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Author Topic: Speaker Cable  (Read 6528 times)

Jordan Brill

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Speaker Cable
« on: December 29, 2011, 11:55:23 am »

I'm looking at going 4-conductor speakon connectors with all my speaker wire from my amps, to my cabs.  My question is this.  Is it truly "better" to go with pre-fab speaker cables and connectors, or just to go to your hardware store or electrical supply company and get 4 conductor 12 gauge wire, and some speakon ends, and put things together yourself?

Thanks!

-Jordan
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2011, 12:03:52 pm »

I'm looking at going 4-conductor speakon connectors with all my speaker wire from my amps, to my cabs.  My question is this.  Is it truly "better" to go with pre-fab speaker cables and connectors, or just to go to your hardware store or electrical supply company and get 4 conductor 12 gauge wire, and some speakon ends, and put things together yourself?

Thanks!

-Jordan

Wire is wire.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011, 12:03:58 pm »

I'm looking at going 4-conductor speakon connectors with all my speaker wire from my amps, to my cabs.  My question is this.  Is it truly "better" to go with pre-fab speaker cables and connectors, or just to go to your hardware store or electrical supply company and get 4 conductor 12 gauge wire, and some speakon ends, and put things together yourself?

Thanks!

-Jordan
It depends on what you call "better". 

Is "better" price?

Is "better" warranty?

Is "better" longer life?

is "better" quality?

And so forth.  It really depends on your personial skills/cost of time/choice of materials and so forth.
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Clint Miller

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 12:30:28 pm »

I make all of my own cables.  I use 12/4 or 12/8 SOOW. It is a hassle to use the SO instead of SJ, but I like the heavier sheath.  I make my own cables for two reasons.

1.    It is cost effective.  I can find no appreciable difference in the sound between manufactured cables and mine, so why pay more?  Plus, I often check the connectors.  Manufactured cables often have loose connections.  Iím sure that would not be the case with Monster (or equivalent) but I cannot justify that expense.
2.   I make them the length I need.  I have two different systems. One system has two amp racks and I always put the racks within 10í of the tops. The other system I have on amp rack and have to run across stage to the speaker stack.  I make my cable as short as reasonably possible.

I also carry a couple of extra cables and Speakon couplers, just in case I need to run something out of the ordinary.

Iím a huge audiophile.  I have tried Kimber Kable and Monster Cable for my home stereo and I have found that these WAY overpriced cables sound no better than good heavy gauge copper wire.  I have Polk Audio RTi150 and a JBL Studio12 subwoofer.  Crown amps and Carver PreampÖ  Some people claim they can hear the difference: I canít.
You should use the heaviest gauge copper cable, with the shortest lengths you can.  Reducing resistance is your best bet in my opinion.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 12:47:17 pm by Clint Miller »
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2011, 12:43:31 pm »

Manufactured cables often have loose connections.  Iím sure that would not be the case with Monster (or equivalent) but I cannot justify that expense.

I have tried Kimber Kable and Monster Cable and I have found that these WAY overpriced cables sound no better than good heavy gauge copper wire.

Copper is copper, presuming it's all there and meets normal electrical/electronic industry metallurgical standards.  All the voodoo shit, Monster, etc is bogus.  Period.

You don't hear a difference because there is none.. but some "golden ears" guy will step up and claim otherwise.  He's certain he hears a difference; Horton was certain he heard a Who.  My money is on Horton.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2011, 01:16:41 pm »

Copper is copper, .

You don't hear a difference because there is none.. but some "golden ears" guy will step up and claim otherwise.  He's certain he hears a difference;.
Until you ask them to do a blind test.  And then if they can't pick out the difference they will blame it on the fact that the cables were "burned in properly" or "the phase of the power grid changed", or "the extra cable in the room was causing interference", or "the cables weren't properly lifted off the floor", or "the vibration of the wire connections was not properly damped with teflon tape", or "test gear-amps and speakers and playback" is not good enough to bring out the differences" and on and on.

If you ask any guys that believe in this type of stuff, they will tell you a lot of has to do with the "belief" that it works. 

So if you "think" it is better-it is.  A lot of snake oil gets sold that way.  Just look at medicine and placebos for evidence that "belief" works.
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Mike Pyle

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2011, 02:07:27 pm »

I'm looking at going 4-conductor speakon connectors with all my speaker wire from my amps, to my cabs.  My question is this.  Is it truly "better" to go with pre-fab speaker cables and connectors, or just to go to your hardware store or electrical supply company and get 4 conductor 12 gauge wire, and some speakon ends, and put things together yourself?

Thanks!

-Jordan

It depends. Some coarse stranded wire is stiff and has too much memory, doesn't lay well. You need to check a sample of the wire you will use before you buy a bunch of it. I have made most of my own cables from 12/4 SJ, but usually order Rapco or CBI for customers as the cable is more flexible.

I would NOT use SO cable for speaker wire.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2011, 01:59:32 am »

When purchasing cable, the qualities you should look for are:
  • Durability -- how long will it last under the conditions you will expose it to? Fewer (thicker) strands holds up better under crushing loads, but more (thinner) strands hold up better under repeated flexing.
  • Flexibility -- does it coil easily, and will it lay flat on stage? Generally, the more (thinner) strands the more flexible, but jacket material also plays a part.
  • Visibility -- does it blend in or show the way you want it to?
  • Conductivity -- is it the proper gauge for the impedance and voltage (which translates to current draw) of the connected devices over the distance traveled?
  • Construction of shield (non-speaker applications) -- will it provide sufficient protection from electromagnetic interference from nearby RF/EMF radiators?
  • Physical size -- for a given wire gauge, the jacket thickness will vary considerably from cable to cable. It is a tradeoff of durability, flexibility, and cost.
  • Cost -- this should be a minor consideration, you should get the cables that best meet your needs.

Transmission quality of a speaker cable is irrelevant at audio frequencies. Don't believe the hype.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 02:01:27 am by Jonathan Johnson »
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Frank Guerrero

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2011, 04:03:36 am »

Dude just build it your self 12/4 SO or SJ and some Neutrik NL4FX Speakon Connector 4 Pole Female Cable Mount connectors, thats it you don't need to worry about codes or standards just make sure polarities are correct and its all nice and tight and there you go, "then you'll be official, like a referee with a whistle."  8)
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Robert Weston

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2011, 07:37:10 am »

When using stranded wire, the more strands = the better!
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David Parker

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2011, 08:08:50 am »

I make all of my own cables.  I use 12/4 or 12/8 SOOW. It is a hassle to use the SO instead of SJ, but I like the heavier sheath. 

I don't like rolling up all that extra rubber, the weight, the extra size. I work alone and less rubber on my cables means less work. SJ has the same copper as SO and weighs about 20% less.
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Steve Kelly

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2011, 10:31:50 am »

I have made all my own for the past 5 years or so. 
SJ 12/4 or 10/4 as short as possible for FOH.
SO 12/4 for monitors because it seems that no matter how well I hide monitor cabling, some wandering minstrel with oversized shoes seems to be able to pull them out and step on them.

When you make your own, you know that they are wired correctly and you have the resources to repair them as necessary.

Cheers,
Steve
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2011, 11:30:14 am »

When using stranded wire, the more strands = the better!
Better for flexibility, but less durable where it's going to be run over by stuff (dollies, carts, people, vehicles). Also, more strands tends to equate to higher price.
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Jordan Brill

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2011, 12:10:27 pm »

Well I guess from what a lot of you are saying, I should just buy some cable from my local supplier, get some ends, and make them myself.  I'm fine with that.  Thanks for the input guys!
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Brad Weber

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2011, 12:28:57 pm »

I'm looking at going 4-conductor speakon connectors with all my speaker wire from my amps, to my cabs.  My question is this.  Is it truly "better" to go with pre-fab speaker cables and connectors, or just to go to your hardware store or electrical supply company and get 4 conductor 12 gauge wire, and some speakon ends, and put things together yourself?
Just thought it might be worth pointing out that nothing said seems to identify whether this a portable or installed and temporary versus permanent application, which could be a factor.  Just be aware that everyone seems to be assuming a portable, temporary application.

Transmission quality of a speaker cable is irrelevant at audio frequencies. Don't believe the hype.
If you are referencing factors such as skin effect I agree, but issues such as line losses and high frequency roll-off do seem to be 'transmission quality' related and can be relevant.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2011, 01:03:41 pm »

Just thought it might be worth pointing out that nothing said seems to identify whether this a portable or installed and temporary versus permanent application, which could be a factor.  Just be aware that everyone seems to be assuming a portable, temporary application.
If you are referencing factors such as skin effect I agree, but issues such as line losses and high frequency roll-off do seem to be 'transmission quality' related and can be relevant.
Agreed.  I think that a large number on this board automatically assume portable situations when a question is asked.

However- if you look at the real numbers (at least from the loudspeaker manufacturers I have talked to) a large majority (typically 60-75%) of their sales are for the install market.  The "glory" comes from the tour side of things-but the bread and butter comes from the install market.

So it is important to clarify what the particular usage is.  For example- I would not suggest any type of rubber jacketed cable for an install in which the wire has to go through conduit.  Throw a couple of bends in there and you are in for a rough day.

And of course the length of the run and the impedance of the load can greatly affect the capacitance and size of cable required.  Installs can easily be several hundred feet in length, where the type of wire does start to make a difference.

As Brad was eluding to-I don't remember anything stating the length or impedance of the load in the OP's particular issue.

Just another example of why  details are needed.
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Clint Miller

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2011, 03:00:36 pm »

Well I guess from what a lot of you are saying, I should just buy some cable from my local supplier, get some ends, and make them myself.  I'm fine with that.  Thanks for the input guys!
Don't skimp on connectors!  It's great to find bargains, but it's not a bargain if the connector fails. don't be fooled by Chinese knock-offs of Neutrik connectors.
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DaveSlater

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2011, 05:26:07 am »

Don't skimp on connectors!  It's great to find bargains, but it's not a bargain if the connector fails. don't be fooled by Chinese knock-offs of Neutrik connectors.

+1

We make all our cables including XLR's

With making your own cables you can also put a label covered by clear heat shrink on them

Company, length and wire gauge are what we go for. Colour coding for length makes life easier in quick setups as well
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Stu McDoniel

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2011, 05:59:29 pm »

I'm looking at going 4-conductor speakon connectors with all my speaker wire from my amps, to my cabs.  My question is this.  Is it truly "better" to go with pre-fab speaker cables and connectors, or just to go to your hardware store or electrical supply company and get 4 conductor 12 gauge wire, and some speakon ends, and put things together yourself?

Thanks!

-Jordan
You may not know who Nelson Pass is but he is the real deal in
design.   Here is a good informative article in PDF form on speaker cables.

No snake oil here........

http://www.passlabs.com/pdfs/articles/spkrcabl.pdf

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Bruce Burke

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2012, 09:36:31 am »

You may not know who Nelson Pass is but he is the real deal in
design.   Here is a good informative article in PDF form on speaker cables.

No snake oil here........

http://www.passlabs.com/pdfs/articles/spkrcabl.pdf

This is a poor example of how anyone should conduct tests. The first problem I noticed right away was the "impedance test." This is not how you do this. All he has done is measure the ability of the test instrument to drive this very low complex impedance. You must buffer the test generator from the load.

There are no calculations to show whether or not he is getting the expected results. Why? All the electrical characteristics of each cable are known. It is a critical step that was left out. Deliberate?

There is no list of test equipment used, so recreating this test, done properly or not, is impossible.

There are many more problems with this paper, but I am not going to waste my time with it.

-Bruce
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2012, 09:43:38 am »

This is a poor example of how anyone should conduct tests. The first problem I noticed right away was the "impedance test." This is not how you do this. All he has done is measure the ability of the test instrument to drive this very low complex impedance. You must buffer the test generator from the load.

There are no calculations to show whether or not he is getting the expected results. Why? All the electrical characteristics of each cable are known. It is a critical step that was left out. Deliberate?

There is no list of test equipment used, so recreating this test, done properly or not, is impossible.

There are many more problems with this paper, but I am not going to waste my time with it.

-Bruce

Mr. Pass's test methodology applies the patina of science without actually using any.  Read the conclusion of his report.  It basically says "if you think something helps or is better, use it."  IOW, he's a shill for hyper-priced copper of dubious benefit.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 09:46:10 am by Tim McCulloch »
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Brad Weber

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Re: Speaker Cable
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2012, 09:53:21 am »

Mr. Pass also did not seem to identify whether the electrical characteristics described in Figure 2 in that article were based on manufacturer specs or actual measurements.   Then again, look at the date on that article as it is almost 32 years old.  The physics associated with cables has not changed since then, however measurement techniques and tools, the electronics commonly involved such as the amplifiers and our understanding of some of the issues involved have evolved over that time.
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Re: Speaker Cable
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