Suggestions for Speaker Cables

M

MacCali

Audioholic
I'm going to guess that a few million miles of non-audiophile speaker cable has been used for installations over the decades and nobody ever complained about the sound quality because A) it works just fine and B) there's no easy way to compare it with something else.

Most people would never recognize the brand names of speaker wire used in commercial/industrial installations and many of those systems are designed by actual engineers. Try telling them about special wire and they'll look at you like you're on TV and they're a dog- they see and hear something but don't understand it because what is being described has no basis in science. If it needs shielding, it's best to move it and if not, leave it be. Necessary wire gauge is determined by knowing the power output, speaker impedance, ambient temperature, distance and really, that's about all that matters. Feelings about how it sounds don't matter. Rule of thumb- if the speakers are in a normal sized house and especially if they're in the same room as the amplifier (or near it), 14ga is probably heavier than necessary but it will work fine. 12ga is overkill, but it makes people feel they have hedged their bets. Heavier than that and if it's some esoteric brand, money is being wasted. Wire splices? Just fine, if they're done right. Seriously.

Don't overthink this- you're not using extremely expensive equipment and a huge amplifier with power hungry speakers in a room that has been acoustically treated by respected professionals.

Not long after I started selling audio equipment, the magazines started filling peoples' heads with BS, specs they didn't understand and marketing buzzwords. People would come in and ask about an amplifier's slew rate, even though it might have been a cheap 20W receiver and they didn't have a clue what it is or why it might be important. The response to them was usually "How does it sound?" and "Can you hear the difference between these receivers?". Some would come in with their new copy of Audio, Consumer Reports or Stereo Review under their arm and ask "How many Amps (Amperes) does this put out?" as if we needed to pass their test. When we would do a rough calculation and tell them it would be around 2.5 Amperes, they were confused and would then say "But this says it's 100 Watts!" and we would tell them that Watts aren't the same as Amperes.

Critical listening is learned- we don't spring from the womb knowing what to listen for but we should accept that not everything makes enough difference that an exhorbitant cost is justified. If someone wants to justify it and it won't cause financial harm, they can go ahead, but I have a problem when they almost demand that others hear the same or try to make others feel like they're lepers if they can't.

Listen to the damn music!
Oh yes I totally agree with you. My question was aimed at @Speedskater , he mentioned the speaker specs should align with the cable. Doesn’t mean they need to be expensive.

I was already told this by an audio store I called who makes cables for people. The gentleman does full home theater set ups, in wall and everything.

I told him I just want cheap and half decent, he told me his advice after telling him my set up was to go to this shop where I purchased the cables. He said he’s used those cables on 5000 dollar speakers and the customers loved it.

So he could have been a prick and got me total garbage and charged me a lot. My plan was to bring cables to him and have him terminate them. He told me not to do that.

I will just try these and see how it goes. As mentioned in #58, and by experience, probably will not notice any difference.

Ive been through this with headphones and DACs and amps. Over thought it, researched like crazy, ended up happy with the most basic setups.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
’m just trying to get garbage for the moment.
Not meaning to come across as ball-busting, but speaker cables shouldn't be referred to as garbage... unless it's Audioquest or such other BS.

OFC is so common now, and rolls of 12 and 14 AWG is very affordable. This is not garbage, rather the standard. That Monoprice cable I linked to early on is completely reasonable for even the highest performing systems.

Things to avoid: CCA or CCS (copper clad aluminum or steel), anybody that discusses skinning or crystal alignment, batteries on cables... etc.

If you think of good ol' speaker cable as garbage, then please send me $5000. It will be money well spent and you will get the same from that investment as you may one day from buying that other cr@p that will likely cost more! :p
 
M

MacCali

Audioholic
Not meaning to come across as ball-busting, but speaker cables shouldn't be referred to as garbage... unless it's Audioquest or such other BS.

OFC is so common now, and rolls of 12 and 14 AWG is very affordable. This is not garbage, rather the standard. That Monoprice cable I linked to early on is completely reasonable for even the highest performing systems.

Things to avoid: CCA or CCS (copper clad aluminum or steel), anybody that discusses skinning or crystal alignment, batteries on cables... etc.

If you think of good ol' speaker cable as garbage, then please send me $5000. It will be money well spent and you will get the same from that investment as you may one day from buying that other cr@p that will likely cost more! :p
Lol I just mean cheap, didn’t mean to ruffle anyone’s feathers :(
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Oh yes I totally agree with you. My question was aimed at @Speedskater , he mentioned the speaker specs should align with the cable. Doesn’t mean they need to be expensive.

I was already told this by an audio store I called who makes cables for people. The gentleman does full home theater set ups, in wall and everything.

I told him I just want cheap and half decent, he told me his advice after telling him my set up was to go to this shop where I purchased the cables. He said he’s used those cables on 5000 dollar speakers and the customers loved it.

So he could have been a prick and got me total garbage and charged me a lot. My plan was to bring cables to him and have him terminate them. He told me not to do that.

I will just try these and see how it goes. As mentioned in #58, and by experience, probably will not notice any difference.

Ive been through this with headphones and DACs and amps. Over thought it, researched like crazy, ended up happy with the most basic setups.
I have been selling & installing audio equipment for 45 years- I have never heard a problem that was caused by halfway decent speaker wire. I did see a few cars that were wired using Bell wire, which is solid 24ga, but that's the worst. Even 18 gauge used to be considered adequate before the big, thick stuff became available and for short runs, that's fine, too. I wouldn't drive insensitive low impedance speakers with a powerful amplifier, but for low power, there's no appreciable resistance on 15' runs. I have measured it and someone I know has done TEF analysis- he said 16ga is fine up to 60', even at 150 Watts. That was real test equipment, not a handheld meter that costs $29.

Headphones and speakers create the sound we hear- anyone who says they're not important should be avoided like the plague. Amplifiers with very similar specs are all but indistinguishable but the pieces that transform the signal from electrical to acoustical energy are all-important.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
Lol I just mean cheap, didn’t mean to ruffle anyone’s feathers :(
Feathers not ruffled. Just simply: words have meaning.
Some other Noob may come along and get extra confused because of those choices of words.
Fact is, cables need represent the smallest percentage of the budget for a quality system; same for a high end system. True there will always be those who think an electron has an effect on the sound you hear (it doesn’t). Sound quality is about the transducers (individual drivers) and the speaker design as a whole, and how that system interacts with your room.
If you provide those electrons simple-yet-good-quality copper, and you do so in a manner that allows the current to ‘flow’ properly through that ‘tube,’ you are doing all you need and will be rewarded with a good signal. :D

Cheers!
 
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M

MacCali

Audioholic
Feathers not ruffled. Just simply: words have meaning.
Some other Noob may come along and get extra confused because of those choices of words.
Fact is, cables need represent the smallest percentage of the budget for a quality system; same for a high end system. True there will always be those who think an electron has an effect on the sound you hear (it doesn’t). Sound quality is about the transducers (individual drivers) and the speaker design as a whole, and how that system interacts with your room.
If you provide those electrons simple-yet-good-quality copper, and you do so in a manner that allows the current to ‘flow’ properly through that ‘tube,’ you are doing all you need and will be rewarded with a good signal. :D

Cheers!
Got you, I think if you go back and read what the audio engineer was saying. Which is, after he posted his thoughts, who my question was directed too said roughly the same thing.

but gave specific detail that two factors play a role, and each speaker had a cable that would make it work best. Not that it needs to be expensive or any of that.

It’s strictly physics and undoubtedly true. Now the reality in differences in those attributes and what you actually gain may be nominal.

But I’m trying to see what he has to say and suggest as he seems to be be certified in this field.

Right now I’m just getting something temporary. This is my first home theater, I’m buying everything piece by piece. So just trying to see where this will go.

So, I’m just here to learn and appreciate everyone’s advice. Everyone has been very helpful and insightful.

Rather than even ask questions, I want to learn something from what people say and understand to reciprocate what is being said. So in the future I won’t have to seek this person out for help to figuring it out and in addition help others with this knowledge.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
With the winter solstice upon us now just make sure the speaker cables you get have the winter oxygen A lot of cables right now still have the summer oxygen and that's no good for this time of year. So make sure your cables have the winter oxygen for better performance and clarity
 
little wing

little wing

Audioholic Chief
I mostly lurk here, because it's both entertaining and informative. Some of the posts in this thread are just hilarious.

To the OP, if you haven't already, just buy some decent speaker cable and be done with it. It's really not that deep.
 
M

MacCali

Audioholic
I mostly lurk here, because it's both entertaining and informative. Some of the posts in this thread are just hilarious.

To the OP, if you haven't already, just buy some decent speaker cable and be done with it. It's really not that deep.
I did.

but this reminded me of something.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
Make sure the guy doing your cables uses the Instrument Cables or you won't hear any Instruments only Vocals.

speaker-cables-vs-instrument-cables-og2.jpg
 
M

MacCali

Audioholic
I think they should ask during the presidential debate, do audio cables matter.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
LOL man. Whatever helps people sleep at night I guess
How about the directional cables with electric flow arrows? :rolleyes:


Ah yeah! Directionality of AC current!
 
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BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
@MacCali - I hope you are taking many of the responses with a grain of salt. It sometimes pains me to see how people like saying just the most random crap to newbies and dragging them through the mud instead of actually helping them. For some reason, they think that being uninformed is a good time to pull out their knowledge and treat others like stupid morons instead of getting them up to speed.

At the end of the day, if you got a good price on basic 12 or 14 gauge speaker cables, then that's fine.
You do want to KNOW the gauge (thickness) of the cables you are going to be using. The cable thickness combined with the length of the cable and the impedance of the speaker all matter for best sound quality.

The best links you got were the first few responses which just gave you real information on length/gauge/resistance.

At the end of the day, you should not be afraid of low-voltage (speaker) wiring. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of videos on YouTube about how to properly terminate your own speaker wires to banana plugs. But, you do want a decent wire stripper, which may be $15. It's a good skill to have.

I'm one of those people that often recommend in-wall rated (CL2/CL3) speaker cable for all speaker wiring as I like the cables to be bundled. But, what you get is entirely up to you. Banana plugs, speaker cable, etc. Terminate it yourself, or not, or whatever. You don't even need to terminate it at all. Just run the wire into your speakers. Whatever works for you.

Just realize that 50' of 12AWG speaker cable runs under 30 bucks. 100 feet is about 40 bucks. 4 pairs of banana plugs runs about 10 or 11 bucks.
So, all in, you are at about 50 bucks for 66' of 12AWG cable, terminated if you DiY. Spending less than that for 12AWG is a good deal. Spending a bit more for someone else to do it isn't a big deal. May even be completely worthwhile. Spending twice as much is a waste. It would be much better for you to learn to DiY and gain some knowledge rather than buy your answer. But, that's only if you are in a situation where you are spending much more than 50 bucks.

Please don't get discouraged by those who shoot out their sarcasm all the time in an attempt to lighten the mood, but really are just taking aim at the newbie. Some people just can't seem to avoid it.
 

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