How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor

Written by antonio newell
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How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
Mixers are a valuable asset to the studio (DJ wave 257 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com)

Studio equipment can be a hassle to deal with, especially if one does not know the technicalities. In most cases, the tube preamp and compressor are combined as one piece of equipment, as will be explained here. One needs to know how to set up one's own equipment, in case of any complications. Wiring the mixer to the tube preamp/compressor can be sensitive.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Mixer
  • 19" standard rack
  • Tube preamp/compressor
  • "Y" cable

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Set the mixer in place. The mixer's job is to set levels, route and adjust the signal sources---sending them to the correct output form.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    Mixers come in various types and sizes (Mixer image by Stefano Maccari from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Set the 19" standard rack securely as possible in the space one desires. The desired space should have 12 inches or more of clearance for cooling and ventilation purposes. Do not place the rack atop any heat-producing equipment. The preamp/compressor can produce excessive heat during operation. Also, do not place the rack near any moisture-conducive areas or near monitors (speakers). Moisture could cause voltage shocks or fire. Monitors can generate vibration, causing the preamp/compressor to potentially move or fall from the rack.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    Ventilation is essential to keeping equipment cool. (ventilation image by Frank-Peter Funke from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Screw the preamp/compressor inside the 19" standard rack.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    The rack is good for organised placement (prise de son image by margouillat photo from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Verify all power is "off" (preferably unplugged).

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    The power button can be configured to control many pieces of gear. (button image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from Fotolia.com)
  1. 1

    Connect the "Tip-Ring" stereo end of the "Y" cable into one of the mixer's input channels. It is called a "Tip-Ring" end because the end of the cable has a tip (send) followed immediately by a ring (return). The ring is wired to the tip of the mono, "Y" plugs.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    The "Y" cable enables signal transfer with one cord (bretelle xlr image by Sébastien Maurer from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Connect the split, or "Y," portion of the cable to the preamp/compressor rear panel. Insert one plug into an input channel. Insert the other into a corresponding output channel. If one desires the signal to continue to the master output uninterrupted, insert the cable just past the first click (the tip). If one desires the signal to be interrupted but still have a direct output, insert the cable just past the second click (the ring).

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    XLR cable is used for various balanced line plug-ins (câble xlr image by Sébastien Maurer from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Connect the power cord for the mixer and preamp/compressor.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    Power cords are AC electrical suppliers. (power plug image by BigDog from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Turn on the preamp/compressor first.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    Use care when operating studio equipment. (the power image by Rich Johnson from Fotolia.com)
  5. 5

    Turn on the mixer.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    All plug-ins should be securely connected (Mixer image by pavel Chernobrivets from Fotolia.com)
  6. 6

    Verify the appropriate signals. If the signal reaches the "sweet spot" on the preamp/compressor, it will be seen by the second warm LED being lit under "Drive." Check the signal input on the mixer. If it registers, a successful connection from the mixer to the preamp/compressor has been established.

    How to Connect a Mixer, Tube Preamp and Compressor
    LED lights can indicate audio levels. (red glow led image by Kir from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • Do not turn on the power to a tube preamp/compressor until all monitor (speaker) levels are down. Also, turn the power off when the monitor levels are up.
  • If you need to replace a power cord, always replace it with the appropriate type of cord. It is preferred to use three-prong cord (grounded).
  • Only use the power sources instructed in the specific user manuals.

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