Do you want to create an amazing audio setup for your home studio?
If you already have a dedicated room, computer, DAW, studio monitors, an audio interface, and the right cables, what is left to do is learn the ability to connect them!
On this site, we’ll show you an easy step-by-step guide on how to connect studio monitors to your audio interface.
5 Steps to Connect Studio Monitors to an Audio Interface
Before any serious business of connecting your studio monitor to an audio interface, it’s a good starting point to test out whether all your tools and equipment work.
Step 1: Turn Volume and EQ Knobs All the Way Down
You will find a volume or monitor knob on the front of your audio interface. Turn both knobs all the way down.
You should also turn equalizer knobs for bass, middle, and treble all the way down.
In any case, your amplifier or your audio interface has additional volume knobs; turn these down too.
This is a very important step so that you prevent any permanent damage to your studio monitors and your hearing.
Step 2: Link the Audio Interface to Your Computer
Connect the audio interface to your computer. You will most likely use the USB cable that comes with your interface.
This Type-A to Type-B cable is compatible with most audio interfaces, DACs, and other computer equipment with USB Type-B ports.
Once linked, the computer should recognize your audio interface and will automatically install drivers for it to work.
If it cannot recognize the audio interface, search, download, and install the USB drivers on the manufacturer’s site.
You can also watch videos online to help you troubleshoot this issue.
Step 3: Plug Studio Monitors Into an Amplifier
If you bought a pair of passive monitors, you would need to plug them into an amplifier before connecting to an audio interface.
You will need an RCA cable or regular speaker wires with banana plugs on each end.
An amp for passive studio monitors is necessary because the interface cannot produce enough power for these large monitors to function.
Although you can still operate your interface without an amp with headphones, studio monitors produce a completely far better and more consistent audio output.
If you are using active studio monitors, there is no need for an external amp since they already come with built-in amps.
In this case, you need to plug it directly into your audio interface.
Step 4: Connect Studio Monitors to the Audio Interface
Now that your monitors are powered, it is time to connect them to the audio interface.
The cable or connector you will use will depend on the output ports available on your audio interface.
- Some interfaces will have TRS output ports for the left and right studio monitors.
- TRS stands for tip, ring, and sleeve and has 2 1/4 inch jacks. A TRS cable always has 3 parts and two black lines.
- A TS cable also has large 1/4 inch jacks but only one black line. It’s easy to mix them up with a TRS cable.
Your audio interface might also have an RCA cable or XLR output port. An XLR cable is commonly used for microphones, but your audio interface might have them too.
TRS and XLR connectors are preferable since they are balanced.
A balanced signal has an added negative signal that cancels out the noise when combined with the positive signal at the input, meaning they will not easily pick up any interference.
Step 5: Adjust the Volume and EQ Settings
When you’ve done the first 4 steps and successfully connected your studio monitors to your audio interface, your setup should be operational.
For optimal sound quality, adjust the volume and EQ knobs properly.
Firstly, use the 0 dB volume option on your studio monitors. Then turn the volume up on your studio monitor or amp by 2/3.
Do the same for your EQ settings and have the knobs in the middle. You can also make adjustments to the interface instead.
You may also need to adjust the high and low frequencies on the monitors or amps through the HF/HP and LP/LP levels.
Once your monitors have been set to a volume, as much as possible, do not adjust the knobs anymore. Only use the audio interface if needed!
Now give it a listen and play a song! Slowly turn up the volume on the audio interface until you arrive at your desired loudness.
Troubleshooting Studio Monitors and Audio Interface
No need to fluster if your speakers don’t immediately work with the audio interface. Here are a few troubleshooting solutions to find out what might be causing the problem.
Step 1: Check the USB Drivers
Likely, your PC did not recognize your audio interface if you just got it. However, newer audio interfaces usually install drivers automatically from the internet.
But these automated drivers may not always be compatible, so you might have to install them manually.
If the lights are on in your interface, but it still doesn’t function, this is a driver issue. Support services should be available on the audio interfaces’ manufacturer’s website.
Check for your appropriate drivers using your model number. Please restart your computer after installing it.
If it still won’t work, UNINSTALL the device on your computer, then try to unplug it and plug the audio interface back in.
This should allow your computer to recognize your audio interface and install its drivers again.
Step 2: Check Sound Settings in Windows
If you are using Windows, a startup program might take over your sound settings and interfere with your audio interface.
You will need to disable this control through the Task Manager.
Step 3: Test the Audio Interface and Studio Monitors Independently
If the speakers and the audio interface don’t seem to work together, check whether they function separately.
Plug your speakers through your computer and play some tunes.
Do the same with your audio interface. Plug an instrument or microphone, and check whether it functions in your DAW.
If there seems to be a problem with either the monitors or interface, it is best to report this to the manufacturer’s support services and ask for help.
If both work fine, the problem is likely with the cable.
Step 4: Try a Different Cable or Connector Type
People often mistake plugging a TS cable into a TRS cable port on the audio interface.
There’s a possibility you might be using an RCA cable instead, too.
Since both TS and TRS cables use 1/4″ jacks, they can be easily mistaken for each other. Note that TRS cables have a ring in the middle and have 2 black lines.
For RCA to RCA connectivity, make sure both the positive and negative terminals are linked.
You will need two RCA cables for the left channel and another two cables for the right channel.
Step 5: Check the Voltage Settings of the Audio Interface
For balanced signals, make sure to switch the voltage to +4 dBu. That is when you are using XLR or TRS cables.
When using an RCA or TS cable, switch its settings to -10dBv instead.
How To Connect Studio Monitors To Your Mixer [4 Methods]
You can connect your monitors to your mixers using a balanced and unbalanced cable.
A balanced cable is better since it prevents any noise interference.
In case you only have unbalanced cables, the key is to keep them as SHORT as possible to lessen the chances of picking up unwanted sounds.
Here are 4 methods to consider:
Balanced 1/4′′ TRS Cable
Linking the left monitor output to the input of the left speaker and doing likewise on the right monitor output to its right speaker output with TRS wires will create a balanced connection.
This helps transmit clear signals with NO NOISE to your speakers at wider distances.
Balanced 1/4′′ TRS Cable To XLR Cable
Linking your mixer outputs with a balanced TRS cable to an XLR cable will result in quality sounds. This method is particularly helpful if your speakers only have XLR inputs.
You can increase your wire run if you add an XLR connector.
Unbalanced 1/4′′ TS Cable
Using TS wires from mixer outputs to the speaker monitor inputs is a good choice if you are working on a budget.
The procedure is similar to using a balanced TS cable and should work well as long as they run within 15 inches.
It is definitely because of the cable if you hear any static or interference. You can only fix this issue by upgrading to balanced cables.
Unbalanced 1/4′′ TS To RCA Cable
It is not common to find an RCA input on older speakers. Given this situation, your choices are reduced, and you will likely use an imbalanced connection.
A dual TS to RCA cable should configure your mixer to a studio monitor with RCA inputs.
The TS connectors attach to the mixer’s monitor outputs, while the RCA connectors attach to the mixer’s inputs.
If your pair of speakers have RCA inputs on one speaker, the second speaker should connect to the first through a speaker wire, creating an audio signal path.
Do Studio Monitors Need An Interface?
The quick answer is NO.
Interfaces are not necessary to connect a speaker to a computer, laptop, or sound card.
But investing in interfaces is highly encouraged if you want to achieve high-quality sound for your recordings and consistent playbacks of your mixes on any device.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got more questions? We’ve got you covered!
Why Should You Connect Your Studio Monitors to an Audio Interface?
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to have interfaces. However, having so will allow you to enjoy the following benefits:
- Improved sound quality – Recording and reproducing music with interfaces will add more fidelity, clarity, and consistency to the result.
- Saves on USB port usage – You can use interfaces to connect other MIDI and audio devices, instruments, and microphones.
- Powers monitors – You can use it as an amplifier to power monitors and headphones with one USB port.
- NO latency – There is faster signal transmission when communicating MIDI signals to your DAW with interfaces. This is very beneficial when you record music.
- Can combine audio signals – Interfaces can combine two signals from various sources and feed data directly to your DAW. For example, you can receive data from an instrument or microphone simultaneously.
Why Are Studio Monitors So Expensive?
Studio monitors are not just ordinary speakers.
They were designed with high-standard materials and technology for home and professional studio environments.
A LOT of money, research, and development has been made to create this audio device that produces high-quality, flat-response, and truest-form sound for your mixes.
What if Your Audio Interface Only Has RCA Outputs?
You can use the RCA to RCA channels.
You can use the unbalanced TS to RCA cable method mentioned above to use the TS input of the speaker.
Investing in an excellent setup with studio monitors is crucial to producing music for critical listeners to hear.
Sure, headphones can still get the job done, but there is nothing like the pristine music studio monitors help produce.
But it’s not simply about having expensive speakers and equipment.
There are also factors like location in a room, calibration, and how you connect them to a system.
If you’ve successfully linked your studio monitors to your audio interface with the help of this guide, pat yourself on the back!