplifier in the mixer will do the powering up of the speakers.
You only need to connect the mixer to the passive speakers and you’ll be good to go.
If you are using a standard mixer, the answer is no. With standard mixers, there are no in-built amplifiers to power the speakers except you resort to external amplifiers.
In this article, I’m assuming that you are using a standard mixer, therefore you’ll have to connect the mixer to an external amplifier first, before connecting the amplifier to the passive speakers.
Connecting Passive Speakers to Mixer
Now that we know what passive speakers and standard mixers are, let’s turn our attention to how to connect them. You will need to have an external amplifier in the setup as well.
So, the materials that you’ll need in order to connect passive speakers are your two passive speakers, an external amplifier, the mixer, and some XLR and speakon cables.
Since the real powering of the speakers is from the external amplifier, you need to ensure that the speakers and the external are actually matched in terms of their capacities otherwise there will be so much distortion in the speakers.
This means that you can not just use any amplifier for the speakers.
Which Amplifier Should I Use for Passive Speakers?
Your choice of an amplifier will determine the quality of sounds that your speakers will produce.
First and foremost, use a two-channel amp. Since you are connecting two passive speakers to the amp, a two-channel amp will be your best choice.
Next, consider the Sound Pressure Level or SPL of your PA system. What an amplifier does is transmit sound in the form of electric signals to the speakers.
Judging by this, the more electrical power it can transmit to the speaker, the louder your speaker will be. However, not all the electrical power that is transmitted to the speaker is converted to sounds and this brings in the SPL rating which measures how much electrical power your speaker system converts to sound.
If your system has an SPL of 100 decibels, you should consider using an amplifier that has a power rating of 100 Watts or more.
Besides the SPL rating, you should also consider the Root Mean Square or RMS rating of your passive speakers. The RMS of the speakers gives you an idea as to how much power the speakers can take for some period of time.
Based on the RMS of the speaker, select an amp that has a similar rating to the speakers.
How Do I Connect My Passive Speakers to a Mixer?
Connecting your passive speakers to the mixer at this point shouldn’t be so complicated. Follow the steps below and you will connect the passive speakers to the mixer in no time.
- Set up your PA system
- Connect the mixer to the amp
- Connect the speakers to the amp
- Turn on the system
1. Set Up the PA System
First, start by setting up the components in your PA system. Identify the key places where you will place your speakers, amp, and mixer.
Make sure to turn off the equipment and possibly remove them from the power source when setting them up.
2. Connect Mixer to Amp
After setting the equipment up, go to your mixer and locate the output jacks on it. There should be two output ports, L and R outputs. Similarly, locate the input ports on your amp.
Depending on the cables that the amp uses, connect the ends of XLR cables to the output jacks of the mixer and then plug the other ends into the input ports of the amp.
Not all amps support the XLR cables, so decide on which cables to use based on what the amp uses.
3. Connect Passive Speakers to Amp
With the mixer connected to the amp, what you need to do next is to connect the passive speakers to the external amp.
With a cable of your choice, preferably speakon leads, connect the outputs of the amplifier to the input jacks of the passive speakers.
Once you are through with this connection, the passive speakers are technically connected to the mixer.
4. Turn On the System
When you are done with the cable connections, you can turn the components of the system.
Plug in the components to their power sources and turn them on in turns. Here’s how.
First, turn on the mixer before turning on the amplifier so that you do not damage the amplifier.
When you want to turn off the system, do the opposite. That is, turn off the amplifier first and then the mixer.
What’s next? Now that the passive speakers are connected to the mixer, the ball is in your court to have fun with the mixer.
You can play your music, add effects such as reverb to the sound, create your own mixes, and so forth. You can adjust the volume levels and the equalizer to your liking.
When it comes to passive speakers and mixers, you need to do a little more work in connecting the two. With an active speaker or amplifier mixer, you can just connect the mixer to the speaker straight away and you will be good too.
However, that is not so with passive speakers and non-amplified mixers. To connect these two, you’ll need to bring in an external amp that will power the speakers for you.
First, connect the mixer to the amp and then connect the amp to the passive speakers.
The cables that you use in the connection will depend on what cables your components were designed to use. Most of the time XLR cables should work just fine.
Also, consider the power ratings of your passive speakers and the external amp before you attempt to connect them in order to create any distortion in the sounds that will be produced in your speaker.