Speaker Wire - what to use?

Posted by: reason1

Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/06/02 11:02 PM

Just ordered FOM22's and FOVP150. Will continue using some older stuff for a sub and surrounds, not sure what I want yet. Want some advice on what wire I should be using. I'm powering with an Onkyo 696. It seems to me that there is only so much you can get out of your equipment and you can overbuy on wires (and interconnects, but I'll ask about that in another post). So, any reccomendation? What would be the optimal wire for me? What does everyone else use on their Axioms? Ian, what wire do you use on your M80s?
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/06/02 11:58 PM

If you search the board, hopefully you can after the upgrade, you will see many mentions of wire. This is a well discussed area of audio, with some suggesting expensive wires can and do sound better, and some suggesting that is just not true. You are correct when stating there is a limit to all equipment, but what you are trying to accomplish is not to limit what your equipment is capable of.

Speaker cables should be 12gauge in size, and for all discussions, can be purchased at your local Home Depot. You should think of cables as finishing touches on already excellent systems before purchasing expensive cables. They can "polish" excellent equipement, but will not greatly add to a systems sound.

Interconnects are slightly different, and you should buy decent quality brands.

You are correct in stating you can go overboard on cables. You need to achieve a balance. I would not use any "throw in" cables, as they are typically poor - unless you negotiate good cables as part of the deal.
Posted by: lando622

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 05:44 AM

BBIH et al,
Saw you weighed in on this issue and wanted your thoughts... If making an in-wall speaker wire run, can I benefit from a 4-conductor wire in that I would only have to pull the single line to connect to the wall plate for the (2) surrounds? That's my understanding. Browsing the local HD and Lowes, I am only able to find 2-conductor wire, but RadioShack has 4-conductor. Along these same lines, is it necessary to have the wire for the 2 surrounds be of equal length? One surround will be very close to the wall connection, while the other is on the opposite side of the room (approx 20 wire-feet, give or take). It's my understanding that wire length needs to be the same for center/mains. Thanks!
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 11:45 AM

In a purely theoretical sense, yes, all speaker cables should be the exact same length. The cables present a complex load to the circuit of amp and speaker. However, in real life, this is seldom practical and difficult to achieve. Differing lengths would be different loads to your amps and speakers, but the difference when measured technically would not be greatly different. I also suspect that it would be very difficult to hear as well.

What you should not do is coil wire that is too long. This creates greater issues, and makes the circuit even more tricky and complex. Depending on the surroundings, this can lead to audible issues.

As for running 4 pair, or even 2-2 pair in walls, this should be ok. Make certain the cables are of sufficient size as to not limit the system. In wall cables have pros and cons, and you need to weigh them before deciding.
Posted by: alan

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 12:26 PM


Use #12 or #14-gauge copper wire--good, generic cable (Radio Shack is fine) or the bulk cable from Monster if you want. Nor do the cables to different channels have to be of equal length. Use only as much cable as you require (unless you're anticipating moving the speaker further away). If the cable run is only a few feet or a metre, you can use thinner cable, 16 gauge for example.

Come, come, BBIBH; cables present a "complex load" to Bell Canada or Verizon when they are running hundreds of miles of cable. Linking the speaker to your amplifier the length of a living room is NOT a complex load. The speaker is the complex load, not the cable!

The only requirement of cables is to keep resistance low over longer cable runs, and that is accomplished with thick copper cable.

Posted by: BBIBH

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 12:37 PM

Complex load meaning they are more than just resistance. They have inductance and capacitance inherent in the make up.

If you want to debate items, copper is not the only choice for cabling.

Let us remain objective, civil and accept things with an open mind. Your definition of "complex" needs updating.
Posted by: lando622

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 01:33 PM

Thanks guys,
I will go with the 12-gauge and send two runs behind the wall (not difficult in my case) for the surrounds.
That was news to me regarding the different wire lengths being OK. I thought I read somewhere (maybe Robert Harley's "Essentials of Home Theater", but may have been somewhere else) that keeping equal lengths was important to keep any potential "timing" issues in check so all the speakers' sound is heard at the same time. I guess one could be splitting hairs when we're only talking about a few feet, but I want to be sure before I make the "big cut" in my wire. The old measure twice cut once applies for me (or in my case, measure three or four times as I'm more Tim Taylor than Al Borlen). .
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 04:20 PM

I had always been told, and read the same regarding lengths needing to be equal. However, it may not always be possible when working with home decor.

Best of luck.
Posted by: lando622

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 06:35 PM

Thanks for the well wishes. Fortunately, I can make the wire lengths for the center and mains the same, so I will do that. The surrounds will be different wire lengths from each other, and both runs will be considerably longer than the fronts, but it will all work out Have a good one!
Posted by: reason1

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 06:37 PM

Why is it bad to coil the wire if that makes them equal length?
Posted by: b_man

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 07:04 PM

I am using Sound King 12 gauge speaker wire from Parts Express.com for all of my speakers. As for interconnects, I have been happy thus far with the Acoustic Research Pro Series. They can be a little hard to find but are very reasonably priced.

Receiver: Onkyo 797
Mains: Axiom M22
Center: Axiom VP50 (hope to upgrade soon)
Surround: Mission 77DS
Subwoofer: Infinity BU1 (older but still kicks)

Enjoy the hobby!
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 07:17 PM

If I remember correctly, my Axiom AX3s are wired internally with Sound King by Ian and company. At least the subwoofer was, and it was 12g.

Is that correct Ian? What wiring and gauge is currently used? I guess I could look again!
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/07/02 07:20 PM

If you coil wire, it becomes an inductor - similar to a transformer winding, or a choke or another voice coil in the before the electrical end of the circuit: the speaker itself.
Posted by: alan

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/08/02 10:42 AM

By coiling the speaker wire, you can effectively turn your speaker cable into a nice little antenna, making it more susceptible to radio frequency (RF) interference from nearby transmitters (taxis, ham radio, whatever) of any sort. By the way, if you do get that kind of interference, you can sometimes tune it out by coiling and rotating the coiled cable until the offending RF signals are inaudible.

Coiling the cable may also make it more likely to pick up AC hum fields from your AC power cords to the equipment. To keep everything correct, the speaker cables should cross AC supply cords at right angles, not be parallel to them.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/08/02 06:16 PM

One more question as long as I'm on a roll. Why use equal lengths anyway? When you adjust with your SPL won't you compensate for unequal lengths?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/12/02 05:34 PM

Because you have just created a nice big inductor. :^(

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Speaker Wire - what to use? - 03/13/02 03:48 PM

I'm also curious about not coiling the speaker cable. Is this really a problem or an old wives tale?