How To Connect Studio Monitors (Computer, Laptop, Audio Interface, TV, DJ Controller & Mixer)

One of the most exciting times when setting up your studio is getting your brand-new studio monitors and connecting them for the first time. Getting to hear how great they sound and finding the perfect spot for them can be a huge motivator to get down to some serious work or to relisten to your favorite music.

This guide covers the various ways to connect your new monitors to a wide variety of gear. We’ll also highlight some essential information regarding cabling, which can often make a massive difference to the sound quality of your shiny new monitor speakers.

Table of Contents

How To Connect Studio Monitors To Computer

For the most part, this is the primary way that people will connect their studio monitors. It doesn’t involve purchasing any additional gear and is quick and straightforward. But while it is simple, there are some nuances worth considering.

The first is to assess the types of connections you have available on your studio monitors. Most monitor speakers will offer some or all of the following connection points. RCA, TRS, and XLR.

The next step is to assess what connection option you have available on your laptop or PC. You’ll most likely have access to a 1/8″ connection point. Once you know both connection types, you need the appropriate cable and connect your studio monitor accordingly.

How to connect studio monitors to a computer.

Connecting to your PC or laptop is quick and easy.

Depending on your studio monitor, you might also have the option to connect via Bluetooth. In that case, you can pair your studio monitor with your computer or laptop if it supports Bluetooth. If your PC or laptop doesn’t support Bluetooth you can purchase a USB Bluetooth dongle to add that functionality.

Keep in mind Bluetooth audio quality does vary dependent on the codec involved. You can also experience lag which might make a Bluetooth connection a poor choice for watching movies or for detailed studio work.

How To Connect Studio Monitors To Audio Interface

One of the most common upgrades you can make to your studio is incorporating a dedicated audio interface. An audio interface will be the gateway between your studio monitor speakers and your PC or laptop. It will also handle all the heavy lifting of converting analog audio signals into digital signals for your PC or laptop.

While many different audio interfaces are available, most will share the same fundamental features that will allow you to connect your studio monitors. Once you have the appropriate cables the connection process is straightforward.

How to connect studio monitors to an audio interface.

An audio interface delivers higher-quality sound.

Not only is an audio interface able to provide higher-quality sound it can also open up multiple connection options. For a recording artist, this becomes essential as you’ll be able to record instruments and vocals directly.

An audio interface is also a convenient central hub to manage your connections and adjust the output volume. While it is an added expense, it is a fantastic investment in better sound quality and deeper versatility for your studio.

How To Connect Studio Monitors To TV

Some people like to incorporate studio monitors into a TV setup. While this is a reasonable option be aware that studio monitors are best for a near-field listening experience. If your TV is far away from your sitting area, you’ll likely be underwhelmed by the output of the studio monitors. If this is the case, you’ll be better off sticking with regular Hi-Fi speakers that throw sound further.

Each TV is different, with various connection options. You’ll want to find the TV’s output options for connecting studio monitors. This will send the audio signal from your TV to your studio monitors.

Most modern TVs will feature a headphone output and possibly an RCA output. These outputs can be used to send the audio signal to your studio monitors.

How to connect studio monitors to a TV.

Look for audio outputs and don’t get them mixed up with audio input connections.

Connecting is very similar to how you would connect a PC or laptop to your studio monitors. You need to assess your output options on the TV and connect one of those outputs to one of the input options on your studio monitor.

If your TV has an Optical output, you can also explore that as an option. This will require an extra piece of hardware. You’ll need an external Digital to Analog Audio Converter. This little box will take your TV’s high-quality digital audio signal and convert it to an analog signal for your studio monitors. While this is an option, the sound difference is negligible.

How To Connect Studio Monitors To Audio Mixer

Studio monitors provide accurate sound and deliver a neutral representation of the source material. This makes them an excellent reference tool in a studio setting. If you have multiple pieces of gear and want to manage them from a solitary console, an Audio Mixer is the ideal candidate to fill this role.

Connecting your studio monitors to an Audio Mixer is similar to connecting to an Audio Interface. As with all of the connection options, your first step is assessing the inputs and outputs available and acquiring the relevant cables.

How to connect studio monitors to an audio mixer.

An audio mixer is ideal in a recording studio with multiple instruments.

Much like with an Audio Interface, you’ll send the signal to the Audio Mixer and output it to your studio monitors.

Be aware that it is best to have all volume levels down before you power on. Once everything is connected you can gradually increase the volume level to suit your needs. The last thing you want to do is damage your brand-new speakers!

How To Connect Studio Monitors To DJ Controller

Studio monitors are also an excellent choice for DJing practice sessions. Many beginner and experienced DJs will have a dedicated setup at home that will feature studio monitors. While they might not be great for holding a party, the compact form factor and transparent sound make them ideal for a home studio.

DJ controllers will feature Master Output connections that you can plug directly into your studio monitors. You’ll need to pay extra attention to your controller’s options. Some beginner controllers only offer RCA output, while more advanced gear will feature either TRS or XLR and, in some cases, both.

How to connect studio monitors to a DJ controller.

Higher-quality DJ controllers will offer more connection options.

Most DJ controllers will have a built-in sound card to deliver high-quality audio directly to your studio monitors.

But some entry-level controllers don’t have a built-in sound card, so you’ll need to rely on the audio card within your computer or laptop. If that is the case, follow the connection instructions for connecting your monitors to your PC.

What Cables To Use

One of the recurring themes of this guide is selecting the appropriate cables. Understanding the differences between cables and the various connection options will ensure you don’t waste money on cables you don’t need.

Cable Types

The vast majority of studio monitors will offer an RCA, TRS, or XLR input option. Some might include a combination of two choices, while others offer all three.

RCA cables are among the most common unbalanced audio cables available. These iconic red and white audio cables have been a mainstay of audio connectivity for decades. With the addition of a yellow video cable, they were the go-to cable for home entertainment centers.

With the advent of HDMI and Optical, they have decreased in popularity. However, they are still a common connection choice for many studio monitors and audio gear.

Close-up photo of audio cables.

RCA, TR, TRS, and XLR are the most common audio connection types.

TRS/TS is another popular cable you’ll likely already be familiar with. The 1/8″ and 1/4″ plugs have been the driving force for sending audio signals for decades. They are a versatile connection option that is common amongst headphones and some instruments.

The distinctive plug with one or two bands also indicates whether it can send a balanced or unbalanced signal. One band is an unbalanced cable (TS), while two represent a balanced cable (TRS).

The final standard connection option is XLR. This balanced connection offers extra security thanks to a clip that will lock the cable in place. This three-pin system can be male and female, so you’ll need to assess your gear in detail to ensure you get the appropriate type.

To make things even more complicated, these cables can come in various combinations. This is why assessing your gear before buying cables is critical. Double-check how you intend to connect your devices before handing over your money.

Balanced Vs. Unbalanced

I’ve touched on this above, but understanding the difference between a balanced and unbalanced connection is critical to getting the best possible sound from your studio monitor speakers.

Balanced Vs. Unbalanced Cables. TS Vs. TRS Cable.

Balanced connections prevent unwanted audio signal interference.

In most cases, if you have the option to, you should use balanced cables like TRS and XLR. Since they have a grounding wire within the cable, they are less susceptible to interference from other devices. This becomes even more important over longer distances, with greater potential for interference to enter your signal chain.

But in some cases, you won’t have any option but to use an unbalanced connection like RCA or TS. This isn’t the end of the world. Still, it would be best if you aimed to shorten the distances and avoid coming in contact with other cables and equipment that might introduce interference.

Cable Length

This is an often overlooked component when buying cables. Ideally, you want enough length to connect your studio monitor speakers comfortably.

Too much length can become a hassle for transportation and keeping your cabling tidy. Plus, longer cables can be more susceptible to audio degradation depending on the type of cable and connection.

A bundle of audio cables.

Overly long cables can be a hassle.

Too little length and you risk not having the freedom to move your studio monitors into the correct position. You could also put yourself in a situation where the cables are under pressure, which can damage your cables, connection points, or possibly both.

Neatness

One final consideration when buying cables and connecting your gear is general neatness. Having appropriate cable management keeps your cables in good condition and prevents the possibility of tripping on them.

Black and white photo of a man in a home studio.

If you have a lot of equipment cable management becomes even more important.

Additionally, good cable management can reduce the risk of cables becoming crossed, thereby introducing distortion into your signal chain.

Not only does it prevent some common issues it also looks nicer and more professional. While it can be challenging and time-consuming to keep everything in check, the extra time spent is worth it.

FAQ

Can I Use Studio Monitors Without An Interface?

You can use studio monitors without an audio interface. You can connect your monitors to your PC or laptop with a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) cable. You can connect this to the headphone or audio output port on your PC’s sound card.

Can Studio Monitors Be Used With A TV?

You can use studio monitors for your TV, but studio monitors are best within a near-field environment. If you sit far away from your TV, studio monitors will not be the best choice.

Should I Connect My Studio Monitors To My Audio Interface?

If you want the best sound quality from your studio monitors, you should connect them to your audio interface. You’ll experience higher-quality sound and deeper control over the output.

Can You Use Studio Monitors For DJing?

You can use studio monitors for DJing, but since they are best in a near-field environment, they are ideal only for practice sessions in your home studio.

Can You Use Studio Monitors For A House Party?

Studio monitors do not have enough volume or throw to support a party filled with people. You should use dedicated loudspeakers or a powerful Hi-Fi system for house parties.

Master Your Connection

A studio monitor is a significant upgrade compared to computer speakers. And in a professional studio setting an absolute must. If you want a more detailed sound experience, you can’t get better than high-quality monitor speakers.

And with this guide, you now know how to connect your monitor speakers to various gear so you can enjoy high-quality audio in any situation.

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Article by Robert Calabrese
Article by Robert Calabrese

Robert has over 15 years of experience working in the digital marketing industry. From a very young age he was influenced by music theory as part of his education and played a variety of instruments. From there, his passion moved into electronic music and the equipment used to create it. Using his education and experience, Robert started his own digital marketing company and successfully operates his business in the music industry.

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