How To Connect Powered Speakers To A Mixer

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Updated June 27, 2022

Setting up your audio system can be confusing, so you’re not alone if you’re wondering how to connect powered speakers to a mixer. If you’re going to get the best speakers for your needs, you will need to know how to set them up properly. There are a few simple guidelines and steps to follow that should be simple and easy for everyone to follow.


  • Balanced lines provide cleaner sound with less interference and noise from outside sources and are the best choice for connecting over longer distances.
  • Unbalanced lines can come in both XLR and TRS formats but don’t shield against interference and should only be used for short cabling if possible.
  • Powered speakers use less power than passive models, though their smaller drivers can be slightly lower sound quality.

While you’re at it, you might want to look at how to connect speakers to a receiver. You might also want to check out info on how to connect Bluetooth speakers to a TV.

Connecting Powered Speakers To A Mixer

While the exact method and steps involved will vary depending on your speakers and your mixer, there is a basic approach to hooking up powered speakers that applies to almost all scenarios. Most setups won’t take you more than a few minutes at most.

Remember to set them up so the speakers will be easy to clean when needed and accessible if you ever need to reconnect your speakers.

Determine Out Your Mixer’s Connection Type

Nearly all mixers will feature multiple input and output connection types, so figuring out the right one to hook your powered speakers up to is essential. There are two different general types that can include a number of different connection shapes.

Insider Tip

Add volume from the mixer while keeping the speakers at between 50-75% volume setting for the best possible sound at high volumes.

Balanced Lines

Balanced lines are designed to reject “induced noise,” which can occur when cables are connecting mixers from a good distance. Most mid and high-end audio gear uses this connection type. Balanced lines can either be TRS (“1/4) or XLR connections.

Unbalanced Lines

Unbalanced Lines are more common in budget and lower-tier audio gear. They’re louder than balanced lines and have a higher noise floor, and are highly susceptible to picking up noise and interference from other sources. It’s advisable if you have the option only to use this for short connections to limit interference.

Speaker and Mixer Position

Make sure your speakers directly face the audience. If you’re using any microphones, ensure they’re placed behind the speakers to avoid feedback and further noise interference. Lastly, always place the mixer behind the speakers and never let the speakers and mixers touch.

Check Equipment

Make sure the mixer and speakers are functioning properly before connecting them. With the power off, turn down all the buttons and knobs on the mixer and power it back on, checking each progressively. Do the same with the speakers.

Lay Out Your Cables

Remember to make your connections as short as possible, especially if you’re using unbalanced connections and cables, to limit the amount of potential noise and interference in your signal. Also, remember to coil excess cables at the base of speaker stands so they don’t present a tripping hazard.

Connect Audio Source Devices

This could be anything from a mobile device or laptop to a CD player or gaming console. Do this before plugging in and testing speakers to avoid spikes in sound at the moment of connection. Test each component by connecting them to the “line in” on your mixer and checking meters to make sure they’re transmitting audio.

Connect Your Speakers

Turn off your mixer, then connect your speakers to the XLR/TRS speaker outputs, making sure to match the ohmage of both if there are multiple choices. Make sure your speakers have their volume all the way down and set the mixer’s channel gain, faders, and master volume to the lowest levels possible.

Play audio and adjust EQ levels and volume levels slowly until you reach max comfortable volume.

When you’re done, turn the mixer off first and place all faders and gain knobs to minimum volume, then do the same with your speakers.


Never power on your speakers or mixer unless volume and gain controls are set to minimal levels.


Why should I choose active (powered) speakers instead of passive speakers?

Active speakers use less power than passive speakers and are usually capable of higher volume playback without significant amounts of noise or distortion.

Do you need a mixer for active speakers?

While a mixer isn’t required for use with active speakers, connecting a device directly into active speakers offers a lot less control of volume levels and eq. It also means you can’t manage multiple sound sources simultaneously or monitor them using headphones, making them less than ideal for or public address.

Do active speakers sound better?

Generally speaking, active or powered speakers have smaller drivers compared to passive speakers, owing to the fact that they have an amplifier. Smaller drivers usually translate to slightly lower sound quality, though active speakers are generally louder.

STAT: Keeping your powered speakers at 50% volume whenever possible will ensure the best sound with the lowest distortion. (source)

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