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  1. #1

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    Any way to tell without peeling off the pink insulation (which goes all around- you can't see the wires or connections)? Both ends are 1/4".

    Instrument vs Speaker Cable-20190323_100113-jpg

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  3. #2

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    Looks like a heavy duty speaker cab cable to me. It's too inflexible to be usable for most instruments

  4. #3
    I’m going with speaker as well. Looks like a 12AWG.

    If if you can tell if it’s shielded or not, that’s the tell as instrument cable is shielded - speaker cable is not.

    Using speaker cable as instrument cable won’t hurt anything - but being unshielded, it will invite noise from every which way.

    Using instrument cable as speaker cable is right out.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by child as audience
    Using instrument cable as speaker cable is right out.
    Thanks guys. What happens if you use an instrument cable as a speaker cable?

  6. #5
    I’m really naming the extreme things here, but it should be enough to let you know potentially what could happen - and that you wouldn’t want to risk it.
    - Fire
    - Amp damage
    - Speaker damage

    Less extreme:
    - Damage the instrument cable

    Even less extreme (but, possibly the most sinful)
    - Loss of tone

  7. #6

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    Instrument cables have a small copper conductor, a plastic dielectric, and a braided copper shield that acts as the ground.
    Speaker cables have 2 large copper conductors and no shielding.
    Unscrew the jack and look inside. Pull back the pink plastic sheath and look at the soldering.
    The other way is if you plug your guitar into an amp using the cable and it hums like a sob, it's a speaker cable.

  8. #7

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    Nothing bad will happen unless the wires inside are really small, and the volume is really high. Using 1/4" plugs for speakers is poor practice because it's so easy to short the connection, but some manufacturers haven't updated so it's sometimes necessary. I use Speakon connections whenever possible, and I've replaced a couple of 1/4" jacks in cabinets with Speakon jacks. It's easy to do. The problem really is with amps that use 1/4" jacks, because it's difficult if not impossible to replace those.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Nothing bad will happen unless the wires inside are really small, and the volume is really high. Using 1/4" plugs for speakers is poor practice because it's so easy to short the connection, but some manufacturers haven't updated so it's sometimes necessary.
    The risk of a short in a speaker connector is a good point. I think there is much more risk with solid state amps than tube amps. Most tube amps can tolerate a shorted output for reasonable amount of time, but may be damaged quickly by an open circuit. The situation is reversed for solid state amps, although these days I think they are better protected against shorts.

    Other than the risk of shorts, it’s probably fine to use shielded cable for speakers if the total resistance of center conductor and shield is much less than the impedance of the speaker. One thought would be short the tip and sleeve on one end, then use an ohmmeter to measure the resistance between the tip and sleeve on the other end. If the resistance is much less than the speaker impedance (maybe 10%?) it should be fine. But it would require a good quality ohmmeter that can measure down to the 1 ohm range.

  10. #9

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    From the Carvin Amp website:

    Using an instrument cable in place of your speaker cable can cause catastrophic damage to your amplifier. While your amp will still work initially, the high amount of current going through the instrument cable’s small gauge wire can actually melt the cable!

  11. #10

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    That’s probably true for cheap cable, but I think most high quality shielded cables could handle it. For example Canare GS-6 has an AWG 18 center conductor. The total resistance per 1000 foot (center conductor plus shield) is about 13 ohms, which is 0.13 ohms per 10 feet. When a resistance that low is in series with a 4 or 8 ohm speaker it’s not going to significantly heat the cable.

    I can think of one exception. If one of the end connections is botched the resistance could be high at that point, creating a potential hot-spot.

    I’m way over-thinking this, but that’s me. Instrument vs Speaker Cable

  12. #11

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    Some instrument cables, the cheap ones, have very thin inner conductors which won't carry huge amounts of current. But any reasonable sized cable will work without issues. It may not sound quite as good as heavy speaker cable, but it shouldn't be dangerous. The cable in the OP looks as if it could carry plenty of current to run multiple speakers. It's not as if the amp is putting out all that much to the speaker anyway.

  13. #12

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  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Nothing bad will happen unless the wires inside are really small, and the volume is really high. Using 1/4" plugs for speakers is poor practice because it's so easy to short the connection, but some manufacturers haven't updated so it's sometimes necessary. I use Speakon connections whenever possible, and I've replaced a couple of 1/4" jacks in cabinets with Speakon jacks. It's easy to do. The problem really is with amps that use 1/4" jacks, because it's difficult if not impossible to replace those.
    Agree 100%. I much prefer SpeakOn connectors for speaker cables.

  15. #14
    Thanks, all. To be clear, I never envisioned using the cable to connect an amplifier speaker. If anything, it would be to connect a PA speaker from the powered mixer...

  16. #15

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    I know it's been discussed on the Forum before, but here is a helpful article on the differences between cable types.

    Marc

  17. #16

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    Nice. Thanks marcwhy. Things I knew, but now I can explain better when someone (and they will) ask!

  18. #17

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    Marc, thanks I hadn't considered the difference for powered monitors.