Speaker Wire question

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by CraigK, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. CraigK

    CraigK Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey there all.

    I am currently in the process of moving and may need to buy new speaker wire for my surround sound speakers. My current setup is quite a bit smaller than my new one at my apartment.

    I currently have 16 gauge wire for my rears, center and 2 mains. Now, the 16 gauge is very, very expensive and I would need quite a bit of it for my new pad to wire my surrounds.

    So...my question is...would I sacrifice a SERIOUS AMOUNT OF DETECTABLE quality if I went for a less expensive and thinner grade cable for my rears?

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. DanielKellmii

    DanielKellmii Supporting Actor

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    Define expensive?
    Home Depot or Radio shacke usually has very reasonable priced 16 gauge speaker wire.
     
  3. CraigK

    CraigK Stunt Coordinator

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    Well...I would probably like to spend no more than 50 or 60 bucks(Canadian) and I would need probably about 100'...
     
  4. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Well then you're probably buying overpriced wire, because 100 foot rolls of 12 gauge should be that much or less in USD. 16 gauge is ridiculously cheap. You could probably get 250 feet for that price. I got 250 feet of 12 gauge at lowes or home depot (cant remmebr exactly) for about 70 bucks i think.
     
  5. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    Craig,

    I would advise not going thinner than 16 gauge. I believe I paid $35 for 100' of 14-gauge wire (the RCA brand at Home Depot). 16-gauge is even cheaper.
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Look around in some of your home improvement stores in Canada in the electrical section. You should be able to find something cost effective there.
     
  7. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Craig,

    Like the others, I don’t know what you’re buying if 16ga. wire is “very expensive.” Most of us here consider 16ga. to be the “bare minimum” when it comes to speaker wire – the smallest size usable.

    Loss of sound quality from inadequate wiring is more an issue for the front speakers than the rear, so I wouldn’t sink big bucks into premium speaker wire for them. In your situation, if you want to stick with the 16ga., I’d go down to the local hardware store and buy some plain-vanilla zip cord (aka lamp cord). You should have no problem finding it sold by the foot.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  8. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    To give some background to Wayne's post:

    A speaker website was advising people to use different gauge wire based on run-length:

    1-10 ft: 16 ga
    11-20 ft: 14 ga
    20+ ft: 12 ga

    So you need the THICKER wire for long runs, not thinner.

    This recommendation comes from the physical issue of the higher-frequency sounds being reduced a bit compared to the lower-frequency sounds over a long run of wire. (this is called "Roll-Off" or "Slant").

    A thicker wire reduces (but does not eliminate) the effect.

    Now to get real-world:

    If the rear speakers are just for a movie system (and not a SACD/DVD-Audio music system) - I dont think you would notice the roll-off in the rear speakers. The rear sound-effects on a movie are just not that critical that 16 vs 14 vs 12 ga would be noticible.

    Since you are in an apartment - you are going to be running the wires on the floor anyway so it's not a major labor effort to change things later. You can get away with the 16 ga. (If you were running wires in-wall for a 5-10 year installation - my advice would be different.)

    Another thing to look at: HomeDepot and other hardware stores often carry 4-conductor speaker wire 14 ga for a cheap price. Take 2 of the wires and twist them at each end to create a 10-11 ga effective wire.

    Hope this helps.
     

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