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Speaker Wire

Setting up a home audio system and looking for wire? How do you know what gauge, length, and type of speaker wire you need for your system? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a simple guide to help you on your way to home audio mastery.

Speaker wire makes the electrical connection between an audio system’s speakers and its amplifiers, consisting of two or more conductors that are isolated by a layer of non-conductive material. The name of the game when looking for the right speaker wire for your system is quality. Your home audio system may have the latest in audio technologies packed inside, but making a poor choice in speaker wire can limit the quality of the signal your speakers receive.

The thickness of a wire as well as the total length of a wire has an effect on the electrical resistance of the wire (and the quality of an electrical signal being transmitted). Optimally, a thicker speaker wire with short runs would ensure the highest consistency and quality of an audio signal, however, in practice, many home audio systems have fairly long runs (especially when multiple rooms and common areas are involved) and thicker wire is more difficult to work with and can cost significantly more.

"What Length and Gauge Do I Need?"
Gauge Distance (Assuming 8 Ohm Load)
20 20 feet
18 32 feet
16 48 feet
14 80 feet
12 120 feet
10 200 feet

With those factors in mind, a good rule of thumb for most systems is 16 gauge for runs up to 50 feet and 14 gauge for runs longer than 50 feet. Other kinds of wire of varying thickness and construction, such as in-wall, UV, or direct-burial may be used if the application calls for the capabilities of those types of wire.

While simple bare wire can be used, terminating the wire with a connector is highly recommended and can help to ensure a strong connection between audio components. The types of connectors you may see include: pin connectors, banana plugs, spade connectors, and dual banana plugs. Pin connectors and bare wire are designed to work with spring clip terminals, while banana plugs and spade connectors are designed to work with binding post terminals.

Hopefully this quick guide helped answer a few audio wire questions you may have had, if you have any more questions, feel free to stop by any of our 9 retail locations or contact us for help selecting the right kind of wire for you!