Does speaker wire get old?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Barry Ford, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. Barry Ford

    Barry Ford Extra

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    I'm about to reinstall my HT after a move. My existing speaker wires still look fine (no kinks or cuts in the insulation etc.) but the wires are over 10 years old. Should I replace just to be safe or is that over kill?
     
  2. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    Eventually everything deteriorates but I would think speaker wire should last 20 years or more. Longer if it is inside the house. The reasons I would replace them are: #1 The wire wasn't too good to start with. Maybe 18 gauge or not much insulation. #2 I'm going to run them behind base boards, under floors or inside walls. #3 I'm going to live here a long time and only want to do this once. The reasons I wouldn't: #1 I'm only going to be here a short time and the wires will stay here when I move again. #2 My equipment isn't that good anyway (no offence). #3 I'm REALLY cheap! Just my .04 cents. Gene
     
  3. Jeff Bamberger

    Jeff Bamberger Second Unit

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    I would think the wire would be fine, but maybe there is value in re-stripping the ends in case there is any oxidation on them......
     
  4. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I would replace it just because speaker wire is dirt cheap. Copper wiring can get air in there and start to turn green, and certainly for a few bucks it can't hurt to have new wiring. 10 years is kinda old...
     
  5. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    Assuming oxidation hasn't gotten so bad that the connections at the ends are getting poor, old speaker wires won't degrade in performance.

    They might get uglier if the plastic turns yellow or if the wires themselves turn green.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I do recall a salesman or is that a high-end consultant once say that wire needs to be replaced because it wears out and the music starts to sound tired.
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    All exposed copper wire will oxidize, but somewhat better wire has very tight insulation that keeps the oxidization from spreading.

    Try this:

    Cut the ends off and strip. Does the copper wire look bright or dull-brown? If brown, cut back and strip some more until the copper looks clean. If you cut back several feet and all the wire looks brown, replace the entire run.

    I do recommend you do a "Spring Cleaning" every 18 months or so where you cut the ends off, strip and re-attach. This means you want 1-2 feet of extra wire to start. If you dont have enough slack right now, it might be worthwhile to put in fresh runs with some slack.

    Anticipating your next question:

    A speaker website (not selling wires) recommended the following gauge of wire based on run-length:

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

    In my system, I bought a spool of 12 ga and use it everywhere.

    I also highly recommend Banana Plugs. Radio Shack has some nice dual-bananas (27x-208) for behind the speakers and single-bananas (27x-206) for behind the reciever. They make it easy to do a neat/safe wire job.

    Note: If you want to try the dual-bananas - purchase 1 set first and bring them home to see if they fit your equipment. The spacing of the binding posts is NOT standardized.

    You might also want to read my Installing a new HT Reciever thread. It has some suggestions that can make your re-install easier.
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    This is not oxidation. It is a reaction between the copper and the jacket – only happens with jackets of a particular clear plastic – can’t remember it’s proper name.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  9. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Ten years is absolutely nothing in the life of a decent copper wire. [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  10. Scott.J

    Scott.J Extra

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    Personally Id leave it
     
  11. Barry Ford

    Barry Ford Extra

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    Thanks All,

    Great advice... as usual.[​IMG]
     

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