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How 1/4" Audio Cables Work

The venerable 1/4" (6.35mm) phone plug has been with us for a long time – since 1878!

Something that has been around that long is bound to have a lot of different uses associated with it.

Yes, it's called a "phone" plug because...

The original use was as a convenient way to manually switch telephone lines at the central station (you know, those old-fashioned switchboard operators?).

As it relates to audio and professional live sound systems, the 1/4" plug is used for 5 primary functions:

  1. Stereo cables (headphones)
  2. Unbalanced cables (guitars)
  3. Balanced pro audio cables (console outputs)
  4. Insert patch cables (side-chain effects like reverb or compression)
  5. Speaker cables (monitors & mains)

The first four cables may look exactly...

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How To Fix Audio Cables

When you work with live sound, you're going to deal with a lot of different audio cables.

And sometimes those cables break.

The most common cable problem can actually happen inside of the connectors at either end of the cable where individual wires can become physically detached from the connection points.

This can happen for several reasons, but here are the 3 most common causes:

  1. The cable was pulled or bent in a way that the strain relief inside the connector gave way and one or more conductors were pulled loose from the connector.
  2. An instrument cable (guitar cable) was used as a speaker cable (stage monitor) and the high power from the amplifier circuit caused the center conductor of the instrument cable to disintegrate, losing...
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