I need to run speaker wire for my surrounds. I plan on going from the receiver out through the drywall into the garage, accross the garage into the basement, and then accross the basement to the back wall of the home theater room. I will be going to the left side of the room from the receiver, which means my right hand side surround is going to need 60' or so of speaker wire since I will be essentiall going around about 60% of the perimeter of the room with my wire. I am going to use UL rated in wall speaker wire, but I was wondering what guage to use. I know accessories4les has some 14-2 for $25 per hundred foot. http://www.accessories4less.com/advscripts/detailpg.asp?sModnum=IXOS-614241-100FT&sPrice=25.00 e-mail me: cpaul@hometheaterfanatic.com My DVD Profiler Paradigm Lover

Several speaker sites recommend the following: 0-10 feet : 16 ga 10-20 feet : 14 ga 20-more feet: 12 ga Good Luck

Bob, wouldn't it be better just to use 12 gauge for all of it then? Is there any particular acoustic reason why they want a smaller gauge (16 and 14) for the shorter runs, or is it just for the price?

Smaller gauge wire for shorter distances is only for cost savings, or it may look more discreet due to its smaller diameter. If you are doing a lot of speaker runs, 12 gauge throughout may even be cheaper as well as more convenient because you need only one kind of wire. More video hints: http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm

I also think 12 gauge is the route to go for such a long run. I found 12 gauge wire at Lowe's for $.36 a foot. Radio Shack wanted $1 per foot.

You could also use 16-4 and twist 2 conductors together yielding 13 gauge wire. I do this all the time. In wall 16-4 seems to be more readily available than 12-2.

Brian, I would be concerned about the increased capacitance when you twist two insulated conductors together on long runs. The added space, between conductors, increases the capacitance and that would manifest itself in a roll-off of the higher frequencies.

So, tell me: How is it that twisted pair wire INCREASES high frequency response in data applications (think Ethernet and Firewire), and yet decreases it in audio applications? I'm curious. Todd

Scotty: could you be talking about increased IMPEDENCE, not capacitance by twisting wires? Capacitance stops low frequencies and then slopes up to let higher frequencies through. Impedence lets low frequencies through, then starts reducing the higher frequencies. So what effect does twisting the thickly-insulated wires do to the impedence? Todd: The twisting of network cable is not to increase the high-frequency response. It's so you can run hundreds of feet of the cable and still get fairly recognizible signals out the other end. If you ran the signal wires in parallel, a pulse of voltage on one wire would induce/induct a small blip of voltage in the other. The longer the wire, the larger the blip on the other wire. Eventually, the second wire would look like a logical "1" instead of a "0" and mess things up. (Remember those old ribbon-cables that computers used to use to connect to printers? The limit was about 6 feet because of this.) Twisting the wires solves this. As the signal induces a blip in the other wire one way, the twist induces the blip in the opposite direction. This push-pull effect allows the signals to travel very far and still be recognizible at the far end. Did this help or just confuse?

The capacitance is between the conductors. Therefore low frequencies are indeed blocked from passing from the one conductor to the other (shorting out if you will). This effect is reduced as the frequency is increased so that as frequency increases more of the signal is passed from one conductor to the other.

Charles, 60 feet is a fairly long run of speaker wire, although since it's for surround speakers I guess you can't particularly consider these as candidates for critical listening. You will indeed gain a little by using 12 gauge instead of the 14 gauge in the resistance department and this will reduce the loss in the cable slightly and increase damping slightly (a good thing), but in a run of this length inductive reactance is your biggest enemy for increasing the total impedance of the connection, particularly at higher audio frequencies. Since this a low impedance connection, we can essentially disregard capacitance and the bypass reactance it causes. Capacitance is only a player in high impedance connections such as interconnects between preamps and power amps. It's too small an effect to be considered in a speaker connection. Inductance tends not to change much with respect to wire size. Yes indeed, the higher the gauge (smaller wire), the higher the inductance, but it's really an insignificant difference. 14 gauge will be fine in reasonable length runs. What is reasonable to you though, may be unacceptable to some other audiophile who wouldn't consider anything less than 10 or 12 gauge. They might even make speeches about it. It is always a subjective compromise in the choice of how much loss of performance you'll be willing to give up. Let me give you some numbers on your 14 gauge run. I'll give you two frequencies of interest. 100Hz and 20KHz. I won't bore you with the formulas. I'll assume a typical 14 gauge speaker wire run at 60 feet with 8 ohm speakers and a solid state amp. Typically 14 gauge would have the following specifications. 14 gauge speaker wire: resistance = 2.575 ohms/1000feet capacitance = 30 pf/ft inductance = 0.20 uh/ft So the total resistance of the 60 foot run is: (remember it has to go there and back). 60 feet = 0.309 ohms The total series inductive reactance of 60 foot run. 60 feet @100Hz = 0.01 ohms 60 feet @20KHz = 1.51 ohms The total bypass capacitive reactance of 60 foot run. (insignificant, I'll ignore these) 60 feet @100Hz = 884194 ohms 60 feet @20KHz = 4420 ohms So you can see that the big player here at higher frequencies in this low impedance circuit of 8 ohms is the frequency dependant resistance provided by the inductance of the wire. Doesn't really matter too much if you move to 12 gauge. By the way, the 12 gauge will lower that resistance calculation from 0.309 ohms to 0.194 ohms. The inductive reactance will tend to roll off your higher frequencies or "roll off" the upper end. So what does this all mean. Lets look at what kind of losses you are experiencing at the two frequencies of interest with your 60 foot run. ********************************* @100Hz: We add the resistance (0.309 ohms) and the inductive reactance (0.01 ohms). Total speaker wire impedance = 0.319 ohms Power loss in the cable = 3.83% = 0.169db Damping factor drops from 80 to 19 (assuming typical output impedance of power amp at 0.1ohms and 80 damping factor). ********************************************* @20KHz: We add the resistance (0.309 ohms) and the inductive reactance (1.51 ohms). Total speaker wire impedance = 1.819 ohms Power loss in the cable = 18.5% = 0.88db (remember 3 db is half) Damping factor drops from 80 to 4. Actually we don't care about damping at these frequencies. ********************************************* So what will you notice here. The 14 gauge speaker cable at 60 feet and 100Hz yields a 3.8% loss of signal in the form of heat and has affected system damping by lowering it from 80 to about 19. At 20Khz this same run yields an 18.5% loss of signal. That's starting to become significant. As I said before, you've created a bit of a low pass filter here and you may notice a slight softening of your upper end. But again, these are surround speakers and you may not care. My recommendation would be to go with the 12 gauge if you can find it. If not, the 14 gauge will be fine for this application. Good luck.

Wow, thanks for all the comments guys. Some of you have brought up issues that make my head swim, but I will try to digest this all as I make my decision in a few months. ------------------ My Website: http://www.hometheaterfanatic.com e-mail me: cpaul@hometheaterfanatic.com My DVD Profiler Paradigm Lover

There is a very nice appendix entry in my crest amp book. it lists wire guage, dist, and % loss over the run. No need to guess, just pick how much loss you can stand... http://www.crestaudio.com/media/pdf/caman11-25-97.pdf it's big, so you might want to right-click and choose 'save target as'. Oh, you'll need adobe, too: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html Assuming 8ohm load (double for 4, interesting) With 60', you'll need 14 guage for 3.75% loss 12 guage for 2.4% loss 10 guage for 1.5% 8 guage for .9% Vince