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Connecting An Audio Mixer

Updated on January 16, 2010

Connecting the microphones and instruments

Look to the top or rear of the mixing console and locate the input connectors, often labeled "mic" and "line." Microphones are connected to the XLR connectors found on most mixers. High-impedance microphones, rarely used now in professional audio applications, may be connected to the 1/4" inputs of the mixer.

Line-level devices and instruments are connected to the 1/4" jacks found on the mixer.

Audio mixer input connectors
Audio mixer input connectors

Connecting the Main Outputs

Usually found near the main section of the mixer, you will find (most likely on the top or rear of the mixer) two connectors labeled "main mix" or possibly "stereo output." Other common names are "main out" and "left" and "right" outputs.

Many mixers use either XLR-type connectors or 1/4" balanced (tip-ring-sleeve) connectors.

Using the proper cables, connect to "main" outputs to the "inputs" of your power amplifier(s), or possibly a set of powered speakers. A typical stereo sound reinforcement system will have at least two powered speakers or perhaps a set of speakers (left and right) with a stereo power amplifier.

Left and Right Main Outputs of an Audio Mixer
Left and Right Main Outputs of an Audio Mixer

Connecting stage monitors

Most mixers have several auxiliary sends (or outputs). These are usually labeled AUX 1, AUX 2, etc. but sometimes they are labeled "monitor." This is not the same as a control room monitor output, which is usually a left and right stereo pair. Therefore, the mixers labeling AUX outputs as MONITOR OUTPUT can be confusing at first glance.

Either way, there should be a single (usually 1/4") output (send) labeled AUX 1 or perhaps MONITOR 1. This is commonly a "pre-fader" auxiliary output, which is good for stage monitor use because the auxiliary mix remains the same regardless of the main volume fader positions. Therefore, the main or "house" mix is totally independent of the monitor mix; this is what you want.

Connect the AUX 1 output (or send) to the input of either a power amplifier(s) or powered speaker(s) in order to send the signal from your monitor mix to the stage monitor system.

Other uses for AUX SENDS and RETURNS

Besides sending one or more mixes out to the stage monitors, AUX SENDS are useful for sending a mix to effects devices, recording equipment, and sub-woofers. There are a number of uses for these handy outputs.

In the case of external effects devices, the effects device receives the signal (via its input connectors) and processes the signal. Then the effects device's outputs are connected back to the mixer through the mixer's stereo AUX RETURN connectors. This allows the unprocessed signal to be altered by the device and then returned to the mixer so that it may be adjusted in the overall mix(es).


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