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Knowing Your Wall Plates: A Field Guide for Installers

September 07, 2018

Understanding Wall Plates Can Help Your Installation.

When installing audio cabling, there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of electrical infrastructure in a building, or at the very least, the same materials used to build it. Wiring conduits, cable raceways, electrical junction boxes... these designs have all been widely used for many years and are easily available. In fact, it wouldn't be totally uncommon for you to even be met with pre-installed electrical boxes that you can make use of.

Let's look at some of the designs currently out there and how you can use them.

The Junction Box is the root of all wall plates! This standard unit can be found almost anywhere, either in existing construction or easily available through us or most hardware stores.

For the uninitiated, if you need to mount this somewhere, you punch out the holes you need to run your cables through.

Be sure to consult with all local electrical and construction regulations if you do, though...

Edison or NEMA Standard wall plate - This is the plate you're likely most familiar with in most of your travels. It mounts to the junction box with a pair of screws and comes in multiple gang sizes. (A "gang" is a section of space dedicated to a particular module or unit in the box) You can get up to two standard Neutrik "D" size cutouts per gang. The plates are available either empty or pre-loaded with common connectors (such as this single XLR model to the right).

Additionally, since the NEMA standard also applies to electrical outlet plates, this is a great way to go when you're looking to add connector panels closer to the floor. Examples may include tie lines for XLR's between your vocal booth and your control room, or Speakon plugs in an AV room.

Decora plate - Leviton's Decora standard has rapidly become popular worldwide for it's more elegant look, and audio applications have followed suit. The standard allows for a rectangular area within the plate (originally meant for a larger light switch) that can house various connector types, or also several other products. So, this is when things can get more interesting...

Here is a Whirlwind connector plate, designed with a Neutrik "D" series cutout, that will fit in the Decora space.

You would only need to supply the decorative plastic exterior part after your installation is complete. Note the white color to match most Decora hardware.

Some manufacturers have begun to make actual gear that fits into that space. For example, take a look at the Attero Tech Dante unD6IO interface, which places all of its connectivity across a double-gang Decora form factor. Other companies have designed their remote controllers for various products to fit Decora. RDL even designed a loudspeaker for Decora mounting!

All in all, wall plates can greatly improve the aesthetics of your install, especially in situations where the look of the room is paramount. We carry a full line of wall plates, connectors that mount within them, and much more cabling and installation accessories and tools to get the job done.

Eric Eldredge is Dale Pro Audio's Director of Marketing and Brand Development. He is also a studio engineer and music producer based in NYC. He can be reached at eric@daleproaudio.com.



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