Controller Clinic #6: Wiring My Sound Card To A PA System

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 26 November, 2017

Patrick want to know how he should plug into a club's PA system.
Patrick want to know how he should plug into a club’s PA system.

Reader Patrick writes: “I’m looking to buy the Focusrite Saffire 6 USB sound card. by what I have been reading it is very reliable and is great for DJs as well as producers, which is what I do. So here is my query. I’m a bit lost when it comes to hooking every thing up, e.g. wires etc. If I was to DJ at a party and I used the venue’s sound system which was like a PA system – two speakers and an amp – would I use the balanced 1/4″ TRS outputs of the sound card and plug them straight into the amp? Or would I use the RCA outputs and use a XLR adaptor? Or have I got it wrong and you actually need to do something completely different?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

You could plug from either the TRSs or the RCAs into their PA. If their amp has two x TRS ins (it may), then TRS to TRS cables will do it, or their amp may have RCAs in which case RCAs to RCAs will do it, or if their amp only has traditional XLRs (it’s possible) you’d need an adaptor. Unless you’re using a really long cable (in which case prefer TRSs/XLRs as they’re “balanced” and so better over long distances), it really doesn’t matter which you choose.

Be aware, that, that usually you’ll go through a normal DJ mixer to get to a house PA system, in which case straight RCAs to RCAs will do. You’d plug into a spare channel on their back of their mixer and their mixer will route your signal through the PA to the speakers, remaining itself permanently wired into their PA.

Have you got any advice to add for Patrick? Have you ever turned up at a club to be confronted with trying to plug into a system you couldn’t work out or didn’t have the right leads for? Let us know in the comments!

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