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Speakon Jack?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by macool, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. I got bored and started reading through the manual for my Ampeg SVT-3 Pro head and came across a labeled diagram of the rear panel. To connect my head to my cab I usually use one of the two 1/4'' speaker output jacks with a regular speaker cable, but above them is this bigger looking output hole that I just kind of ignored. It says that this is the speakon jack and that I should use it while playing at full output. Since I make a habit of playing at "full output" at gigs and practice, it occured to me that I might be doing something wrong. It says something about using heavy gauge cables and that the pin connections are 1+ and 1-. What exactly does this mean and what do I need to use this jack.
  2. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    If your speaker cabinet does not also have a "Speakon" jack, it may not matter a lot.

    The Speakon jack and plug have a higher current rating and lower resistance, so they are "better" at carrying the current from the amp to the speaker. The jack is heavier duty and will last longer etc, etc.

    But if you are going into another 1/4 inch jack anyhow, you might not need to bother. Save ti for later when you have a speaker that also has the Speakon.

    If your existing speaker also has a Speakon, all you need to do is hit the local music store and get a regular Speakon cord, with a speakon plug at each end. Inside the plugs the wires will be connected to terminals 1+ and 1-, you don't need to worry about it.

    Note: Do not get a "bridge mono" version, since they have different connections.
  3. Thank you. My SVT-410HE cab does have the speakon jack, so I'll pick up a cable.
  4. tonynoriega

    tonynoriega Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    I have a similar situation as yours......SVT-3 amp and 4x10 Ampeg cab. I used a 1/4" cable for a couple of months and then bought a Speakon and installed it. As far as I can tell there is no discernable difference in sound (or anything else). Please let us know how you do.

    Tony Noriega
  5. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    I have been told by several techs and audiophiles that Speakon cables are a joke and another way to get you to spend another $50. Get a good phat 1/4 and you'll have the same results for lots of change less.
  6. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    You probably won't hear a difference. 1/4" connectors are not as good for high current applications, but often they are good enough. Personally I've been moving to Speakon as much as possible because Speakon connectors are also more reliable and I prefer to make my chances of things working as high as possible.
  7. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    The higher the output of your amp is, the less suited the 1/4" connectors are to use.
  8. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    its not really about hearing a difference. its more about having a safer, and more efficient connection, because you have more contact area, and a locking connection with much lower risk of shocking yourself.

    They're also easier to work with because they wont break down like 1/4" cables. They have solderless ends, so you can fix a plug without tools if it ever happens (which is never for me)
  9. 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
    Well, the joke is on them. Speakons are superior for a number of reasons:

    1. They lock in and won't pull out.

    2. They have greater contact area for high power applications. Let's say you're cranking out 600 watts into a 4-ohm cab. P=(I^2)R, so I^2=600/4=150. Taking our square root of 150, we end up with a little over 12 amps of current at about 50 volts. (This would shock the living piss out of you, by the way.) This is a touch high for a plug that was originally designed to carry a few milliamps for telecommunications applications.

    3. The jacks don't become loose as easily.

    Now, all my amps except one have quarter-inch jacks, and I haven't had a problem with them. But I'm easy on gear, and seldom run at high power. I'm priviledged to have Speakon jacks on my latest acquisition, and I made some ruthlessly bitchen and bullet-proof cables with 10-gauge cable. I play a lot better when I use Speakons, because I don't spend all my time worrying about whether my cables will fail.
  10. ADuck5150


    Jul 31, 2004
    I take it that the Eden cabs all have speakon jacks in the back, or do you need an adaptor?
  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
    Mine don't. the new ones do. Only my Aguilar has them.
  12. notanaggie

    notanaggie Guest

    Sep 30, 2003
    Beans....its a better connection, a tougher jack, and a tougher plug. It keeps you from touching the "live" terminals. (although most outputs are just "theoretically" hazardous, I've grabbed lots of tehm and I'm still here).

    I've got another reason to hate 1/4" jacks, though.......

    If you look at the way they are made, it quickly becomes obvious that if they are pulled out accidentally, as they slide out, they short out your amp. :mad:

    The tip and the sleeve can, and almost have to, both touch the metal sleeve of the jack as they slide thru.

    If the plug isn't pulled ALL the way out, it stays shorted. I don't caer how well teh protection works, I don't want to need it.

    Speakon jacks DO not and CAN not have that happen.
  13. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I'd use the speakon connectors. For me-it's partially peace of mind and other practicality. I play for school bands and well-there's a lot of idiots. I like knowing that if someone wants to put themselves in danger with the speakons-they're going to have to work for it.

    I am running a fairly high powered setup for our marching band. We're running a 4 ohm load off of each side of my carvin DCM2k. I believe we're pumping out 700 watts per side @ 4. I like having the speakon connectors for this setting since-moisture can be involved along with people that could step on a cable and unplug it leaving a dangerous live wire on the ground. With the speakons-i feel like once i have them plugged in, there's less to worry about-anything from someone pulling one before the power is cut, to it starting to mist. [humor me-i'm in Indiana, i'll play in anything up to a drizzle]

    That's all
  14. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    To each his own that is why I live in this country we call the US. Right to choose. By the way, I know a fellow bass player that was using Speak-ons and someone accidentally pulled the cable from behind and pulled his head off the stack and now he had to spend another $1400 on a new head.
  15. Bob Lee (QSC)

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

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    For high-power low-impedance circuits like from amp to loudspeakers, Speakons have it all over 1/4-inch.
  16. cosmodrome

    cosmodrome Registered User

    Apr 30, 2004
    ****town, Netherlands
    i use a speakon-1/4 jack cable. my wt400 has a speakon input but my speaker hasn't and i bought them new.
  17. 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
    Yeah, I knew a guy whose cousin's brother-in-law flipped his car, and he had his seat belt buckled, and the car caught on fire, and he couldn't get his seatbelt loose, so he died in the fire. So it's really a bad idea to buckle your seatbelt.

    Yes it's a free country, and we're all free to choose the wrong thing.
  18. Thunderfunk


    Mar 27, 2004
    McHenry, IL
    Boy, this is an old thread. Munjibunga is right. The problem with 1/4" connectors is.... They have a VERY small contact area. Think about it. They were designed for 1 volt telephone switchboards (Switchcraft anyone?). When the round plug hits the flat spring contact on the jack, it only touches on one very small spot. The Speakon has a long round contact designed for high amperage.

    Two examples: A friend had an air-conditioner that wouldn't kick over. The plug was too hot to touch. What was the problem? The plug had corroded and had a high contact resistance, meaning the current was creating heat at the plug and a voltage drop in the plug was lowering the AC voltage so much the compressor wouldn't kick. This was a fire waiting to happen, and it often is the cause.

    #2. A friend's tractor wouldn't crank, but he measured 12 volts at the battery. I touched the battery cable and it was hot. The wire had corroded and was doing the toaster thing the same as above. I replaced the connector and wire and the 12 volts was again available at the starter.

    The larger gauge wire a Speakon will accept (they're are large 1/4" plugs) has to do with transfering the power to the speaker instead of burining it up in the cable.

    However, I don't think you'd feel 50 volts. It takes about 80 volts for my skin resistance to feel voltage. Your skin resistance will vary.

    Dave Funk

    I don't do drugs. I get the same effect from standing up fast.