Speaker Wire Information

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael De Costa, Sep 7, 2001.

  1. Michael De Costa

    Michael De Costa Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I am now set for the final piece of my home theater setup: Speaker wire. How important is purchasing excellent speaker wire? I am well aware that speaker wire can make a difference in HT, but I am a bit lost in knowing exactly what sizes (gauges) I should be running to each of my speakers.
    My speaker set up is all Definitive Technology:
    CLR2002 Center
    2002TL's Fronts
    BP2X's rears
    Powered by a Denon 3802
    For each speaker set up please let me know what gage speaker wire I should use. Can anyone indicate to me the sound difference for using higher gauged cables anyway? Thanks
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    personally, i'm using 12g monster for my fronts and monster xp (i don't know the gauge, but i think it's 14g) for the rears. i didn't really seek this specific combo, it's just how things turned out.
    if i was going to do it again, i'd probably just buy a spool of 12g from home-depot and wire it all the same.
    i personally, feel that as long as you don't use too thin a wire you'll be fine.
    someday i've got to test this out for myself.
    ------------------
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    [Edited last by Ted Lee on September 07, 2001 at 02:20 PM]
     
  3. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    Your decision should largely be determined by how far your speakers are from your receiver. Short runs can be handled fine by larger gauge wire than long runs.
    That info would help in an answer.
     
  4. Nick G

    Nick G Stunt Coordinator

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    Radio Shack or Home Depot 12 gauge speaker wire works (and sounds) exactly the same as any other decent 12 gauge speaker wire.
    Nick
    [Edited last by Nick G on September 07, 2001 at 03:09 PM]
     
  5. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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  6. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    This is straight from the Belden catalog:
    For an 8ohm speaker using 12 guage wire with 11% loss(.5dB), the max run is 285ft.
    For an 4ohm speaker using 12 guage wire with 11% loss(.5dB), the max run is 140ft.
    For an 8ohm speaker using 16 guage wire with 11% loss(.5dB), the max run is 115ft.
    For an 4ohm speaker using 16 guage wire with 11% loss(.5dB), the max run is 60ft.
    16 gauge is adequate for your surrounds up to 50', but if you can go 12 gauge, then do it.
    I use Belden 1810A which is a 14x4. I twisted 2 strands together which yields 11 gauge.
    I think it ran me about .60 ft from www.anixter.com
    I think it looks better than the regular clear coated stuff which is why I got it.
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Brian: cool post.
    But I have seen some SPEAKER web sites that recommend the following rules:
    Runs < 10 feet - 16 ga
    Runs 10-20 feet - 14 ga
    Runs > 20 feet - 12 ga
    Since these are speaker sites and trying to make their speakers sound good without selling you wires, I tend to trust them. (Although I have seen Belden debunk many audio myths.)
    Here is the problem: For a given length of wire, the higher the frequency, the GREATER the reduction. (And the reduction is not linear.) So if you shove a mix of signals down a wire, the 100 hz sounds may drop by 0.5 db, but the sounds at 12,000 hz can have dropped by 10 db (or more).
    This happens at audio frequencies with speaker wire, and at video frequencies with high-quality coax like this graph from Canare shows:
    [​IMG]
    And guess what? Your hearing is most sensitive in the upper-mid range (around 12,000 hz I think). So this backs up peoples claim that speaker wires should be short and thick.
    Michael: Different speaker wires WILL affect the sound. You can find places that sell you wire at $300 per run.
    But the recommended starting point is to buy some good 12 ga speaker wire and use it everywhere. (Later, you can substitute some high-end wire and decide if the difference is worthwhile to you. But start with 12 ga as a baseline for a few months.)
    Home Depot sells some for about $0.50/ft. And a lot of people have gone to www.partsexpress.com and bought a spool of "Sound King" brand and are very satisified for about $0.30/ft. (Type "Sound King" into the keyword box on the Parts Express web site to find it).
    If you go with 12 ga wire, you will quickly run into a problem: the thick copper strands barely fit into the holes on the sides of your binding posts on your receiver & speakers. And the receiver has the "field" of connections so close together, you cannot get your fingers into position.
    This is why I strongly recommend you go to Radio Shack and buy a bunch of the MegaCable dual-banana plugs. These things un-screw at the back to expose a LARGE hole in the side. Insert 12 (or even 10 ga) wire, tighten and you have a neat connection. And the solid-spacer bar prevents shorts if the wires get tugged/tripped over while the power is on.
    But the dual-banana stick out about 3" which can be too far for the space behind your receiver. RS also has a 2-piece banana that un-screws. You insert 12 ga, bend the copper strands over the top and screw the banana part back on. Makes an incredible connection and much shorter than the dual-bananas.
    Good Luck.
     
  8. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    I am a firm believe in speaker wire. Of all the cables in any HT setup, I think Speaker Cables make the most impactful and immediate difference (even on a $1000 receiver/speaker setup). I would seriously invest in a decent speaker cable that won't break the bank for you and hear for yourself. Better yet, try borrowing a pair of fairly decent speaker cable and compare them with the cheap stufff.
    Elbert
     
  9. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    I think Elbert hit it on the head, go out and try a few and see which one you are happiest. Go hit http://www.audioadvisor.com
    Andrew
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  10. Michael De Costa

    Michael De Costa Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the posts. Bob, I appreciate the great lengths you have gone into answering my question. At the store I purchased the system from, the salesmen offered to give me a good deal on their best speaker wire: it was listed at $2 a foot but he could cut me a good deal. He also offered to have on their technicians wire the banana clips on professionally. Before I entertained the thought I wanted to make this post to see if it was even worth pondering the expense. After spending all of this money on the speakers and receiver, I want to make sure I have the best possible set up without paying for any unnecessary costs. It sounds to me that I should invest in 12 or 10 gauge for my mains and center and then go 12 to the rears as well. I did see a nice flat wire that is perfect for under the carpet runs but failed to measure any of the gauges on the wire they were selling. Thanks again for your help, as I will now feel relieved as I fork over the extra bucks for a better/thicker wire. [​IMG]
    ------------------
    At my signal, unleash Hell.......
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  11. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    Bob,
    I think those recommendations are good to go by but I think the Belden recommendations are safe and plenty adequate, especially under 50'.
    The cost is negligible so if you can go with 12 gauge, then do.
    I needed a flat wire for my surrounds so i went with 16 guage.
    I have tried 12 gauge vs 16 guage for the surrounds (40-50ft)in my system and couldn't hear a differnce.
    I have tried monster, AR and Belden and couldn't hear a differnce.
    The best thing when unsure about things like this is to just try it out in your own system.
     
  12. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    our hearing is most sensitive in the 3000-4000Hz range...by 5000hz...we're rolling off quite a bit.
    if anyone is considering the purchase of expensive/exotic speaker wire...I wouldn't underestimate the role that natural human bias will play in your *eyeball* evaluations of it.It's natural for us to hear differences when none exist(when we know something is changed).
    TV
     
  13. John Cain

    John Cain Second Unit

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    Bob thanks for the detailed info and the link to the Sound King wire..
    Tom, do you think there would be much difference between 10 gauge and 12 gauge wire at the run length of the typical HT??
    Thanks,
    -- John
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  14. Jason Watson

    Jason Watson Stunt Coordinator

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    Please, please, please, don't listen to anyone that tells you wire is wire! Also,please, please, please, don't listen to anyone that tells you wire makes a difference! Throw away your preconceived ideas,(put there by guys like me [​IMG]) and try to find out for yourself. That being said, I would not bother with listening for differences in one 12ga., pvc insulated,fine copper stranded vs.another. Monster vs AR vs Sound King etc.. If you are going to listen for differences, try comparing Monster,or Sound King or any stranded,pvc insulated, bah,blah, blah,wire to something totally different. Like for instance, individualy insulated,copper conductor,twisted or spiraled or braided geometry type stuff. Audioquest and Kimber make some reasonable cable as well as the "break the bank" kind. Arrange a demo at home through a local dealer or buy a used pair of Audioquest Indigo on E-Bay(you can always re-sell) and sit down to some well recorded 2chanel music to let YOUR ears be the judge. Remember, this is just another excuse to play with your toys! You can,with a somber expression, tell non-enthusiasts,it is a test, but we know you're having fun [​IMG].
    Jason
    I'm not going to tell you that wire makes a difference but........it makes a difference. No wait, forget I said that!
     
  15. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    typo on my last post---it should have said by 5kHz,we BEGIN rolling off quite a bit.
    >>>Tom, do you think there would be much difference between 10 gauge and 12 gauge wire at the run length of the typical HT??
     
  16. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Another thread to preach the gospel in [​IMG]
    I wonder if anyone's done ABX testing on speaker cable using pink noise, or something like that.
     
  17. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I'd like to clarify my position a bit.

    I believe Wire does make a difference!

    I know enough about electronics (My degree is in Electrical Engineering) to know that different wires have different responses. And this will affect the sound.

    But I strongly recommend good-quality 12 ga wire for newbies with sticker-shock and modest systems. It's just a good & inexpensive way to START.

    Here are 2 issues that you need to consider before investing in expensive wire (and interconnects):
    • How accurate is your other equipment?
    • Do you use your system for Music or Movies?[/list=a]

      A) The people that get the most improvement tend to be people with external amps (200 wpc or more) and have very accurate speakers or large electrostatic/panel systems. This equipment has a lot of sensitivity and the wires will have a audible effect on the sound it produces. My $3000 DefTech system while good, is not a highly accurate system.

      B) How often do you play a favorite CD? How often do you play a favorite DVD? I am 95% into movies but like most people I have a set of 4 or 5 favorite CD's that I play over and over and over again in a month. But even my favorite movie may get played 2-3 times per year.

      This repetition in Music makes me (and most people) very familar with the sound. So when something like a change in speaker alignment or a different wire comes along, I am hyper-sensitive to the change. I think this gives rise to the many claims: "I tried brand XXX wire and it gave me a huge change in sound" posts. Some of them admit that their spouses/casual listeners DO NOT hear the difference, but this is just shrugged off as them being "less-refined" somehow. (I listen more to the guys that say their spouses also heard an improvement).

      But when you dig, you find that this is almost always with MUSIC, not movies.

      So when people are buying a good HT system, I almost always recommend basic $0.50/ft 12 speaker wire. I would much rather see the $300-$600 that botique wires would cost put into the next step up in electronics, TV or speakers.

      Later, $200 or so can be used to upgrade to some of these wires, but should not be done at the start.

      It's a lot easier to replace $50 worth of speaker wire with $300 botique wires, than to replace a $900 receiver with a $1,500 receiver.

      Hope this helps.
     
  18. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    IMHO wire makes a difference only:
    1. In terms of thickness, "everyone" recommends no thinner than 12 gauge for 30 foot or longer runs,
    2. In terms of physical appearance, almost no one wants two single wires, one red, the other yellow, twisted together,
    3. Flexibility, solid wire is stiffer than stranded wire.
    4. For a few folks, whether it comes with banana plugs already attached.
    If all the strands don't fit into the screw terminal, you can slice off up to a third of the strands without hurting the performance.
    I would not pay more to get a specific brand.
    Other video hints: http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     

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