Instrument Cable or Speaker Cable - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 08-14-2013, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I know this may not be the best place to post, but you guys are the only experts I know.

I am setting up a stage for performances. They've been mixing and matching speaker cables and instrument cables all over the place so I'm ordering some stuff to fix it. I've now got instrument cables for all the instruments as I was about to order the speaker cables it occurred to me that because the speakers have built in amps that they may need instrument cables as well. Does anyone have any idea?

My only thought is that because the cable is long it would need to be an actual speaker cable.

Thanks for your help,
Mike
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post #2 of 10 Old 08-14-2013, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by searsmd View Post

I know this may not be the best place to post, but you guys are the only experts I know.

I am setting up a stage for performances. They've been mixing and matching speaker cables and instrument cables all over the place so I'm ordering some stuff to fix it. I've now got instrument cables for all the instruments as I was about to order the speaker cables it occurred to me that because the speakers have built in amps that they may need instrument cables as well. Does anyone have any idea?

Neither.

Speakers with built in amplifiers generally work best with microphone cables.
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-14-2013, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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That's awesome I've got a whole bunch of those already and would never have thought of that. Thanks
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post #4 of 10 Old 08-16-2013, 11:41 AM
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+1 to Arny.

Mic cable is best for balanced runs, which you should be using if they are long runs. Instrument cables are usually single-ended. Whenever I had a long way to the mixer I converted to balanced if at all possible, and sometimes (or instead) added a local (on-stage) preamp or submixer (sometimes even just a DI box, active or passive) to get to the main mixer.

I am not sure I ever used instrument cables for long runs; I would just use mic cables for everything so I had the option of single-ended or balanced (differential). You can usually use a mic cable as an instrument cable but not the other way around. Just put TRS instead of XLR on the ends for instruments.

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post #5 of 10 Old 08-17-2013, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by searsmd View Post

That's awesome I've got a whole bunch of those already and would never have thought of that. Thanks
so have many speaker cables have you seen that have XLR connectors?

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post #6 of 10 Old 08-17-2013, 03:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ivan Beaver View Post

so have many speaker cables have you seen that have XLR connectors?
Before Speakon became common, XLR was widely used for Speaker to amp connections http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XLR_connector "Three pin[edit source | editbeta]
Three-pin XLR connectors are by far the most common style, and are an industry standard for balanced audio signals. The great majority of professional microphones use the XLR connector. In previous years, they were used for loudspeaker connections, for instance by Trace Elliot in its bass enclosures.[5] The XLR could accept 14 AWG (1.6 mm) wire with a current-carrying capacity of 15 amps, suitable for most loudspeakers, but they have been superseded by the Speakon connector for professional loudspeakers. The Speakon connector accepts larger wire and carries more current, and it provides a better shield for the contacts, which may carry dangerous voltages when connected to an amplifier.[6]]

Three-pin XLR connectors are used to interconnect powered speakers with line-level signals. This use is commonly seen PA system applications and seems to be growing more common.
[/U
Rechargeable devices exist that use three-pin XLR connectors. These can be found on electric powered mobility wheelchairs and scooters. The connectors carry from 2 to 10 amps at 24 volts.
An obsolete use for three pin XLR connectors was for MIDI data on some Octave-Plateau synthesizers including the Voyetra-8."
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-17-2013, 07:01 PM
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This will get Gregzoll al fired up about safety but it's true.

On facility I worked at had a stage audio rental facility next door. They would often coil up the speaker cables on the sidewalk. The were standard 12gaSO electrical wire with standard 120v 20a twist locks. We asked one of their engineers about the choice of connector and safety. He replied something like "what damage? It just going to make a loud hum!" And he was right when you do the math. Those massive speaker arrays could take 1800 watts all day long.

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post #8 of 10 Old 08-17-2013, 07:16 PM
 
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This will get Gregzoll al fired up about safety but it's true.

On facility I worked at had a stage audio rental facility next door. They would often coil up the speaker cables on the sidewalk. The were standard 12gaSO electrical wire with standard 120v 20a twist locks. We asked one of their engineers about the choice of connector and safety. He replied something like "what damage? It just going to make a loud hum!" And he was right when you do the math. Those massive speaker arrays could take 1800 watts all day long.
Do not know what you are talking about. My day to day job in the Navy was dealing with 400 amp Ship to Shore cables, that while in the yards at Philly, we could set our watches by, when they would go into a thermal runaway and catch on fire.

Really in live production, unless you have people going back and forth over the cables, you can get away with them being coiled on the sidewalk, but still have to take some kind of precaution, to keep people from dragging equipment over them, or walking on top of the coils, which if they do not pay attention, would be a "Have a nice trip. See you next fall.".

1800 watts, is puny, compared to the wattage I dealt with, for on board PA communication. You could run a concert with the huge Tube amp cabinets we used for flight deck ops, and main operating and living spaces com's.

At least there is something I can agree with you. As for the other subjects, yes it gets touchy, but we both should have just bowed out, but I think that both of us really have meant well in what we have posted in our opinions, but really have different approaches. I just do not agree when it comes to the fact that there are too many out there that fully do not understand the whole ground to electrical issue. Especially if you have not worked physically on electrical systems with communication circuits, and just only deal with it in books or on paper, you do not see it in a real life view point.

Ground loops are a PITA, and the best example I have used for when I tell people, is find some of the old recordings of when performers were playing at Woodstock. The one thing that they constantly had to deal with, due to the wet conditions, was bad grounds, ground loops, ground hum, which actually they used the hum in their favor. You could not walk around the field at Woodstock, without feeling the electricity flowing through the mud, and could not touch anything, or you got shocked, due to poor electrical practices, and it was just a hurry up and get everything done, no inspections, just deal with it.
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-17-2013, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by searsmd View Post

That's awesome I've got a whole bunch of those already and would never have thought of that. Thanks
so have many speaker cables have you seen that have XLR connectors?

There was a line of externally powered studio monitor speakers under the brand name "NHT Pro" that used 20 gauge mic cable and XLR connectors for connecting the speakers. The 20 gauge wire could handle the current but had too much resistance to be ignored. Their resistance was compensated for in the system design.

Back in the 60s I saw more than a few speaker systems for live sound that were wired with XLR connectors.
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-17-2013, 07:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

There was a line of externally powered studio monitor speakers under the brand name "NHT Pro" that used 20 gauge mic cable and XLR connectors for connecting the speakers. The 20 gauge wire could handle the current but had too much resistance to be ignored. Their resistance was compensated for in the system design.

Back in the 60s I saw more than a few speaker systems for live sound that were wired with XLR connectors.
You would bring up the NHT Pro's. And whoever thought that 20 gauge wire was fine for power input on speakers from amps, should have been shot. They were still doing that stuff into the 80's, until people started to wake up and realize what problems they were causing, due to you still had too many old school sound engineers that thought that what they did in the 60's was still fine going into the 80's.
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