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speaker cable quality

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by JimiLL, Apr 5, 2015.

  1. Im looking for some speaker cable for the pa, and I see some wide variation in pricing.

    All else being equal, is there anything to gain or lose by going with a wire that's 3x more expensive than another?

    And is there anything crappy about the cheaper speakon connectors?
  2. Someone was pimping some neon coloured ''lamp cord'' 16 gauge a few days ago. Cut off the ends and put on the best quality speakons you can find and still save money on a budget ''speaker cable''. Music gear is a ripoff.
    ThisBass likes this.
  3. Im thinking about buying some 14-4 bulk and a 4 pack of speakon.
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  4. look for the 12 or 14AWG speaker cable from rapco. the major difference will be in the sheilding, and the jacket of the cable. and its not really that expensive of a cable to buy. make sure its neutrik ends though.
  5. WayneP

    WayneP Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2004
    Corpus Christi, Texas

    When I worked for a sound company back in the 90s, they used common electrical cord such as SOW, SOWJ, etc. No fly-by-night outfit, it was the biggest company in the region and had national tours with the likes of Clint Black and ZZ Top.

    Like Daws said, the only thing of importance is the wire gauge. Typically you want 12 ga. for mains with passive crossovers, or at least 14 ga., or maybe 14 ga. 4-conductor for biamped mains.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
    Administrator, Tobias Club #133
    Fretless Club #943
    Big Cabs Club #23
    My Rig: Stage and FOH Friendly

    Last edited: May 11, 2015
    fokof and Bob Lee (QSC) like this.
  6. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    As a small sound co guy the other thing important to me is the flexibility / roll-ability / pack-ability which is why I try steer clear of Home Depot SJ or SJO type cable. Pack ability is important to me. If the cable won't roll easily some contract stage hand is going to create the Gordian knot and drop it into my cable trunk and the next time out it's a mess...

    I do have a couple of Home Depot scratch built cables. Very stiff, don't roll nicely at all. Destined to become extension cords one day...

    I also bought a pair of 100' 14 gauge speakons off a ebay last year for $70. I turned them into 4 50's for use as monitor cables. They are horrid. It is almost impossible to roll them flat. I'm too cheap to strip the ends off and toss the wire... They pass signal fine. Their pack-ability sucks. Their days are numbered...

    I know this sounds like a nit pick but, stuff that packs well and goes into a trunk neatly, comes out neatly on the next job. It's frustrating as hell to waste time unscrambling an egg before breakfast ya know ? So I highly recommend going with high quality cable...

    Audiopile.net has decent cable and their pricing is good. The cable itself is soft and it's strong. Better quality jacket. I generally buy cables pre-built from them now. For the price difference it is hard for me to justify spending the time scratch building. They also up size their wire.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
  7. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    I've bought a couple of low temperature extension cords and cut them up. Fits neutrik great. They stay flexible at any heat level. They tend to not tangle, you can just throw them out and they lay flat and follow a bend, even if it's a little colder from the trip out.

    Since the chords are 3 wire and you only need two, you can either double up on the - side, or just don't connect it. I double up, no problem.
    Bob Lee (QSC) likes this.
  8. What should I be looking to pay for 14-4, per foot?
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    $2.29 / foot. Okay, that's 13 g / 4 conductor from Parts Express but you get the idea. BTW, I'll assume you're bi-amping?

    FWIW, 13 g is the largest I can comfortably jam in a Speakon. The 14 g should be fine.

  10. H Speaker Cable

    i buy this stuff for $.80 p/ft. @14awg 2-conductor, i just add the speakon connectors.

    i have been using their cable on many many shows, and all outdoor festivals i work. never have had an issue with them, nor do they twist up easily.
  11. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
  12. I was Going to parallel the 4 conductors, essentially making it a 2 conductor run. Is this possible? 14-4 should equate to about 10-2, correct?
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Tell us more about the how and why behind this project. I think I'm grasping the situation but have learned not to assume anything.

  14. When I was doing electrical work sometimes when wr had to run a circuit that called for, say, 12g wire, you could use two strands of 16 and it would hold the same current as one 12. Kind of like two smaller pipes carrying as much water as one large pipe.

    So inside the wire, there are 4 conductors and two would be hot and two would be nuetral wires, but they all are in the same circuit.

    Reason for it is its easier to get 14g into a speakon connector than 10. Maybe be easier to roll up and handle but this is a guess.
  15. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    All I have to add to this discussion (great points, BTW) is that there's a difference in the construction (notice I did NOT say "quality) of the Rapco 13/4 speaker cable and the electrical cable found at Home Depot and Lowe's...

    The electrical cable is built for durability, as in being in traffic situations, run over by fork lifts and other wheeled devices used in construction work. The jacket is pretty thick and there are roped strands inside the jacket. The SO-W is oil-resistant. We've been told that we could be in trouble for using 12-and 14-SJ for electrical cable on stages and in trusses if an electrical inspector wanted to get sticky (And for 21 years in MS, LA, and AL, I've yet to see an inspector look over our gear) because it's not as heavily-built, but it's still built a little beefier than the Rapco speaker cable.

    I'm not sure how an inspector would treat speaker cable, if they would even pay attention to it. The Rapco cable isn't built with as much reinforcement on the inside, making it easier to roll up and roll put flatter upon deployment. Now, I'm not at all saying that the Rapco is inferior cable, quite the contrary. We use mostly Rapco 13/8 and 13/4 cable, although there is some 12/4 SJ in the pile, too. It does tend to get skinned easier and we have a few pieces with heat shrink band-aids here and there. But it's the first choice for speaker cable.

    The 12/4 and 14/4 SJ hasn't been too bad to deal with as far as rolling it up and deploying it. I guess it's like anything else, you choose your path and run with it and Mal's comments about the heavier cable are certainly spot on.
  16. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    So how are you going to prep / join the conductors before installing the Speakon? I've heard of this but I'm not sure how necessary it really is given the project at hand. Unless you're bi-amping a specific set of enclosures (like I did), I would stick with the 13 / 2 stock. Unless you're running some ungodly amount of power, which I don't think you are, the 13 g should be more than enough.

    Never coil excess speaker cable during a live performance. The signal spins round 'n round, gets dizzy, and by the time it hits the mains, it staggers, falls over, and throws-up. The crowd notices things like that.

  17. Never knew that about coiling speaker wire before.

    I would have to get 4 conductor speakon ends.

    We are bridging a 2000 watt carvin, which will be going through one output of the amp, ie, it will only accept a single speakon
  18. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Good call. Wire the amp end +1, +2 (check the manual). Wire the enclosure end +1, -1. All you need is 2 conductors and 13 g will be perfectly fine.

  19. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    14-4 doubled up = 11-2.

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