Speaker Wire

What Is Speaker Wire?

Speaker wire connects an amplifier to speakers by carrying electrical audio signals over two conductors insulated with plastic to prevent kinks, cuts or any other damage to them. Speaker wire is often classified according to its gauge which measures thickness of conductors.

It is essential that when choosing a gauge of wire for your speakers and cable runs, that you take into account both their impedance and distance requirements. Also consider buying oxygen-free wire to avoid pockets of oxygen which could potentially cause corrosion over time.


Speaker wires are parallel-bonded electrical wires used to connect audio equipment and speakers. Their core is typically made from copper, either stranded or solid; further protected from interference and external influences by a PVC jacket. To achieve optimal results from your audio system, it is key to select cable material and gauge according to individual needs.

Copper speaker wire is considered to be the ideal material, providing superior conductivity and low resistance levels, along with good thermal strength and durability. However, if budget constraints limit your choices to this metal choice alone, other metals like aluminum and stainless steel still conduct electricity well and offer high-quality sound output.

Considerations when selecting speaker wire include its durability and ability to withstand climate conditions, especially long runs exposed to heat and moisture. Furthermore, ensure it complies with ROHS specifications to avoid potentially hazardous materials in its composition.

Selecting the proper gauge for your speaker wires is critical in determining their power carrying capability. Gauge is defined as the thickness of wire in accordance with American Wire Gauge (AWG) standard – lower gauge indicates thicker wire. Higher-gauge wires usually offer greater current carrying capacities.

When selecting wire, one important consideration should be its capacitance – a measurement of how much it affects signal. Some wires have high capacitance levels which may cause distortion to music. This is an especially problematic problem as distortion can reduce clarity and quality significantly. Some manufacturers claim their speaker wire has low capacitance levels but this may just be a marketing ploy.

Not only should speaker wires be durable and resistant to various climate conditions, they should also be easy to install. There are various solutions for running them around your house such as cable raceways, ghost speaker wires and hollow baseboard moldings; or even camouflaging them using tin coating.


Finding the ideal wire gauge for your speaker system requires taking many factors into account, from conductor counts and material type to insulation material and insulation thickness – but ultimately thickness plays the most vital role; thicker wires have lower resistance and thus carry more current with minimal loss.

Typically, thicker cable gauges are preferable due to increased resistance from thinner wires with higher impedance and thus potentially degrade audio signal passing through them. But there may be exceptions; therefore it is advisable to consult manufacturer specifications when choosing which gauge best suits your application.

Selecting an ideal wire gauge begins with understanding how much power your speakers require and their operating distance. Copper is typically an economical and high-conductivity material that needs only minor care to remain protected from environmental elements; silver offers lower resistance but is typically too costly for consumer speaker cables.

Gauge selection also depends on the impedance of your speakers and length of cable runs. For instance, 16-gauge wire should suffice if using an 8-ohm pair with an upper limit of 50 feet cable run distance; otherwise if they have higher impedance levels you may require thicker wire to ensure adequate power transfer.

After selecting the appropriate gauge of speaker wire, it’s essential to carefully consider specific terminations for your connections. Terminationss serve as connectors that fit over the ends of wires to connect them with terminals on speakers or amplifiers; commonly used terminations include banana plugs and spade plugs – these make wiring simpler while decreasing risks from touching binding posts accidentally and short circuiting.


Speaker wire contains three main electrical properties, capacitance, inductance and resistance. Of these properties, resistance is the most essential in conducting current from your amplifier to speakers and back again – the lower it is, the better your system will perform. Impedance depends on its thickness (gauge) and length. Too thin of wire could create too much resistance which would result in power losses that reduce system performance.

Thicker wires offer more resistance-reducing potential, though their costs tend to outweigh their advantages. You may also reduce resistance with longer wire runs – this length should usually be stated on packaging or manufacturer websites.

Copper conductors are the go-to choice for speaker wires due to its excellent conductivity and reasonable costs, making it a top choice among speaker manufacturers. Copper may oxidise over time and increase resistance; to prevent this issue from occurring properly maintain your copper cable by avoiding using harsh cleaning agents while keeping it dry.

Other conductor materials used in speaker wire include silver, copper-clad aluminum and oxygen-free copper – each has different features and advantages when used in speaker cables; regardless of your choice, however, insulation must always be present to protect both its conductors from touching each other and surfaces around it. It also helps prevent heat transference.

Selecting the appropriate gauge of wire for your speakers is of utmost importance, and should take into consideration factors like length of run and type of equipment you will be connecting. For example, connecting 8-ohm speakers to an amplifier rated at 100W per channel requires wire with at least a gauge 16 rating.

Some individuals claim they can hear a difference between different wire types; however, these claims often rely on measurements instead of actual listening tests to assess these statements. The only true way of telling the difference between different kinds of wires is listening in controlled conditions before comparing results between wire types.


When splicing or soldering speaker wire, it’s essential that the proper tools are used for optimal results. Bare copper wires can become subject to oxidisation over time and cause degradation of sound quality; terminating cables with plugs will significantly lower this risk if properly crimped.

There are various methods you can use to terminate speaker wires, including banana plugs and spade connectors. Both provide great convenience when connecting your system since no insulation needs to be stripped off before connection. Furthermore, these terminations offer more secure connections than bare wire and reduce oxidation risks.

If you need advice about which termination to choose, speaking to your dealer or manufacturer could be invaluable. They will know which solution best matches the speakers, amplifier, and receiver that you own as well as providing any needed equipment to complete their installation work.

Terminating cable typically involves stripping both ends and connecting them directly to binding posts or terminals on speakers and amps; typically this will be marked with red and black posts to signify positive and negative connections respectively.

Bare wire connections may be simple and cost-effective, yet can also be hazardous, leaving copper exposed to external environments and potentially susceptible to wear or accidental short circuits. Furthermore, any contact between this exposed wire and any conductive materials could cause an electrical short and cause irreparable harm to your audio system.

To ensure a reliable and durable connection, it’s advisable to utilize a professional crimping tool when making terminations. A tight seal created by this will prevent moisture or dirt from entering the cable insulation and causing damage; additionally, wrap any exposed sections with electrical tape as further precautionary measure against potential risks.

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