Studio Monitors Multiple Inputs-The Latest Buzz!

I know you have all this really cool gear for your home recording studio setup and you are trying to get everything hooked up just right. You may have noticed you have multiple inputs on the back of your studio monitors. Let’s talk about your studio monitors multiple inputs and some good practices you need to be aware of.

Studio Monitors Multiple Inputs

The multiple inputs on the back of your studio monitors were put there by the manufacture to give you more than one option to connect your signal chain to your studio monitors. Meaning, use one input format or the other. You should not be connecting different gear, (Different Signal Chains), to both of the studio monitors multiple inputs. You should use the XLR or the TRS. You should use the TRS or the RCA jacks. When you put multiple signal feeds into both inputs on your studio monitors you run the risk of causing damage to your studio monitors. Using multiple inputs simultaneously can cause a lot of other unwanted audio issues.

Why Are There Multiple Inputs On My Studio Monitors?

There are multiple inputs on the back of your studio monitors to give you option A or option B to connect your studio gear. It’s that simple.

When the manufacture of your studio monitors sat down to design your studio monitors they decided you may want to use an XLR connection OR you may prefer a TRS connection.

This way, when you are trying to connect your studio monitors and you already have XLR cables, TRS cables, or RCA cables laying around, you are good to go.

Can I use Both Studio Monitor Inputs Simultaneously?

No, you should not use both or all of your studio monitors multiple inputs simultaneously and here is why.

The whole point of having studio monitors is so you can listen to your mix with the very best possible clean and flat frequency response.

Bad Wiring Connections

When you connect source A and source B directly to your studio monitors, each source introduces an audio signal and potential electronic interference going into your studio monitors. This WILL affect the main output audio signal of your studio monitors.

I’m not an electronics engineer so I want to try and express this potential problem in a way that everyone can understand.

BAD. B+A+D= BAD. BAD= Worn out, Confused, and Unhappy Studio Engineer (WCU). WCU=No Clients and No Money = BAD. It’s a vicious loop of nonsense (VLON).

The electronics in an active studio monitor, (Studio Monitors With Built In Power Amplifiers), are not designed to switch between source A or source B.

If your studio monitors have a built in Switch to select input A or input B your studio monitors would be the exception. I would say 99% of you reading this article do not have a built in input selector Switch on your studio monitors.

I have never been in a recording studio and heard the sound engineer say, “Wait, I need to switch the input selector Switch on the back of my studio monitors”.

The good news is, there are several ways you can connect multiple inputs to your studio monitors and not interfere with the way your studio monitors are designed to operate.

What Is The Best Way To Connect Multiple Devices To My Studio Monitors?

There are much better ways to connect multiple devices to your studio monitors than using the multiple inputs on the back of your studio monitors. Let’s take a look at three simple ways to connect multiple devices to your studio monitors.

#1. Audio Interface

One of the best ways to connect multiple devices to your studio monitors is by using an audio interface. An audio interface is made just for this reason and has several benefits that will make your home studio more productive.

Presonus Studio 68c USB Audio Interface
  • Phantom Power – Most audio interfaces come with built in phantom power. This is great if you are going to be using a condenser mic.
  • Multiple Inputs – An audio interface has multiple inputs for your instruments, mixers, microphones, and DAW. (Digital Audio Workstation.
  • Balanced Outputs – A good audio interface has balanced outputs to go to your studio monitors. TRS and XLR are the most popular.
  • Easy To Control The Volume – An audio interface makes it easy to control the volume from all of your devices.
  • Midi In And Out – Some audio interfaces will have a midi in and out connection. This can be nice if you have a keyboard or midi device.
  • Headphone Connection – There is a good chance you will need a headphone connection. An audio interface makes this simple.

The audio interface is probably the best and simplest way to connect all your devices to your studio monitors. An audio interface will give you clean connections that will also help eliminate buzzing and noise interference.

#2. Mixing Board

A mixing board will give you plenty of inputs for all of your gear you want to hook to your studio monitors. A mixing console has some great advantages you may want to know about.

Tascam Model 12 All In One Production Mixer
  • Phantom Power – Most mixers have built in phantom power for your condenser microphone. Use a mixer with built in phantom power.
  • Multiple Inputs – A mixer will give you plenty of input channels for all your devices like microphones, guitars, keyboards, and DAW.
  • Balanced Outputs – A good mixer will have balanced outputs to go directly to your studio monitors. TRS and XLR are the most popular.
  • Easy To Control The Volume – A mixing board makes it easy to control the volume for all of your input devices.
  • Built In EQ – Most mixing consoles have built in EQ. This is an added bonus if you need to EQ your input devices.
  • Fader Control – Some people prefer the analog fader volume control.
  • Headphone Connection – Most mixing boards have a headphone connection.

A mixing board is a great way to connect all of your devices to your studio monitors. A mixing board will give your greater control over each device you want to connect to your studio monitors. A mixer will give you clean connections and help eliminate buzz and noise interference.

#3 Monitor Controller

Mackie Big Knob Passive Monitor Controller

A monitor controller is a good way to connect your input devices to your studio monitors as well. The only problem I see with using a monitor controller is that you may not be able to find a monitor controller with phantom power. Phantom power will be important if you want to connect a condenser microphone. A monitor controller will work but, probably is not the best choice.

  • Multiple Inputs – A monitor controller will allow you to connect your multiple inputs.
  • Balanced Outputs – A good monitor controller will have balanced outputs. TRS and XLR are the most popular.
  • Headphone Connection – A monitor controller should have a headphone connection.

While a monitor controller will work for connecting multiple inputs, it’s probably not going to be your best pick for the job at hand. You will be somewhat limited to the amount of control you have over your individual inputs. A monitor controller will give you clean connections and help eliminate buzz and noise interference.

Will I Damage My Studio Monitors If I Connect Multiple Devices Directly To My Studio Monitors?

Since we are addressing all studio monitors in general here, I should refer you to your studio monitors owners manual.

As I mentioned earlier, multiple inputs are primarily added to your studio monitors so you have multiple options to connect your audio chain. Use option A or option B.

A best practice would be, NO, do not use both of the inputs simultaneously on your studio monitors. When you use the multiple inputs simultaneously on your studio monitors you are placing your connected devices in parallel. This means the output of each device will be feeding back on the other. This can make things sound BAD and cause noise interference and buzzing.

The whole point of your home recording studio setup is to make things sound good.

What Others Are Saying

If you want to know what other experts are saying about studio monitors multiple inputs I’ve put together a source list with direct quotes for your convenience.

SourceDirect Quote
https://gearspace.com/board/newbie-audio-engineering-production-question-zone/799059-hooking-up-studio-monitors-multiple-inputs.html“Please do not connect multiple feeds (outputs) to your monitors at the same time. The input connectors are designed to be used individually. Connecting multiple outputs to the inputs jacks will place the outputs in parallel and will be feeding each output back to the others. Each output will be loaded by the others and will not sound good.
This is a common Newbie error. Outputs should never be connected together, and that’s what will happen if you use them at the same time.”
https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/428k6b/
connecting_multiple_devices_to_powered_studio/
“I’m hesitant to bring in extra connections that might hinder the audio quality of the rest of the high end stuff. Is this thing transparent?
Also the one review references: it won’t work with balanced input systems such as my active speakers. I had to unbalance the speakers’ inputs to avoid the induced hum that appeared as a soon as the volume was turned down, so I lost the balanced input advantages.”
https://www.kemper-amps.com/forum/index.php?thread/13851-how-can-i-use-two-different-sources-kemper-and-computer-with-one-pair-of-monitor/“You could get a computer-instrument interface (which is essentially an external sound card with as many inputs/outputs as you want to buy as you would with a mixer) and enter the world of DAW recording on your computer. Starting with one of the free DAW’s, or a trial version of one of the higher-end ones.
It would allow you to play simultaneously whatever you want from your computer as well as whatever you run through the interface into the computer, like your Kemper, and it would all come out mixed in your monitors.”
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/can-i-connect-two-devices-to-my-studio-monitors.2141524/“One way to do this would be to get a small mixer to control everything. Your helix and audio interface would go into separate channels, then the mixer would go out to your monitors. I like this setup because I can also plug in my phone or anything else and have control of it. I also really like having faders or knobs to control the balance of everything.”
https://forum.djtechtools.com/showthread.php?t=17337“Not sure dude. Is there not a switch to choose between different input types? If not, just try it.. Worst case the monitor breaks.. But really, how bad is that!? (lolwut)”
https://creativecow.net/forums/thread/plugging-in-multiple-inputs-to-speakers/“Doing this will directly connect the outputs of the Pro Tools hardware with the outputs of the computer’s audio out. Those outs are not designed to be connected.
As for the manual not saying anything about NOT doing it, it probably also doesn’t say anything about not licking the power outlet.
I wouldn’t do it. But hey, go ahead, smoke test ’em. If you smoke either or both, my guess is the mfgrs will say you voided the warranty by doing something with the gear that was never intended to be done. I’d agree.”
https://sound.stackexchange.com/questions/45426/connecting-both-my-mixers-and-my-audio-interface-to-my-studio-monitors“You should consider a “Studio Monitor Controller” with the appropriate number of input (stereo-)channels, and appropriate amount of output (stereo-)channels for your specific requirements.”

Final Thoughts

Today we talked about some best practices for your studio monitors multiple inputs. I hope you find this article helpful.

Be sure and get yourself an audio interface, mixing board, or a monitor controller to connect multiple devices to your studio monitors. This will ensure everything is hooked up properly, you have the best sound possible, and no humming or buzz problems.

Be sure and use good quality cables with good shielding when connecting everything. Spend a little extra money on good shielded cables to avoid problems with buzz and humming noises.

If you want to learn more about audio interfaces I have a good article: The Best Audio Interface For A Home Studio. These are small to medium size audio interfaces that will be a good place to start. Be sure and check it out.

If you are new to home recording studio setup, be sure and take some time to look around. I have many great articles to help you get started on the right foot.

6 thoughts on “Studio Monitors Multiple Inputs-The Latest Buzz!”

  1. Great article and nice job of explaining how to lay out a home recording studio. Your article was so well written for each component and step, it left nothing to chance. You explain each component, process, and piece of equipment that any beginner could follow. I like the fact you emphasized focusing on taking your time to connect multiple devices to your studio monitors. And above all, I love that you stressed using quality parts. Building a home recording studio is no place to use skimpy parts, cables or equipment, because it will reflect in the finished product by the quality of the sound. Bad sound is hard to disguise. This is a how-to, step-by-step article that any beginner or novice could follow and be successful. Thanks for the article, I am going to share it with my son.

    Reply
  2. Even though I have no prior experience working with home studio equipment, the way you explained everything in this article made me feel fairly confident in being able to do so. This was so thorough and specific that I believe anyone wanting to set this up would have no problem in doing so with your instructions. I might add that this article is beautifully laid out, also! Visually pleasing!

    Reply
    • I enjoy talking with people and sharing knowledge about home recording studios.  Thanks for taking the time to leave some comments. If you want to learn more about studio monitors I have another article you may be interested in:  What Is A Studio Monitor.  If you want to learn more about studio monitors check it out.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for your article Mitch, very enjoyable, informative and helpful. 

    I serve with the spiritual worship team in the local community using guitars, keyboards and drums with lots and lots of cables everywhere, when the tech team are setting up for the service. I just sing the harmonies in the choir, so learning from what you’ve written is brilliant!

    Now i understand a little of what the guys are doing when they set-up. There’s less damage when they use one input format. I’ll ask them, next time we have rehearsals, about the XRL and TRS connections and do they have the best frequency response.

    I loved watching the replay in the YouTube video of the home recording set-up.

    The guys in our worship team have an audio interface, a mixing board and a monitor controller. I’ll definitely ask the guys about investing in phantom power and good shielded cables.

    So all the entanglement of cables needs to be untangled for the connection of multiple devices to the studio monitors.

    Just one quick question Mitch, do you use your home studio as a recording studio for your music band? Looking forward to your album if you do!

    Reply
    • Hello, Dayo.  So you “Just Sing In The Choir”.  Choirs are one of  the most powerful and moving elements in music.  It’s very nice to meet you and thanks for your input.  Be sure and let the techs know I said hello and to get those cables in line!  

      I use my home studio to write and record my own music.  I currently enjoy working with live instruments and VST instruments primarily doing cinematic style music.  

      Since you enjoy singing in the Choir, you may enjoy learning about a good DAW Software.  Check out my article: Presonus Studio One 5 Professional. This may help you realize how a band and a choir can be mixed together to create powerful, moving music. 

      Reply

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