Now that I’ve had good test results from the Class-T amp I’m using to make those old stage monitors into self-powered stage monitors, it’s time to whip up a new plug panel for the new connectors needed – power, line-level input, and so on. This process is raising more questions than I expected, so this post is partly me thinking out loud, and partly taking suggestions.

When I got these speakers, they had unbalanced XLR in, and unbalanced XLR daisy-chain, and that’s all. That’s kind of weird these days, so I added a 1/4″ unbalanced (“phono”) connector. That looked like this:

But unbalanced 1/4″ phono plug is not really optimal for powered speakers, because the signal going to the speakers is line level, which is a lot lower, and therefore a lot more subject to interference. So I need some sort of balanced input, I think. Also, I still want to be able to use the speakers in their original intended mode – as passive devices driven by external amps, so I kind of need two connectors. Plus the soon-to-be-built-in amplifier needs a power lead, and it’d be nice to have a couple of status indicators, and so on and so forth.

So that all fits together in the existing amount of space like this:

Without and with labels

So does the drill pattern for all the holes I need in this new panel. I had been thinking of adding a second panel or something, but since I was able to make it fit, I think I’m better off not bodging more exceptions into the cases.

My initial thought was 1/4″ plywood – I have that, it’s easy to work with. But now I’m looking at the number of connectors which are involved here, and the number of resulting holes, and I’m thinking, should this be metal? Or would a particularly sturdy plastic work?

The original was metal, and I’m pretty sure I mean steel. It’s sure as hell not aluminium – adding one jack to it was a huge pain in the ass, and aluminium isn’t that hard to drill out.

So, yeah. Plastic would be a lot easier, but would it be sturdy enough? Serious question, I don’t know. Aluminium would be easier to drill and file than steel, and is still pretty strong. But that’s still a lot of work.

Maybe I could/should get someone with a cutting system to cut it out for me. I know that’s a thing you can hire out, but I don’t know anything about it. I have a scale drawing and that’s all.

I guess I can ask Fishy that when he gets back from Tokyo. But I hate waiting once I have all the parts for something. Anybody got experience with hiring out metal cutting in Seattle, and know things like how much that cost? ‘Cause I have no idea.

This post is part of a series on restoring infamous vintage stage monitors. Spoiler: they made good, in the end.