How to Connect an Analog Mixer to an Audio Interface

There are situations where an audio interface does not have enough channels for everything you want to mix and record. An example is a band that wants to record the live performance of what comes out of the PA system by taking a line from the mixer to the audio interface and then recording it on a laptop.

Another example might be a DJ who wants to connect the DJ mixer to the audio interface to record the music mix. There are many other cases where you would like to use an analog audio mixer to record the audio on your computer digitally; and an easy and effective way is using an audio interface.

In this post, I explain how to connect an analog mixer to an audio interface for recording, let’s dig deeper.

Step-by-step guide to setting up an audio mixer in your interface

Here’s what you’ll need

  • A line-level audio mixer output available.
  • Two TRS to TRS cables (Balanced Cables).
  • An audio interface with two inputs.
  • Portable for recording audio from the Interface.

1. Locate an available line level output on your audio mixer.

Most mixers provide line level outputs for connecting monitors or taking a line in for recording purposes. You can use the output labeled “CTRL ROOM”, “CR OUT” or “STEREO OUT”. Depending on the brand you use, the name may be different, but they do exactly the same thing. Below I’ve included some images for reference from different brands of audio mixers showing the output connectors you need to locate.

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Remember that on most analog mixers, there is a pair of RCA connectors labeled such as “REC OUT ”, “TAPE OUT” or simply “OUT”, which are designed for recording to tape cassettes or reel tape recorders.

Although this connection is designed for recording, I do not recommend using to connect the mixer to your interface because this output is unbalanced, which means the connectors and cables are not shielded.A balanced connection uses shielded twisted-pair cable and three-conductor connectors specially designed to be immune to noise from the line.

If you decide to use “REC OUT” anyway, you will get a decent quality audio signal, but you may encounter some noise on the line.

You can also use the “MAIN EXIT” of a m line-level mixer to connect to your audio interface if you do not intend to connect powered speakers or amplifiers to the mixer.

Note: Never use the main output of a mixer self-powered. This output is not line level; used to connect speakers. If you connect your interface to this output, it will be damaged.

2. Set up the audio interface to receive the signal from the mixer.

All audio interfaces give you the option of connecting a microphone or a line level instrument/input. In our case, we need to select the option that is labeled “Line” or in some cases is labeled “Inst”. The reason is that changing it to “Line” lowers the gain internally so the audio doesn’t get distorted when recording.

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Check your interface and locate the selector and make sure to change it to LINE /INSTRUMENT.

Here are some images for your reference on where the Line/Mic selector is located on different brands of the most popular audio interfaces. Check out our post on the best audio interface on a budget.

3. Connect the mixer’s two TRS phone jacks to the audio interface.

After you have located the line level output that is available on the mixer, use the two TRS balanced cables to connect the “L” (left) of the mixer to “Input 1” and “R” (right) to “Input 2” of your audio interface.

Make sure the audio interface is turned off while making connections . Also, turn the “GAIN” knob all the way down so that no signal goes through when you turn the interface back on.

Here is the diagram of the connections you need to make.

4 . Set the gains and levels correctly to get a clean signal for recording.

At this point you have everything hooked up, it’s time to adjust the gains to the correct levels to get a clean audio signal to record.

With the interface off, use a microphone plugged into mixer to set levels.

Start by turning the mic gain knob all the way down; the gain should be set to zero at this point.

Move the volume slider for that channel to the middle position. Do the same for the “CONTROL ROOM” knob, or if using the “MAIN OUTPUT” slide the main slider to the middle position.

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Start speaking into the microphone and slowly turn up the gain knob. for the microphone. until the “MAIN METERS” or “VU METERS” light up. Check the audiometer while you speak and continue to increase the gain until the 0dB LED stays on.

Connect the interface to your computer and turn it on.Slowly increase the gain on both channels at the same time until you see the volume level meters in the recording software at -20dB. This ensures that the signal is clean and not distorted.

You never want to have a volume that lights up the red clipping LED. I would always keep it in the green zone, maybe the first yellow one, but never let the volume go higher than the second yellow LED because the audio will be distorted.

If you have a band or musical group, my recommendation is play a song and check the levels in the mixer and audio interface and adjust accordingly, always making sure the signal isn’t too loud so your recording doesn’t get distorted.

When you’re ready to record , press the record button in the software and start recording.

Conclusion

In this post, I have explained the correct way to connect and configure an analog mixer to an audio interface , I hope it is useful for you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading my blog.

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