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Speakon connections

JJB70

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#1
Apologies if this is a silly question, but is there any real advantage (or indeed, disadvantage) with the Speakon connector? If looking at the more professionally oriented speakers it seems that jack and/or XLR is the favoured connection but you still see Speakon connectors (I think Harbeth still use Speakon for their professional line). Is there any real advantage or disadvantage to any of these formats? I tend to like XLR as I find it gives a good secure connection but I see nothing wrong with jacks. I have some Speakon cables in my sound desk boxes but have never used them.
 

March Audio

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#2
Apologies if this is a silly question, but is there any real advantage (or indeed, disadvantage) with the Speakon connector? If looking at the more professionally oriented speakers it seems that jack and/or XLR is the favoured connection but you still see Speakon connectors (I think Harbeth still use Speakon for their professional line). Is there any real advantage or disadvantage to any of these formats? I tend to like XLR as I find it gives a good secure connection but I see nothing wrong with jacks. I have some Speakon cables in my sound desk boxes but have never used them.
Its probably true to say they are a better connector in terms of reliability/consistency of connection. For me though its more about the fact that this makes life more difficult for the domestic end user. Bananas are ubiquitous, available everywhere and you can still just shove bare wire in the post and away you go.

If you are going to use bananas I recommend locking ones just to give that bit better/more secure connection than just normal push in ones.

1568793403322.png


Or crimped spades
 
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sergeauckland

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#3
There are a few advantages I can think of.
Firstly, they are 4 or 6 pole, so a three-way active 'speaker can be powered using just one connector.
Secondly, they carry 30 amps per pole, so usable for very high powers. I have used them for high current battery charging!
Thirdly, they're locking, so won't fall out.
Fourthly, being somewhat 'unusual', they won't get mistaken for anything else which could inadvertently be plugged in.

The only downside I can think of is that by being one connector, you can't access the individual wires for testing like you can with 4mm plugs.
Edit:- Oh, and as March Audio said above, they're not ubiquitous.
S.
 

PaulD

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#4
I have a feeling, but no time to look for it now, that maybe John Siau at Benchmark did some distortion measurements through binding posts and Speakons and found a very small marginal advantage to the Speaker connectors. I wish I had bookmarked that...
 

March Audio

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#5
I have a feeling, but no time to look for it now, that maybe John Siau at Benchmark did some distortion measurements through binding posts and Speakons and found a very small marginal advantage to the Speaker connectors. I wish I had bookmarked that...
Yes I think that's correct.
 

Wombat

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#6
XLR are low-level signal connectors. Speakon are for speakers. Look at the size wire that each accommodate. :rolleyes:

The MI crowd misused XLRs for speakers, probably to reduce the number of different cables carried.
 
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JJB70

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#7
Thanks for the info!

Yes, Speakon is used for higher power cables, but you can feed some pretty big speakers with high power using jack or XLR (or consumer binding posts/banana plugs). Certainly for normal home or studio use I think alternatives to Speakon are sufficient, especially since most professional studio speakers now seem to be active.

Like I say, the sound desk I play with has a few Speakon cables but I've never had to use them and even the big HK PA monitors I use are XLR.
 

Wombat

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#8
I am not 'pure'. When I put my 3-way system together I used Speakons for LF and Mids and XLRs(from the parts bin) for the tweeters.

I never got around to adding the JBL 2404H Butt-Cheek tweeters as the Altec mid-horns outperform my hearing. One less amp. ;)
 

maty

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#9
Speakon connectors but with starquad geometry is better idea. Well, with speakon or other connectors. And not only speaker cables.

Star quad, the best geometry to build audio and power cables
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=156793.0

Benchmark cables: speakon + starquad too.
https://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-speaker-cable-nl2-to-banana-2-pole
Top-Quality Connectors

In our lab tests we have found that heavy-duty 40-amp SpeakON™ connectors consistently outperform spade lugs, pins, and banana plugs. The SpeakON™ connectors provide a reliable low-impedance connection that can withstand high-currents. Of the more traditional speaker connectors, we have found that locking banana plugs provide the next best connections. In contrast, spade lugs and pins often provide poor connections. Spring-type (non-locking) banana plugs almost always provide poor connections and should be avoided...
Star-Quad Construction:

This top-quality Benchmark cable features Canare Star-Quad Speaker Cable. Four heavy-duty 14 AWG stranded conductors are combined into two pairs arranged in a star-quad configuration. The combined conductors are equivalent to 11 AWG, but the star-quad configuration reduces magnetic radiation and interference by about 20 dB, making this cable superior to 2-conductor cables.
If I build a PURIFI amp, that it is my choice, like RME ADI-2 DAC (would be the preamp too).
 
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PaulD

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#10
Thanks for the info!

Yes, Speakon is used for higher power cables, but you can feed some pretty big speakers with high power using jack or XLR (or consumer binding posts/banana plugs). Certainly for normal home or studio use I think alternatives to Speakon are sufficient, especially since most professional studio speakers now seem to be active.

Like I say, the sound desk I play with has a few Speakon cables but I've never had to use them and even the big HK PA monitors I use are XLR.
I've seen a LOT of professional equipment and I have NEVER seen an XLR connector used for anything other than mic or line level signals (anything up to +4 dBu), NEVER for speaker level. Any speaker that takes an XLR connection is taking line level for an inbuilt power amp.

TRS or TS ("jack") connectors are used for many things and there is no standard, guitar amplifier manufacturers are probably the worst offenders, they regularly use TRS or TS connectors for speakers.
 
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Speedskater

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#11
XLR are low-level signal connectors. Speakon are for speakers. Look at the size wire that each accommodate. :rolleyes:
The MI crowd misused XLRs for speakers, probably to reduce the number of different cables carried.
Not a misuse at all.
A 3 pin XLR connector is rated at 15 Amps. Before balanced XLR interconnects became popular in audiophile equipment, XLR connectors were sometimes used for DC supply, low voltage AC supply or loudspeaker cables in DIY equipment.
 

PaulD

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#12
Not a misuse at all.
A 3 pin XLR connector is rated at 15 Amps. Before balanced XLR interconnects became popular in audiophile equipment, XLR connectors were sometimes used for DC supply, low voltage AC supply or loudspeaker cables in DIY equipment.
An XLR may be rated at 15A, but that does not mean using it for a speaker connection is a good idea. As I said before, over the last 30+ years I have NEVER seen and XLR connector used for a speaker connection on any pro audio equipment, and I've seen thousands of pieces of equipment. DIY does not count... I've seen twisted pairs and alu foil used in DIY... THE benefit is separating the type of signal connector from the type of power connector. TRS/TS jacks do not offer this benefit.
 

Julf

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#13
As I said before, over the last 30+ years I have NEVER seen and XLR connector used for a speaker connection on any pro audio equipment
Pro audio no, but Linn used them on their speakers back in the 70's/80's.
 

PaulD

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#17
I wonder what the A rating is of RCA connectors? Maybe we could use them as speaker connectors, at least for tweeters! :D

Imagine the 'high end audio' market for RCA speaker leads!!!
 

DonH56

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#18
RCA connectors were, and perhaps still are, used for speaker connections on low-end gear for many years. They take up less space than banana jacks and manufacturers probably have a bunch of them for all the other connectors so economy of scale applies. Not saying it's a good idea...

I am surprised locking banana plugs beat a spade lug, and that Maty's reference calls a spade lug a poor connection. That is not at all my experience but you do have to make sure they are tight. Not surprised SpeakON does best. I suspect the reason they've not caught on is cost and royalties to Neutrik plus customer acceptance since the consumer world revolves around bananas. Another connector I have no fondness for; often poor (high) resistance, tendency to wiggle loose, no positive capture mechanism (aside from the locking variety), manufacturing tolerance varies wildly, etc.

I have said for decades that an RCA is a bad idea. Aside from tolerance (range from fall-out loose to so tight you break the jacks on your equipment getting the @#%$ things on and off) and highly variable build quality (including such ideas as a plastic housing instead of metal so you lose shielding right at the connector), the idea of a connector that makes signal before ground and breaks ground before signal just seems stupid a really, really bad idea to me. Of course, many TRS/TS connections do the same or worse (like shorting signal to ground as you insert or pull the plug...)

But the market has spoken, and consumers pay thousands of dollars for cables with piss-poor (can I say that?) connectors on the ends, all the while hearing vast improvements.

Blah.
 

PaulD

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#19
RCA connectors were, and perhaps still are, used for speaker connections on low-end gear for many years.
<schnipp>
But the market has spoken, and consumers pay thousands of dollars for cables with piss-poor (can I say that?) connectors on the ends, all the while hearing vast improvements.

Blah.
:D:);) I wish I could add many laughing emojis for this!!! Ken Hilarious! (Can I say that?) Thank you! But it's sad that consumer manufacturers are so clueless and stupid...
 

SIY

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#20
I suspect the reason they've not caught on is cost and royalties to Neutrik plus customer acceptance since the consumer world revolves around bananas. Another connector I have no fondness for; often poor (high) resistance, tendency to wiggle loose, no positive capture mechanism (aside from the locking variety), manufacturing tolerance varies wildly, etc.
This. I use Speakons for my speaker testing (the Audio Precision APx1701 comes with them), and I can only wish that the speakers that come in and out of here all used them as well. Time for connecting/disconnecting is under a second, the connection is secure, and unlike binding posts, I don't need a tool for tightening.

Pet peeve is the way too common tendency of both speaker and amp manufacturers to foil the use of standard spaced dual bananas.
 
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