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WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Speaker-Level
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There are many means for connecting speakers to amplifiers, some straightforward and others somewhat complex. Speaker cables are fairly heavy gauge unshielded cables. Eighteen gauge wire (commonly referred to as lamp cord or zip cord) is about the smallest speaker cable found in professional audio systems, while twelve or ten gauge is about the largest. Large cable is needed because of the high currents necessary to drive the speakers. Small cable can not adequately carry the signal to drive large speakers, and will significantly degrade performance if it is used.

Many types of connectors are used to hook speakers to amplifiers. Sometimes bare wire is used with 5-way binding posts on the speakers and amplifiers. This scheme works reasonably well for permanent installations, but is impractical for portable systems that must be taken apart frequently. Phone plugs, often used for line-level signals, are also frequently found on speakers. Companies such as Neutrik, Inc. produce advanced locking multi-conductor speaker connectors. These types of connectors are ideal in bi-amped or tri-amped systems, where several individual speaker connections have to be made. Often racks of amplifiers and the speaker cabinets are outfitted with multi-conductor connectors such as Neutrik Speak-Ons. A special multi-conductor speaker cable with mating Speak-On connectors is used to connect the speaker to the amplifier, making the process of connecting up a tri-amped system incredibly simple. These types of connectors are used at WPI on the school's largest sound reinforcement speakers. Other non-standard connectors such as twist-locks are used at WPI, because of availability and because of their locking characteristics. Figure 6.14 depicts the speaker connectors most commonly used at WPI.

Figure 6.14: Commonly used speaker connectors. Twist-lock is rarely seen for audio use outside of WPI.

next up previous contents index
Next: Automation Up: Cabling and Connectors Previous: Line-Level   Contents   Index
Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

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