Floor Boxes. Audio Snakes. Sound Snakes
If youve ever spent any time at all working with sound equipment, you know how quickly a few cables can devolve into an ugly tangled mess. It just seems to go with the territory. In some applications, like a bar, its not such a big deal. In others, however, appearance becomes a much more important factor, such as in a church or live theatre. In cases like this, floor boxes can come to the rescue.
When connecting the microphones on a stage to the front-of-house mixer, where each sound is tweaked to sound its best and all of the sounds are combined to sound musical, it is pretty commonplace to use an audio snake. In essence, a snake is a group of cables combined into a single, larger cable which can take the place of several smaller cables. While 8, 16 and 24 channel audio snakes are most common, and most are geared toward connecting microphones to the mixer, a number of other configurations are available to suit a multitude of different needs. Most snakes also have between 4 and 8 connections called returns, which allow signal to be fed from the mixer back to the stage, where it can be amplified and sent to the speaker systems and stage monitors.
At the stage end of the snake is a large box where all of the necessary connections are made. Imagine a metal box with 32 microphone cables plugged into it, and its not difficult to envision that it can easily become rather unsightly. In some applications such as a house of worship, this mess is inappropriate and creates a visual distraction. By employing floor boxes, these connections can be made in a manner which is much less visually disruptive.
As the name might imply, a floor box is simply a box in the floor. However, this box contains connection points for an assortment of cables. Usually constructed from heavy-gauge steel, they are more than durable enough to withstand virtually anything that comes their way. Most floor box designs can be customized with virtually any type of connector you may need.
Here is a real-world scenario where a floor box would be handy. Lets say your church seats 1000 people. The sound system obviously needs to be big enough so that everybody in the sanctuary can hear. For the of sake control and proper sound dispersion all of the instruments on the platform need to be miked. This means at least 6 microphones for drums, 1 direct box for electric guitar, one for bass, 1 direct line for acoustic guitar, 2 channels for piano mics, in addition to any other instruments you may have such as strings, horns, auxiliary percussion, etc. The result? A lot of cables lying around. Now, if there was a floor box right behind the drum kit, those cables could just plug into a little panel in the floor with a lid over it. Another ??over by the guitars could hide the 2 microphone cables and 1 direct line cable. The same would go for any other instrument sections. From the floor boxes, the signal would then connect with the audio snake under the platform, and then to the mixer.
Also, keep in mind that each floor box can be custom-fitted with virtually any type of connector you may need, such as XLR, Ό, Speakon, Cat5, RCA, BNC, VGA, or even 110VAC. No matter what your needs may be theres a good chance that a floor box, or maybe even several of them, can help to de-clutter your sound system.
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