Alto Pro TS2 Series - Gain Staging and Setup

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The Alto Professional Truesonic TS2 series is the result of a clean-sheet approach to designing professional speakers that strike an ideal balance between no-compromise acoustic performance, the complete array of features that users demand and outstanding ergonomics and utility—all coupled with a stunning new industrial design. This article walks through gain staging our speakers for the best output.



  1. Getting Started
  2. Traditional Setup
  3. Proper Staging Gaining (DJ Controller, Mixer and Loudspeakers/Subwoofers)
  4. Setup with TS2 Powered Subs
  5. Additional Resources
  6. Further Technical Support



Getting Started

What is Gain Staging?

Gain staging is the process of ensuring that the signal is being sent and received at an appropriate level for the next piece of gear to be happy.

Correct gain staging can do lots of things to make the performance of your system better, including:

  • Improving the signal-to-noise ratio to get more sound out of your speakers, and less noise.
  • Reducing input/output distortion.
  • Increasing the life of your speakers.

Important: In any scenario, if you hear distortion or clipping sounds coming from your Alto Professional Truesonic series speaker, immediately stop the audio and re-examine all of the levels across all of your equipment.


What Cables Should I Use?

The type of cable that you use will depend mostly on what output options are available from your source. You'll want to choose the most stable option available. The most common output options are XLR, TRS (1/4" or 1/8"), or RCA. But what's more important than the connection itself is whether or not the cable is balanced or unbalanced. 

Without diving too deep into specifics, balanced cables will provide a much stronger signal and will be less prone to picking up noise and interference from the environment. They can run longer distances at lower levels and will be more stable than their unbalanced counterparts

The two most common balanced connectors/cables on the Alto TS2 series speakers are XLR and TRS.

XLR Connectors - These have three wires/pins: Ground, left (hot) and right (cold). There are both male and female XLR connectors.

TRS Connectors: TRS is the abbreviation for Tip (Left), Ring (Right), Sleeve (Shield, Ground). Although it may look like a standard 1/4" (6.35 mm) or 1/8" (3.5 mm) phono plug, it has an extra ring on its shaft. TRS cables have two conductors plus a ground (shield). A TRS cable can carry either a balanced mono audio signal or an unbalanced stereo audio signal.


While balanced cables are certainly preferred in professional applications, unbalanced cables can still work just as well when used properly. Common examples of unbalanced cables are RCA or TS (TRS cables without the additional ring). These cables have two pins: a ground/sleeve, and tip (signal). 

The most important aspect to remember is that unbalanced cables should be kept short in order to prevent the cable from intercepting noise from the environment and to ensure they retain a strong signal level. 


Signal Limit LED

This light illuminates when a high audio signal level activates the internal protection circuit. The protection circuit dynamically reduces the signal level to avoid audible distortion and to protect the woofer and high-frequency driver from over-excursion or mechanical damage. If this light is lit constantly, or the sound is distorted, reduce the signal level of your sound source, or lower the volume with the volume knob.

alto LEDSignal



Traditional Setup

Important: Before you start connecting your speaker cables. We recommend making sure all volume knobs and faders are closed/down on your equipment (including the loudspeakers/subwoofers).

After all of the cables have been connected, verify system operation by sending an audio signal through it. Do this first before trying to set any gain/level controls. This is to make sure all wiring has been set up correctly, that there are no bad cables, and that there is no audible hum or buzz being picked up by improperly grounded interconnections (for more information, please see our Sound System Interconnection article). Once you are sure the system is operating quietly and correctly, then you are ready to set up your device with the loudspeaker.


Connecting a Microphone/Instrument & Guitar

  1. Connect a dynamic microphone to the Input 1 using an XLR or 1/4” (6.35 mm) TRS cable.

  2. Connect a guitar with an active pickup to the Input 2 using a 1/4” (6.35 mm) TS or TRS cable (see your guitar’s documentation for cable requirements).

Note: When using the TS2 Series loudspeaker with a guitar, we recommend using one with active pickups rather than passive pickups. If you use a guitar with passive pickups, connect it to an external preamp or direct input (DI) box, and connect the line-level output to the loudspeaker. Also, use dynamic microphones with the TS2 Series loudspeaker rather than condenser microphones. If you use a microphone that requires +48V of phantom power, connect it to an external phantom power supply before connecting it to the loudspeaker.

alto TSGainStagingMic2


Connecting a DJ Mixer/Controller

  1. Connect the main Left and Right outputs from the controller to INPUT 1 on each of the Alto Pro TS2 speakers. 

  2. Set the Alto TS2 INPUT 1 VOLUME 1 level to just below where the Line and Mic levels meet. On a clock, this would be about the 11 o'clock position. 

    Important: In the Mobile DJ setup, we highly recommend always setting the INPUT VOLUME level to just below 0dB. You should never need to increase the level beyond the 12 o'clock (0dB) position

  3. Power ON your DJ controller/mixer and THEN the Alto speakers.

  4. Play music out of your mixer/controller and put the Master Output to about 50% to make sure you are not clipping. There should be an LED that displays if you go over the top. If there are channel VU-meters on your mixer, make sure you stay well out of the red part.

    Paying more attention to your meters and looking beyond simply where they 'clip' can lead to better mixes and less distortion.

    alto TSGainStaging2
    Note: To send the same mix to both TS2 Series loudspeakers, connect both channels of your DJ mixer, controller, etc. to the Input 1 and Input 2 of one loudspeaker, and then connect that loudspeaker’s Mix Out to the Input 1 of the other loudspeaker. Both TS2 Series loudspeakers will then play identical summed mono mixes.


Connecting an AUX device or Bluetooth Device

The TS2 series speakers use a standard 1/4” (6.35 mm) TRS or XLR cable (not included) to connect your sound source to each input. To connect your AUX device, you will need to use an Interconnect Patch Cable to convert the 1/4'’ to 1/8’’ for your devices.

1/4'’ (6.35 mm) to 1/8’’ (3.5 mm) Patch Cable

alto Cable 

The Alto Professional Truesonic TS2W (TS212W & TS215W) series adds the convenience of Bluetooth wireless streaming from any Bluetooth-enabled device. For tips on connecting your favorite Bluetooth device, watch the video below and visit our Bluetooth Pairing and Linking article for more information. 

Just like a mixer or any other device, connecting a phone or mobile device via Aux or Bluetooth will also require some gain staging to make sure your signal is loud, clear and free of distortion. Here are some tips:

  • When connecting with an Aux cable, just like a mixer, keep the Volume Level knob just below the 11 o'clock position to prevent any distortion or damage.
  • Keep the output volume on your device at about 75% of the way up for optimal signal level. 


Proper Staging Gaining (DJ Controller, Mixer and Loudspeakers/Subwoofers):

In this example, we will be using a Denon DJ MC7000Alto Live 1604 and (2) TS212 Loudspeakers connected via XLR cables.

Mc7000 Live1604 TS2

  1. First, ensure that all channel faders, volume controls, and gain levels are all the way down on the controller, mixer, and speakers.
  2. Using a pair of XLR cables, connect the Left and Right Master Outputs on the MC7000 into individual XLR Inputs on the Alto Live.
  3. Using another pair of XLR cables, connect the Left and Right Main Mix Outputs on the Alto Live into INPUT 1 on each of the Alto TS212 loudspeakers
  4. Power on your equipment. The order should be DJ Controllers > Mixer > Loudspeakers/Subwoofers and the power off order will be the exact opposite.
  5. Turn the volume up to the optimal line level on the input of the TS212 loudspeakers. This should be just below 11 o'clock on the input volume knobs. 
  6. Open your preferred DJ software, add a song to Deck/Channel 1, and begin playing the audio. Increase the Channel 1 gain level until to the maximum and the Master Output gain level halfway up.
  7. Increase each channel on the Alto Live until you reach -5dB
  8. Slowly increase the Main Volume Fader level until you receive a good signal from the speakers. You do not need to set this fader as high as 0dB. Anywhere between, -5 and -20 are suitable fader positions. 

Note: Be sure that as you increase the level of the Master volume, you do not have any distortion coming from the speakers. If you experience distortion or clipping sounds from the loudspeakers, immediately stop, turn down the levels, and reassess your settings to ensure that they are correct. On most mixers, the optimum volume level is when the signal on the mixer output meter reaches just up to, and occasionally into, the yellow.  The signal level meter should never reach the red as it may cause distortion.  Once you have done this, turn the channel volume level all the way back down. 

If you are using powered subs, please refer to the below section for setup instructions. The setup and stage gaining process will be the same.


Setup with TS2 Powered Subs

A subwoofer is a loudspeaker that produces low frequencies and extends the bass output of a full-range loudspeaker system. We've included a few examples of a standard sub/loudspeaker configuration below. 


1 Subwoofer & 2 Loudspeakers

Using XLR cables, connect the Left and Right outputs of your mixer to both inputs of your subwoofer, and then connect the outputs of the subwoofer to Input 1 of each loudspeaker.

alto TS2 1Sub


2 Subwoofers & 2 Loudspeakers

Using XLR cables, connect the Left and Right outputs of your mixer/controller to Input 1 of each subwoofer, and then connect Output 1 of each subwoofer to Input 1 of each loudspeaker.

alto TS2 2Subs




Additional Resources


Further Technical Support

Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own an Alto Professional product, or if you have pre-sales or parts questions, the Alto Professional technical support team is available to help!  Each product has a dedicated support page on the website where you can find manuals, specifications, software updates, and troubleshooting guides: 

Visit the link below to connect with any of the following support options: online community support, phone support, email support.



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