Thread: PA System Mixer
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Old 19th August 2008 , 11:36 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Northern Ireland
Posts: 181

Tom - a "snake" is also referred to as an audio "multicore".
From what you describe, it sounds as though you intend to locate the amp at the back with you, and use long speaker leads. that's not the way to do it, especially if you ever imagine your system may grow.
The best practice is to locate the amp at the front, near the "Stage Box" - which is the front end of the snake. Digital village have two on offer - the cheaper one is here - Stageline STB1204 at DV247.COM
Enlarge that picture and you'll see 16 female XLR's and 4 male ones on the box. You place this around the stage area - preferably somewhere your artists will not trip on it! Now you've got 25m of cable to get you to the back of the hall - be very careful - check this out before you buy, and remember the health and safety aspects of what you are doing. (You can't cross doorways with your cable - you've got to allow enough to go "up and over" the doorframe - or stay up for the full run, and drop down at your mix location. If you run under rows of chairs, you need to "gaffa" down the cable, and put proper cable covers over the bits which cross walkways). (For another 44 buy the 30m rather than the 25m if you need it for safety!)

Now at the mix location, you've got up to 16 mic channels which you can plug into your desk. You've also got four female XLR's which you can connect to your desk output (you only need two for now) which are referred to as "returns" - these take the signal back up to the stage to plug into your amp(s).

The main reason for doing things this way, is that you loose power in long speaker leads, and because speaker signals are much higher current than "line" level signals, you need an awful lot of copper in there (read "expensive").

For your laptop, you need a lead like this - Altai A121BA Jack Phono Insert Lead at DV247.COM though this would only let you connect to the CD/Tape input. If you want to come in on a channel, yo'll need the same lead but with 1/4" jacks - I don't think DV247 do this. (You might get it in a local electrical shop).

The snake/multicore idea may seem like a bit of overkill for now, but I really recommend you go down this route rather than buy loads of individual long cables. The multicore is quicker and easier to put out and take away after the show, and as you expand your system, will save you money in the long run.
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