Speaker Wire Guage Recommendation...

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by John Doh, Nov 28, 2003.

  1. John Doh

    John Doh Stunt Coordinator

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    I want to buy Monster Cable brand wire, that I can run through the attic so I guess it needs to be sheilded or something too. I am only going to need about 50 feet of wire to each speaker which are going to be my surrounds. My surround speakers are JBL Studio series S-36II's being fed by the HK AVR-230. Which guage wire should I get and if possible, what model number of Monster Cable is it? Thanks!!
     
  2. Mike*Williams

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    I'm by no means an expert, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    I was talking to the guy that wired my house, and he said that for under 50 feet, 16 gauge wire was fine. Above 50 feet he said he would move to 14 gauge wire. He didn't mention how long the run would need to be to justify 12 gauge wire. I just picked up 50ft of 12-gage wire to make patch cables from the amp to the center/fronts and to the wall jacks for the surround, however, it may be overkill.

    I guess it really depends on who you talk to. I guess some will say that you need 10 or 12 gauge wire for even the shortest connections. It really depends on how much YOU really think it makes a difference.

    HTH,
    Mike W.
     
  3. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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  4. Mike*Williams

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    Does using stranded cable make a difference (as opposed to using solid cable). I realize that running zeros and ones over a wire isn't the exact same as audio, but in the networking world, we use stranded cable only for cables less than 15-20 feet. Anything over that, we use only solid-conductor cable. Seems the same would apply in audio (or would it?). I guess in the network world we're talking signals up to 125MHz, so perhaps audio at ~20KHz (or even 80KHz allowing for second order harmonics) could easily be preserved with stranded cable? (heh, they may not even make solid 12 gauge wire for audio.... shows what I know [​IMG] )

    Mike W.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Yes, and the wire is also twisted pair to improve the ability to send data at higher bandwidth.

    You could certainly use a solid wire but you give up a fairly important characteristic, flexibility, and that makes for more difficult layouts and connections. Nonetheless, if this is of no importance to you, then by all means, go and use it. From the point of view of how the nature of the wire affects the frequency response of the signal, it's all a matter of L, C, and R (inductance, capacitance, and resistance). Of the three, resistance is the dominant electrical parameter. We can hold resistance constant, and vary the other two...let's say we lower the inductance by using some geometrical arrangement of separately insulated wires. Well, maybe that'll improve our top end by maybe 0.2 dB however such a small change is inaudible as humans do not have an acoustical ability to discern such a small change at 20 kHz.
    As far as 2nd order harmonics, that would be 40 kHz for a signal at 20 kHz and if your equipment is capable of putting out significant 2nd harmonic energy then there's a word for that...broken.
     
  6. MikeTz

    MikeTz Stunt Coordinator

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    John:

    Michael gave you good advice. Using the Carol 12ga wire in lengths of 50ft will minimize the voltage drop, give you the flexibility to easily install the wire, and will sound fine. Remember the surround channels in home theater reproduction are for effects and don't require the same amount of power as your L/C/R speakers.

    You don't need to worry about shielding for most speaker cable installations, just keep your speaker wires away from the AC power wires. The Carol wire is a quality product and you won't hear any difference with the more expensive Monster product, so why spend the extra money.

    MT
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Over a long run of thin wire, the higher-frequency sounds will roll-off a bit, but the lower frequency signals are not affected as much. Thicker wire reduces the effect (but does not eliminate it).

    It does take a fairly sensitive system to demonstrate this. The rear-speakers of a HT system are a lot less sensitive than the L/R channels of a high-end music system. This has led to the idea that thinner wire can be used for long runs to a rear speaker. While it will work, there is an effect - but not noticible with rear-speaker signals.

    So it's a judgement call.

    My advice: run 12 ga all around.

    If you are going to take the trouble to run wires in-wall, the wire is cheap compared to your time. You only want to run rear-signals NOW, but in the future you may swap around your system, or upgrade to a multi-channel DVD audio system and put higher-end speakers to the rears. You will view the 16 ga wire as a possible weak-link in this case.

    The Carol 12 ga is a good choice and is rated for in-wall use. A cheaper alternative that a lot of people here use is the Sound King brand from www.partsexpress.com.

    I suggest you send 3 runs of 12 ga to the rear (dont forget about that rear-center speaker for Dolby ProLogic II). Run everything into and out of plastic electrical outlet box's. Pull enough wire to create a un-broken connection between your amp and your speakers. Buy blank wall-plates and drill holes to thread the wires through for a 'professional' looking install. Later you can cut the wires off near the box and install wall-plates with binding posts if you want.

    Another point: LABEL, LABEL, LABEL!

    Get some of the wire-labels from Radio Shack. They have a white section you write on, and clear tape that wraps around to protect the writing. (No, indelible ink does not last on plastic surfaces over 5 years. Use the clear tape to preserve the labels.)

    Put labels every foot around the outlet-box's for 2-3 feet before and after the box. Put more labels at the ends of the wires. Use a simple A, B, C, D... type of label. You can get fancy with RL, RC, RR if you want, but nothing more than 2 letters.

    You may think this is over-kill, but trust me. You will appreciate it 5-10 years down the road, or the next guy that buys your house will see what you have done and think that you really knew what you were doing.

    Good luck and let us know what you do.
     
  8. John Doh

    John Doh Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the feedback all, and thanks for the wire recommendations Michael. I think I am going to go ahead and get the wire you mentioned Michael, but have one more question. I want to use wall plates/posts for a cleaner install instead of wires hanging through the sheetrock. Does the website you recommended have a solution for this setup? More importantly, will I lose any quality utitlizing wall plates where the wire is "broken" per say, to make the connections? Thanks!
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    None whatsoever and you'll have a clean looking install that you can even color match for greater WAF.
     
  10. John Doh

    John Doh Stunt Coordinator

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    Sweet, thanks Chu!
     
  11. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well you can play it either way Wayne. Heck, women drop more than the cost of a dozen bananas during a cosmtetics/perfume run to Macy's or Nordstrums!

    And John, don't call me sweet.
     
  13. John Doh

    John Doh Stunt Coordinator

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    Lol. I wasn't calling you sweet there Chu, chill. From all of your recommendations, I have since placed my accessories order through Parts Express and they have all arrived. When I placed my order, I included a wall plate for the surround speaker connections from the back of the amp to the wall immediately behind. However due to bulkyness, I didn't buy wall plates for the connection to the rear of the wall suspended surround speakers (JBL S36II's). I am going to simply run the wire into a b-plug and into the speaker. This brings me to another question for you folks!!

    How do I make a small hole that is only large enough to accomodate the thickness of the 12-guage wire for the surrounds, and feed the wire accurately into that hole? I have made cutouts in sheet rock before and hand fed the wire through it, but these holes were much bigger and were masked by an eventual cover plate. I want to make a small hole so the surround speaker wire will barely fit through for a clean look tucked behind the speaker. Is this possible? Thanks!
     
  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    well me, I'd be looking for some kind of grommet that would fit into the opening and be secured by the thickness of the sheetrock. when it's all done post back regarding how it turned out.
     
  15. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Hmm, don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1/2“ thick grommet! ('Course, now that I’ve said it I’m sure someone will come up with one. [​IMG] )

    John,

     
  16. JohnMW

    JohnMW Second Unit

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    [​IMG]

    I cut a standard hole in the wall, used a metal sheetrock trim ring adapter and attached a single hole wall plate to it. I used the same process where the wires run from the receiver into the wall, and from my subs to the wall.
     
  17. DavidLW

    DavidLW Stunt Coordinator

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    Go To Radio Shack. They sell a grommet meant to cover the hole for coaxial cable. It's about 1 1/2 " round with a 1/4" or so hole in the middle. When the grommet is force into a 1/2" hole in the wall (sheet rock) it will grip the wire going through it (it may not grip a pair of 12awg or 12awg zip cord but it will cover the hole).
     
  18. GraysonAng

    GraysonAng Stunt Coordinator

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    What about these wires?

    Teptronics.com has the following Pyramid speaker wire:
    12 gauge, 50 feet for 6.99 (teptronics.com/rsw1250.html)
    12 gauge, 100 feet for 13.50 (teptronics.com/rsw12100.html)

    This is considerably cheaper than home depot and sound king. From what I've been reading, as long as it's 12 gauge, it should sound comparable. Is this true?
     
  19. JohnMW

    JohnMW Second Unit

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    It might sound the same, but the wire could corrode and/or be a pain in the arse to work with. In other words don't buy that el cheapo "pryamid" stuff. If the wire isn't going into the wall get the soundking 12ga, otherwise get the carol or comprable 12ga CL2/3 in-wall rated speaker wire.
     

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