How To Connect A DJ Controller To Speakers

How To Connect A DJ Controller To Speakers

When I decided to write an article about how to connect DJ controller to speakers, I was slightly concerned that many would find an article like this redundant. After all, it’s just speakers.

How hard could it be? But after talking with a few other DJ buddies of mine, I realized that for many newer DJs connecting speakers to your setup is actually more in-depth. I suppose I was just used to it!

So in this article, I’ll cover the easy basis on how to connect your DJ controller to your speakers, as well as providing some more useful information on setup in general!

Before Beginning: What Speakers Do You Have?

So you’ve got your DJ controller and now are now ready to hook up your speakers. Simple, right? Just plug them in and it’ll be right as rain! Well, turns out that it’s not that simple.

See, something I learned years ago before the internet is that there are two types of speakers. Passive speakers, and passive speakers.

Passive Speakers

passive

A passive speaker uses an external amplifier, using speaker wires for the connection. A passive speaker set tends to be the cheaper option but requires longer set-up times and more fiddling.

Still, not a bad option if you have the luxury of setting up your system before a gig.

Powered Speakers

active

Powered speakers, sometimes called “active speakers” use a built-in amplifier. This makes powered speakers easier to set up, but with a higher price tag attached. Not a bad investment if you want more control over the amp.

So now that I’ve covered the bare basics of speakers, which one is “better”? Well, it’s generally up to you and your price-point. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but I usually recommend powered speakers so you don’t have to worry about your music not being as loud or as strong as you want.

The Cords

So, you’ve picked your speaker system and are eager to test it out. Time to plug it in, right? Wrong! Let’s go over the cords you might find first.

1/4″

quarter inch jack

One of the more common jacks you’ll find. The 1/4″ jack has a long history and is a mainstay for most audio equipment. Your controller, amp, laptop and speakers should all be able to connect to this.

XLR Cable

XLR Cable

A beefed-up microphone cable. You’ll recognize them due to the three-prongs on the inside and the barrel-shape. These are a bit more harder to come by, and while common for audio equipment depending on the model of speaker and amp, an adapter may be required.

RCA

RCA cable

You’ll know these if you’ve ever had to attach anything to your TV. RCA cables send audio and video signals, using an input and output. For audio equipment, you’ll find only the red and white jack are being used; not the yellow jack. Like the XLR Cable, and adapter may be needed.

Plugging In Your Speaker

Now that you know your cords, you can start, right? Well, no! There is a difference between powered and passive, along with one thing you should never do with a powered speaker, so without further ado let’s see what you have to do.

Connecting Your Passive Speakers

Step 1: Connect your speakers to the amp. Follow the instructions on both the amp and your speakers to make sure everything is plugged in properly, and check to see if you need connectors.

Step 2: Connect the amp to your DJ Controller. Again, read the instructions.

Step 3: Connect your DJ Controller to your laptop or other devices. This is done with a USB cord, but some controllers may be wireless

Step 4: Open your audio software and check that your speaker is connected.

Step 5: Play some tunes. Begin working with the amp, tone, etc to see if you’re getting the quality you want from the speaker. If not, check the instructions again to ensure everything is properly connected before attempting to chuck the speakers into the trash.

Connecting Your Powered Speakers

Step 1: Connect your speakers directly into your DJ Controller. The amplifier is built-in after all, so you won’t need one. Be sure to follow the instructions, and most importantly never use the “speaker out” jack. This jack is only for passive speakers, and if you connect it to your powered speaker, you will damage both the controller and speaker.

Step 2: Connect the DJ controller to your laptop or other devices. Again, this is through USB but yours may be wireless.

Step 3: Open your audio software and check that your speaker is connected.

Step 4: Like the passive speakers, start playing music and testing out your setup to ensure everything is connected and working right. If problems arise, be sure to check on the connection and your audio software before blaming the speakers.

That’s all there is to connecting your speakers to your controller. Simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised to know many novice DJs have lost gigs because they didn’t set up their sound system right. I was just as surprised as you were. Not to mention, the powered speakers can be easily damaged with just the wrong connection.

This is why I stressed the importance of reading the instructions before attempting to connect anything to your controller. Your equipment, as you’re well aware, isn’t cheap so the last thing you’d want to happen is to accidentally damage it. More than that, imagine how embarrassing it’ll be for your speakers to die on you in the middle of a gig?

Speaking of equipment, I just wrote a comparison between two insane and very affordable headphones, the V-Moda M-100 and the LP2.

Final Thoughts

So, knowing how to properly connect your speakers is just as important as connecting your laptop to your controller, or even getting the controller to function properly. So that’s why I wrote this article. It might be redundant, and might even be common knowledge these days, but just because something is easy doesn’t make it any less important either.

I hoped you enjoyed this fascinating, and OK pretty boring, explanation on how to hook your speakers up to your controller!

Blake Gibbs

I have been a professional DJ for almost 10 years. In that time I've played a lot of gigs and gone through a whole bunch of equipment. My new goal is to spread my knowledge of DJ products with the world through this website!