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Do Speakon cables really make a difference?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Skel, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hi all - I'm sure this has been beat to death already, but, are Speakon cables worth getting when you have an amp/cabinet that can use them?

    Thanks - Skel
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Not in terms of tone... you'll notice no difference there. But Speakons are a heckuva lot sturdier and safer than 1/4" connectors!
  3. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    You mihgt hear a difference between a total piece of crap 1/4" cable and a quality speakon in terms of tone. I think the biggest difference will be making your amp happy by providing a high quality low resistance cable in between in and the cab.
  4. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Slightly less noise. Tone improvements are negligible. Much sturdier and almost impossible to pull out accidentally. Depending on who you get them from, they're usually not much more than regular 1/4" cables.
  5. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Ok - so it's not worth treating this as an urgent matter or anything. This is good to know - I always use at least fairly high quality speaker cables, so I should be fine without the Speakons, but I'll try one some time, knowing that it certainly won't *hurt*.

    Thanks a lot for the input -Skel
  6. orskard


    Mar 17, 2004
    i dont know much about the science of how speakers and such work, and all that. But i use a speakon to 1/4th because my PLX requires it, and because it has a lock on it, so if cant be pulled out by mistake at a show. Its kinda like how you pull your cord through your guitar strap so you cant unplug it while playing. It just looks better than 1/4th too.
  7. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    The main advantage to Speakons is that they are designed to handle high power high current loads. Phone plugs/jacks were never intended for that purpose, being invented circa 1880 for the purpose of plugging telephone lines into a switchboard.
  8. What Bill said. The connector isn't designed to handle the current, ESPECIALLy as the jack ages and the plug doesn't fit quite as tight anymore.

    Its a little silly to bother getting the high quality 2000 watt capable 10-12 ga speaker cable for high power applications and then using a cheap 200W connector.

    Kind of like using 25 ft of heavy duty extention cords and going the last 5 ft with Walmart xmas tree light extention cord, or getting a top of the line Eden amp and using Kmart stereo speakers for a bass amp.

    Why go to all the trouble of going almost the whole 9 yards the right way then settle for a cheap jury rig for the last few inches?

  9. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    what everyone else said--they handle high current with less resistance, they don't pull out, and they are much much sturdier than a 1/4 phone plug. They don't require solder. They have a better strain relief. They can be configured easily in different ways. They're much better than either 1/4 or bannan plugs

    But I don't think there's much difference in sound
  10. I agree with what people have said so far, and would like to add, that if you play at very high voume, a 1/4inch plug can actually "blow out" of the socket. If it happens to touch the barrel of the socket befored the shank has cleared the opening, you would have a dead short. The live sound guys say that if you are running high powered (3000+ watts) amps, they can also produce lethal voltage. May be B**** but I don't care to experiment.

  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    It's not urgent, but it's worth it.
  12. bass-shy


    Jan 11, 2005
    One more thing to add: You can't physically touch the conductor in a Speakon connector in the manner that you can touch the working end of a phone plug. This means that a Speakon can't get all covered in fingerprints, sweat and body oils like it's quarter inch counterpart. Speakons make sense for a lot of reasons, but you have to decide if those reasons are enough to make you want to abandon a system that has worked well for the last half century. Good luck.
  13. 44me


    Jun 17, 2002
    Bedford, NH USA
    To get 3000W into 4 ohms you need 110V - It's way more than enough to kill you.

    - John
  14. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Just a question.

    What's a speaker XLR like compared to a 1/4". I have one on the V8, but the Schroeder has a Speakon, so not like i'll be using the XLR, just curious..
  15. Its designed for microphones, not high currents. Probably no different than 1/4" plugs.

  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    True, but I'm thinking that, compared to 1/4" plugs, there's less chance of an XLR cable shorting out if it's accidentally yanked out while the amp is on. And many XLR plugs have a locking mechanism.
  17. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Also some amps, notably Ampegs, require speakon cables wired a certain way to use mono mode.
  18. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004

    XLR's on the back of an amp are for line level signals out to say a recorder or another amp and not for Speaker levels.

    1/4" should have never been put on an amp for speaker purposes. Especially on a tube amp where a no load condition is harmful.
  19. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Ah, but the XLR is for a speaker on the Trace's. Theres also a seperate one for DI :)

    BTW. Is there anyway I could perhaps get that XLR changed out to a Speakon? Or would it just not work with the amp?
  20. What popinfresh is talking about IS a speaker connection. Europe (Trace Elliot=England) has had stricter connections standards for awhile, and even before their recent mandate of no exposed or shorting connections for high current (IOW, speakon or nothing), XLR was a popular format for speaker connections. It's not as good as speakon, and barely better than 1/4 and actually worse in some ways. Anyone with old Trace cabs can confirm that there are XLR speaker connections on them.

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