When setting up a PA system, sometimes it’s necessary to daisy chain active speakers if you want to have several loudspeakers produce sound with the same input signal.
For example, this method applies if you need to distribute more than one monitor on stage, or if you need to expand the number of active speakers and subwoofers throughout the venue for better sound dispersion.
In this article, I’ll explain how to daisy chain active speakers so you can easily set up a multi-speaker PA system. I have also included a diagram showing the signal flow when daisy-chaining powered speakers for your reference. let’s get started.
how to daisy chain loudspeakers: a simple process
Daisy chaining powered speakers is a simple process. all you have to do is locate the correct connectors on the back of the speakers and then run the signal cables between them.
Most active or powered speakers have one or more “input” jacks. usually xlr or ¼” phone connectors. they also come with a connector labeled “through”, “mix out” or “link out”. this connector is the one we need to use for the daisy-chain speakers.
internally, the active loudspeaker has an electronic circuit that takes the incoming signal and distributes it to the internal amplifier, as well as to the “thru” or “mix output” connector without audio loss.
steps to daisy chain active speakers
- Before connecting any cables to the speakers, first place them where you need them in the venue. also, set up the monitors you want to daisy chain on stage.
- make sure everything is in the “off” position before you begin setup.
- place your main speakers and run cables from the “main out” of the mixer to them.
- at this point, you should have the “left” and “right” speakers connected to the mixer.
- starting with the “left side” speaker, look on the back for a “thru”, “mix output”, or “link output” connection.
- run a cable (usually an xlr) from the “thru” connector to the “input” of the next speaker in the left side chain.
- next, locate the “right” speaker and run a wire from the “through” connector to the “input ” of the next speaker in the right side speaker chain.
- repeat steps 6 and 7 for the number of speakers you want on each side. you can use as many speakers as you like, as long as the cables are not too long to avoid picking up “hum” noises.
- set the “volume” knob on each speaker to the “exactly” same level. If your speakers have an equalizer, be sure to set the equalizer to exactly the same value on all speakers to avoid unbalanced tones in the sound. (I’m assuming all the speakers are the same make and model)
- After everything is connected, turn it on and play some music to test and make sure it sounds the way you want it to. adjust as necessary until you get a clean and balanced stereo sound.
These procedures also apply to daisy-chained monitors on stage. If you want a more detailed explanation of how to set up stage monitors, click on the link, as I have dedicated an entire article to explain it.
daisy chain active loudspeaker diagram
The following is a diagram to help visually explain the steps mentioned above for ease of understanding.
read: how to set up a stage sound system
self-powered daisy-chain subwoofers
Just like powered speakers have a connection to daisy chain multiple of them, powered subwoofers do too. the principle is the same, a signal from the mixer, crossover or loudspeaker management system is looped through to connect another device. that way you can produce sound with the same original signal coming from the mixer.
The image below shows some examples of the back of several powered subwoofers to give you an idea of what connectors to look for when daisy-chaining multiple units.
steps for daisy chain powered subwoofers
- As always, I recommend making sure everything is in the “off” position, to avoid damage during connection.
- Place the subwoofers in the correct position where you need them in the venue.
- if you are using “aux send” on your mixer to send the audio signal to the subwoofer, run a cable from the “aux send” jack to the “in” jack on the subwoofer. if you are using a crossover or public address management system instead, connect a cable from that device to the “input” of the subwoofer.
- as with powered speakers, locate the connector labeled as “thru” or “output” and run another cable to “next subwoofer in chain input”.
- repeat for the number of subwoofers you want to daisy chain.
It’s common to see self-powered speakers, also called “overheads,” as part of a speaker/subwoofer combo. Most speaker brands offer a companion subwoofer that you can get for easier setup and better tonal balance.
If that is the case, the setup would be similar to if you were connecting only powered speakers with the only difference being that a signal path must be provided to the subwoofer for it to work.
Refer to the image below to follow the signal flow on how to daisy chain multiple speaker/subwoofer combos.
read: best public address systems for live bands
how many speakers can i daisy chain together
As long as the speakers are powered, meaning they have an internal amplifier and the input and output connections to do so, you can daisy chain as many speakers as you like.
if, on the other hand, you have passive speakers, that is, they need external amplifiers to work, you would have to know the impedance of your amplifier.
In this article, I’ve explained how to daisy chain powered speakers, as well as daisy chain powered subwoofers. With the included step-by-step procedure and connection diagrams, you should be able to daisy chain any powered PA speaker system. this allows you to increase the size of your PA system set up for any of your events.