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Question re: Speakon v 1/4" in an Ampeg SVT-CL

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mosfed, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    In advance - I did a search on this and checked the FAQ. I am sure this has been covered and am sorry if I could find the answers I am looking for. A link to a thread would be always appreciated.

    So my Ampeg SVT-CL has both Speakon and 1/4" outs. Does it make any difference which ones I use? My cab is a BSE-410HLF and has 1/4" outs. But I have both Speakon->1/4" cables as well as straight 1/4" cables.

    I am thinking the Speakon cables would be better because they are probably higher gauge than the instrument cables I would use as 1/4".

    Any other thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Doesnt matter. Guage doesnt matter either, as they use thin little wires inside the cab.
  3. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    The wires inside the cab run only a short distance so a thin gauge won't add much to the overall resistance, but a long speaker cable could be a different matter.
  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I agree but - they can use little wires in the cab because they know the length of the run.

    For a 3'-5' amp-to-cab run, it still doesn't matter.
    Over 10' and you might start wanting to care, IMO...

    I'd use a Speakon everywhere I had the chance, just 'cause it's unpleasant when the plug gets pulled out unexpectedly. But this subject has been covered well...
  5. I hope you typed that in error..........

    NEVER use instrument cables to connect your head to your cab.
    Al Kraft and BadExample like this.
  6. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    Now I have read this. Looking at the guage and specs of high quality instrument cables like lava cable seem to be identical to most speaker cables. So I don't get it if you are going good quality.
  7. Instrument cable is NOT the same as speaker cable, and use of instrument cables can cause a short and kill your head.
  8. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    I really dislike Speakons!

    Really, has anyone ever had a SPEAKER cable disconnect on them? I haven't, and I've been playing a long, long time. If it did get to the point where a cable was gonna get pulled out, I'd rather it just pulled out, as opposed to staying connected and either:
    A) destroy the cable completely or
    B) stay attached, taking the equipment with it.

    Have you ever tried to repair a faulty Speakon connector at a gig? I have. It's really not a lot of fun. A 1/4" connector? Easy.

    I'm sure Speakons have their place, I just don't know what that is. Big venue, flown systems maybe?
  9. Right. If you have a resonable distance, it doesnt matter. If you are going over 5-6' then yeah thicker guage would come into play.

    Also, I did not catch the insturment cable thing. Yeah dont use those between your amp and cab. Those are NOT the same as a speaker cable. Its not just about guage.
  10. The real reason to use speakon is that they have a much higher area of contact. If you are using a low power amp that might not make as much of a difference, but there is a reason the EU requires amps rated over 500 watts to have a speakon.

  11. Repair speakon? Two conductors and screw lugs? Harder than soldering 1/4"?

    Speakon is industry standard in pro audio for FOH speaker systems and floor wedges.
  12. Yes.............I have !

    Speaker cable backed itself out of a PA main (not a sealed input, so internal air pressure pushed it out). It shorted itself on the way out, and took out a power amp.
    Wasnex likes this.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    They are not the same. The shield on an instrument cable isn't thick enough to work as a speaker cable and can burn up when used as one. Get a speaker cable. I use 1/4" speaker cables, but with an SVT, either will work fine IMHO.
    Ed Byrnes likes this.
  14. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    1/4" connectors were never designed for speaker level audio. They were for telephone switch boards - that is why they are called "Phone Plugs". The contact area between the round tip of the plug and the flat contact in the jack is incredibly tiny - they shouldn't work at all! In addition they can be easily yanked out when a cable is tripped over. This will not only cut your sound but damage your tube head and maybe your SS head on the way out.

    Another REAL problem is that an instrument cable can be plugged in instead of a proper speaker cable. Instrument cables are tiny inside and can heat up, suck your power and melt the insulation and short out your amp.

    Speakons were designed from the ground up to handle large amounts of current, are easy to install and repair and lock in place.

    Use the Speakons whenever possible, and if it is necessary to have a 1/4" speaker cable, be sure it is well marked as such or the flat kind of cable (like an AC cord) so it is easy to identify.

    For Amp to Cab, a 2-4 feet - a standard 18 Gauge wire, like a lamp cord is fine. For longer runs, you will need 16 Ga.
    byacey and RobRWA123 like this.
  15. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    Cool thanks to all!

    Thankfully I have those Speakon cables so I don't have to purchase anything new.

    thanks for the info!
  16. Clearwave


    Sep 29, 2011
    The Future
    Speakons are technically better connectors but they seem like overkill to me. I like 1/4" better, because for some reason, I have a hard time unplugging Speakons.
  17. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    You're not serious, are you?
    Something that gets overlooked in these discussions:
    With 1/4" plugs there's the possiblity, during a quick change-over on a darkened stage, of inadvertently sending a speaker level voltage into an instrument or line level input. It has happened.
    agedhorse likes this.
  18. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    How do you make your Speakons and your 1/4" cables that the latter is easier to repair? The only reason I use a soldering iron when making speakon cables is to tin the leads. Speakon cables are screwed together, 1/4" cables require soldering... I really do not see how the latter is easier to repair on a gig unless you take a soldering iron and not a screwdriver.

    For me, I only use speakon. The biggest reason is the locking connection, I especially preferred it with my SVT. If my 1/4" comes out of my Markbass I get confused as to why my sound stopped, if my 1/4" comes out of my SVT I might cook it.
  19. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    Here's a table of Wire Ampacity that might help to put wire size and the length of your run into perspective:


    As you can see:

    22 gauge wire like you'd find inside of the amp head has a resistance of 16 ohms per 1000 feet of cable. That's the same as 0.16 ohms per 10 feet of cable.

    18 gauge lamp cord has a resistance of 6.38 ohms per 1000 feet, or 0.063 ohms per 10 feet of cable.

    16 gauge lamp cord has a resistance of 4.016 ohms per 1000 feet, or 0.042 ohms per 10 feet of cable.

    It's important to compare the resistance of the cable you're using to the resistance of the load that you are driving, as the resistance of the cable and the resistance of the cabinet form a voltage divider, and amplifier power is apportioned between them. You want to minimize the amount of resistance in the cable, so that all of your amplifier power gets dissipated into the speaker cabinet to reproduce sound.

    Although cable resistance is often meaningless in practice if you use a reasonable cable (like 18 gauge lamp cord) it could become meaningful if you're running a long wire and you're operating your amp into a 2 ohm load; with a 100-foot cable run even a 16-gauge wire would be bad -- it would add 0.416 ohms to the system, and if you're running a 2-ohm load then you're going to lose ~17% of your power into the cable.

    As bad as it may sound, you could get away with using 22 gauge wire for a very short cable run like an amp sitting on it's speaker cabinet, but why bother? In practice 18 gauge lamp cord is an excellent answer for any reasonable length cable run. It's cheap, it's adequate, and you can find it anywhere.
    Al Kraft and agedhorse like this.
  20. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    I've got the charred carcass of a power amp to prove it :(
    agedhorse likes this.

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