This is a great question, and it’s a question that we get quite often from clients who are trying to save some money on their sound system rental for their upcoming event.
We try to keep our quotes as simple as possible but when a client sees an opportunity to save $25 on a small analog mixer rental, sometimes that can represent a significant part of their budget and they’re trying to save as much money as we can.
Can I Plug A Microphone Directly Into A Speaker?
You certainly can plug a microphone directly into a speaker if each of the following are true:
- Your speaker is self-powered – Generally speaking, most modern speakers now are self-powered. This means that the power amp is built into the speaker. If you’re unsure, just check to see if your speaker has a power cable. If your speaker has it’s own power cable, then you have a powered speaker. Some speakers are powered from an external amplifier.
- Your speaker has a microphone preamp – The output of a microphone is not strong enough to drive a speaker. To compensate for this, some speakers have a preamp. If you see a switch on the back of your speaker that says “Mic | Line” switch this to “Mic” and your microphone will have much better volume.
- Your microphone is dynamic. If you have a condenser microphone, it requires external power (+48v) that is typically provided by the mixing console. A condenser microphone will not produce sound without this external power. For more information see Dynamic vs Condenser Microphones. Typically for wired microphones we rent Shure SM58 microphones which are dynamic and work great without power. Sometimes we rent Shure MX418 Condenser microphones for podiums which require the external +48v from a mixing console.
- Your Speaker has XLR input – It makes sense that you would require the input on the back of the speaker to share the same connector and cable as your microphone.
- You don’t require any EQ – When you plug your microphone directly into the speaker, you lose the ability to control the EQ (Frequencies) that the microphone is providing. This will make you especially susceptible to feedback (squealing and screeching).
- You don’t have any other inputs – If you require multiple microphones, music, laptop inputs, etc. then you must have an audio console with your sound system.
The Bottom Line
If you’re plugging a Shure SM58 (Most common microphone in the world) to a powered speaker, you will be able to make sound.
You won’t have a ton of control or be able to plug other inputs into the speaker – but it will work for you!
Kettner Creative is a full service audio visual (A/V) company located in Vancouver, BC. We rent Audio, Video, Lighting, Drape and LED Furniture for events. If you’re interested in our services for an upcoming event – Please contact us!