How to Connect A DJ Controller to Your Speakers
As a DJ, there is a very good chance that you will need to learn how to connect a DJ controller to speakers.
Although, in many cases, the best DJs have a dedicated sound engineer helping them out, but when you are just starting out, you may not have the kind of money that is required to hire a full-time technical team. As such, you would have to be quite familiar with the kind of connections that go into setting up your equipment for the best sound output.
Powered or unpowered speakers for a DJ Controller?
Although many DJs have their own personal preferences when it comes to dealing with either powered or unpowered speakers, it would be wise to learn how to connect your DJ controller to both types of speakers, just in case you come across them in the field.
- Powered speakers have an in-built power amplifier and need electricity to get going; they are directly plugged in to the wall
- Unpowered speakers do not have an in-built amplifier and instead get their power from an external power amplifier that is independent of the speakers
Since powered speakers already have their own powered amplifier and need to be connected to their own power source, you can easily and directly plug them into your DJ controller. That makes them more streamlined and easier to use than the unpowered ones that first have to be connected via an external amplifier.
Should you just use your ‘speaker out’ jacks?
In many cases when connecting to a powered speaker, novice sound engineers make the mistake of simply plugging in their speaker out jacks to the powered speakers, but this is a mistake.
A powered speaker eliminates the need for bulky speaker wires and the additional costs they bring. By using a speaker out jack on your controller, what you will be essentially trying to achieve is connecting outputs from your powered controller to your unpowered speakers because your typical speaker out jacks carry more than just the audio signals; they also carry a great deal of electrical energy with them. This is the power that drives the unpowered speaker.
Unfortunately, the line level audio inputs on your typically powered speaker cannot handle the kind of electrical power carried by the speaker out jacks. Should you connect these lines to your powered speakers, you will incur serious and costly damage to the speaker itself, amplifiers, and associated crossovers.
DO NOT connect speaker out jacks to powered speakers. Ever!
How do you connect your DJ controller to a powered speaker?
The most common, and advised, type of connection between your DJ controller and powered speaker is through a balanced and unbalanced line. When you use a balanced line, the excellent noise rejection within these lines allow for long cable runs between your controller and the various speakers set up in the arena without noise interference.
Your typically powered speaker has a balanced XLR or TRS jack, and in some cases, both. Almost every current DJ controller has balanced output jacks with XLR and TRS connectors, if not both.
It is advisable to do all this while the power to your DJ Controller and powered speakers are off; just in case you do not get it right the first time around, you do not want risk short circuiting all that expensive equipment in your attempt to get sound.
It is also advised that you thoroughly read the user’s manual before attempting to make the connections yourself. If it is at all possible, have a qualified sound engineer first walk you through the entire process.
You can use this as an opportunity to learn how everything works and use that as a reference point for future connections. Try to learn how to connect both powered and unpowered speakers to your DJ controller, as well as how to use and connect other DJ equipment to the entire set up.
Yes, it can be a little daunting at first, but once you learn the basic principles of the entire connection, principles such as not connecting speaker out jacks to powered speakers, you will be well on your way to making useful DJ controller to speaker connections that can be replicated at any given time.