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Questions about cables

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Scott549, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. Maybe this isn't the right forum, but the question does relate to amps indirectly. I'm confused about cables. I'm looking at monoprice.com, where they seem to have cheap cables of reasonable quality. They have some called "TS or mono phono" and others called "TRS or stereo phono."

    After over 30 years participating on and off in bands, I still do not understand what I am supposed to know about the various types of 1/4" cables. Apparently you are supposed to use TS for instruments and TRS for speaker connections. But why would you use a stereo cable to run from a single amp output to a single mono cabinet? Can anyone explain this?

  2. Rafael


    Feb 4, 2008
    You wouldn't because that is incorrect.

    TS stands for Tip Sleeve, and TRS stands for Tip Ring Sleeve.

    Guitar amp input and output both use mono cables, as you already know. Don't allow yourself to become confused. The only issue you need worry about is to make sure you use shielded cables for your bass->amp connection and speaker cables [which use speaker wire] to connect your amp->cabinet.
  3. ExaltBass

    ExaltBass Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Twin Cities, MN
    TS = Tip Sleeve - used in instrument cables and older style (pre Neutrik) 1/4 speaker cables.

    TRS = Tip Ring Sleeve and they are used for stereo (headphones, etc), balanced line signals (Low impedance), patch bays or an insert cable on the mixer end. They are also used by Rolls for sending a signal and power to a mini monitor amp/mixer and probably other things too.
  4. There is another term that should be clarified. Guitar cables and many studio patch cables are variations on PHONE patch connectors. That is what your guitar and speaker cables are terminated with.
    On the other hand PHONO plugs refer to RCA style connectors. Phono being phonograph. The kind with a small pin in the middle and a metal shield circling it. Used for consumer audio and video.
    So monoprice talking about a TRS PHONO plug is kind of full of it.
    Also, speaker cable is always unshielded. Guitar cable and studio patch cables are shielded. This means that there is a wire braid or Mylar film wrap which surrounds the insulated conductor or conductors.
  5. The correct term is PHONE not phono. It refers back to the original use for the 1/4" jack on telephone switchboards. Phono refers to the RCA jacks used for interconnecting stereo components. Phono short for phonograph (record player).

    As posted TRS have an extra connection: the ring. They are certainly never used for speaker cables, which are indeed TS cables but are not screened and are of a thickerer gauge of conductor.
  6. Rebop


    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA

    I've worked in music stores for a long time and still get a kick out of the old timers that call them "western union plugs".
  7. Here's my chat with Monoprice. It does not include my original question, but it picks up from there. Even the guys who work there can't seem to figure it out.


    TS - Mike M (Level 2): Hi Scott,

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): Thank you for contacting Monoprice Customer Service.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): My name is Mike M. Give me a moment while I review your question.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): How are you doing today Scott?

    Scott: Good.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): how long of a cable do you need?

    Scott: Not sure, but my concern is the type of cable, not the length.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): For that you will need a TS cable

    Scott: Is a TS cable for instruments or speakers? What is a TRS cable for?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): TS is for insturments like the bass, and the Guitar, and TRS is used for speakers

    Scott: OK, that helps. I still don't understand why the TRS cable would be stereo, though. It is one mono output from the amp going into one mono cabinet. Do they work for both stereo and mono?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): No it is not recommended to use a TRS cable on an item that is designed for TS

    Scott: So then what is the right cable to go out of an amplfier and into a cabinet?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): You will want to use TS all the way around for the bass, or the Guitar

    Scott: But people tell me I can't use instrument cables for speakers, or vice versa. You are saying I can use the same TS cable to connect the guitar to the amp, and to connect the amp to the speaker cabinet?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): between the amp and the speaker cabinet you should have a sound board of some sort

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): you will not want to run directly from the amp to the speakers

    Scott: So what kind of cable should I use from the output of the bass amplifier to the input of the speaker cabinet?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): I would not recommend doing that, The quality of the audio will not be audible, you will need sometime of sound board.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): The speaker can try to pull to much power from your amp and blow the amp

    Scott: This is a bass amplifier with a separate cabinet. You have to run a 1/4" cable from the amp to the cabinet. I am asking which of your cables is the right one to use.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): what is the make and model of that amp?

    Scott: Gallien Krueger Backline 600.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): I will be happy to look up the specs for that to verify that you will need the TS cable for that.

    Scott: OK.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): Ok, that is an actual amp, not like a box amp. That you will want to go TS into, and then you can actually for better quality go XLR to 1/4 to the speakers cabinet.

    Scott: There's a 1/4" output on the back of the amp. If I am going to use a 1/4" cable, which one is appropriate?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): You will want to use TS

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): I have been in Pro Audio for over 10 years, and professionally you will get a better quality with the XLR to 1/4.

    Scott: What is the difference between the TS cable to use for instruments and the TS cable to use for speakers? People tell me it's dangerous to use an instrument cable for speakers, but I don't understand that.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): I'm sorry I need to correct myself from the amp to the speaker you do need to go TRS, from the bass to the amp you need to go TS, if you use a TS it can burn up the amp, with the XLR you will end up with TRS.

    Scott: OK, I will do that. I'm still confused, though.

    Scott: Why would you use a stereo cable for a mono application like this?

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): It has to do with how the 1/4 connector actually connects, the bass and the guitar have 1 contact, but on the TRS there are 2, its and additional ground that can cause a ground hum,

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): Cables 101: Instrument vs. Speaker Cables

    Scott: OK, thank you. I will take a look at that.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): Is there anything else I can help you with today?

    Scott: No. Thank you.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): I would appreciate your feedback on the survey upon closing out this chat session.

    TS - Mike M (Level 2): Thank you Scott for shopping at Monoprice.com. Have a nice day.

    Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.
  8. Wow............

    That Mike M guy you chatted with is a complete moron
  9. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Instrument cables are shielded. Speaker cables are not. Most cables are labeled by application as either an instrument cable or a speaker cable.

    Please don't rely on the information in that chat with Mike M. He's wrong more often than he is right.
  10. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    He was more than just a run-of-the-mill complete moron, he was a moron even when compared to most other morons! I especially liked his claim of having over 10 years of pro audio experience.
  11. Sneakypete


    Jul 22, 2009
    I don't know that company but they seem to be a "domestic hi-fi, consumer electronics" type of supplier - it's quite likely Mike M knows absolutely nothing about stage gear - or at least it sounds like it! Most reasonable sized towns will have music store and there are countless online retailers in this market - you should have no trouble whatsoever finding cables clearly packaged as instrument or speaker cables. If your gear has Speakon sockets use only them for speakers and then you know that any 1/4" cables you have must be signal (shielded) instrument cables.
  12. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Don't by anything from that place....my god.

    Shielded "guitar cord" from bass to amp. "Speaker cable " from amp to speaker. Speaker cable is not shielded...should be 16 guage or better. This could be something as simple as a piece of lamp cord or extension cord with a TS (mono) plug on each end. Smaller guage numbers mean thick wire. ie:14 is thicker than 16. You don't need the thick stuff unless you're doing long runs....like 50ft.
  13. Alex1984


    Jan 16, 2010
    A sound board between your amp and your speaker!? The only way that'd make sense would be if he was talking about using the line-out or DI-out -> sound board -> cabs.

    What he might've meant to say was to use TRS and XLRs in between rack components on the sound board for balanced mono signals. But if he thinks he can just take any TRS cable to plug into the speaker, that's just BS.
  14. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1 stay way far away from that company, and it's very uninformed employees. As stated already, instrument cables are shielded, with regular TS plugs on each end, speaker cable is NOT shielded, and also uses regular TS plugs on each end. Speakons are better, but not really necessary, unless your amp pumps major wattage.
  15. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    What he's calling "pro audio", I'm guessing is closer to car stereo thump-fests than anything remotely to do with sound reinforcement.

    Thanks to the OP for identifying a shop to steer well clear of!!!!
  16. You were speaking to a home audio employee. He is not familiar with pro audio and it is a shame that he tried to pass it off as if he did. You do not want to buy home audio equipment for your bass rig. Use a source that specializes in pro audio gear.
  17. Can anyone recommend a good brand for cables? I suspect Monster are OK but I don't like that they make exaggerated and sometimes dishonest claims about what their cables can do.
  18. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Planet Waves. Better than Monster, cost less, same lifetime warranty.
  19. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    +1 Planet Waves.

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