Speakon connectors, as the name suggests, are designed for connection of loudspeakers to amplifiers. They are widely used in professional PA systems, where the relatively high voltages and currents make other previously used connectors, such as XLR or jack, potentially hazardous and unreliable.
2, 4 & 8-pole version are available, 4-pole is probably the most common. 2-pole plugs can mate with 4-pole sockets, allowing cables with cheaper 2-pole plugs to be used on equipment with 4-pole sockets.
Note that speakon connectors must not be used for mains power. Powercon connectors, with a similar appearance and dimensions, can be used for this purpose. Speakon connectors are only available as male line plugs and female chassis sockets - cables are wired with male plugs on both ends. Couplers are available to join 2 cables if necessary.
'PA' loudspeakers and amplifiers
Other applications requiring a high current, extra low voltage (<50V) robust connector, however use for anything other than loudspeaker connections is not advisable.
The terminals are identified in pairs, as follows:
2-pole: 1+, 1-
4-pole: 1+, 1-, 2+, 2- (2-pole plugs in 4-pole sockets will only pass signals on 1+ & 1-)
8-pole: 1+, 1-, 2+, 2-, 3+, 3-, 4+, 4-
A number of different wiring schemes are used depending on the application and the number of 'channels' that the connector will carry. The list below is based on suggestions from Neutrik, and it is recommended that this is followed. However, there is no definitive standard, and other schemes are often used. Check the wiring scheme of any existing equipment or cabling before extending or modifying it. Neutrik's wiring suggestions can be downloaded here.
Line plugs manufactured by Neutrik (and most copies) use a chuck style strain relief and have screw connectors to attach the wires. The back cover and strain relief chuck need to be threaded onto the cable before wiring the connector. The cover is then tightened, ideally using a spanner on the flats at the back, although in practise hand-tightening is often sufficient.
Chassis sockets normally have solder connections. As with most panel mounted connectors, it may be easier to fix them to the panel first to secure them whilst soldering.
Assembly instructions for Neutrik speakon connectors can be downloaded from the manufacturer here.