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Are TRS cables and "Speaker Cables" the same?

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by RockNRoll, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. RockNRoll

    RockNRoll Active Member

    Hello all,

    I just wanted to ask if TRS cables are the exactly the same as "Speaker Cables?" Speaker cables that you would normally use to hook your studio monitors to your audio interface.

    Also, are these the same cables that should be used between a guitar amp head and the cabinet?

    Thanks for the advice!
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    No. Speaker cables are two-conductor, heavy gauge. TRS are three conductor (tip-ring-sleeve) light gauge to carry line level signals.
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Speaker cables have heavier conductors that run side by side. TRS connectors are often used on cables that are for balanced line signal, and the two conductors are twisted together and run inside the shield. TRS connectors can also be used on stereo cable or insert cables, where the two conductors run in separate shields.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    TRS cables may be exactly what you need to carry those line levels from your interface outputs to the inputs of self-amplified studio monitor speakers, but even in that case calling them 'speaker cables' wouldn't be accurate.

    And using TRS cables, or TS instrument cables to carry speaker levels is never a good idea. For the reasons cited by BobRogers & bouldersound
  5. Porgeville

    Porgeville Active Member

    Ok, but I've gotta get this clear in my head: I've seen standard speaker cable capped with TRS's (which I admit seem to be exceedingly hard to find) ... so what's happening inside the box? The cable has two conductors with no ground, but the TRS ends obviously three. The output on my board and powered monitors are TRS, so the choice there is clear. Is it just a balanced cable then with no ground?

    Thanks a million
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Let's see if I can clarify this for you? Amplifiers designed to power speakers need to have thick cables to carry current! A slightly smaller version than jumper cables, designed to start your car from another car. So I don't care what kind of stupid connector somebody grabbed in a pinch. You can use 2 out of the 3 connections on a TRS plug such as only the tip and only the sleeve. So the only thing you have in your head is a hack fix somebody made.

    No, the cable doesn't have two conductors with no ground. You don't know what you're talking about. The cable has a single hot conductor and a ground reference called ground. And it is not, repeat not, a shielded piece of cabling. Shielded cable presents a more inductive load which an amplifier does not want to see. An amplifier only wants to see a resistive load.

    When you indicate standard speaker cables, there ain't no standard Sonny boy. I think the cold in Almonte, Ontario, must be affecting your thought process? Standard speaker cables are like 14-10 gauge, unshielded, 2 conductor. Shielded microphone cabling is generally 24-22 gauge, 2 conductors wrapped by a braided or wrapped or foil/wire, shield and that ain't speaker cable. Get that in your head. That's microphone and line level cabling appropriate for low current, low voltage sources and not power amplifiers. Get that in your head. Maybe you should also pick up a book and get that in your head? I mean it's cold enough in Ontario right now that I know you're not lying on the beach trying to get a tan.

    Now when dealing with a pair of active powered monitors that don't require an external heavy-duty powerful, power amplifier, you use shielded microphone cabling. And that microphone cabling can have XLR or, 1/4 inch tip, ring and sleeve and yup, THAT YOU WANT TO HAVE SHIELDED. Because you're not feeding a high output power source from a mixer. That is lower voltage and lower current known as line level. And it can even accommodate lower levels like microphone levels that are another 50+ DB lower than line level signals. So it's hard to measure. And in comparison to a high power amplifier, you have to have thick wire/cable for power sources. You can get away with thinner wire on extremely low voltage, low power sources. So if something in specifications indicate a hefty output power, you'll use hefty unshielded cables. If something specifies that it has 1.23 V output or less, you'll use skinny little wires because there is no current trying to get transferred to move large quantities of air. Can ya get your head around that?

    So no speaker cabling is ever balanced, NEVER, EVER. Only microphones and line level cables may or may not be balanced depending on the application. Anything involving any power has to be connected with thick cables unless you want to burn down your house/apartment? And not balanced. You cannot just surmise things from what you think you have observed without knowing some basic simple electronics. I mean when you look at the current president of the United States you'd swear he was black right? But he is in fact 50-50 with a Caucasian mommy. So he's not exactly what he appears to be. He's a shielded president because he's got both black-and-white conductors inside of his body being shielded by a nice white Secret Service and that's the only instance where you will find two conductors with a shield while transferring power. And your country is what we would call unbalanced. Because you have only a single conductor in a single province and everything else near it and around it is simply a ground. Or so to speak?

    You really need to start drinking.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    It's extremely unlikely any such cable is deliberately manufactured. Maybe it's some sort of production error.

    The signal from your board is line level, probably balanced, as is the input of your powered monitors. You are connecting a mixer to an amplifier so you use line cable, not speaker cable. Speaker cable is only used between the amp and speaker, all of which are inside the cabinet of a powered speaker.
  8. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Doubt it. Just TS Jack (Tip-Sleeve).

    TRS is what you'd see on a stereo headphones jack, not a guitar lead.

    XLR for line/mic/aes and Speakon for speakers FTW
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    some people wire trs jacks on speaker cables intentionally so they can "hot swap" at the speaker end without shorting the connections momentarily. this is so they can switch speakers without turning off the power amps. not recommended btw. i personally prefer banana jacks or speakons.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This was going to be my guess. Back in the day, I always wired my 1/4" speaker jacks going to the cabinets of the PA with TRS ends. To "hot-swap" just as Kurt said. This was before I went to Nema L6-15 twist-loks on everything. Before speakons btw.......LOTS of surface area for the contact.

    To answer the question.....Yes, in the case of powered monitors, you will use a TRS and a shielded 3 conductor....possibly even a XLR somewhere in the hookup. For unpowered speakers being run from a separate power amp, you will want at LEAST 12 gauge fine strand cables. The more strands the better. You ask "Why?"

    Because electricity (which includes ALL transmissions of electrical signals no matter what form they are in) travels on the SURFACE of the wire. Not through the center....so, SURFACE AREA is the goal here. The more surface area the more fidelity. And less impedance....of course.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Dave, I don't think you're quite right about the electrical stuff going over the surface of the wire and not the center. That statement is definitely true for extremely high frequencies in the RF region. For audio, it's going through the wire. This is a much more important factor when dealing with RF wireless microphones for sure. Of course my brains are still a bit scrambled since my brain surgery seven years ago so I may in fact be incorrect? Especially since I know that microwaves go through large diameter waveguides. And a wave guide is like a rectangular copper tube. So I think those microwave frequencies are going through the tube and not on the surface of the waveguide? Which is also I think you are wrong about your comment? But it's 5:45 AM and I haven't had any sleep yet. So I'm a bit foggy. Maybe that's because it's foggy outside?

    Was that a horse I hit?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  12. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    All that I've read by people I trust on the subject says that skin effect is only relevant for RF.
  13. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The skin depth of a conducting wire is inversely proportional to frequency. At 1KHz, the skin depth (63% of the current flows outside this) of copper is about 2mm, so Dave is right, there will be a slight effect at audio frequencies. It would apply only where the wire is solid or is several non-insulated strands bundled together. I know some audiophiles who use multistrand insulated wires for loudspeaker connections, and it's one of the rare circumstances where they have some justification.
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Theres a very concise explanation available on the Wiki under "skin effect" ... I was trying to be brief and my point is about sound transmission through cable from a poweramp... the fact remains that more strands and a larger gauge of wire increases the ability of the conductor to transmit frequencies. AND no matter what, MOST of the current flows in the outer portion of a conductor including waveguide technology. Yes, its a tube, but the transmissions through the tube stay virtually next to the outer wall of the tube. If, in fact, audio traveled through the wire and all frequencies would be present in even distribution, we would have no need for multi-strand cable. Its much easier to manufacture a single strand through the extruder and slap some insulation on its surface. I too, have run across extreme audiofiles who insist that shielded speaker cable increases the frequency range from their power to their speakers. As well as efficiency.

    I will concede that SOME parts of an electrical current flow "through" the core of a wire.....but the absolute center is nil in most circumstances and as was suggested, most are at the surface area. The fact is also true that an unbalanced and unshielded wire has transmissions OUTSIDE of the physical wire itself. A fact measurable and evident using fairly unsophisticated equipment such as a 'hot stick' or a ammeter with a current transformer coil.
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I just love it when I get this completely clueless feeling about myself? I start to doubt myself. Start blinking my eyes a lot. And then I just phase out, feeling clueless. I mean I've always known that good cable has many more strands than cheap stuff. All audio through any cable radiates an electromagnetic field. Which of course can be detected by relevant test gear. And since I am not an extremely learned person, I relinquish. You got me. I can't be great with everything ya know. And my knowledge is most definitely lacking in the minutia of the fine details. So thanks! I think? LOL.

    It's the end of the world as we know it day after tomorrow. Maybe the poles are going to flip and what will that do to our sound? Will my woofers start to suck? Will my analog machines run backwards? Should I go north for the winter and what will the beaches be like in Nova Scotia this time of year?

    In search of some good Nova Scotia lox. Who brought the cream cheese and bagels?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  16. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Next up a discussion of whether Davedog has spent most of his career as a master electrician wrangling electrons, or photons / electro-magnetism.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yup, been using multistrand (Braided) insulated wires for loudspeakers for 25 years. Glad to know why lol! I think I forgot it made a difference. I can't tell from the sound of music today ... Well, I think my hearing not quite up to standards.

    looks close to this

  18. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Yes, that's the stuff.
  19. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    So, there is no advantage to stranded cable in flexibility and durability?
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Wasn't this the reason why God created welding cables? Durability, flexibility and high current.

    You know, I never really understood these large touring PA companies? I never understood why they didn't just build amplifiers and to their speaker rigs? That way, when something would blow out, it would be a localized failure and not a systemwide failure worth of dead speakers? I mean the concept of powered monitors is nothing new. You still have to break this stage and all the cabling. It's just a little different cabling. But no.

    I think I'm done pontificating?
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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