Are normal cables good enough? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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04-24-2008, 02:34 AM
I am in the process of having my house built right now and they have to prewire it for surrounds soon. The wires have to go under the hardwood floors and then up the back wall so there is quite some distance that needs to be covered (aprox 45 feet for each speaker in the rears). Would some normal 16 gauge cables work? Do I need to go with 12 gauge or do I even need to go with some of the speciality cables that I see you guys talk about some on this forum. I simply did not know if they were needed and if they would make a difference.

I have a lot of feet to cover so I did not want to break the bank!

thanks guys

04-24-2008, 03:41 AM
Hi Crash32.

If you're running 45 feet of wire, you probably want at least 14 gauge wire, and probably 12 gauge for peace of mind. A common rule in home audio is that 16 gauge wire should not exceed 48 feet for an 8 ohm resistive load, or 24 feet for a 4 ohm load. This keeps the added resistance of the wire below 5% of the system rated impedance, which should render any effects of added resistance inaudible. If you're using nominal 8 ohm speakers, there will be ranges of frequencies that approach, or even drop below 4 ohms. So for that particular length you are probably looking at using 14 or 12 gauge.

You can find 12 gauge wire in 500 ft lenghts for around $70 plus shipping on ebay, so it's not terribly expensive. Sell what you don't use or find a friend to go in on it with you?

04-24-2008, 07:34 AM
After hearing what you said and some research, I think I would feel the most comfortable being safe and go with the 12 gauge wire.

Do I need "high performance" 12 gauge wires or are these hardly worth the extra money? I notice that some of the wires have speical coating on them and connectors......are they necessary?

04-24-2008, 07:44 AM
There's no need for "high performance" 12 guage wires as far as SQ is concerned. Actually, I question the validity of that name.

As for special coatings, some cities require they be flame retardant. Sometimes they require teflon coating or some such. In that case, if you want to meet code, you might want to check with the city engineer but sometimes these" low voltage" apps are not affected.

And, as for ends on cables, you don't want to buy in-wall cable with ends on them. You'll most likely have them attached to wall plates on both sides.

04-24-2008, 08:35 AM
hello mark, I am not sure what you mean by cables with ends on them vs wall plates... could you explain? Sorry that I am confused!

04-24-2008, 10:40 AM
notice that some of the wires have speical coating on them and connectors......are they necessary?What do you mean by the bolded print? That's what I was referring to.

How do you envision these wires coming out of the walls?

In-wall cables don't have "connectors" in the sense of banana plugs, spade lugs and the like. They end in bare wires that are connected to plates you mount in the wall, into which you would plug your speaker wires..

04-24-2008, 02:44 PM
The only way to go is transparent Reference Opus or Nordost Odin. A few hundred feet should only cost you about a million bucks!!:cryin: If you don't get either one of these then you may as well just forget it.:D

Truth is a soundly-designed decent spec copper cable will get the job done very satisfactorily. A good idea is to get a spool of QED Silver Anniversary (an older model). It is truly excellent cable and very high purity copper plated in silver. A spool of 50 ft should cost you about $110 or thereabouts on ebay (if its not listed on ebay us, it may be on So if you need 200 ft, you can get audiophile quality cable for under a grand. It is not the most flexible in the world, but it is reasonably tough and the sound quality is worth it.

04-24-2008, 03:23 PM
I thought that if I had inwall wires that they would just come out in bare wire and I would have to connect that to the speaker. When I said connectors, I was referring to how some of the wires I have seen have banana plugs, and other types of connectors. I did not know if one was preferred over the other.

04-24-2008, 04:49 PM
Crash, buy 100 feet of bluejean cable. You can get 10g for 89cents a foot and 12g for 61cents a foot. Buy the bare wire and then the bananna plugs separate and put then on yourself. These are very good cables.

04-24-2008, 07:56 PM
Crash 32

This is sort of long but well worth the read and money it will save you from buying expensive speaker wire. Suggest you head down to your local audio beautique, Home Depot. Of course this will ruffle lots of feathers here in the GEA flock.


04-25-2008, 03:39 AM
Radio Shack offers a flat wire. It's reasonable at $.50/foot for a 14 gauge pair. Most importantly IMHO this wire sounds good when used on more expensive systems. Most stores don't carry this model, they'll try and talk you into another (usually more expensive) brand. Special order it if you need to, or buy it on0line.

04-28-2008, 01:17 PM
How about Home Depot zip cord? Your system may sound like shyte, but at least its inexpensive.

04-28-2008, 02:33 PM
How about Home Depot zip cord? Your system may sound like shyte, but at least its inexpensive.If his system sounds like shiite, it won't be the reesult of the cable.

04-28-2008, 05:47 PM
Crash 32:

Before you make a decision, I strongly suggest you study up on this topic as I just recently did. I never gave much time to this but I have been now and I've drawn a few conclusions:

16 gauge higher quality speaker cables will sound better than some low end 10 or 12 gauge wire found at a Home Depot. Larger gauge cable does not automatically mean better high frequencies, better roll off, more detail, better soundstage, etc. I recently started studying about speaker wire since I've embarked on my next upgrade (currently using Monster XP). My runs are fairly long too (31' to my LM and 20' to my RM speaker). I studied up on this in Robert Harley's book (Complete Guide to High End Audio) plus read various speaker cable manufacturer websites and visited a few stores. There are also some good articles on-line about this topic. At the very least, you want to go with 99.99% oxygen free copper and a dielectric material that's either Polyethylene or Teflon. Stay away from PVC and regular plastic for the dielectric material. After looking at various brands and my budget, I went with entry level Tara Labs Prism Klara Bi-Wire 16 awg speaker cables ($4.00/ft plus plugs). I will be getting them tomorrow cut to order with bannana plugs on each each. There's no question these will bring out far better performance from my B&W speakers at 16 gauge than just going with 10 or 12 gauge sold or stranded inexpensive generic speaker wire especially that I'm upgrading to bi-wiring. You do get what you pay for. Go to and read up on the technical aspects of higher end audio speaker cable and what happens to your sound when you go with lower grade wire. Very interesting stuff.

04-28-2008, 10:36 PM
Home Depot zip cord is exactly what I would buy in the proper qauge for your lengths. You will hear no difference. Don't believe any of the expensive speaker wire nonsense! It is exactly that, nonsense.

Read the link above by Roger Russell.