Is using 110v electrical wire (in-wall kind) acceptable for speaker wire?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Mattak, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. Mattak

    Mattak Stunt Coordinator

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    In our living room we have standard 110v solid copper wire (the same wire used to connect your wall outlets, lighting, etc) running from the rear wall up and over the ceiling and comming back down the other wall.

    Would this work as decent speaker wire (on a 1-10 scale, 10 being best)?
     
  2. Allen M

    Allen M Auditioning

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    That wire will carry a signal, but it is far from an optimum carrier. Although it is used for electrical wiring, with that use it does not carry a wide range of frequencies as in sound reproduction. For accurate sound, the wires need to consist of a large number of small diameter conductors. This gives much more surface area to carry the signal. In reality, electricity prefers to travel on the outer most surface of a conductor. With your single solid wire, there is not much outside surface compared to multi stranded wires. Without going into the deep physics of signal carriers, I will just say it works, but there is definnately an audible difference. Never mind the fact that it is not good at all when it comes to hooking to binding posts or other slight contact connectors. On the otherhand, if you do not notice a difference yourself, then it may be ok. You will have to be the judge given your own audio expectations. I would rate it a 5.
     
  3. Mattak

    Mattak Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, that's what I sorta figured. Blame it on my dad's audio knowledge...anyone wanna buy 3 pairs of 901's? [​IMG] Yes, I said 3 pairs [​IMG]
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Oh my, where does this stuff come from?

    Quote:
    That wire will carry a signal, but it is far from an optimum carrier.
    Yes, it is quite inflexixble, heavy, difficult to terminate, and one day perhaps will be hooked up by some enterprising person into the wiring of the house with interesting results to one's electronics.

    Quote:
    Although it is used for electrical wiring, with that use it does not carry a wide range of frequencies as in sound reproduction. And what range of frequencies in the 20-20K is it incapable of carrying?

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    For accurate sound, the wires need to consist of a large number of small diameter conductors. The large # of strands serves to make the wire flexible and that's it. It takes quite a difference between wires to make an audible difference. The use of Romex, albeit a poor one for the reasons mentioned above, would have no problems in this regard.

    Quote:
    This gives much more surface area to carry the signal. In reality, electricity prefers to travel on the outer most surface of a conductor. That's entirely dependent upon the frequency of the signal and is the main reason why you'll find copper plated steel coax. If the signal only travels a small percentage down from the outside, there's no need to use copper, which is more expensive than steel. For audio frequencies, it's irrelevent.

    Quote:
    Without going into the deep physics of signal carriers, I will just say it works,... Go into it, this should be entertaining. I'd like to see the mathematics.

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    ...but there is definnately an audible difference. Compared to what? The same gauge in a stranded version? Surely you jest.

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    Never mind the fact that it is not good at all when it comes to hooking to binding posts or other slight contact connectors. Yes, it's abysmal.

    If your dad said one could use it without and audible impact compared to 0.35/foot 12 gauge, he's entirely correct. If you don't like the 901's that's an entirely different matter and one of preference.
     
  5. Paul S

    Paul S Stunt Coordinator

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    Your dad may be smarter than you think!!! Standard zip cord makes excellent speaker wire. As one poster stated above, solid wire also makes an excellent conductor but flexibility is severely limited. Stranded copper wire is recommended but not necessary. The only thing relevant in speaker wire is the thickness of the wire. You will get no better audio from esoteric cables. All you get is a higher price tag. Take this advice for what it's worth.
     
  6. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I have to strongly disagree about it not carrying a 'wide range of frequencies as in sound reproduction'. It certainly does and from audio signal transportation standpoint, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this as a conductor.

    As some have pointed out, it may be a bit (too) unflexible. Or someone at a point in time may stupidly mistake it for something else.

    But in fact, as far as audio quality is concerned, it's one of the best choices for speaker wire you can make. Thick, low impedance, won't oxidize too easily, excellent conductor!

    Cees
     
  7. MikeTz

    MikeTz Stunt Coordinator

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    Chu:

    I can't believe it took you almost 15 hours to respond to Allen! Didn't you feel a disruption in the force last night? You must have been full of Christmas cheer. [​IMG]

    MT
     
  8. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    My apologies to Chu. [​IMG]
    He covered that not only before I posted my remark, but also much more extensive!

    Cees
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I had a distinct glow on Christmas Eve and I glowed even more seeing as I didn't have to drive.
     
  10. Mattak

    Mattak Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmm, so it is decent then? If I were to use it I think I'd like to wire it to terminals at the wall plates. Are these made?
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It is decent but not recommended for the reasons stated. If you've put your mind to use it, you certainly better be sure it's not a 'hot wire'. Given that, they do indeed make wall plates and I'd recommend that you contact whomever you're buying them from (partsexpress) to ensure there won't be any problems getting them to fit. When making connections, you always want to make sure that you've got fresh shiny copper which on a wire that size you can simply use some emory paper to expose an unoxidized surface.
     
  12. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Mattak,

    Make sure the wallplates are not compatible with power outlets. Nor the connectors on your speaker boxes.

    Cees
     
  13. Allen M

    Allen M Auditioning

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    I hope Mr Gai enjoyed his reply to my post. If I made him smile for Xmas, then I am happy. I realize that only 30 years as an audio engineer and working with sound reinforcement companies from around the world gives me little right to give any advice in this forum. I thought this was supposed to be a place where we helped each other with problems and shared tips to enhance out audio experiences. As a matter of fact, I have had to use romex cable in a couple instances where our main cables got lost. Sure it worked and got through the shows, but the scopes used to monitor the systems did show a difference in frequency responses compared to multi stranded cables and the other engineers did notice audible mid and high frequency changes which we had to correct. That being said, whatever you like and is easiest to do is the right thing for you. The original post was for an opinion, not a critique of everyone elses answers. I'm sorry if I have offended anyone. Music should be an enjoyment, not a means for attack.
     
  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I'm comparing 12 gauge solid vs 12 gauge stranded however, it could well have been 14 vs 14. Given that strands are all together like in Monster or Carol or whomever, resistance, capacitance, and inductance will be fairly close to each other. Without further information regarding the specific details that led to your observations it becomes difficult to comment. If you have the information regarding the lengths, gauges, and perhaps brands, we might well be able to calculate the differences that one might expect. Certainly as lengths become extraordinarily long, cumulative effects can and do occur but the operative word here is long. A run of say 20-30 feet is most certainly not long and a drop in FR of 0.1 dBV at 20 kHz is inaudible. That is not opinion. That is a fact. As an experimentalist I'd suggest that if the gauges of the two wires were similar, I'd be looking elsewhere for the anomolies you observed. If you'd like, I'd be happy to derive the extent of the skin effect at a couple of frequencies and we can compare it to the wire diameter.
    I certainly hope that you do post and share your knowledge and experience. I do concur with the end result though. Using Romex is sloppy and there abound many inexpensive choices eminently suited to the task at hand.
     

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