iPod with a powered speaker

Thanks to Bobby for this question:

I read your article on the proper way to connect an ipod to pa system, but the article assumed that a mixer would be used. Given my small operation, I don’t have access to a mixer and my powered Behringer speaker only has one 1/4 jack and a single XLR connector. Can you please tell me the proper way to hook up my ipod directly to my powered speaker under this scenario. Thanks so much. Bobby.

Hi Bobby

Unfortunately there is no “proper” way to plug your iPod directly in to your speaker.

This is because your speaker doesn’t have the ability to accept more than 1 input and the iPod needs two inputs (left and right).

The xlr and quarter inch jack connections you mention on the back of your powered speaker can’t be used simultaneously to give you two inputs.

Powered speakers such as the one you described are, as the name suggests, a speaker with an amplifier built in.

They have no ability to mix sound. They are designed to be used with a separate mixer.

In a normal powered speaker PA set up, you would use two powered speakers, one to the left hand side of the stage and another at the right hand side of the stage.

You would then take two cables from your mixing desk to the speakers. The left output from your mixer would go to the left speaker and the right output from your mixer would go to your right speaker.

You say you only have one powered speaker and you want to plug your iPod in to that.

It can be done, but certainly not with any degree of success I’m afraid and the sound will be pretty dreadful.

If you attempt to do this, the main problem you will find is that you will only hear one side of your iPod (i.e. you will be hearing it in mono).

Also you will have very little control over the quality of the sound – your iPod is not a mixer so by plugging it directly in to a powered speaker you are, in effect, asking the iPod to act as a mixer.

Certainly the iPod has a volume control and some very basic EQ settings, but not enough to allow you to EQ it to the extent it needs to be EQ’d in order to get any sort of quality sound.

My advice would be to buy another powered speaker and a small mixer.

if you don’t want to spend too much money, Behringer (the people who make your speakers) actually do a little mixer which isn’t expensive and will do the job.