Do you know your NL4 from your NLT4? Ever been caught out connecting an IPS VSUB to a Y7P? hopefully this will help…
IPS Trade Hire stocks of audio cabling are on the increase, including a full range of signal, multicore and speaker options. Recently expanded ranges of NL4T cables and the increased popularity of these connectors however has made things a little more complicated.
Almost all IPS speaker cabinets are fitted with NL4 speakON connectors – apart from the d&b V8, V12, V-SUB and J-INRA SUB speakers, which have NLT4 connection plates. This means that rather than a pair of parallel wired male NL4 connectors, there is effectively now an ‘In’ and an ‘Out’. If you are using all IPS NL4T cabling and speakers within a system, then it should all just work – unless you have for example a Y7P and a V-SUB, in which case the NL4T will be the wrong gender to link out of the sub into the top. This is easily fixed by using either a standard NL4 cable for the link, or if you are using all NL4 cable, then an IPS NL4T 0.5m speakON Adaptor Male - Male 4mm will make things connect again (or you can link in and out of the NL4 on the top). Seems straight forward enough- although very frustrating when you don’t have the correct cabling to hand.
The detailed explanation:
Some years ago, speaker cabling used to be simple. We ditched the TRS Jack and XLR options, and pretty much everything was on Neutrik NL4 speakON connectors, and back-to-back barrel connectors were used to extend cable lengths. Simples. Other than keeping an eye out for 2-core or 4-core cabling, it was plain sailing. However, over time we started also using NL2 and NL8 connectors, then various other things developed, and we were introduced pin swaps for Sub + Top cabling and much more besides – although most things seemed to remain logical. Then along came the NLT4 connector with Male and Female options on both cables and connection plates, and whilst it is still logical in many ways, it can be complicated to get to terms with, especially when used in combination with other connector schemes- not to mention sometimes it is not always obvious (at least to me) which is the male and which is the female connector…
NL2 – IPS NL2 cables use Neutrik NL2FC connections at each end, so are Female to Female. They are manufactured with two core 1.5mm2 cable as standard and are wired 1+ to 1+ and 1- to 1- and are fully compatible with NL4 connectors. They can be extended using NL4 barrel joiners (which are Male to Male). IPS stock various lengths, as well as adaptors to Jack, XLR and bare wire to connect to almost anything.
NL4 – This represents the bulk of the IPS speaker cabling stock, and uses Neutrik NL4FC connectors at each end, so are Female to Female. They are manufactured with four core 2.5mm2 cable as standard and are wired 1+ to 1+, 1- to 1-, 2+ to 2+, 2- to 2- and can be extended using NL4 barrel joiners (which are Male to Male).
NL4T – Technically we know that these should be called NLT4, but we found that changing to NL4T makes the distinction clearer on an equipment list and reduces selection errors. IPS NL4T cables use Neutrik NLT4 FX-BAG (Female) connecters at one end, and Neutrik NLT4 MX-BAG (Male) connectors at the other – the male is effectively an inline socket, and mates directly with ‘standard’ NL4FC cabling, or each NL4T cable can be used as an extension. They are manufactured with four core 4mm2 cable as standard and wired straight through as NL4.
NL8 – IPS NL8 cables use Neutrik NL8FC connections at each end, so are Female to Female. They are manufactured with eight core 2.5mm2 cable as standard and are wired straight through as with all other cabling. They can be extended using NL8 barrel joiners (which are Male to Male).
NL8T – Following a similar naming convention to the NL4T, IPS NL8T cabling uses Neutrik NLT8 FX-BAG (Female) connecters at one end, and Neutrik NLT8 MX-BAG (Male) connectors at the other. Like the NL4T cabling, each cable is effectively an extension lead and can be joined in series, or the male end can be mated to an NL8 cable. They are manufactured with eight core 4mm2 cable as standard and wired straight through all other IPS speakON cabling.
Socapex Adaptors – For multicore applications, the IPS d&b touring racks make good use of NL8T cabling, especially for line array systems. However, with a distributed point source system, a socapex option can make things easier, especially with longer runs, and IPS stock 4-way NL4 adaptors to use with our standard socapex multicore cabling stocks. All IPS socapex cabling is 2.5mm, and available in a wide range of lengths.
Unless otherwise indicated, all passive IPS speaker cabinets are on NL4 male connectors. Typically, they also have a parallel NL4 output on the connection plate.
Where NL4 is not used, the alternative connector is listed in brackets after the name on the description. For example, if a kit list had a d&b Y8 and a d&b V8 (NL4T) listed, you would know that the Y8 would be on NL4 in and out, and the V8 would have a NL4T connection plate. As mentioned earlier, the NLT4 cabinets to watch out for are d&b V8, V12, V-SUB and J-INRA SUB.
NL4 is our default speaker cable choice, although we do still stock some two core NL2. If you are using NL2, the d&b M4 monitor is also worth mentioning, as although it can be run in passive mode on NL2 cabling, it needs 4-core NL4 for active mode operation. Also, most d&b subs use the 2+ and 2- connections to enable Sub Top Mix cabling modes on a single NL4 cable. This means they will only work on NL2 cabling using a pin swap adaptor to connect to the 2+ and 2- terminals.
All IPS amplifier and touring rack systems have NL4 outlets. Some also have other options – such as an NL8 output on the D80 and D20 amplifiers.
Why don’t we just change everything to standard NL4 connectors? This is something that we have considered – however, we always aim to keep our equipment as ‘industry standard’ specification where possible to maximise the integration with other systems, and when specifying systems we look at both manufacturer recommendations, as well as what our customers (and competitors) are doing to make the choice. Furthermore, not unlike the change over time from IEC to powerCON to TRUE1 connectors as a standardised power connection, the NLT4 looks to be here to stay.
All this equipment is ready to hire now from IPS, and individual items can be hired, or complete systems can also be supplied. If you have any questions on the best system and cabling options for your event, please get in touch with us to go through the options.
TL;DR - NL4 speaker cabling works for almost all IPS speakers and applications, but sometimes you may need an NLT4 adaptor.