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What Is a SpeakOn® Connector?

Mal Baxter
Mal Baxter

The speakON® connector is an audio cable connector developed to improve safety and performance for professional high-current audio systems. When dealing with powerful audio equipment in professional settings, plugging the wrong jack into the wrong port can cause dangerous malfunction or voltage damage to equipment or person. European regulations have sought to control this potential danger by restricting use of banana plugs as audio speaker cable terminations. To answer the demand of governing safety regulations, the US company Neutrik developed its shielded, locking speakON® connector.

An interlocking connector, it couples loudspeakers to amplifiers with greater current capacities and safety ratings than previous types. The connector has come to represent the industry standard. Its unique configuration allows the speakON® connector to lock into place with a twisting motion. This minimizes chances of disconnection and electrical shock; a locking thumb lever adds further security. The connector is fully shielded and does not short during connection, as previous tip, ring, and sleeve (TRS) plugs might.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

Created primarily for applications of high current audio configurations, the speakON® connector mates only with like plugs. Doing so eliminates the risk of wrongly cabling equipment. Components bearing the speakON® connector include connectors, couplers, adapters, and chassis mount units in pole configurations. They also make color coding easier for ready identification.

Its design permits immediate configuration and operation. This allows cabling and switching out components on the fly. Connections are made with configurations of two, four, and eight poles.

Based on a compound design, the speakON® connector attaches to a cable with the aid of four discrete components. These include the insert, chuck, housing, and bushing. Bare wire slides into the insert, a bundle of tubes that secures each exposed wire. A collarpiece, or chuck, slides up to surround and reinforce the insert. The entire end is then slid into a wider housing cylinder, and the bushing ridged for finger grip screws in from the bottom to secure the entire configuration.

Once it's locked into position, the speakON® connector can't be plugged in backward, or risk reversing polarity. As such, this technology provides a safer coupling than its banana plug predecessors. Typical of market forces, lower-quality imitation products sometimes mimic this industry standard. Users ensure safety by confirming that a plug based on this technology conforms to the quality standards of the registered trademark. With widespread use, the connector may be attached to adapter cables with an assortment of other connector types, and equipment is manufactured to accommodate this vital, little audio lifeline.

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