Connect a DJ Controller to Speakers: A How to Setup Guide


If you want to use DJ software instead of the more traditional turntable, you will need a DJ controller. Once you have that, you’ll want to be able to connect the controller to your speakers. Otherwise, no one will be able to hear your amazing DJ mixes. Setting up a DJ controller with speakers doesn’t have to be hard, but there are a few steps and considerations involved.

How do you connect a DJ controller to speakers? A few cables are required to connect a DJ controller to speakers. Some standard cables for this include a balanced XLR or TRS cable, and most DJ controllers work with both options. Of course, other requirements include a power source, but the setup isn’t too complicated.

DJ controllers are a great way to mix music without needing multiple turntables and a bunch of other equipment. However, they aren’t always easy to set up the first time. If you have a DJ controller and want to use it, you should learn how to connect it to various types of speakers.

What You Need

Before you attempt to connect your DJ controller to speakers, you need to have the right equipment. That way, you can ensure all of the connections are correct, and you won’t have to worry about searching for essential equipment later. You don’t need a ton of equipment to use a DJ controller with speakers, but there are some essential components.

  • Of course, the first thing you need is a DJ controller. There are tons on the market, and you can get a basic one for relatively cheap. If you’re new to controllers, you can start simple and upgrade when you want more features.
  • You’ll also need a good set of speakers to use. If you’re at a gig, you may not have a choice of speakers, so it’s important to be familiar with a few types.
  • When it comes to speakers, you can use powered or passive speakers. Powered speakers contain an amplifier, but you’ll need a separate one if using passive speakers.
  • You should also have an audio interface that you can connect to your speakers or amplifier.
  • A laptop and DJ software are also necessary when using a DJ controller. Without them, your controller won’t be able to do its job.
  • Depending on the speakers you use, you will need the right cables and adapters to connect everything.

Once you have all of your speakers, DJ equipment and cables, you can organise everything so that they’re ready to go. If you’re headed to a gig, make sure you have what you need before you leave. When testing your equipment at home, you need to know where stuff is as you start testing things.

Get Your DJ Controller

One of the most important tools in this process is your DJ controller. If you’ve never used one, you may want to spend some time exploring it without plugging it in. You can read the user manual or look for tutorials online that cover your specific model.

This is also the time where you should figure out where all of the input and output jacks are on your controller. That way, you can determine which way things should be set up so that cables don’t have to cross over each other, and you can comfortably work. Once you find the different jacks, make sure you know which goes with which cables.

When it comes time to plug in your controller, using the wrong cables or jacks could damage your equipment. You don’t have to spend hours looking at your DJ controller, but you should feel comfortable using it. As you connect more things, you can learn a little more about your controller, which means you don’t have to be an expert right now.

If you’re entirely new to DJ controllers, don’t be afraid to ask an experienced DJ or audio technician for help. They can show you where cables are supposed to go so that you protect yourself and your equipment while setting things up.

“The main aim is to up my game at every possible turn without compromise.” –Nicky Romero

Connect the Speakers

The next step is to connect your speakers to your audio interface and an amplifier, if necessary. Odds are you will probably be working with PA speakers since they can cover a lot of area in a venue. While most types of speakers use the same basic steps to set up, it’s important to consider the specific type.

No type of speaker is better than another, though some are easier to connect to your controller. Before you connect your speakers to your audio interface, check to see whether you’re using a powered or passive speaker. If you’re going to be at a venue, you won’t be able to choose the type, so you should know how each type works and how to connect your equipment to them.

Connect to Powered Speakers

The first type of speaker you might encounter when using a DJ controller is a powered speaker. These combine a speaker with an amplifier, so you don’t need different pieces of equipment to project the sound. If you have some choice in the speaker you use, this type can be easier to start with.

  • When connecting to powered speakers, you won’t have to worry about having or connecting to an amplifier. This can simplify your setup and make it easier and quicker.
  • You will need an audio interface that you can connect to the speakers so that the sound can get to the speakers.
  • To connect the audio interface, check to see what type of cable it needs, such as an XLR or phono cable. Plug the correct end of the cable into the audio interface and the other into the speaker.
  • While you plug in the audio interface, make sure you keep the speakers turned off or unplugged from power. That way, you won’t risk damaging your equipment if something goes wrong.

Connecting to powered speakers is simple enough, but you need to make sure all cables are plugged into the right places. Not only will this allow your music to come through, but it will also protect you and your equipment from potential damage. If you need help, you can always consult a professional for guidance.

Connect to Unpowered Speakers

For one reason or another, you may need to connect your DJ controller to unpowered, or passive, speakers. These speakers require an amplifier to work correctly, so this involves a couple of extra steps to set up. Knowing how to connect your audio interface to passive speakers is just as important as working with powered speakers.

As with your other DJing equipment, make sure you know where the different jacks are located on your amplifier. That way, you can connect everything quickly and safely. Still, it doesn’t hurt to connect everything while the power is off to avoid hurting yourself or your equipment.

Once again, make sure you have the right cables on hand to use to connect your equipment. For a passive speaker, you’ll need an audio interface, the speaker, and an amplifier. When using an amplifier, connect the speaker to the amp with the correct cable.

You’ll also need another cable to connect the amplifier to your audio interface. Again, make sure you have the right type of cable, whether that’s an XLR or RCA. While not common, you may wonder if there are other types of speakers that you can use with a DJ controller, and it’s a fair question.

Can You Connect a DJ Controller to Bluetooth Speakers?

If you ever want to practice DJing without a PA system or need to work without one, you may want to know if you can use Bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth speakers have become more prevalent in recent years, and they do work with a lot. However, connecting your DJ controller to them isn’t ideal.

You can use your computer to connect to Bluetooth speakers, and you can connect your computer to your controller. However, this will result in latency, or a delay between the sound input and output. 

Powered vs. Unpowered Speakers

Since powered and unpowered speakers are by far the most common to connect to your DJ controller, it’s worth comparing the two. While you may not always have a choice in which type you use, you will sometimes have a say. Depending on the gigs you work, you may need to bring your own speakers, so having a preference can help you choose the right type.

Powered SpeakersUnpowered (Passive) Speakers
Has a built-in amplifier for the soundRequires a separate amplifier
Can directly connect to a sound sourceAmplifier connects to the sound source
Requires fewer cables and adaptersUses more equipment
More control over the exact soundDifferent speaker/amp combo results in a different sound
Can use any speakerRequires the right combination of speaker and amplifier
More common in smaller venuesPopular in larger venues with big sound systems
Convenient for transportLess convenient for travel

Both types of speakers have a lot going for them, and you can get a lot out of each type. Overall, powered speakers tend to be easier to use, while unpowered speakers require more space. Still, knowing how to work with both types will help you when using your DJ controller in different venues.

Install Drivers to Your Laptop

Once you determine what type of speaker you need to use and have that all set up, it’s time to work with your laptop. Your laptop is how you will connect your DJ controller to your DJ software, and it’s also crucial for connecting your controller to the rest of your setup. If you haven’t installed DJ software on your laptop, that is the first step.

Many controllers come with special DJ software that will be compatible with the controller. While you might be able to choose another program, using the one that’s included with your controller will ensure that everything works together. Once you install the proper program on your computer, you can connect your laptop to your DJ controller.

Before you do that, make sure your computer and software are all up to date. Grab the proper cables so that you can connect the two devices easily. Some controllers use USB cables, but you should still check to be sure so that you use the correct cables and adapters.

At this point, the power to your speakers should still be off. While you’re making progress, you still have a risk of getting shocked if you plug something into the wrong jack. This is another great time to ask for help from another DJ or a sound engineer if you have any problems.

“My job is to be a DJ and make people dance so if people dance, I’ve done my job.” -Jeff Mills

Connect the Music and Power Sources

Now you should have your audio interface connected to your speakers, and your computer and controller should also be set up. The next step is to connect those with some cables so that your music can make its way to your speakers.

  • Grab a power plug that’s the right length for your current location and setup. Don’t plug it in yet, but you should use a plug that can reach an outlet nearby.
  • Take a cable that can connect your controller to your speakers. Like with other steps, different cables can work, so choose one that matches your equipment.
  • Plug one end into the controller, which is your music source. The master output is a good place to plug into your controller, and it uses an RCA cable.
  • After that, connect the other end of the cable to your speaker, if it’s powered. If you’re using a passive speaker, you need to connect the cable to your amplifier, which is the power source.
  • For a powered speaker, you’ll need an XLR cable. Passive speakers may require a different cable or adapter, so check for that before you plug anything in.

At this point, you have everything connected, so all you need to do is plug in the speaker or amplifier and turn it on. That way, you can start to make music with your DJ controller. If you want a more visual demonstration of connecting your controller to your speakers, click here.

Types of Cables

As you start connecting all of your equipment, you may realise that you need many cables. Not only that, but you may also require different types. There are a few types of cables that are useful to have when connecting your DJ controller to speakers.

The first type of cable is an RCA cable, which is a great way to connect audio devices, like your audio interface. When choosing an RCA cable, make sure you choose the right length. If it’s too short, it won’t reach your speakers, but if it’s too long, it could negatively affect the sound quality.

Another essential cable for any audio work is an XLR cable. XLR cables help deliver balanced signals over long distances, so they can be especially helpful if your speakers are far from the rest of your equipment.

You may also need a 1/4 inch cable, which is excellent for connecting your controller to other gear. These cables work well with each other, so they’re helpful if you aren’t sure how long of a cable you will need.

Test the Equipment

Now that you have completed all of the setup steps, it’s time to test your equipment. If you haven’t already, load everything on your computer. You should be able to see that music is playing through the software, but it might not be playing through the speakers.

If you can’t hear music through the speakers, turn those on, and you should hear a sound. When you use a passive speaker, you will only hear a sound if the speaker and amplifier are both on. So make sure everything is connected and turned on so that you can test your equipment correctly.

You can change the volume in your DJ software, which can be helpful if you need to be quiet. However, in most cases, you should test your setup at the volume you want to use. A lot of the time that means cranking the volume up to the max.

As you test your setup, look for indicator lights in your software as well as on your audio interface and amplifier. You should also listen to your speakers to make sure there isn’t any distortion that’s affecting the sound quality. If something isn’t sounding how you want, you may need to make changes.

When using passive speakers, you can exchange the speaker or just the amplifier. On the other hand, you may need a new speaker to correct any issues when using a powered speaker.

Final Thoughts

Connecting a DJ controller to speakers isn’t as hard as you might think, but you have to follow the right steps. If you have the right equipment, and you should have no problem setting up your controller. Just make sure you take it slow so that you can protect yourself and your gear while plugging everything in so that you don’t cause any damage or electrical issues.

The more you practice connecting your DJ controller to speakers, the easier it will get. Soon enough, you’ll be able to do it quickly from memory.

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