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Q: "In what order do I connect my EQ, compressor and crossover?"

An Audio Masterclass visitor has a pile of equipment, but doesn't know in what order to connect it. Let's get this straightened out before something goes bang!

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Question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

"I am new to setting up my own sound. I have the amp and speakers, and my mixer...how do I add in the EQ, Crossover, and Compressor/Limiter (what is the proper/most common order?) It is like I have all the pieces of a puzzle, but I do not know what the final picture is. Thanks!"

Recording equipment is generally very robust and you can't do any harm through wrongly connecting it. Clearly, this does not apply to the power amplifier!

But there is a certain conventional way to connect a hardware system that goes like this...

  • The output of the microphone connects to the input of the microphone preamplifier.
  • The output of the mic pre connects to one of the line input of the mixing console.
  • A compressor is connected to the channel insert send and return of one channel of the mixing console.
  • A mixing console will have EQ built in so you don't get to choose in which order it goes..
  • The group outputs of a mixing console go to the inputs of the multitrack recorder.
  • The outputs of the multitrack go to the multitrack monitor inputs of the mixing console.
  • In a recording studio, the master outputs of the mixing console go to the stereo recorder.
  • In a recording studio, the monitor outputs of the mixing console go to the power amplifier.
  • In a recording studio, the outputs of the power amplifier go to the loudspeakers.
  • In live sound, the master outputs of the mixing console go to the crossover.
  • In live sound, the outputs of the crossover go to the power amplifiers.
  • In live sound, the outputs of the power amplifiers go to the loudspeakers.

That pretty much does it, but a few more points...

  • One of the auxiliary send outputs of the mixing console goes to the input of a reverb unit.
  • The outputs of the reverb unit come back to either the auxiliary returns of the mixing console, or to two ordinary channels.
  • You can also connect a stereo compressor or limiter to the master insert points of the mixing console, or between the master outputs and the stereo recorder.

Job done! (Or is that 'job started'?)

By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006
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