In this tutorial, we’ll show you 3 ways to connect multiple audio mixers together, explaining why you might want to do this and cover some of the concepts surrounding the various connection types.
Quick Answer: All 3 ways of connecting audio mixers together use the same principle; sending the output from one mixer to the input of another. The best method to use will depend on the scenario and the equipment you have available.
Why Connect 2 Audio Mixers Together?
If you’re wondering why anyone would even want to connect two or more audio mixers in the first place, here are 4 common reasons.
- You need more audio channels – If you run out of channels on your main audio mixer, you can expand by connecting a second.
Pro Tip: Group similar channels on one audio mixer. This works great for drum kits; group all of the drum microphones on the second mixer. That way, the main output of the second mixer will allow you to adjust the overall volume of the drum mix with one knob.
- You want to use multiple effects – An audio mixer like the Yamaha MG10XU has 24 built-in FX, but you can only use one at a time. One way to get around this is to use a second mixer to apply a different effect and then send it to your main mixer for output to your speakers.
- Working in a venue with bands – If you’re working in a venue with a band that takes care of their own mix, they’ll need to connect their audio mixer to the house mixer in order to access the speaker system.
- Working at festivals – Similar to the venue scenario above, festivals will provide the main audio mixing console that is there to bring in the audio mixing console of each group that performs. The groups will be completely self-sufficient but need to connect to the main audio mixer to access the speaker system.
Balanced vs Unbalanced Connections
Before we jump into the 3 ways to connect audio mixers, we need to cover a couple of concepts. The first is balanced and unbalanced connections. So, what’s the difference? 1/4” cables come with various connection types.
- Balanced Cables: Cables with two rings are balanced TRS cables.
- Unbalanced Cables: Cables with only one ring are unbalanced instrument cables.
You shouldn’t use unbalanced cables for runs over 15’, so unless you’re connecting a guitar to an amp, we always recommend using a balanced TRS cable.
Line Level vs Mic Level
The second concept we need to touch on is line level vs mic level.
Microphone inputs are designed to receive a tiny input signal from microphones. It can be problematic to provide a line level signal into a mic level input – this can overwhelm the channel and cause the signal to peak and become distorted.
The outputs of all audio mixers are line level, XLR inputs are generally mic level, and some mixers have 1/4” line-level inputs. The main thing to understand is that an audio mixer’s output is more powerful than a mic input expects to receive.
Later in the article, we’ll look at ways to mitigate this…
1 – How To Connect 2 Audio Mixers Using Balanced 1/4” Cables
This method is a practical and budget-friendly solution when you want to connect two audio mixers that are on the same table. For longer cable runs, we’d recommend one of the other methods below.
- Connect The Audio Mixers Using 1/4″ Cable.
Use 1/4” balanced TRS cables to connect the left and right 1/4” outputs of your first audio mixer to a pair of 1/4″ stereo line-level inputs on your second audio mixer.
- Turn up the level until you achieve the desired output.
*If you don’t have a stereo pair input on your main mixer, use separate channels and pan them left and right, respectively.
2 – How To Connect 2 Audio Mixers Using XLR Cables
This is an effective method for connecting audio mixers over long-distance runs. It works equally well over shorter distances too.
- Connect The Audio Mixers.
Use XLR cables to connect your second mixer’s left and right XLR outputs to XLR channel inputs on your main audio mixer.
- Turn on the 26dB pad to reduce the input gain and avoid peaking.
- Pan the audio.
Pan the left and right channel to preserve the incoming stereo mix.
- Set the desired gain/level to achieve the level you want.
*We used the pad on the XLR mic level input channels to reduce the powerful line-level output from the second mixer. If your mixer doesn’t have a pad button, you can buy an inline XLR pad.
3 – How To Connect 2 Audio Mixers Using A DI Box
This method is an alternative option for long-distance cable runs where the first audio mixer does not have XLR outputs.
- Connect Mixer To DI Box.
Use 1/4” balanced TRS cables to connect the left and right 1/4” outputs of your second mixer to the left and right 1/4” inputs on the DI box.
- Connect DI Box To Destination Mixer.
Use an XLR cable to connect the left and right XLR outputs of the DI box to XLR channel inputs on your main audio mixer. We’ll demo with channels 3 and 4.
- Pan the audio.
Pan the left and right channels to the right to preserve the incoming stereo mix.
- Set the desired level using gain/level.
3 Ways To Connect Audio Mixers Pricing
- Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixing Console: https://currentprice.io/mg10xu
- Mackie ProFX10v3 Audio Mixing Console: https://currentprice.io/profx10v3
- Balanced 1/4″ Cables: https://currentprice.io/trs_cable
- Radial Pro D2 DI Box: https://currentprice.io/radial_prod2
- Shure In-Line Pad: https://currentprice.io/xlr_pad
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Headphones: https://currentprice.io/beyer_dt_990
- XLR Cable: https://currentprice.io/xlr_cable
- Mic Stand: https://currentprice.io/desk_stand
- Rode PSA1 Boom Arm: https://currentprice.io/boom_arm