How to Connect a Keyboard to a Mixer

by Matt Gerrard
Some keyboards have different connectors for the master output to ensure compatibility.

Some keyboards have different connectors for the master output to ensure compatibility.

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Modern keyboards are complex devices. They have numerous different output jacks, some of which can be used at the same time to send different sounds to different sources; some also have effects loops and MIDI outputs. Connecting such a keyboard to an outboard device like a mixer requires an understanding of what all these ports do and what kind of signals are transmitted along them.

Step 1

Ensure the keyboard is powered off. Connect the power supply and check the connections at the rear. For a master audio output there are several possible connectors. Although 1/4-inch TRS jacks are common, there may be more than one, allowing output of two different signals to different sources. High-end keyboards may also have an SPDIF or XLR output. These work in exactly the same way but use a dedicated cable.

Step 2

Select a mixer channel or channels for the keyboard. Turn the gain and volume sliders for those channels down to zero. If the mixer has phantom power capability, ensure that it is turned off. This is a particularly important step since failing to turn off phantom power could result in damage to your equipment.

Step 3

Connect the labeled master output or outputs from the keyboard to the input jacks on the mixer. Power on the keyboard and play the keys. Gradually increase the volume and gain controls on the mixer until the volume is at the desired level. If your keyboard has multiple outputs, there will be two or more channels to increase, with separate signals coming from the keyboard. This will allow you to blend the relative levels of the signals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Additional sockets like MIDI ports or effects loops are not used for connecting to mixers. A MIDI socket must be connected to the input of a MIDI-enabled device such as a synth module. The module should then be connected to the mixer just as you would the outputs from the keyboard.

About the Author

Matt Gerrard began writing in 2002, initially contributing articles about college student culture to "The Gateway" magazine, many of which were republished on the now-defunct Plinth blog. Since then, Gerrard has worked as a technician for musicians, educators, chemists and engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in music technology from DeMontfort University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images