Introduction: Passive Audio Mixer W/ Channel Volume Control

Picture of Passive Audio Mixer W/ Channel Volume Control

This Audio Mixer mixes multiple audio inputs to a single audio output, with knobs to control the volume of each channel.

My particular build features 4 stereo RCA inputs mixed to 1 stereo RCA output. You could easily alter this design to any combination of jacks that you need. 

This mixer is passive, meaning it requires no external power. It also means that nothing is amplified. Consequently, the mixed output will have to be amplified by your stereo or another amplifier system. 

Step 1: Circuit Diagram

Picture of Circuit Diagram

This circuit is actually really simple. All the complexity is due to repetition.

Basically, all circuits are as follows:
     input --> output

For an audio mixer, you need a resistor on each input. So, we have:
     input --> resistor --> output

But, it's stereo so you have to do everything twice. So, now you have:
     L input  --> resistor --> L output
     R input --> resistor --> R output

You could stop here, but if you want volume knobs, you have to go through that before the resistor: 
     L input  --> volume knob --> resistor --> L output
     R input --> volume knob --> resistor --> R output

Finally, we repeat this for each input. 

So, the circuit is really a very simple idea repeated 8 times, twice per channel for four channels. 

Step 2: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools

This project requires few parts and tools. It is also relatively cheap, mine cost me about $20, but you can vary yours to fit your budget. 

-- Soldering Iron and Solder
-- Dremel or Drill
-- Wire Strippers

-- 1K ohm resistors x8 
-- 10K ohm logrithmic double-ganged potentiometer x4    (* explained below)
-- RCA panel mount input jacks x10
-- project box or other enclosure

*About the Potentiometers:
A potentiometer or 'pot' is the twisty knob that will act as a volume control. You want a logarithmic pot (aka audio pot) because volume is on a logarithmic scale. Double-ganged means that one knob controls two inputs at the same time, which is necessary if you have stereo audio. That way each channel can be kept separate, and one knob will control both channels. If you're building a mono mixer, you should just use single-ganged pots. 

The specific parts I got from Parts Express are as follows: 
-- 1.1K Ohm 1/2W Flameproof Resistors 10pcs.  Part #: 002-1.1K  Price: $0.75
-- 10K Audio Taper Stereo Potentiometer 1/4" Shaft.  Part #: 023-646  Price: $2.40 x 4
-- RCA Chassis Jack.  Part #: 090-280  Price: $0.73 x 10
-- Project Box 5-1/4" X 3-1/4"   Part #: 320-430  Price: $4.25

Total Cost:  ~$22

Step 3: Drill the Enclosure

Picture of Drill the Enclosure

Here we need to drill all of the holes in the enclosure. I put all of my audio jacks on the back, and the 4 pots on the front. 

1. Measure your components
2. Calculate where to drill the holes
3. Mark your enclosure with a pencil
4. Start drilling pilot holes, gradually increase the hole to full size
5. Test fit with your components 

I drilled all the input/output jacks first, and repeated the exact same process for the pots. 

Step 4: Begin Assembly

Picture of Begin Assembly

Start putting the components in their place and wiring them all together. 

1. Put output resistors on pots
2. Put jacks in enclosure
3. Put pots in enclosure

This is the majority of the assembly. After this, we have to do all the wiring. 
I recommend wrapping the resistor leads around the pot terminal, this makes a strong physical connection.

Step 5: Wire It Up

Picture of Wire It Up

The wiring consists of a few simple steps that are repeated a lot. 
You end up with a lot of wires, so be organized!

Note that you can and should test along the way.
If you make solid physical connections, you don't even have to solder to test. 

1. Wire input jacks to pots. 
2. Wire the output resistors together.
3. Wire final resistor output to output jack 
4. Wire ground connections of pots and jacks together

Step 6: Final Product

Picture of Final Product

Done!  We now have a functional 4 channel to 1 channel stereo mixer. Have fun twisting the knobs!


gm280 (author)2016-04-22

I see this is a very simple solution for mixing multiple inputs. However, if you have no isolation between the individual inputs, then anything you adjust in one circuit effects all the circuits. So if you have a tone control and adjust that in one input, all the other inputs will change as well. A better, but equally more expensive, way to mix inputs for one output, is to use op amps for each circuit. Then one input does not effect any other. I learned that the hard way decades ago. JMHO!

SteveP35 (author)gm2802017-04-06

Please excuse my ignorance but what does "op amps" mean? I'm unfamiliar with the term "op"

AndreasK93 (author)SteveP352017-06-05

He is referring to the Operational Amplifier, the heart of any circuit like this.

psychedup made it! (author)2017-05-09

I made this following your instructions. The only change I made was to use 3.5mm stereo inputs & output instead of RCA plugs. It works great for sharing a pair of amplified speakers with multiple devices.

nighthawk454 (author)psychedup2017-05-10


meekeee (author)2017-01-07


Is it correct that the underlying hypothesis for this analog "sum" unit is that almost no input current should be drawn from the output device - i.e. very high load ?

Is it correct that the output is then the arithmetic mean not the sum of the input voltages (i.e. (V1+V2+...V4)/4) ?

Additional thought: say I want mix the audio signals from a (iPhone) microphone with a line-in source: how do I protect the microphone itself from experiencing an input current caused by the other input? A diode? How do I chose the diode and where do I place it in the circuit?

MaceN2 (author)2016-11-07

Does this work with 3.5mm jacks? They use the same ground fpr right and left channel, is this a problem or will it work?

AndreaS76 (author)2016-04-11

Hi, many thanks for your project. It would be possible to invert the flow in it to have 1 input to multiple output? Thanks again, Andrea

Djmadhatter86 (author)2016-03-25

ok so I'm going to do a 3 channel
I have 4 pot's I'd like to use one as a master volume for all 3 inputs

my question is do I put my resistors before the last potentiometer which will act as a mains volume for all channels or do I put the resistors after the mains pot or both

JhomarA (author)2016-03-02

how to change the one RCA input into mic input thank you...need reply asap

SteamS (author)2016-01-20

What, if i didn't use potentiometers?

It works!

nighthawk454 (author)SteamS2016-01-22

That should work, you just won't be able to control the volume. All the signals would get mixed equally. If all of your sources have their own volume control, like a phone/laptop would, then that may be ok for you.

SteamS (author)nighthawk4542016-01-22

One thing!

When i connect GND from all inputs, then audio turns quiet.

Have I to connect GND?

I don't speak good english, but i understand something.

nighthawk454 (author)SteamS2016-01-22

Can you just run it through an amplifier after mixing?

SteamS (author)nighthawk4542016-01-23

Yes, but without GND there's no sound.

Only annoying loud buzzing.

vjaz (author)SteamS2016-02-28

have you connected the GND for the input and output jacks to the same GND as the potentiometers? I did that and got no buzzing. If buzzing is still there, then it may be a problem with the GND on whatever you're plugging in. Or the amplifier that you connect this mixer to.

nighthawk454 (author)SteamS2016-01-22

Can you just run it through an amplifier after mixing?

nighthawk454 (author)SteamS2016-01-22

Can you just run it through an amplifier after mixing?

nighthawk454 (author)SteamS2016-01-22

Can you just run it through an amplifier after mixing?

MarioG35 made it! (author)2015-11-24

Yeah, first hanging gardens soldering project I did. It works like a charm. Thanks for the instructions. Here some pictures.

nighthawk454 (author)MarioG352016-01-22

Nice build!

jgibbs3718 (author)2015-03-09

Why use resistors instead of diodes? Wouldn't the resistors cause a volume drop?

JoshuaB56 (author)jgibbs37182015-11-03

Well, i had this question too, i looked arround the web and someone called Majenko answered this at a question of this: "As mentioned in the comments, diodes are not the way to go. They will massively corrupt your audio signal, and it will just sound utter rubbish."

Pilje iliP (author)2015-09-24

U should use 10 kOhm resistors, it will be better for channel separation. In this case, f. inst. if 3 pots are lowered to the ground, U have huge level drops on output.

CyrahGamez (author)2015-07-31

what if i want it to be surround, do i need to have more outputs then?

AnthonyD8 (author)2015-06-04

I'd suggest colour coding your wires at this step rather than using all red. One colour for the "hot" and another for the common would be my tip. That way you're not going to accidentally invert any signals.

en_rov (author)2015-02-10

I'll embed this into my guitar pedal, to listen to the base track while I'm playing. Thanks a lot!

jhassall33 (author)2014-12-28

hi thanks for the great design. I ramped this up for jamming with my bud and did 2in 2 out so we can each control our own mix when jamming with headphones. we use some cheap altoid tin headphone amps to boost the signal - works great!

wickedCircuits (author)2014-12-11

hey, nice writeup! I was wondering, though, can this circuit be applied in reverse? Basically with one stereo input, a master volume on that, and split it into multiple outputs with volumes on each one? Thanks!

Thanks! Yeah, I think this should work fine as a sort of 'splitter'. All you'd have to do is hook up one input and many outputs, as opposed to the many inputs and one output shown above.

Note that in my setup, I connected the mixed output to an amplifier to recover some volume. Some active mixer designs take this into account by adding a recovery amplifier.

For your case, I feel like you'd get some volume drop, unless you're driving it from amplifier. Splitting the output of your iPod will probably result in 4 very quiet channels.

Okay, sweet. So i can pretty much just power this circuit in reverse to use it as a splitter? If the volume is too quite I dont mind hooking up an amplifier. Its coming out of a stereo system, though, so I think it might have ample power.

I don't have access to mine right now to try it, but yeah, I believe that should work.

TaureanB (author)2014-08-12

What if i wanted use a USB or XLR microphones what would change then?

nighthawk454 (author)TaureanB2014-11-14

Since USB is digital, this would get a lot more complicated. However, if you're just connecting all your USB devices to a computer, then your computer will be able to do this in software with a software EQ.

I'm not too familiar with XLR, but if you're using the 3 pin analogue variety then this should work fine. Just use XLR jacks instead of RCA phono jacks.

Also, this seems like a good resource:

vincent.clifford.714 (author)2014-09-27

nice project! do you know what kind of resistors one would have to use with 50 or 100k pots? or can you explain why you chose 10k pots and 1k resistors?

Sorry, I have no idea why I chose the values I did. Doing a Google image search for "diy passive audio mixer" showed a bunch of similar schematics, with many combinations of pot/resistor values. Maybe you can find some answers there.

G.walker876 (author)2014-01-05

What if you want to change the inputs to quarter inch jacks and to change the 10K resistors to 10k faders what changes would you have to do the schematic/circuit?

dajobe (author)G.walker8762014-02-28

None whatsoever.

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