How to Connect Equalizers to Crossovers

By Matt McKay

Connection audio equalizers and crossovers follow basic audio signal chain paths. Beginning sound sources first input to a preamp or mixer, then the signal continues in a series of inputs and outputs to the equalizer, crossover, amplifier and speakers. Equalizers control overall tone, while crossovers divide specific frequencies and route signals to dedicated amps and speakers for reproduction of high to low tones. Stereo and mono crossovers are of active design with user-changeable controls for 2- to 5-way speaker configuration or passive design with preset frequency parameters. Passive models are usually integrated with full range speaker systems and require no connection.

Identify the type and quantity of interconnect cables and attached connectors needed for each device -- mixer, equalizer, crossover, amps and speakers -- by reading the user manual or visiting the manufacturer's website. Common interconnect cable types are balanced or unbalanced with 1/4-inch phone plugs or standard 3-pin XLR connectors. Speaker cables are unshielded and will require 1/4-inch plugs, SpeakOn connectors, banana plugs or bare wire ends. Stereo connections require two cables for each device -- one each for left and right channels.

Plug the preamp or mixer main output into the equalizer input with a shielded interconnect cable.

Connect the equalizer output to the crossover input with a shielded interconnect cable.

Plug shielded interconnect cables into each of the crossover's labeled frequency outputs. Depending on crossover configuration, frequencies will be as follows: 2-way, low and high; 3-way, low, mid, high; 4-way, low, mid, mid-high and high; 5-way, sub bass, low, mid, mid-high and high.

Plug the opposite cable end of each crossover frequency output into the input of the power amplifiers designated for the labeled frequency. Amplifiers of any type are used as long as wattage and ohm specifications are compatible with the target speaker.

Connect respective amplifiers to speakers reserved for labeled frequency reproduction by inserting an unshielded speaker cable into each amp's speaker output, followed by insertion or connection of the cable to each speaker's input jack.

Adjust the individual crossover controls to desired frequencies as directed in the crossover and speaker user manuals.

Apply power to all devices and test for operation by connecting and playing an input source through the system. Adjust crossover frequency levels within manufacturer recommended speaker parameters until desired sound level is reached, then adjust equalization controls to fine-tune room acoustics.

Tip

Use the highest quality interconnect and speaker cables you can afford for reliable electrical and physical connections.

Instructions pertain to pro-audio and DJ active crossovers. Hybrid integrated equalizer, crossover and amplifier units follow similar connection methods, but check your owner's manual for specifics.

Warning

Speakers and horns are designed to handle specific frequency ranges to which active crossovers must be set. Setting crossover frequencies beyond the capacity of speakers may result in speaker and amplifier damage.

About the Author

Matt McKay began his writing career in 1999, writing training programs and articles for a national corporation. His work has appeared in various online publications and materials for private companies. McKay has experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, technology and the music business.