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speaker cables for PA

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by bazza99, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. bazza99


    Aug 19, 2009
    I'm having a prob with our PA cutting out and need to check my cables. I know how to check for shorts but I also need to make sure that we are not using instrument cables in place of proper speaker leads. So,
    1) Problem 1 is some of the cables have plastic moulded ends and cannot be taken apart to inspect, is there any way that using a Multimeter would tell me if they are guitar or speaker leads?? Or would readings be the same?
    2) One big cable I have has marking "Oxygen Free Copper Cable" - is this likely to be a speaker cable??

    Any help appreciated as I'd rather not throw out what might be OK cables!
  2. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    1. I'd bet a dollar that anything with molded plugs is an instrument cord.
  3. If you used line level for speaker cables you better just throw them out.
    Or at the very least use them at rehearsal or home to be sure they are working before you gig with them.
  4. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Run signal through the cable and jiggle the wire right at the back of the connectors to see which one makes it cut out; most likely one connector (or both) is bad and all you can do is cut it off and replace it. When you cut the connector off, you will see if the conductors are coaxial (one conductor is braided or twisted to surround the other) or side by side. Do not use coaxial cable to run speakers. Better yet, don't use molded end cables at all for speaker cables.

    "Oxygen Free Copper" on a cable just means that it is more expensive but not necessarily better in any way.
  5. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    First, re-assign the molded cables to other line-level duty...

    On 1/4" cables with the solder-on ends, you can unscrew the shell from the 1/4" connector and check the cable. If it's two separate conductors (or wires), usually black and white, or red and white, then you have a speaker cable. If you see a single conductor and what looks like braided wire or spiral-wrapped wire, then you have shielded cables that are suitable for instrument use, but NOT speaker cables.

    In your case (and you DO need to go through your cables and check to see what they are), I suspect a conductor might be shorting against the shell or the other conductor, causing the amplifier to see a dead short and shut down. It might be wise to check your speakers, too. A shorted driver can cause this shutdown, too.

    As for Oxygen-Free Copper, that's synonymous with "Snake-Oil-Copper". And Monster cable, while well-built, has management that's full of ****. They will never get my money.
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    So true. Anything I've encountered came with either independent 1/4", Speakon, or banana connectors. Read: repairable. Personally, I think 1/4" should be outlawed. I can fix Speakon and banana plugs on the fly if necessary.

  7. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    FWIW, I had some speaker cables years ago that had molded connectors. The connectors all eventually failed.
  8. gearhead1972


    Feb 21, 2012
    Kent NY
    Personally, I would just buy 2 pairs of quality speakers cables. Blatantly label them SPEAKER and be done with it. You should always have extras anyway.
  9. Zephrant


    Dec 10, 2013
    Spokane, WA
    And spray paint the ends hot pink (mask the metal parts first). Not only will no one ever steal them, they will last forever, just so they can embarrass you.

    In theory, a bench grade ohm meter could tell you the difference, but you would need one capable of four wire ohm measurements to measure the very low values on a cable like that.
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    To the OP: will either the mixer / amp or speaker enclosures accommodate Speakons? Some of the budget-focused offerings do not and still rely on 1/4" > 1/4".

    I use nothing but Speakons in various configurations (2 conductor, 4 conductor, bi-amp, bridged mono, etc) but still label each accordingly so my bandmates can cable things up in my absence. I use something like this for identification: