Home Recording Mixer Basics: Outputs - dummies

By Jeff Strong

Most home recording sound mixers have a bunch of output jacks that are located on the back of the hardware, to the left. You often find output jacks for the master bus, headphones, and monitors.

Master Out jack

The Master Out jack goes to the power amp for your speakers or goes directly to powered monitors, if you have any. This jack is generally controlled by the master fader and sends the signal that’s routed through the master bus.

Phones jack

The Phones jack is for your headphones and is fed by the Phones knob on the master console. This jack carries the same signal as the master bus — only you can control the volume separately.

Monitors jack

The Monitors jack generally contains that same signal as the headphones and master outs but gives you another place to be able to plug in speakers or headphones. Oftentimes the Monitor Out jack is also used for hardware monitoring in systems that have it.

Hardware monitoring, which is common on computer-based audio interfaces, enables you to monitor directly from the interface, rather than wait until the audio signal goes into the computer and back out again before it reaches your ears. This reduces the latency that is often heard when listening to yourself as you record.