Suggestions for 35 ft. subwoofer wiring run?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JonahWicky, Jan 11, 2002.

  1. JonahWicky

    JonahWicky Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 18, 2001
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    The only possible location for my subwoofer is going to require about 35 ft. of cable from the receiver. The line out at the receiver and line in at the sub are both RCA jacks. It seems like 25 ft. is the longest commonly available patch cable. Right now, I'm thinking about piecing 2 cables together, either M-M to M-F, or M-M to M-M with a female splice connector. I'm worried about signal loss from using this jury-rigged set up.

    Does anyone know of a source for reasonably priced good quality cables long enough to reach? Is the spliced together arrangement going to cause enough signal degradation to worry about? Is there a better way than RCA cable, like some other type with adapters to fit the RCA jacks? Parts Express has RG59 to RCA adapters. Is coax an option? How about regular speaker wire?
  2. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

    Oct 30, 2000
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    For long runs such as yours I would recommend going with RG-6 coax with the RCA connections at the ends of course. But RG-59 would probably suffice.
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    May 22, 1999
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    Jonah: I assume you are going to be driving the sub from the LFE port on your receiver. This produces a line-level signal so you really should use a coaxial cable to shield/protect the signals.

    The 35 feet is no problem. Most cable companies run out 100 feet of cable, shove signals in one end and publish what signal strength comes out the other.

    To start: go to your local hardware store/Radio Shack and get some CATV coax. Put some "F" connectors on the end and buy some of those "F-to-RCA" adaptors. This will give you a very long cable to play/experiment with the sub positions.

    You can even get this stuff in white color.

    But the CATV coax has a stiff, weatherproof outer jacket and is ugly and not fun to work with.

    So you should hit some of the internet vendors who can make you a custom cable that looks nice and has some nice quality connectors. (The connector is often over-looked as being the difference between a good/bad cable).

    Places like BetterCables, CatCables, WickedCables all have a good reputation around here.

    (Note: you can also use a long Video cable. There is nothing special/different about a sub cable vs a audio/video cable).

    A note about subwoofer connections: subs seem to be sensitive to how tight the RCA plug is. If your home-made cable seems to perform poorly, try tightening the plug with a pair of pliers. If you buy a custom cable, they tend to come with high-quality plugs that perform a tight fit.

    Good Luck.
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Aug 5, 1999
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    Katy, TX
    Real Name:

    Sean and Bob have given some excellent advice – hopefully I can add a little more.

    There are only two signal issues with long cable runs: Loss (gain reduction) and high frequency reduction. The latter is not an issue with subs, and the former can easily be compensated for with the sub’s volume control.

    One of the primary issues with long runs can be cost. You may have noticed those 25’ cables you found are not exactly cheap, but if you want to use a couple of male-to-female and male-to-male cables to accomplish your run, it will work fine. Signal cables are actually another type of coaxial cable (i.e., a center conductor surrounded by a shield). A benefit of regular signal cables is that they are flexible and easy to work with.

    The RG-6 and –59 coaxial cable that Sean and Bob recommenced is an excellent and economical option if you don’t mind a simple DIY project. However, RG- cable does have a few issues you will have to consider.

    First, as Bob noted, it can be a little problematic to work with, primarily in routing: it doesn’t like sharp bends.

    Second, if you buy off-the-shelf, pre-made cables you probably will have to live with a 50ft. length. If you have seen these pre-made cables before, you know they have rather long molded ends. After putting on the RCA adapters you will have a serious depth issue if you have minimum clearance behind your equipment.

    If you need to minimize the clearance issue and don’t want to deal with a lot of extra cable, you might want to buy basic cut-to-length cable stock and do your own connections. This will be even cheaper than the off-the-shelf cable.

    However, RG- cable can be tricky to terminate properly. It has to first be terminated with “F” connectors before the RCA adapters can be used. Don’t waste your time with a cheap crimper; they are absolutely worthless (a good crimper costs at least $50). I recommend that anyone without a good crimper to use the twist-on “F” connectors. They aren’t cheap – about $1 each – and they aren’t the most reliable in situations where they will receive a lot of handling. But for static installations (i.e., set up and not disturbed) twist-ons work fine. I recently did some modifications on a friend’s installation and found that the twist-ons I installed several years ago were holding up well.

    Good Luck,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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