How do you connect studio monitors or speakers to an audio mixer? Studio monitors are really useful in live sound and studio environments, so in this article, we’ll show you 4 methods that will allow you to connect any powered speaker to your audio mixer.

Quick Answer: Connect studio monitors to your audio mixer by running cables from the audio mixer’s monitor outputs to the inputs on the back of the speaker. We always recommend using balanced TRS cables where possible.

Audio Mixer Routing

Before we can get started with connecting the mixer to studio speakers, there are a few things we need to go over that will help you understand how these setups work. The first of these things is audio mixer routing.

In order for your monitors to work, there are a few things you’ll need to do with your mixer.

  • Connect an audio source
  • Unmute/turn on the channel
  • Turn up the channel level
  • Unmute/turn on the main output
  • Turn up the main stereo output level
    Generally, the monitor output is post-fade, so it will be affected by the main stereo channel.
  • Turn up the main monitor volume level
    Note: This is sometimes linked to the headphone output volume.

PFL & Solo Buttons

The Solo or PFL buttons on an audio mixer will significantly impact what goes to your studio monitors. By default, with all of the PFL buttons in the up position, you’ll get a copy of the full stereo mix coming through your monitor speakers.

However, if you have one or more PFL buttons pressed down, you will only get those channels in your studio monitors. Some mixers have more advanced routing options, but this is how they will generally behave.

Balanced Vs. Unbalanced Cable

At first glance, all 1/4″ cable connectors might look the same. Look closer, and you’ll notice that some have a single ring on the connector while others have two. These are known as TS (1 ring) and TRS (2 rings) connectors.

Unbalanced TS (Tip Sleeve) / Instrument Cables

  • Carries one version of the audio signal
  • Susceptible to picking up noise, interference, and static
  • Max recommended cable run of 15′

Balanced TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve) Cables

  • Carries two identical versions of the audio signal (one is phase inverted)
  • Audio signals are compared at the destination to reject noise
  • Cable runs of 600′ and longer with no loss in audio quality

We’re going to show you 2 balanced and 2 unbalanced methods for connecting an audio mixer to studio monitors. If your equipment permits and you have the budget, we’d always recommend using balanced cables.

Method 1 – Balanced 1/4″ TRS Cable

Mixer monitor outputs > Balanced 1/4″ TRS cables > Speaker 1/4″ inputs

Connect the left monitor output to the left speaker’s input, and the right monitor output to the input on the right speaker.

This simple solution gives you a balanced connection that will reject noise and deliver a clean signal to your speakers over a distance greater than you’d ever usually need.

Method 2 – Balanced 1/4″ TRS To XLR Cable

Mixer monitor outputs > Balanced 1/4″ TRS to XLR cables > Speaker XLR inputs

This method also creates a balanced connection, and there is no difference in quality compared to using a regular TRS cable.

This method comes into play if your speakers only have XLR inputs. We’d stick to a regular 1/4″ connection if the speaker has both inputs as the cables are more readily available.

It’s worth noting that you can extend your cable run with additional XLR cables if required.

Method 3 – Unbalanced 1/4″ TS Cable

Mixer monitor outputs > Unbalanced 1/4″ TS cables > Speaker 1/4″ inputs

If you’re on a tight budget, you can use unbalanced 1/4″ TS cables to connect studio monitors to your audio mixer.

The connection process is identical to method 1, and it will probably work just as well so long as you keep the cable run under 15′. That said, if you do notice any static, fluttering, or interference, it’s probably the cable causing it. Upgrading to balanced cables will solve the issue.

Method 4 – Unbalanced 1/4″ TS To RCA Cable

Mixer monitor outputs > Unbalanced 1/4″ TS to RCA cable > Speaker RCA inputs

Older or more basic studio monitors may only have RCA inputs. In this situation, your options are far more limited, and you’ll only be able to use an unbalanced connection.

To connect your mixer to a studio monitor with RCA inputs, you’ll need a dual 1/4″ TS to RCA cable. The 1/4″ connectors plug into the monitor outs on your mixer (black left and red right). The RCA connectors plug into the inputs on your mixer (black left and red right).

Some speakers have both RCA inputs on one speaker. The second speaker is connected to the first by a speaker wire that the audio signal passes along.

How To Connect Audio Mixer To Studio Monitors | Featured Equipment Pricing

How To Connect Audio Mixer To Studio Monitors Topics

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:30 – Studio Monitors & Powered Speakers
  • 0:49 – Pricing & Specs
  • 1:06 – Audio Mixer Routing
  • 2:47 – PFL & Solo Buttons
  • 3:29 – Balanced vs. Unbalanced Cable
  • 6:05 – Method 1 – Balanced 1/4″ TRS Cable
  • 7:17 – Method 2 – Balanced 1/4″ TRS TO XLR Cable
  • 9:13 – Method 3 – Unbalanced 1/4″ TS Cable
  • 10:35 – Method 4 – Unbalanced 1/4″ TS To RCA Cable
  • 12:09 – Final Thoughts