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Speaker wire advice please


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28 replies to this topic

#1 of 29 OFFLINE   Richard Slaten

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Posted February 09 2003 - 07:22 AM

This is my first post, so please bear with me......

I have very recently upgraded all my home theater and music equipment. I need to replace the older, junky 18AWG speaker wire for my new left and right surround sound speakers. I will list below all equipment information included with this upgrade.

The surround sound speaker runs will be about 40 total feet each. The high end store where I ordered my Paradigm Studio 60 Series (LCR) has recommended a 14AWG, 4 conductor wire at $0.90 a foot. Is this the right wire for this application? Should I be looking some where else for better pricing or is $0.90 a foot within the ballpark on surround sound wiring? The wire run will be mostly hidden, with some exposure. Flat wire will not work in my situation.

Also, from a budget minded perspective, what should I wire the 3 new Paradigm's with, as the right and left will have about 8-10 feet of cable each, with the center channel needing about 6 feet? Currently, I think the right and left have about 16AWG and the center probably has 12AWG, all clear jacket monster cable.

The upgraded new equipment consists of the following:

Sony 36" XBR800 Televison
Toshiba Prog. Scan DVD Player
Pioneer Elite VSX-45TX Receiver
Klipsch SS-1 Surround Sound Speakers
HSU VTF-2 Subwoofer
Digital Cable Box with S-Video connection to TV
Panasonic VCR
Paradigm Studio 60 Series, Right, Left, Center (All Shielded), on order.

Any and all suggestions (or questions) would be appreciated.

Thanx........Rich

#2 of 29 OFFLINE   TylerZ

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Posted February 09 2003 - 07:49 AM

Personally I'd wire the whole thing with 12ga bulk speaker wire from Home Depot at .34/ft.

#3 of 29 OFFLINE   Barry BB

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Posted February 09 2003 - 08:48 AM

$0.90 a foot is absurd and unnecessary. Besides the Home Depot suggestion above you can also use 12ga Sound King from partexpress.com. I have not checked there prices lately but a 100 foot spool of 12ga Sound King will should be no more than $35.

#4 of 29 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted February 09 2003 - 09:40 AM

Richard,

Welcome to the forum.

These suggestions (above) are very wise. I agree fully: 12 gauge wire is fine, take the cheapest you can find.

Cees

#5 of 29 OFFLINE   Richard Slaten

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Posted February 09 2003 - 11:17 AM

Thanx to you guys, just wanted a reality sanity check, I thought $0.90 a foot was pretty close to grab your ankles!

#6 of 29 OFFLINE   TimTurtino

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Posted February 09 2003 - 11:42 AM

It's not at all bad for decent retail speaker wire, and there are theoretical reasons why two runs (per speaker) of 14 gauge wire is better than one of 12 gauge (1/2 the inductance and a little less resistance).

That being said, my surrounds are wired with Home Depot's 12 ga. Posted Image

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#7 of 29 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted February 09 2003 - 03:33 PM

Quote:
$0.90 a foot is absurd and unnecessary.
It does seem a bit steep, but remember it is 14-4, so you get two runs for the price of one. The 34¢ wire will require two separate cable runs, so its actual cost is 68¢ a foot - which narrows the gap considerably.

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#8 of 29 OFFLINE   Barry BB

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Posted February 10 2003 - 08:35 AM

Nice catch Wayne, I missed that fact.

#9 of 29 OFFLINE   Iver

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Posted February 10 2003 - 08:51 AM

Will you be bi-wiring each speaker? If so, 90 cents per foot is not too terribly expensive. Still, it's about half again as much as the Home Depot wire, per foot (based on a two-cable run for bi-wiring).

Here is some background information on how long a run you can go to with the various gauges without adding more than 5% to the resistance level of an 8-Ohm speaker (as the author says, you could probably add 10% and still be okay, so five is conservative):


http://home.earthlin...ogerr7/wire.htm

#10 of 29 OFFLINE   Trevin Chow

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Posted November 18 2003 - 06:37 PM

Quote:
Here is some background information on how long a run you can go to with the various gauges without adding more than 5% to the resistance level of an 8-Ohm speaker (as the author says, you could probably add 10% and still be okay, so five is conservative):


http://home.earthlin...ogerr7/wire.htm

Interesting excerpt from that link:

"All inexpensive wires are not the same, However. This wire at the right is sold as speaker wire by such places as Home Depot and Lowes. It sells for 33 cents/foot. It has transparent insulation and is 12-gauge. It is much less expensive than the brand names. It does not have any coding to identify one of the wires for proper phasing. I had some of this wire for about 6 months and noticed it was turning color. Now it has turned a very pronounced green on the surface of the copper wire indicating a chemical interaction with the insulation and the copper. A new piece of wire is at the right for comparison. Although the wire may not corrode further, it doesn't inspire confidence, particularly if the insulation comes close to the connecting terminals. "

#11 of 29 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted November 19 2003 - 04:51 AM

I’ve had the same problem with cheap speaker wire. I doubt it’s audible (the cross-section shows the center to still be copper) but is certainly is disconcerting! I’ve also had problem with the clear jacket on some cheap speaker wire (not the same one) getting “gummy” or “sticky.” So while there may not be any sonic differences between varieties of 12ga. speaker wire, the better stuff certainly has tangible benefits.

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#12 of 29 OFFLINE   Mark Rich

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Posted November 19 2003 - 07:02 AM

You can get Canare 4S11 speaker cable for .69 a foot from markertek. If you do a search you may find it cheaper elsewhere. Its also a quad run of 14awg wire. Supposed to be better at noise rejection etc.
Its what I use on my Paradigm 60 surrounds.
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#13 of 29 OFFLINE   Shane Morales

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Posted November 19 2003 - 08:53 AM

The Sound King stuff is better than the Home Depot stuff, I think. It's easier to work with, better marked, and the individual wires are smaller and therefore more numerous (i've read that's favorable). Not much of a price difference.
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#14 of 29 OFFLINE   Craig_W

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Posted November 20 2003 - 07:47 AM

If you don't want to make the trip to Home Depot (mine didn't have the 12 gauge wire) you can get a 50 foot spool at Cambridge SoundWorks for $14.99 w/free shipping.

#15 of 29 OFFLINE   Iver

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Posted November 20 2003 - 11:48 AM

Quote:
"This wire at the right is sold as speaker wire by such places as Home Depot and Lowes. It sells for 33 cents/foot. It has transparent insulation and is 12-gauge. It is much less expensive than the brand names. It does not have any coding to identify one of the wires for proper phasing. I had some of this wire for about 6 months and noticed it was turning color...."


The speaker wire at Home Depot really doesn't include color coding for polarity?

Right now I am listening to a system with a stereo array connected with 16-gauge speaker wire which I purchased at my neighborhood hardware store in a pre-cut packaged length of 25 feet which sold for $2.98, plus tax. The two wires are tinted for polarity identification and after one year of use there is no visible corrosion, though I am using the wire indoors in a non-marine (no salt water) environment.

#16 of 29 OFFLINE   TylerZ

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Posted November 21 2003 - 01:42 PM

I 12 GA wire I got from my HD is bicolored for polarity purposes. One wire is a pure copper color, the other a copper with what looks like some silver strands in it so you can tell them apart.

#17 of 29 OFFLINE   Tony Loewen

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Posted November 21 2003 - 03:43 PM

Hey everyone, I'm pretty much brand new to this entire home theatre stuff, but I have all kinds of ambition and alot of resources, so bear with me pleasePosted Image

I have access to all kinds of heavy guage wire, alot of 7 strand and extraflex (very close to, if not better than speaker wire). Aside from flexibility, are there any real advantages to the extraflex. I was helping a friend wire a car stereo once, and he was saying that the more strands, and finer they were, the better. This friend has not always had the most correct info, so I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts?

Thanks guys,
Tony

Oh yeah, forgot one more thing... would there be any benefit to using penetrox, or some other anti-corrosion paste on the connections?

Thanks

#18 of 29 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted November 21 2003 - 05:25 PM

Several of the speaker sites recommend the following gauge based on run-length:

1-10 ft: 16 ga
11-20 ft: 14 ga
20+ ft: 12 ga

This is why people have claimed that lamp-cord works fine for speaker wire - they have used 20 ga for short runs and not noticed any difference between this and 12 ga. It's over the LONG runs that the thicker wires help reduce the roll-off.

After the thickness, several second-order issues come into play. The thickness of strands properly braded can help reduce inductance effects and the multi-strand makes the wire more flexible. (Solid wire is very stiff and does not respond to much mechanical movement).

Another good idea is Oxygen Free Copper - This is wire that was surrounded by a neutral gas as it was drawn through the die and cooled so oxygen molecules did not become imbedded in the liquid copper and start oxidizing the metal right from the start. This can increase the life of the copper several times over wires allowed to cool in the presence of oxygen.

Quote:
would there be any benefit to using penetrox, or some other anti-corrosion paste on the connections?

Well your home system is not a highly-corrosive environment so these extra products are not really called for. (I also don't think they are designed for in-home use - many of these products out-gas substances that you don't want in your living room).

Generally, cut a foot or two extra speaker wire and every year or so check the ends. Trim off any parts that have dulled/become dark with oxidization. This is usually safer and actually improves your system because it forces you to re-tighten connections.

There have been cases where someone swears that they replaced their old wires with "Turbo-Mega-Monster brand XXX wires" and "...dramatically improved the sound...". When in fact, they replaced old copper with fresh and tightened the connections and this was what changed the sound.

Probably the best bank-for-the-buck is the Sound King wire from PartsExpress. Most of us buy a spool of the 12 ga and use it for all our speakers.

While you can spend $$$ on wires and they DO have an effect, the good 12 ga stuff will get you 90-95% of the way there. Later, if you are really into music and have very sensitive/accurate speakers, you can audition the boutique wires to see if the difference is worth it to you.

Hope this helps.

#19 of 29 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted November 22 2003 - 04:15 AM

Tony, Bob is steering you in the right direction.

Regarding your friends comments on the “extraflex” (whatever that is) and stranded wire in general, the answer is “yes and no.” Finely stranded wire offers no performance advantage over coarsely stranded or even solid wire.

However as you’ve noted, finely stranded wire is very supple – routes easily (a big plus for car stereo applications), lays out on the floor nicely, etc. So it does have advantages over coarsely stranded wire – enough so to justify spending more money for it. However, you won’t often find a need for it in home theater.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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#20 of 29 OFFLINE   Tony Loewen

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Posted November 22 2003 - 04:42 AM

Thanks for the info guys, you put to bed a few questions for me.

I am a power electrician by trade, and it's not hard for me to get ahold of surplus wire of pretty much any size, at basically no or little cost, and I route heavy, heavy guage wire all the time, 4/0 AWG or bigger. From a complete audiophile point of view, would the reduced impedance affect sound quality at all, or would I start running into inductance problems?

Wayne: the best example I can give of extraflex conductors would be the heavy gauge cable they use for welders. Again, lots of surplus, so would there be any benefit?

Thanks again, everyone.


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