Speaker wires are the type of wires used to electrically connect loudspeakers and amplifiers. It is a passive electrical component with varying degrees of capacitance (the ability of a body to store electrical charge), resistance (the opposition of the passage of an electrical current through an element) and inductance (property of a circuit by which a change in current in the circuit induces a voltage in both the circuit itself and any nearby circuits). These three properties determine how each individual speaker wire works – however, resistance is definitely the most important property. Speaker wires have two or more conductors within it, but the universal material is pretty much copper, because it is inexpensive and has low resistance. The wire is then usually encased by some variation of plastic such as Teflon, PVC, or PE. When looking at a speaker wire, one may notice that there are two wires within it. It is important to note that these two wires are electrically identical, but are marked in order to differentiate between audio signal polarities. You should always purchase quality speaker wires (available at Cmple.com), as this wire will have a great impact on the performance of your home theater system. Even the best or most expensive theater system will produce substandard sound if the speaker wire quality is poor. Also, speaker wires don’t usually come with the purchase of a speaker or home theater system, therefore it is necessary to buy them separately after determining what type is the right to use.
All speakers have what is called a “voice coil” connected to the apex of the loudspeaker cone that provides the motive force to the cone by the reaction of a magnetic field to the current passion through it. A low-resistance speaker wire allows the power source to energize this voice coil, therefore creating a better quality sound. It is almost impossible to have a zero-resistance wire. However, shorter wires have very low resistances.
As with most electronic cables, speaker wires follow the AWG standard. The AWG numbers for speaker wires, however, tend to be smaller than those for other types of cords. Picking which AWG is right for you primarily depends on the distance in which you are planning on running the wire across. Cmple offers four different gauges – 18, 16, 14, and 12 AWG. 18 AWG is optimal for less than 25 feet, 16 AWG for under 80 feet, 14 AWG for distances between 80 and 200 feet, and 12 AWG for any distance greater than that. It is important to abide by the recommended AWG standards for distance, as this will minimize any signal quality issues that may come up. Different from other types of cables, there are other specifications to consider other than length when considering what gauge to use. If you’re using surround sound or audiophile-quality music, a thicker wire might be a better option in order to hear small details in the sound and enjoy 5.1-channel surround sound. Also, when using a multi-room system (usually this involves the use of an in-wall speaker wire), a thicker wire may also be preferable, even if it doesn’t correspond with the recommended gauge for that distance. This is because thicker wires have lower resistance, and this lightens the load on the receiver or amp, therefore increasing the longevity of function and performance of the system.
Speaker wires come in a variety of different “designs” in order to suit the needs of different users. One option is clear cables. The idea is simple – the plastic covering surrounding the wires are clear, making it a more aesthetically pleasing option for some users. Another option is to have cables for in-wall installation. Sometimes the best way to set up audio wires is to run them through a wall. Therefore, in-wall cables became necessary. It’s important to know that there are sometimes local codes and laws that are applicable when installing in-wall cablesSometimes there are actually permits required in order to install in-wall cables. Check with your local authorities to make sure prior to beginning the installation.
In order to connect your speaker wire to an amplifier or other audio device, a speaker wire connector is a necessary piece of equipment. The type of connector that you will require depends on the brand and make of the speakers that you’re using – note that not all connectors are the same. There are typically five categories of speaker wire connectors that are used: banana, pin, plugs, spade, and dual. There is some debate as to which connector works the best, but really they all work pretty much the same. The only differences between the varying types of speaker wires are their shapes and sizes.
Installing speaker wires is certainly an easy task. Take your speaker wire (and its connectors – try to avoid using stripped wires, because this can easily damage the wire), and run it from the audio source to the speaker. Then, using any one of the five connectors, connect them to the speaker wire terminals. Speakers have two types of terminals – spring clips and binding posts. When using a spring clip terminal, just press down the clip, insert the wire, and release. There is a spring-loaded mechanism in the terminal that holds the wire in place. Spring clip terminals accept bare wire and pin connectors. However, they do not accept banana plugs, dual banana plugs, and spade connectors. Binding posts typically allow for a stronger connection than spring clip terminals. The steps to connect speaker wires to binding posts is perhaps a little bit more challenging opposed to the prior option, but with the right guidance is relatively simple. First, unscrew the collar which will reveal the hole used to connect bare wire and pin connectors. If you’re using a banana or a dual banana plug, either of these will connect directly into the hold in the center. If you’re using a spade connector, you have to slide it around the collar and it will be secured once you screw the collar back down.