Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Speakon vs. 1/4" Speaker Wire: Pros/Cons

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by degroove, Jun 14, 2004.


  1. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    I have head that will be arriving tomorrow (Ashdown EVO 500 Rackmount) and an Ampeg SVT 410-HLF cab. Both have Speakon connectors. I already have a 1/4" of good quality that I was using with my SVT III PRO head with the same cabinet...

    Searching the forum, I gather that Speakons can carry voltage when your amp is at high levels better, but my question is does this apply to all wattage amps, or just power amps in the 1,000s of watts?

    What are the pro's and cons of the speakon connection vs. the 1/4 inch, and would you recommend me to use one with my 500+ watt amp?

    Thanks, Matt
     
  2. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    I've had an Eden WT-550 and an SWR500x, both offered a choice of Speakons or 1/4" receptacles. My current (and all-time favorite) amp is the Mesa M-Pulse 600. It only has 1/4" receptacles-no Speakons available. I know a lot of people prefer the Speakons, but Mesa must believe that the 1/4" can handle 600W @ 4 ohms with little or no perceptible degradation. JMHO. :D

    Nice amp choice, by the way. Enjoy!
     
  3. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Do a search here for "Speakon". The pro's are many, the con's are non-existent.
     
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    There was a very good post on speakons vs 1/4" titled Power amp with 1/4" output???. Bassically(sic), the crossover point is 100W for an excellent 1/4" jack.
     
  5. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    I am sorry, but I did not comprehend what you said. Are you saying anything over 100 Watts should get a Speakon and below a 1/4" jack?

    Sorry for my confusion...Matt
     
  6. elros

    elros

    Apr 24, 2004
    Norway
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    Well.
    A jack plug has a contact area the size of a needle tip. That isn't good when you are driving bass speakers -because bass speakers needs much current, and much current needs fat wires. 1/4" jack connectors can work fine (for a time), but if there should come a bit of corrosion or dirt on the contact area, then conductivity goes down and as it does, heat may build up (which further degrades the connection causing even more heat - it's an evil circle), and you may have the insulation on the plug or cable melt, causing short circuit, and goodness knows what can happen then.
    1/4" Jack connectors were never designed for high power use. They were designed for telephone switchboards (which is why they are, or were, called phone jacks).

    Speakons, on the other hand, are designed for loudspeakers. Big contact area, lots of room for fat cables, locking when inserted, non-exposed contact elements. Personally I use only Neutrik speakons (I don't know if anyone else makes them?) - they are great.

    For loudspeakers - especially bass and high power:
    Speakon = good choice.
    1/4" phone jack = bad choice.
    XLR = better than phone jacks, but still not good IMO.

    Meaning no disrespect, of course. :)
     
  7. quallabone

    quallabone

    Aug 2, 2003
    Awesome.
     
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    No, I was up at 5:00 am this morning to contact the UK, I am a bit out of it :(

    If you want a simple rule "Always use a speakon". There are more good reasons to use a speakon other than just power. They do not short the connection, more reliable connection, etc. Eric Moesle said it best: The pro's are many, the con's are non-existent.

    However, for 100W and below you are ok with a 1/4" jack. In fact with an 150W amp you are probably ok since you are probably not using 150W continuous but 150W peak. For a 500W amp running half way (gain and volume at 12:00) I would use a speakon.

    Since you have a good 1/4", I would try using it. You will only lose power and headroom and security :D
     
  9. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    El Ros...that was the best explanation I have heard on the topic. I will definately use one, now. I was wrong with my assumption of it needing to be a very high power (1k+) wattage application to require this.

    Thanks..
     
  10. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Only ;)

    That is not good. Speakon it is...

    Thanks...
     
  11. vbass

    vbass

    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    Ok then, I have a question...

    I currently have 12 gauge speakon to 1/4" because that was the only option to connect my cabs. I'm running a good 300w a side, at least. Do you think I will run into any issues with this?
     
  12. 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
    You might or might not. Over time, you'll be less likely to incur problems with Speakon connectors than with 1/4".
     
  13. Speakons are self-cleaning - they're locked by a twisting motion which cleans the contact surfaces, reducing any build-up of dirt/crud/etc which might introduce resistance into a connector. This is especially important when using low-impedance speakers or combinations of speakers (e.g. 2-Ohms). Also Speakons lock, and so can't be pulled out inadvertently.

    FWIW

    - Wil
     
  14. vbass

    vbass

    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    Ok thanks, I was mainly just curious, as I don't have much choice with my cabs only having 1/4" inputs. I used to always run 1/4" to 1/4" and I have to admit that the locking feature on the speakon is pretty nice in comparison.
     
  15. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Bob Lee and Wil Davis bring up good points and I won't repeat them. From a purely power perspective, if you are running 300W per side continuous with the 1/4" jacks, you might get away with 200-250W per side with a speakon because of less loss (I made up these numbers, so don't hold me to them). The more power you try to pump out (over 100W), the more you are going to lose.

    Speakons have 16 times the power capacity of 1/4" jacks. So you don't have to start worrying about power loss until about 1600W continuous :hyper:
     
  16. 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
    The current ratings are less about power loss and more about having the contacts overheat and melt or arc--causing a 100% power loss.
     
  17. vbass

    vbass

    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    Well, I definitely understand what you guys are saying, but I guess my question was a little more like, what effect do you suppose the conversion has? Because one side of the cable is 1/4" is it practically like having 1/4-1/4? Loss is loss right? Does it even matter that one side is connected by speakon?
     
  18. 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
    One is more likely to have a problem, and the other is doubly so.
     
  19. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    What if my amp ( Mesa Strategy 400 ) only has 1/4" outputs? Should I replace my 1/4" cables with 1/4" to Speakon, or just stick with what I have? Would it be possible to have my amp modified to have speakon outputs?
     
  20. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    This is a great question cause they offer all kinds of Speakon variations like what Vbass is saying. When I was calling around to local stores, they asked me what I wanted and I assumed it would be Speakon to Speakon. They did not have any less than 25 feet long, and the adapters are $20!! :rolleyes: a piece...meaning it would cost me $40 to change over lest there are cheaper alternatives.

    I did see cheaper alternatives when I did a "speakon" search, so I will be going through all that again...