How to connect a mixer to a PA System

Sometimes it gets really confusing when someone shoves a mixer with 500 sockets, a big load of different cables, and a handful of speakers in your hands and says “go fish.” We’ll try to take the panic out of it.

Step 1: DON’T PANIC. Arthur Dent would be proud of you.
I know it looks unlikely right now, but you only have four main cables to think about to get this whole thing kicking, and the best thing is they’re all the same type.

Step 2: Make sure ALL of the equipment is OFF.

Switch all of these critters to the ‘0’ position. Might sound obvious, but it’s my job to try to help you get your deposit back!

Step 3: Locate the “Main Outputs” of the Mixer. They will be XLR Male sockets (Pins sticking out) and they will either be at the back of the mixer or somewhere at the top. Using the Yamaha style mixers as an example, they will be here:

See those 3-pinned suckers just to the right of centre? They will be labeled “L” for Left and “R” for Right.

Step 4: Locate your audio cables! You will need four XLR Male – To – Female (most of them are) cables that look like this:

Step 5: Connect the Female end of an XLR (pins sticking inwards) to the Left output of the mixer. Connect the other (male) end of that cable to the top speaker that will be on the left side of your audience.

Step 6: Connect the Top Speaker to the Subwoofer. See that ‘THRU’ label? It means, sort of, what it says. Anything you connect to the input at the top will be ‘passed through’ to the output labeled ‘THRU.’ That’s the socket (again, outputs are almost always male where inputs are female) that you connect to the input (female) of your subwoofer.

Step 7: Repeat everything above for the “Right” side of the system, from mixer to top speaker to subwoofer.

When you’ve finished, the way you’ve connected everything up should look something like this:

Now go get a beer! You earned it. If you’re feeling ready, get in touch and we’ll find you the system you need, and we’ll do it fast.