What Gauge Speaker Wire Do You Recommend? - Home Theater - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 06-07-2010, 10:49 PM   #1
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What gauge speaker wire do you recommend?

I'm in the process of planning a new home theater installation. I'm curious what gauge speaker wire you guys recommend running through the walls and ceilings of my basement for the speakers?


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Old 06-08-2010, 07:00 AM   #2
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It will generally depend on the length of the longest run of cable.
14G would probably be fine. If you had anything over 40-50ft, you could step up to a 12G.

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Old 06-08-2010, 07:57 AM   #3
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Depends on the length of run, watt's the system is going to put out to the speakers, and if you have to run near any electrical wiring (need shielded). Surrounds are normally 16-18 if low watt, 12-14 if higher. Front 12-14, sub 10.
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Old 01-28-2011, 04:00 PM   #4
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I used 14ga lamp cord for mine, including the run to the kitchen. None are more than 20 or 30 feet. Works great.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:27 PM   #5
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12 gauge for short runs is a waste of $.

Here you go!
  • Less than 60 feet: 16 Gauge Speaker Wire
  • 60 to 180 feet: 14 Gauge Speaker Wire
  • More than 200 feet: 12 Gauge Speaker Wire
There is no doubt you want to choose the right speaker gauge to support your cable runs. Here is a rule of thumb I follow. There are other things that can change these numbers. If you are using high powered sub-woofers you may want to up the gauge.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:57 PM   #6
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Speakers are low voltage and relatively high current devices. For loud bass passages we are talking volts around 10 and amperes around 10. Voltage drop in the wires is the same number of volts for a given number of amperes and for the low voltage circuit the percentage of volts dropped is greater compared with a 120 volt circuit for a given number of amperes using the same wires. So the number of feet of wire before we lose, say, 10% of the voltage is far less compared with for 120 volt circuits.

If you don't turn the volume up that high (movie theater volume) you can get by with thinner wires. Also 8 ohm speakers allow a greater distance (about 40% more) than 4 ohm speakers before you have to up the wire size.

(Oversimplified but still not so simple example) Given a 4 ohm speaker, at many frequencies the impedance is half that or 2 ohms. Consider 100 watts peak audio. Volts x amps = 100 watts. Also resistance ( = 2 ) = ( volts / amps ) ergo volts = twice the amps. ... then twice the (amps squared) = 100 or amps is about 7 and volts is about 14. Want to lose no more than 5% so can lose 0.7 volts in the wires. Wire resistance can be no more than (losable) volts of 0.7 divided by amps of 7 or 0.1 ohm. Take 0.1 divided by 0.0026 ohms per foot for 14 gauge wire and the result is 38 feet round trip or 19 feet distance from amplifier to speaker.

I don't think I could hear the difference between losing 10% of the bass (predominant portion of the power output) to voltage drop versus losing 5%, and if I allow a 10% loss then the distance for a given wire size is doubled.


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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-14-2011 at 10:23 AM.
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