How to Buy Speaker Cables

Two Methods:Run a Test Before You Buy Speaker CablesChoose the Appropriate Speaker Wire

You have an incredible speaker system, but now you need to buy speaker cables to finish your audio setup. But, as with many electronic devices, buying the cheapest cable on the market isn’t always the best option. You can check your speakers’ owner’s manual to see if the speaker manufacturer recommends a certain brand or type of speaker cable for best results. However, most speaker cable brands are of the same caliber, with the main difference being quality of the speaker wire.

Method 1
Run a Test Before You Buy Speaker Cables

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    Upgrade to the more expensive wire if quality is an issue.
    • If you have a basic home theater system and your speakers are fairly close to your receiver, you will be fine with standard speaker cables. However, better wiring has higher quality metals that actually increase conductivity, which can lead to a higher quality of sound.
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    Test a variety of speaker cables in different price ranges to see which you like best.
    • If you have high quality speakers, you’ll likely hear a noticeable difference between high end and low-end speaker cables. However, if you don’t hear enough of a difference to warrant the price difference, simply return the higher priced cables.
    • Make sure the store where you purchase your speaker cables has a good return policy if you plan to run a test at home.
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    Listen to your speakers for an hour when attached to each cable; that way you can hear a variety of audio samples.

Method 2
Choose the Appropriate Speaker Wire

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    Run a string from your amplifier to your speaker locations to determine how much speaker wire you need.
    • Allow a little extra slack in your speaker wire in case you measure wrong or if you ever need to move your speakers in the future.
    • If you plan to run your speaker wire behind your walls or ceiling, safety code requires you to use CL2 or CL3 UL-rated speaker wire. The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) examines the heat generated from the wire, how quickly the speaker wire might catch fire when exposed to a flame and how prone the wire is to damage if it encounters external stresses to set this rating.
    • If you plan to run speaker wire outdoors, you’ll need speaker wire that’s rated for direct burial.
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    Consider the gauge of speaker wire required for the job. The AWG (American Wire Gauge) number identifies the gauge, or the thickness, of a speaker wire.
    • Use 16 gauge if you need fewer than 80 feet (24 meters) of speaker wire.
    • Use 14 gauge if you need 80 feet to 200 feet (61 meters) of speaker wire.
    • Use 12 gauge if you need more than 200 feet of speaker wire.
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    Identify the type of connector required for your speakers.
    • You might connect with bare wires, pin connectors, banana plugs, spade connectors or dual banana plugs.
    • Some high-end brands of speakers, like Bose, do not have standard connectors for speaker wire or audio cables. Contact the company to find speaker wire or audio cabling that’s compatible with those speakers.

Article Info

Categories: Cabling and Wiring Connection