Is it a sin to splice speaker cable?

W

Wabbit

Junior Audioholic
I'm curious... Doing a zone 2 to a couple in ceiling speakers for the house. That sorta thing is easily a 100' run in my case. I don't wanna pay for 10 gauge cable. What do you guys run for multi zone in the house? I got some 12 and 16 awg. Thinking of splicing them over buying new spool.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
I'm curious... Doing a zone 2 to a couple in ceiling speakers for the house. That sorta thing is easily a 100' run in my case. I don't wanna pay for 10 gauge cable. What do you guys run for multi zone in the house? I got some 12 and 16 awg. Thinking of splicing them over buying new spool.
If you are talking about running two 12 gauge cables together in parallel in order to increase the effective gauge, yes that is ok. In fact, Audioholics recommends running double cables inside walls and ceilings so that if you need an extra connection later on down the road, you can separate the ends and have two separate cables runs. This video on building cables is 6 years old but still applies. Search the Audioholics YouTube channel for speaker cable videos... they have lots of information on there.
Here's a good site for learning about speaker wire and gauges:
http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
I got some 12 and 16 awg. Thinking of splicing them over buying new spool.
Are you talking about splicing 12 to 16 awg in order to increase your length? That would be a bad idea, especially at such a long run, I would think.
I'm a big fan of just doing it right, and the cost of even 12AWG CL2 rated wiring isn't that bad:

For that distance, yes, 10AWG would be recommended, especially if the impedance drops to 4 ohms.

This is a great article, including a blurb on extended length runs:

Cheers!
 
W

Wabbit

Junior Audioholic
Cool. Thanks. I've seen all the Audioholic vids. I was curious about long runs through the house for multi zone as it's not like many of the speakers would even accept 10awg. Nor would that be any fun to pull. At some point, sacrafices are made. Not so for the theater itself.
 
mtrycrafts

mtrycrafts

Audioholic Slumlord
Sounds like this would be for background music listening?

If so, I would not really worry about that. Use up your 12 ga firs then splice the 16 as needed for the shorter distance needed to get there.

All you would need to do is increase the volume a little more. Don't agonize over this. If you need more wire get at least 14ga or 12.
Just make sure you try to stagger the splice a bit so you don't have spliced wire next to each other. Just a safety issue, nothing more.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm curious... Doing a zone 2 to a couple in ceiling speakers for the house. That sorta thing is easily a 100' run in my case. I don't wanna pay for 10 gauge cable. What do you guys run for multi zone in the house? I got some 12 and 16 awg. Thinking of splicing them over buying new spool.
Slicing wires end to end is OK, if it's done correctly and the gauges are adequate for the length needed- your 12ga is OK, but the 16 ga isn't.

If your speaker wire isn't fire-rated CL2 or CMR, it's not allowed for in-wall or in-ceiling use- twin lead without any kind of jacket, like lamp cord, is OK for use if it's laying on the floor, but not for the applications I mentioned.
 
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Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
LOL... I wonder what I was thinking initially. There is a proper way to splice wires. Lay the strands in an X and wrap the ends in each direction. If you have heat shrink tubing, slide some of that over one cable first and keep it away from heat until you slide it over the joint. Soldering the joint is preferred as copper wire will oxidize but if taped properly or covered in heat shrink tubing a twisted joint can last many years without issues as the insulation slows the oxidation.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
LOL... I wonder what I was thinking initially. There is a proper way to splice wires. Lay the strands in an X and wrap the ends in each direction. If you have heat shrink tubing, slide some of that over one cable first and keep it away from heat until you slide it over the joint. Soldering the joint is preferred as copper wire will oxidize but if taped properly or covered in heat shrink tubing a twisted joint can last many years without issues as the insulation slows the oxidation.
I switched jobs and worked for a car audio store where a guy with a freaking stellar reputation had been. Later, he opened his own place and the ads included "Larry, who does things with car systems that defy the laws of Physics". I would have to agree- rather than use some kind of reliable crimped connection, he twisted the wires as in the lower example and wrapped them in duct tape. Once the heat got to them and the glue oozed between the wires, I guess this does defy Physics if they continued to work. Many needed to be re-terminated. I worked on a few cars he had done for that store- they all sucked.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
I switched jobs and worked for a car audio store where a guy with a freaking stellar reputation had been. Later, he opened his own place and the ads included "Larry, who does things with car systems that defy the laws of Physics". I would have to agree- rather than use some kind of reliable crimped connection, he twisted the wires as in the lower example and wrapped them in duct tape. Once the heat got to them and the glue oozed between the wires, I guess this does defy Physics if they continued to work. Many needed to be re-terminated. I worked on a few cars he had done for that store- they all sucked.
Who uses duct tape for electrical work? :eek: Oh, Larry, that's who. :D
Car's are exposed to much greater extremes of weather so soldering or some form of mechanical connector is required. You can get away with twisted joints in a house if taped properly with electrical tape or heat shrink. I've opened 20 year old connections where the copper was still nice and shiny but anything that is run inside a cavity / wall / ceiling should be soldered for longevity.

@Wabbit The upper joint in the photo is obviously the one used for wire nuts, but if you're snaking cable through a wall or ceiling the wire nut can catch on a corner or obstruction and get torn off without it being seen. Wire nuts should only be used in place after the cable is run.

My pet peeve in car audio was those guys that twisted wire together like in the upper photo and then wrapped the joint in tape like a wire nut. A bit of hot summer weather to soften the adhesive and the tape slides right off. Then they wonder why their power amp mysteriously blew up.
 
mtrycrafts

mtrycrafts

Audioholic Slumlord
What the heck is a "sin" ?
I was going to write about that as well but changed my mind.
But, since you brought it up, no reason not to express myself on this topic.
It is a human construct to keep people in line, enforceable by religious groups.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
Who uses duct tape for electrical work? :eek: Oh, Larry, that's who. :D
Car's are exposed to much greater extremes of weather so soldering or some form of mechanical connector is required. You can get away with twisted joints in a house if taped properly with electrical tape or heat shrink. I've opened 20 year old connections where the copper was still nice and shiny but anything that is run inside a cavity / wall / ceiling should be soldered for longevity.

@Wabbit The upper joint in the photo is obviously the one used for wire nuts, but if you're snaking cable through a wall or ceiling the wire nut can catch on a corner or obstruction and get torn off without it being seen. Wire nuts should only be used in place after the cable is run.

My pet peeve in car audio was those guys that twisted wire together like in the upper photo and then wrapped the joint in tape like a wire nut. A bit of hot summer weather to soften the adhesive and the tape slides right off. Then they wonder why their power amp mysteriously blew up.
NEC approves crimped connections, wire nuts, Wago connectors and screwed down, but soldered isn't really a good option for electrical wiring because of low temperature, wind, inability of the electrician to make a good connection and the time needed to terminate- time is money and contractors want to make money, not go back to fix cold solder joints. Wires were soldered in the days of knob & tube, but when ceramic wire nuts came along, that basically ended. Twisted & taped is never allowed in electrical and hasn't been, for decades.

Why would anyone pull wires/cables after the wire nuts have been used?

I would bet that millions of car radios were installed using the twist & tape method and some places used little wing nuts, but they didn't have the wire inside, so they would spin off of the wire when it was pulled. I made the mistake of hiring someone who was 17 and thought he knew everything, but I needed bodies, so....
One day, I saw him using terminals from his own little box and I told him to toss the wire nuts or take them home, but never use them in my shop. He immediately said "No, they work fine! I'll show you". Right. I had been doing car audio for years and he's going to show me that a wire nut is good enough, so he twisted two wires together and told me to pull one end. Sure enough, it came apart easily. I repeated this with freshly stripped ends, but used a crimp cap- the cap didn't release, the strands of the wire broke. He sheepishly put them away and I said "This isn't my shop, it's the company's shop and this is what we will use".
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
Well, I was talking about speaker wire as opposed to electrical. Most people don't have the proper iron or solder/flux to do electrical soldering with heavy solid copper wire but all of your points are valid. Not pulling wire after wire nuts have been used refers to speaker cable. No one pulls electrical cable extended with wire nuts; all joints have to be enclosed in a box. Well, I say that but just watch a few episodes with Mike Holmes to see some of the ridiculous stuff some people do with electrical. Unenclosed and inaccessible connections inside walls or unterminated live wires. Crazy. I could easily see someone snaking speaker cable extended with wire nuts though and what's obvious to some is not necessarily obvious to others.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
Well, I was talking about speaker wire as opposed to electrical. Most people don't have the proper iron or solder/flux to do electrical soldering with heavy solid copper wire but all of your points are valid. Not pulling wire after wire nuts have been used refers to speaker cable. No one pulls electrical cable extended with wire nuts; all joints have to be enclosed in a box. Well, I say that but just watch a few episodes with Mike Holmes to see some of the ridiculous stuff some people do with electrical. Unenclosed and inaccessible connections inside walls or unterminated live wires. Crazy. I could easily see someone snaking speaker cable extended with wire nuts though and what's obvious to some is not necessarily obvious to others.
I worked on a condo that had been pre-wired by someone who thought it was OK to extend a short speaker cable using wire nuts, before the drywall was hung. When it came time to be able to connect the closest speaker to the amplifier, I pulled to form a loop (which hadn't been provided) and it popped free. Turns out, the cable had been passed through a hole in a piece of 2x12 blocking in the joist space that was just large enough to get the cable through and not much more. The problem- the blocking was about halfway between the speaker cutouts and I couldn't even see the hole from the far end, but I could see it from the feed end, so I got my flashlight, a mirror and push rods so I could try to get the rod into the little hole. Unfortunately, I couldn't look forward while I did this because it was an 8" hole, so I had to look at it in my mirror, in reverse view and anyone who knows push rods knows they droop as more length is used.

Took about five minutes.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
I worked on a condo that had been pre-wired by someone who thought it was OK to extend a short speaker cable using wire nuts, before the drywall was hung. When it came time to be able to connect the closest speaker to the amplifier, I pulled to form a loop (which hadn't been provided) and it popped free. Turns out, the cable had been passed through a hole in a piece of 2x12 blocking in the joist space that was just large enough to get the cable through and not much more. The problem- the blocking was about halfway between the speaker cutouts and I couldn't even see the hole from the far end, but I could see it from the feed end, so I got my flashlight, a mirror and push rods so I could try to get the rod into the little hole. Unfortunately, I couldn't look forward while I did this because it was an 8" hole, so I had to look at it in my mirror, in reverse view and anyone who knows push rods knows they droop as more length is used.

Took about five minutes.
Five minutes is pretty good in that situation. :) Most people don't realize what's truly involved in a good wiring job. I know that I would have to do a lot of research to get myself up to snuff on a modern installation. I recently watched a video with the guy who wired Gene's new house. In a typical new build, the contractor wants the house wired in 3 days. With a full home automation, audio and data install it's closer to 3 weeks!
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
Five minutes is pretty good in that situation. :) Most people don't realize what's truly involved in a good wiring job. I know that I would have to do a lot of research to get myself up to snuff on a modern installation. I recently watched a video with the guy who wired Gene's new house. In a typical new build, the contractor wants the house wired in 3 days. With a full home automation, audio and data install it's closer to 3 weeks!
Considering the fact that the push rod was bouncing lazily as I held it, I will say one thing about actually getting the tip to enter the little hole- I got lucky. Period.

Wanting it done in three days shows a complete lack of understanding of the process- low voltage has to wait for everyone else to finish using joist and stud spaces. Then, it's a race to see how fast the inspection can be done before the drywall goes up and makes life miserable for the LV guys.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
Considering the fact that the push rod was bouncing lazily as I held it, I will say one thing about actually getting the tip to enter the little hole- I got lucky. Period.

Wanting it done in three days shows a complete lack of understanding of the process- low voltage has to wait for everyone else to finish using joist and stud spaces. Then, it's a race to see how fast the inspection can be done before the drywall goes up and makes life miserable for the LV guys.
I was at a friend's last night and he is one of the few I know who did it right. It's combination residential-commercial property; old two story house in the front with office addition and garages in the back. Not fun to have to wire but he hired one of the best audio shops in town and did the full cat-6 hdmi run throughout. Projection screen with full surround system in the upper board room, speakers in reception, flat screen in the lower board room, tv in the kitchen, big screen and full surround in the living room, speakers on the patio and in the garage, and he can cast to multiple rooms. Doesn't hurt when you can charge it all to the business. :D
 
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