Speaker wire question (2 part question)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Dobbs, Jul 24, 2001.

  1. Brian Dobbs

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    1) What gauge do you recommend for speaker wire and why?
    2) Also, I was wondering if there is a problem with using extension cord wire as speaker wire. I saw a 14 gauge 100 ft. extension cord at Walmart for $8. Assuming the wires are copper inside, what makes it different than stuff you would buy at Best Buy or Circuit City?
    thanks
     
  2. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    My suggestion after looking at a lot of posts on this topic: 12 gauge for lengths over 20 feet fropm amp to speaker, 14 gauge for lengths under 20 feet. (In large auditoriums we may have to go to 10 gauge wire but that is not a typical home theater situation).
    So the 100 foot 14 gauge extension cord would be useful only if you were planning to cut it into pieces.
    Pay attention to the advertised or published gauge of the wire. Sometimes the wire is thin with a very thick plastic covering, and if the covering is transparent it makest he wire look thicker than it really is.
    One of the characteristics of electricity (Ohm's Law) is that the resistance of the wires affects the current flow to the point where the sound quality changes. especially during loud bass passages where the current flow is large.
    Other video hints:http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
    [Edited last by Allan Jayne on July 24, 2001 at 05:53 AM]
    [Edited last by Allan Jayne on July 24, 2001 at 05:54 AM]
     
  3. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    You can find information and specs on what gauge is recommended based on distance here:http://bwccat.belden.com/Bimages/TechInfo.htm
    Select multiconductor & paired cable and then speaker cables under the audio/video section.
    [Edited last by Brian Corr on July 24, 2001 at 08:54 AM]
     
  4. Brian Dobbs

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    I thought copper wire is just copper wire and whether or not you get it from an cheap extension cord or an overpriced speaker wire reel doesn't make a difference. The thickness of extension cords are usually quite thick, and when compared to a wire of equal thickness at Best Buy it is ridiculously much cheaper. Does anyone have a valid reason why it is not good to just use an extension cord for speaker wire? thanks
     
  5. Steve_D

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  6. Brian Corr

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    Brian,
    There is nothing wrong with using the cheap, extension cord or lamp cord cable.
    Just get at least 14 ga and you should be fine (up to 100' or so).
     
  7. Steve T

    Steve T Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian,
    I was using AR 12 ga for my front L/R/C and switched to Radio Shack 14 ga flat due to it was neater. No difference in sound quality.
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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  9. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    The shielding on an extension cord should be designed to prevent electric shocks to anyone handling the cord. In other words, it needs to prevent a 50Hz, 110V, 5-10A signal (in the USA) from getting out of the wire. The shielding on speaker wire should be designed to prevent external RFI and EMI from affecting the signal being carried in the wire. This involves signals in the 10s of volts, at much much higher frequencies. I'm not sure if the two requirements are one and the same, or they would result in different choice of material/design for the shielding, but if I remember my electronics classes, these should be two fairly different ballgames.
     
  10. Brian Dobbs

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    Thank you all for your replies!
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    In pragmatic terms, IMO, a good quality speaker cable should:
    have a total conductor cross-sectional area equivalent to AWG 12 gauge or heavier
    be multi-stranded (100+ strands) for good handling
    flexibility
    have a hard wearing sheath, which is easily stripped back at
    the point of connection
    have one conductor easily distinguishable from the other by
    some sort of obvious marker
    try home depot and don't get snookered into the boutique cables
     
  12. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    quote: The shielding on speaker wire should be designed to prevent external RFI and EMI from affecting the signal being carried in the wire.[/quote]
    This is not correct. Both zip cord (i.e., extension cords) and speaker wire are protected by a plastic jacket, as is most wire, but the jacket on speaker wire does not have shielding properties. Shielding is achieved by wrapping the signal wires with a protective metal covering, as you see with typical signal cables or RG-6.
    Chu's advice on what to look for in a high-quality speaker wire is excellent. However, I would avoid that generic copper/silver speaker wire that the hardware stores sell. The silver side is nickel or something like that. Get speaker wire that is all copper.
    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
    [Edited last by Wayne A. Pflughaupt on July 25, 2001 at 11:17 AM]
     
  13. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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