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Last week in a live show I had some guest singers join me on stage for additional harmony and I had maxed out my mic channels and could not add another microphone. I love my powered mixer and don't really want to replace it and most of the time it provides all the channels I need. But occasionally, I might run out of channels. I have a Y connector XLR cable that will allow me to plug two microphones into a single input, but then the volume and EQ cannot be adjusted independently.

I have a Mackie 808S powered mixer Mackie 808S running passive speakers with a non powered monitor output to which I connect a series of powered monitors as floor wedges. It has 8 channels with an XLR input and a line input on each channel. Two of the channels (7 and 8) have a left/right stereo input for keyboards or other stereo line level inputs.

I am wondering if I can use a non powered mixer such as the Behringer Xenyx Small Format Mixer (or any similar mixer) as a sub-mixer by connecting it to my powered mixer. I am just using this mixer as an example and not asking for opinions on the quality of that particular mixer.

My theory is that I could use 1/4 inch cables to connect the stereo main outputs from the non-powered mixer (or the control room out) into one of the two stereo inputs on my powered mixer. Then I am thinking I can plug additional microphones, guitars, pianos, electronic drums, etc. into the non powered mixer, and send the mixed signal from that mixer into channel 7 or 8 of my powered mixer which would then send the signal to the passive speakers.

In an ideal world, I would be able to apply effects from the non-powered mixer to the devices and instruments plugged into it, and turn the effects to zero on the powered mixer and thereby use a different effects set on the instruments and/or microphones plugged into the non powered mixer.

Is this feasible? Are there potential pitfalls? Will it cause any problems? And if it is feasible, should I use an instrument cable or speaker cable to connect the two mixers together?

EDIT: Could I send the main signal out through the "tape out" RCA jacks of the sub mixer into the tape input (RCA) of the powered mixer and send the monitor output from the sub mixer into channel 7 or 8 on the main mixer to preserve the ability to control the monitor feed from the sub mixer?

  • "Could I send the main signal out through the "tape out" RCA jacks of the sub mixer into the tape input (RCA) of the powered mixer and send the monitor output from the sub mixer into channel 7 or 8 on the main mixer to preserve the ability to control the monitor feed from the sub mixer?" Yes, no problem. You could also do the same thing with the effects send and another channel. – biggvsdiccvs Mar 24 '15 at 23:27
  • @biggvsdiccvs thanks - that may solve the problem of not having individual monitor level adjustments. The more I think about the possibilities, the more I see advantages to a sub mixer for keyboards, another for drums, another for vocals, and another for guitars. Then I can EQ each of those using the sub mixer graphic equalizer and have more control than just high mid and low on each channel. – Rockin Cowboy Mar 24 '15 at 23:33
  • Definitely. That is what it's designed for. That's why it has outputs labeled "control room out". – Steven Verner Dec 31 '17 at 18:08
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You can definitely do something like that. One potential problem is not having independent monitor level controls for every channel in the additional mixer (let's call it mixer 2). If that matters to you, you can run monitor outputs through a simple two-channel passive mixer (mixer 3), for example.

You can use separate effects. Using the same effect and having separate controls can also be done with a simple passive mixer.

Definitely do not use speaker wire. I would actually suggest using the tape input of your main Mackie powered mixer and connecting it to the tape output of the additional mixer, if it has one, or to its main output through RCA/TRS adapters, in which case you would need to keep in mind the difference in levels (the normal level for tape input will be about -12dB at the output of mixer 2, again, only if you connect line out to tape in of mixer 1).

Using the tape input frees up one of the input channels, which would otherwise be used by the daisy-chained mixer 2, and partially solves the monitor control problem.

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Entirely feasible. In my studio, there's a small mixer for all the keyboards, which is fed in stereo to two channels of the main mixer. Or could go to a single stereo channel. That way, I save 8 channels and substitute them for one, or two, on the main. There are many smallish mixers, stereo, which have monitor mix facilities as well as eq. Often there are phonos too, for a CD, etc. And if one is desperate, there's usually a 'phones socket which could even take another signal out to another mixer. It just goes on and on...

Cabling needs to be co-ax, balanced preferably, as the leads are carrying signals, not voltage going straight to speakers.

In a big band, having a separate little mixer for the horns, another for vox, and yet another for rhythm section was a cheap and cheerful way to have separate mixes, easily adjustable, with different monitor mixes available, without having a huge mixer for everything. Hard-wired, they did a sterling job.

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Here's what I have done with more than two mixers and I suggest trying this. Assuming your mixers (like most of them) both have Tape In and Tape Out RCA inputs, just run RCA from Tape Out of one mixers into Tape In of the other.

The Tape In should have its own fader/control pot. This will let you keep all of the channels in each mixer free. You should be able to daisy chain many mixers together this way if you need to.

Just remember, the "Master Volume" for the 2nd (or 3rd or 4th, etc) mixer is the Tape In Fader/control pot of the mixer it is being fed to.

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Connecting two or more outputs of mixers can work but sometimes their outputs are not at the same level... You need to connect a separate piece of equipment, that has a analog or digital meters on them, to each mixer output one at a time and see which mixer has the lowest output - using a standard 1000 hertz tone for each mixer... And using a stereo variable resistor at the output of each mixer, attenuate the loudest mixer the most and set them all to have the same level output or your mixing levels could start to become confusing - i.e. - a singer on a mic on mixer 1 might sound louder or lower than the same type singer on another mic from a different mixer even after setting each mic level the same... good luck... BOB

  • That's over-thinking it. Just know whether you're dealing with mic or line levels. Or, if it's speaker level, from a power amp, don't connect it to ANYTHING except a DI box specifically designed to take speaker level. – Laurence Payne Jul 13 '17 at 13:38
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Connect the main output of your sub-mix to Mix-Insert or 2-track inputs of main mix, not to stereo channel inputs! Use separate stage monitor or instruments amp for sub-mix instruments. This is the best wiring, all other is a compromise.

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