Powering Passive Speakers Through Your Audio Snake

Powering Passive Speakers Through Your Audio Snake

Every so often, we are asked if you can run a set of passive speakers through the audio snake.  For those of you who have trouble visualizing this, what they would like to do is run the speaker output of the amplifier / mixer (located at the back of the room) through the audio snake up to the front of the room where the speakers are.  This would avoid having to run a separate speaker cable parallel with the snake.

This seems logical, but in practice it is a bad idea for several reasons.

  • The cables in a snake are quite thin so that they can pack them into a small bundle.  Small wires don’t handle powerful signals very well.  If you run enough power through these tiny wires, they can get hot, melt, or otherwise ruin your snake.
  • When you put electrical signals close to each other, you have a good chance of interference.  The probability of interference and noise is increased based on distance of the run and how powerful the signal is.  With a high powered signal, you are more than likely to have some unwanted effects.

If you absolutely need to use the snake for your main signal, here is a good way to do it.

  • Use a balanced output from your mixing board to send a line level signal to the front of house.  These are normally sent on XLR inputs.
  • Place an amplifier at the front of the venue to amplify the line level signal.
  • Run speaker cables from the amplifier to the speakers.