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Speaker-level output over XLR

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  • Speaker-level output over XLR

    I noticed some commercial powered bookshelf speakers use a 4-pin XLR-type connection to send a speaker-level output from the main powered speaker to the secondary passive speaker. It got me wondering, suppose the crossover was active and had two amplified channels for a 2-way speaker, could a 3-pin 16 gauge XLR cable be used to send the signals to the secondary speaker, with the two channels sharing a ground pin? Assuming a length of ~6ft and max voltage ~15V per channel ([email protected]).

    The straightforward alternative would be two pairs of binding posts on both speakers and two runs of speaker wire. The single XLR connection is just a bit more elegant, if it would work at all.

  • #2
    Might as well use a Speakon connector. Nothing wrong with XLR but it's meant for line-level.
    Francis

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    • #3
      A three wire connection would only work if the amplifier had common ground for each amp channel, like some car amps. Like Francis said, better off using a 4 wire speakon, you don't want to let the magic smoke out of the amp.

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      • #4
        Click image for larger version

Name:	lucas wire smoke.jpg
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        It can always be repaired.

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        • #5
          Good to know, thanks! I thought Speakon was only two pole so had ruled it out too early.

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          • #6
            Amps with XLR speaker outputs are very old. Some manufacturers used them in lieu of 1/4", but they disappeared around 1970 after XLR became the standard for microphones, with more than a few dead mics being the impetus behind it. If you're seeing XLR on modern powered speakers they're not speaker level outputs, they're line level outputs for daisy chaining more powered speakers.
            www.billfitzmaurice.com
            www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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            • fpitas
              fpitas commented
              Editing a comment
              That makes sense. It's hard to believe they'd spring for a separate power amp in there, but daisy-chaining line level is easy.

          • #7
            There's some old antiques with RCA speaker connections too. There's good reasons to avoid using the same connector for line and power level connections. 4 pole speakon connections are great and carry a lot of current. I really wish they were more of a standard for consumer audio over the banana plugs or bare wire that has been common place for years.
            "I just use off the shelf textbook filters designed for a resistor of 8 ohms with
            exactly a Fc 3K for both drivers, anybody can do it." -Xmax

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            • #8
              billfitzmaurice some examples are the Edifier S2000MKIII, which has a five-pin connector to connect the two L/R speakers but only the right one has a power cable. The Swan OS-10 has a four pin connector, and again only power from one speaker. While not XLR, the Logitech Z623 uses an RCA-style barrel connector for its left speaker. Logic would tell me that if there’s no battery or power connection for an amp then the signal carried through that cable is speaker-level.

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              • billfitzmaurice
                billfitzmaurice commented
                Editing a comment
                A five pin connector isn't a standard XLR, which is three pin used for transmission of balanced signals at mic or line level. There are XLR with more pins used for other purposes.

            • #9
              I know they aren’t standard XLR connectors - it was just seeing them that made me wonder if a standard XLR cable could be used in a similar way, even if it wasn’t its intended use. By the sounds of it it might work depending on the amp, but there are better options available.

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              • fpitas
                fpitas commented
                Editing a comment
                People have even used AC power connectors.
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