Speaker Wire Questions

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Jerry_C, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Jerry_C

    Jerry_C Auditioning

    Aug 5, 2005
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    I know these are pretty basic questions but lots of reading leaves them unanswered.

    1. I am trying to make a decision between using the flat wire cables and not cutting up wall and ceiling dry wall versus making the cuts, running conduit and pulling the wire etc. Has anyone had any experience with the flat cables?

    2. Within the above, I can easily run normal UL approved in wall speaker wire to my RF, C, LF and RS speakers. Assuming that the flat wire works well, would it degrade the audio to run it to the LS and LR while using "normal" to the other speakers, ie, would mixing the two be an issue?

    3. A dumb question I know but what's the difference between a 12/2 and a 12/4. If I am running to a single speaker, why would I need the extra wire - other than perhaps to just be able to switch to the two unused should something go wrong with the two in use.

    4. My max run will be 40 feet, can I go with 14 instead of 12 for the ease of pulling? Thanks very much guys
  2. chuckg

    chuckg Supporting Actor

    Apr 27, 2004
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    a) when it comes to speakers, wire is wire. (within reason) using slightly different cable types will not make a noticeable difference. (oh oh, watch out for the audiophile onslaught!)

    b) wire nomenclature: 12/2 the "12" is the wire gage, the "2" is the number of wires. If you've got 12/4 you can PAIR the wires (red with white; blue with black, for instance) and get lower resistance. That is not really necessary, and probably just wasted copper. 14/4 paired is about the same as 12/2

    c) as long as the wire is physically strong enough to avoid damgae, use whatever you want in the walls. Conduit is extra protection, and not a necessity.

    d) with 40 foot runs, I'd prefer 12 gage over 14. I use 12 gage for the 5 foot run to my center channel! 14 gage will work fine, though, as long as you are not pushing hundreds of watts.
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt


    Aug 5, 1999
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    Katy, TX
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    Welcome to the Forum, Jerry.

    I’ve used flat wire when I wanted to tuck wire between the carpet and baseboards. You will here no sonic difference between flat and regular speaker wire.

    12-4 wire does have legitimate uses, believe it or not. For instance, let’s say because the way your home is built that you only had one route available to get the wire to your rear speakers. And let’s say it’s 45 ft. between the receiver and the first rear speaker, and the second rear speaker is 15 ft. away from the first.

    If you pulled a separate cable for each, you’d need a total of 105 ft. of speaker wire – 45 for the first speaker, and 60 for the second. But if you pulled a single 12- or 14-4, you would only need 60 ft. of wire. You’d run the cable as usual to the first speaker and connect one of the pairs to it. The other pair would go on to the second speaker (yes, there’d be a “dead pair” inside the cable between the first and second speaker).

    Of course, you can expect four-conductor wire to cost more than regular two conductor, so you have to factor that into the “is it worth it?” equation.

    As far as which is better for the 40 ft. run for the rears, as Chuck noted, 12 ga. is preferable is possible. However, the rears aren’t as critical as the fronts, so if you have to go with 14, it’ll be fine.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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