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Mini-Tip: Send Monitor Signals On the Snake

7:39 am Live Sound

As the sound man for Rusty Strings, I usually set up the PA gear somewhere in the listening area. We run a snake from there to the stage to carry the microphone and instrument signals back to the mixer. We used to also run a fairly heavy cable from the PA output to the main speakers and another cable to the monitor speakers. It’s a lot of trouble to run (and tape down) three separate long cables, especially in a restaurant where customers are already having dinner!

I soon realized that the snake had four unused connections terminating with 1/4″ TRS connectors at the stage box and pigtail. Aha! At an on-site rehearsal, I tried running the monitor signal down one of these snake leads instead of using a separate cable. It works great! Even though the wires in the snake leads are very thin, it didn’t seem to affect the monitor level. And now we only have to run two cables.

[An expanded version of this tip appears in my eBook, Cheap Advice On Live Sound.]

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3 Responses
  1. Douglas :

    Date: September 30, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

    This is a “your milage may vary” sort of tip. As the guage of the wire goes down, the resistance goes up. The shielding of the 1/4-inch cable may have much more capacitance than a typical speaker cable. The result can be loss of highs in the monitor (which might not be a problem in practice). I have, however, had power-amps shut down because they didn’t like driving the speaker at the end of a long mic cable.
    Signal loss of course can be compensated for by turning up the level on the amp, and you may have been doing this unconsciously. At some point, with a high output amp and 22-guage or smaller cable, you are going to be generating a lot of heat in the cable.
    If you have 4 unused 1/4″ jacks and are handy building adapters you could use multiple lines of the snake to build up to an effectively larger wire size.
    So I’m not saying don’t do it, but I am saying try it before the big gig to make sure it works.
    If your power amp is marked “Use class 1 wiring” than using a snake channel is probably a bad idea…

  2. Stitch :

    Date: June 28, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    The best bet is to feed monitor line level signal down the snake and locate the power amp at the stage. This gives you the ability to run a thin extension cord back to the desk, and use shorter (cheaper) speaker cables. Less voltage drop = more responsive speakers.

  3. francis :

    Date: August 13, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    Sorry did not notice this link. I agree with Stitch on this. Use seperate correct cable use high current cable for speakers & balanced microphone cable for microphones & DI’s & XLR patch to avoid problems.

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