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Author Topic: Installing AC to Powered Speakers  (Read 1869 times)

Nathan Riddle

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Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« on: April 23, 2018, 04:18:59 pm »

Okay so the common consensus is *most* powered speakers with built in FIR & limiting & DSP = much better speaker than their passive counterparts.

The problem is the install of AC power close to the powered speaker. That requires an electrician right?

Using SOOW in an installed situation isn't possible 400.8(1).
It's not possible for me (not licensed electrician) to run some conduit or MC cable right?

http://forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=127029
http://www.ecmweb.com/code-basics/flexible-cords-cables-and-fixture-wire

Does everyone else ALWAYS subcontract an electrician to do that work? or is there another means of getting an outlet 30+ft in the air near the speaker location?

---

Other thoughts:

Seems like FIR/LIR processing at the amp might be the only way to achieve the higher quality of a powered speaker.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 06:25:30 pm »

Okay so the common consensus is *most* powered speakers with built in FIR & limiting & DSP = much better speaker than their passive counterparts.

The problem is the install of AC power close to the powered speaker. That requires an electrician right?

Using SOOW in an installed situation isn't possible 400.8(1).
It's not possible for me (not licensed electrician) to run some conduit or MC cable right?

http://forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=127029
http://www.ecmweb.com/code-basics/flexible-cords-cables-and-fixture-wire

Does everyone else ALWAYS subcontract an electrician to do that work? or is there another means of getting an outlet 30+ft in the air near the speaker location?

---

Other thoughts:

Seems like FIR/LIR processing at the amp might be the only way to achieve the higher quality of a powered speaker.

Yes, the client either arranges for an electrician or we'll make those arrangements for them.  We don't install outlets.

Fulcrum and JBL and EAW offer loudspeakers with external DSP amplifiers.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 08:12:29 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 06:51:03 pm »

Does everyone else ALWAYS subcontract an electrician to do that work? or is there another means of getting an outlet 30+ft in the air near the speaker location?

That depends on your local codes and ordinances. Electrical codes and permit requirements are usually administered and enforced at the local level (and in some states, at the state level). Despite the "National" in "National Electrical Code" electrical wiring standards and their application are neither developed, ordained, licensed, permitted, or enforced by any agency of the Federal government, except on Federal government property.

Many places allow HOMEOWNERS to perform electrical work IN THEIR OWN(ed) HOMES. Most places require a licensed electrician to perform electrical work in businesses (including not-for-profits such as churches), with a permit and inspection.

If your venue is under a labor union contract, the venue may be required to hire a union electrician. Even if it's a different union than the one they're under contract with. (I don't know; I've never been a part of a labor union.)

Some places -- like rural parts of Wyoming, Idaho, or Montana -- might not care. Do all the wiring you want, without any permits or inspections.

Your liability insurer probably will care. They'll probably say "don't touch it." Even if you have an electrician license, if you don't have the proper insurance coverage, they'll say "no."

You should care. The saying "you touch it you own it" applies here. Yes, you may be qualified. You may be able to install it with impeccable workmanship and according to all applicable codes. But, when there's a problem, they'll be looking at you, even if it's not your fault. Are you willing to accept that risk?
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 06:56:42 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2018, 09:45:11 am »

Yes, the client either arranges for an electrician or we'll make those arrangements for them.  We don't install outlets.

We go as far as giving the client a drawing showing where the outlets should drop and suggest how many speakers can be powered by which circuit breakers. And I'll answer questions from their electrician prior to them do the install. But we don't install outlets ourselves, only recommend what's required to power our AVL gear.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2018, 09:36:24 pm »

i don't think powered speakers in a fixed install make sense.  Even after the extra trouble of getting them installed, WHEN they fail the electronics that need service are 30 ft in the air.   I like a Amp and DSP in a rack where I can install a backup in a hurry.   I've had to do it on Sunday morning between the beginning of practice and the service. 
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Joe Pieternella

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2018, 05:08:32 am »

i don't think powered speakers in a fixed install make sense.  Even after the extra trouble of getting them installed, WHEN they fail the electronics that need service are 30 ft in the air.   I like a Amp and DSP in a rack where I can install a backup in a hurry.   I've had to do it on Sunday morning between the beginning of practice and the service.
That's quite a blanket statement. I agree that a piece of equipment 15ft+ in the air isn't as easily serviceable as something mounted in a rack. Flying two boxes above the stage in a bar/small club is also an install if you ask me, and now you may be lucky if you get more than 10 ft of height to play with.

Multiple factors lead to system design choices with budget mostly being the main one.
In the example above not having to designate/create an area/rack to mount processing and Amp racks is a mayor plus to the owner/client as it saves space and possible expenses for making the rack.
At these levels/price points the sound quality to dollar ratio of an active system is better than a comparable passive one. Especially considering the fact that a DSP capable of doing what is being done in these boxes costs more than a single active speaker.
Even though it consists of three or more elements I see an active speaker as a single point of failure. Reliability is usually also pretty high.

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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2018, 08:18:51 am »

You make good points.  Thank you.
Frank
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2018, 08:45:46 am »

IMHO One of the major advantages of active speakers with built-in amplifiers, crossovers, and DSP is that the client can't get inside of the speaker and change things like crossovers and limiters. That makes active speakers a lot safer to use than passive speakers with a rack full of amps and processors that are just asking to be tweaked. From an installer perspective that can make active speakers worth the trouble of running a few extra AC power lines to feed them.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2018, 01:58:46 pm »

IMHO One of the major advantages of active speakers with built-in amplifiers, crossovers, and DSP is that the client can't get inside of the speaker and change things like crossovers and limiters. That makes active speakers a lot safer to use than passive speakers with a rack full of amps and processors that are just asking to be tweaked. From an installer perspective that can make active speakers worth the trouble of running a few extra AC power lines to feed them.

Well, I need to disagree with that.  On behalf of my church, I don't want to pay extra to make things unaccessible to us.   We have a rack mounted DSP.  I have never touched the settings, but if our professional sound guy leaves the area, retires, or dies, I have the password and manual and we can get in there if we need to.    The thinking is not unique to this industry.  John Deer wont let you service your own tractor.  They are protected by dealer only software.  No problem.  I don't buy John deer. 
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2018, 02:49:14 pm »

Thanks all. Sums up what I've been doing/thought. Just wondering if there were other methods out there for achieving an 'outlet on the ceiling.'

---

For me, I care about sound quality and price.

It's sometimes cheaper to buy a speaker with everything it needs to do its thing and run power in SOME circumstances.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2018, 02:29:49 pm »

There are installed systems all over my work.  Most are Meyer power speakers.  Typically an outlet box is put near the fly point.  Then a flexible cable (not sure if it's SO or SJ) goes from a twist lock at the box to the PowerCon on the speaker.  Tie wrapped to the hang cable along with the signal cable.  Probably 20 rooms on the campus set up like this..
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2018, 09:01:41 am »

There are installed systems all over my work.  Most are Meyer power speakers.  Typically an outlet box is put near the fly point.  Then a flexible cable (not sure if it's SO or SJ) goes from a twist lock at the box to the PowerCon on the speaker.  Tie wrapped to the hang cable along with the signal cable.  Probably 20 rooms on the campus set up like this..

I've seen this too. SO for about 30+ft from the speaker hang to the nearest installed via conduit outlet.

Obviously there's some leeway, but I could see how running SO along a building structure instead of along the aircraft cable hang is vastly different.
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Joseph D. Macry

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2018, 11:13:45 am »

i don't think powered speakers in a fixed install make sense.  Even after the extra trouble of getting them installed, WHEN they fail the electronics that need service are 30 ft in the air.   I like a Amp and DSP in a rack where I can install a backup in a hurry.   I've had to do it on Sunday morning between the beginning of practice and the service.

A dance teacher in my school district bought a set of 4 medium sized powered speakers for her Dance Gym  (no sports balls thrown in here). We (the A/V dept) mounted them on the walls about 12 feet up (easy to reach with ladder) and wired them to a wall plate that connects to portable mixer/playback rack. Tested them using extension cords. Actually sound pretty good for cheap stuff in a gym. Now we have to wait for the Electrical Dept to get around to installing conduits, boxes and circuitry to the 4 speakers.
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Robert Healey

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2018, 07:04:13 pm »

Electrician installs and terminates all 120V (line voltage) equipment. Assuming you have a control system, I think the best way is for you to provide him these to install:

https://www.middleatlantic.com/products/power/ip-power-control-management/controlled-wall-plate.aspx

That way you can turn the speakers all the way off, which has been a sticking point on some of my permanent installations with powered speakers.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2018, 09:16:32 pm »

. Now we have to wait for the Electrical Dept to get around to installing conduits, boxes and circuitry to the 4 speakers.

What does that do to the total price?
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Peter Kowalczyk

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2018, 02:30:21 pm »

In my most recent project, I specified the approximate locations, and the electrician installed the outlets.  Outlets are in the ceiling, and a short flexible powercon cable connects them to the hanging powered speakers (Meyer UPAs). 

The outlets are switched using a standard light switch, accessible in an equipment room.  Works great.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2018, 02:55:46 pm »

What does that do to the total price?

What's the question?  That putting an electrical outlet somewhere new costs money, or is it a question of budget, i.e. what dept pays for the work (regardless if done in house or by contractor)?  Regardless, the cost of getting either a speaker cable or power outlet up to the speaker should be part of the new equipment installation cost-out.

The expense of a Code-compliant electrical outlet is probably about 120% of a Code-compliant speaker cable installation, mostly because of the price difference between a journeyman electrician v. the wages of an A/V installer.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2018, 06:28:49 pm »

Electrician installs and terminates all 120V (line voltage) equipment. Assuming you have a control system, I think the best way is for you to provide him these to install:

https://www.middleatlantic.com/products/power/ip-power-control-management/controlled-wall-plate.aspx

That way you can turn the speakers all the way off, which has been a sticking point on some of my permanent installations with powered speakers.
Interesting devices.  I'm wondering how this gets past having low voltage control and regular AC in the same conduit.  Or even having digital circuitry and low voltage in the same enclosure or device with AC distribution?  I thought that was a no-no.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Installing AC to Powered Speakers
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2018, 08:47:34 pm »

Code allows low voltage wiring in the same conduit enclosure IF the wiring is rated for the highest voltage present.  The instructions for the controlled outlet specify "600 V" rated wire.  Also, since it utilizes a dry contact closure, all the power protection is controlled by the device.

Energy code is heading towards having a significant number of receptacles in a building controlled so they can be powered off when unoccupied.  It seems insignificant, but I suppose in a large office building, hundred (thousands?) of unused, plugged in wallwarts/phone charges could add up to a decent amount of wasted heat energy-that a cooling system must then remove.  In any case, that goal will drive the cost of this technology down-whether its for occupancy control or remote power control of speakers.
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