Does different speaker wire guage really matter???

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Brad Newton, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. Brad Newton

    Brad Newton Second Unit

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    My system is as follows:
    Pioneer 45, Paradigm Monitor 7's, CC370, PDR12, & (4) atoms. I will have to run the rear wires approximately 35 feet via the crawl space. I was planning on using 14 guage for the rear & 12 guage for the front/center. Will the difference in the wire make any noticable difference?
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    No, none that you could hear.
     
  3. Brad Newton

    Brad Newton Second Unit

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    What about any additional "strain" on the receiver?
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Strain on the receiver will have basically nothing to do with wire gauge to the speakers. You should actually use the larger gauge for the longer run, but for 35', I think 14 ga will be sufficient for Atoms.
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    The problem is a long run of speaker wire will roll-off the higher frequencies, but not the lower ones. This creates a "slant" in the sound compared to what a short-run of wire would produce. Thicker wire reduces, but does not eliminate the problems.

    The only people who claim to hear this are people with:

    - using L/R front speakers, not rears
    - very detailed panel speakers
    - pushing 200-300 watts per channel
    - using CD/SACD sources
    - using music they are very familar with

    This is a very different setup than the rear speakers of a HT system.

    So while you CAN get away with thinner wire, good quality 12 ga is available for less than $0.50/ft. And your labor in installing it is much larger than the cost of the cable. So most of us use 12 ga all around.

    PS: It looks like you are planning to run 4 runs to the rear. That's good for a 7.1 system. If not, I encourage you to run at least 3 runs to the rear for a rear-center speaker in the future. Even if you dont use it, you wont regret putting that wire in for the future.
     
  6. Brad Newton

    Brad Newton Second Unit

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    Does it matter if I use "digital" speaker wire or "oxygen free" wire?
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    There is no such thing as "digital" wire. If a package says that, it's a marketing term.

    OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) is a good thing to have. This means that when the copper wire was melted, neutral gas was injected around the liquid copper so no oxygen molecules were present to start oxidizing the copper right from the start. This helps to increase the life-span of the wire.

    Even with OFC wire, bare copper will oxidize. There is 2 things you can do about this:

    - Keep all bare copper to a minimum. Trim only enough insulation to make a good, neat connection.

    - Plan every 2 years or so to do a "cleaning" where you cut off the ends of the speaker wires and re-strip, re-connect. This means adding a foot or so of length to each wire.

    MYTH BUSTER: Speaker wires do not need to all be the same length. Scratch anyone who says this and you will find a salesman at the bottom who gets commission by the foot of speaker wire. You DONT want loops of spare wire, but a foot or so is fine to allow for speaker placement & annual trimming.

    I really like the dual-banana plugs from Radio Shack (2xx-308). They work great for behind my speakers. But they stick out kind of far for many receivers so the single-bananas (2xx-306) work well for the back of the rack.
     
  8. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    Since most speakers are probably wired with 18 guage internally, any benefit above that is most likely inaudible.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    posting here just to follow my (apparant) tradition of following john garcia....

    if you can hear a difference between 12g and 14g wires, and you're not an audio engineer, then you're in the wrong field. [​IMG]

    seriously though, it shouldn't matter. but why aren't you running 12g all the way around? couldn't hurt...that's for sure.
     
  11. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  12. JerryCulp

    JerryCulp Stunt Coordinator

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    Out of curiousity, are there any scientific tests on the effects of wire guage for speakers?
     
  13. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    It's just electricity being carried over a wire. It's not rocket science.
     
  14. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Brad, you did mention your 'crawl space'. If you have any speaker wires in any wall, they have to be rated as 'in wall' speaker wire. It is slightly more expensive, but it is fire-retardant.

    Glenn
     
  15. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    If it wasn't science, then why do we use copper instead of potatoes or lemons to make wire (aside from shelf life)? Potatoes and lemons both conduct electricity too. It may not be rocket science, but it is not as simple as get any old piece of wire and you will get the same thing in each case, such as the example I gave.
     
  16. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  17. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    I was just pointing out it's not some mysterious thing that no one knows anything about. It's just basic electrical knowledge, as Bob more helpfully pointed out.
     
  18. Steve Osborne

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    I thought I might throw my 2 cents in regarding speaker wire. Probably the best info I have seen is by Roger Russell, retired Mcintosh engineer, his web page is http://home.earthlink.net/~rogerr7/wire.htm

    I am not an engineer, or expert on anything, besides sleeping, but I think this guy knows what he is talking about. They did a blind test on speaker wire years ago, and no one could tell a difference between high dollar wire and lamp cord. Gauge DOES make a difference, you need bigger gauge with longer lengths.Speaker resistance also comes into play. Anyway, go read his stuff, very interesting.

    Steve
     
  19. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    that's a good article steve. i like how he pointed out the s&v reply from ian masters.

    i also received a similar reply from them (s&v) when i asked about esoteric interconnects. i can't find the email anymore, so i'm paraphrasing here...but the reply basically said there is no measureable difference between decent quality interconnects.

    i suspect the same holds true for speaker wire.

    i've also done some home-testing of my own and could not discern a difference between mid and hi-end cabling.

    but, just because i can't hear it doesn't mean others can't either. i had a coworker at tgg that (imo) had golden ears. he could tell what speaker was playing from inside the sound room from outside on the merchandise floor. [​IMG] i was always amazed when he did that. there is NO way i could ever pull that off.
     
  20. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    You cannot measure sound characteristics. In terms of eletrical signal, they are likely 100% correct - there is little or no meaningful difference from one end of the cable to the other, however everything in the signal path imparts a bit of alteration to the signal. The idea is to have these components/interconnects/wires not color, or "veil" the sound too much from the original recording.

     

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