Why The Quarter Inch Connector Continues To Be Used For Speaker Cables
For many years, the standard 2 conductor quarter inch connector has been used for speaker cables on many speaker cabinets and amplifiers.
This connector standard for speaker cables has both advantages and disadvantages
- This standard has become universal and speaker cables that use the quarter inch connector can be found in almost all music stores and even many big box retailers. Its usually easy to find a spare.
- It is inexpensive, durable and easily repaired by anyone who has basic soldering skills.
- The wiring standard uses female connectors on the speaker cabinet and amplifier with male connectors on the speaker cable. This prevents damage to the cabinet and amp, as there is nothing that protrudes from either-the female connector is recessed.
- The primary disadvantage to using quarter inch connectors is based on how the male connector is plugged into the female. The tip of the male connector must pass through and touch the ring portion of the female connector in order to be seated. This insertion process requires a momentary “shorting out” of the tip which can cause a popping sound if the amplifier is powered up when the connection is made. Modern amplifiers and speakers will not be damaged by this “pop” but it may damage older equipment. Ideally the amplifier should be turned off when the connection is made. The same is true for disconnecting a speaker cable that uses a quarter inch connector.
- Another disadvantage of using quarter inch connectors on speaker cables is that they do not latch. This failure to provide a locking mechanism means that the connector can easily be accidentally pulled free. It also means that a speaker cable connector that may look fully inserted actually is not.
- Because the cable uses matching male connectors on both ends, it is not a simple matter to extend the length of the cable. It is necessary to have a special adapter that is female on both ends, or a purpose-built speaker cable extension cable that has a standard male connector on one end and and a line mount female connector on the other end. These are non-locking connections, so care must be made to keep the connectors from coming detached.
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