Connecting a passive speaker to a mixer is a often an important step in setting up a PA system. In this article, we will discuss how you can connect a passive speaker to a mixer as quickly and easily as possible.
Before we get to the steps, you need to first determine if you are working with a passive or powered speaker.
Passive Vs Powered (Active) Speakers
Simply put, passive speakers an external power amplifier, while powered speakers have their own in-built amplifiers.
If you are not sure whether your speaker system is passive or powered, check the rear section of the speakers.
Powered speakers have a dedicated power socket while passive speakers do not.
If your speaker is passive, it will most likely have sockets for audio wires only. You can check out our complete guide on passive vs powered speakers to learn more.
Can I Power Passive Speakers With A Mixer?
Having understood the difference between passive and active speakers, you may be wondering whether passive speakers can still be powered with a mixer. The answer is yes.
What Is A Powered Mixer?
Powered mixers are designed to power passive speakers without an amplifier. However, not all mixers are powered. If you have a powered mixer and you don’t have an amplifier, check out this guide on how to power passive speakers without an amplifier.
If your mixer is a standard one, you will need to add a powered amplifier to this setup to be able to power your speaker system.
Remember, passive speakers do not have built in amplifiers and so a power amplifier is needed to power them. If you were connecting an active speaker to your mixer, then you wouldn’t need an amplifier.
Now, all you will need to do is to connect the mixer to the power amplifier, and the output of the power amplifier will be connected to the inputs of the speakers.
In this description, we highlight how you can easily connect passive speakers to a standard mixer using an amplifier.
What Do I Need, And What Should I Take Note Of?
Before you settle to attempt this connection, you will need to assemble a few things. Make sure you have:
- 1 power amplifier
- 2 passive speakers
- 1 mixing Desk
- 1 microphone
- 1 XLR Lead
- 2 female XLR – 1/4” Jack Lead
- 13.5mm Jack – RCA Lead
- 1 microphone
Note that because you are connecting passive speakers, the power rating of the amp you are about to use must be matched with that of the speakers. To learn more, check out our article on how to match and connect passive speakers to amplifiers.
How Do I Connect Passive Speakers To A Mixer?
Before you can connect passive speakers to the mixer, prepare the power amplifier and a mixing desk.
1. Which Amplifier Should I Choose?
Because you intend to connect two speakers, you will need a 2-channel amp. This type of amplifier has 2-separate output channels.
It is produced for full-range power amplification and can normally power two speaker units at a maximum. However, you can make some changes to have a 2 channel amp power 4 speakers.
In any case, this device gives you the power to control what you hear within a range of your choice. It delivers massive power to both the left and right speakers with limited distortion.
Generally, amps are categorized into classes A, B, AB, or D. Class AB is a blend of A and B. However analog, they are loved as they produce a constant flow of current.
Here’s what you should expect in terms of the output outlay:
Amplifiers will generally differ in terms of their size and power output.
Sizes have been much of a problem with analog amplifiers. However, it is currently possible to get smaller amps with the capacity to deliver a mightier sound.
Amplifier Power and Impedance
People buy amplifiers for power. Their channels are marked with corresponding RMS (Root Mean Square) and wattages.
For every amp you choose, Watts per channel is the value of power you get. It is advisable to choose an amplifier with a higher power rating than that of the speakers you want to use.
As for impedance, the higher the ohms, the lower the RMS per channel. On the other hand, you will have to consider your budget.
2. Prepare The Mixing Desk
1. Connect The Mixer To The Amplifier
To begin, connect the MAIN OUT L and R of the mixer into corresponding inputs on the amplifier. To do this, you can use XLR – Jack leads, however not all amps will have such sockets so the cable you use will depend on your input and output.
2. Connect The Passive Speakers To The Amplifier
Now take the speakon leads (learn more about speakon connectors) and connect them from the output of the power amplifier to the input of each speaker. You can also check out our complete guide on how to connect passive speakers to an amplifier.
Now, the speakers are connected in parallel to the amplifier with speaker 1 going to channel 1 and speaker 2 going into channel 2. See the diagram below on how to wire the devices.
If you need more details on this, we have a complete guide on how to connect passive speakers to an amplifier.
3. Mixing Desk and Speaker Placement
You should use your discretion to determine where the mixing desk and speakers are placed for a better listening experience.
Once all these are wired up, you are almost ready to get the signal through it.
4. Switch On The Speaker
When switching on the system, begin by turning on the mixer first. Then, turn on the amplifier.
However, when switching the system off, begin with the amplifier, followed by the mixer. This procedure should be followed to avoid damaging the power amplifier.
5. Add Effects To The Mix
Besides, if you happen to have a mixer with in-built FX, you can easily add more effects to the mix. Such effects may include reverb, delay, among many other unique effects.
These effects must however be transmitted to the effects’ bus. Controls will differ from one mixer to the other.
Besides, some of the mixers available in the market will have controls that help in regulating the total FX bus transmitted to the monitor mixes.
Creating Your Mixes
Turn on the system and select your sound source. To create a perfect mix, balance the level of every channel within the monitor mixes or main.
You can get a good sound check by mixing the band on the ply or going one player at a time. Just make sure that the mics are working.
Set the main mix level to 0, then turn up the volume fader of every channel and adjust to a desirable level. Finally, use the EQ, FX, and compression to channels balancing the performance.
As opposed to powered speakers, connecting passive speakers to a mixer takes a bit more effort as several components need to be assembled.
Also, as opposed to powered speaker connections, additional leads are required to connect the mixer to the amplifier and the amplifier to the speakers.
This type of connection will therefore impact your budget and depending on the size of appliances chosen, the amount of space required may also get bigger.
For more information on how to complete these setups, please check out our article on how to connect speakers, monitors, amps and mixers.