After deciding on the amplifier, subwoofer(s), and enclosure(s), next comes wiring. The purpose of the speaker wire is to carry a signal from the amplifier outputs to the speakers themselves. This article aims to guide selecting a proper gauge and length of speaker wire for your application.
First, you must consider what speakers you connect the wire to. Most car subwoofers come with spring-loaded terminals, but if your speakers do not, you will need a set of speaker wire connectors. Weather-resistant ones are desirable because they protect the bare wire from moisture entering the connection.
A quick way to pick a gauge is to take a measuring tape and measure the outer diameter of the coil(s) on your woofer(s). The second number should be pretty small (1/8″ or less), except for giant woofers with fragile coils. In those cases, it’s best to use as little current as possible, so a 22 gauge would be ideal.
- 4 AWG for coil that is 3/4″ − 1″ in diameter (1 3/8″ to 2 1/2″)
- 2 AWG for coils that are 5/16″ − 7/8″ in diameter (0.7″ to 1.9″)
- 1 AWG for coils that are 9/32″−3/4″-in diameter (0.47″-1.93″)
For the following explanation, let’s say you have a set of kicker comps with dual 10-inch woofers and an amp rated at 300 watts RMS total output power. In this case, 4 gauge wire would be ideal because it can carry up to 100 amps safely, which should sufficiently power the bass system and some extra for future upgrades.
Of course, the more current you are trying to push through your wire, the thicker it will have to be. Speaker wire can carry 100 amps of power safely at 4 gauge, but only about 50 amps at 8 gauge. For reference purposes, most home stereos run ten gauge speaker wires capable of carrying up to 30 ampere(s).
Depending on where you are driving your subwoofers, you may need more or less length of the speaker wire. This is easily solved by buying a little more than you think you’ll need. If the amplifier has an RCA jack for each channel, you can use short wires running off different channels instead of one single long wire. In this situation, it’s best to pick a speaker wire with 50 feet of length if you want the shortest run possible.
If connecting directly from your head unit, or amplifier/processor, sometimes you can use a little bit less length if the signal has an extra-long run before getting to your subwoofer(s). This reduces resistance and will play louder at a slight cost of sound quality.
Keep in mind that thicker wire costs more but provides more power handling capability and is easier to work with if running through a vehicle or wall because it is harder to bend and just generally thicker.
What is the best gauge for a speaker?
Speaker cable is often viewed as a mysterious and confusing topic by many in audio. It’s often misconstrued that it should be bought without much attention given to its other properties because you need to use it. I’d wager there are more myths about speaker wire out there than any other piece of gear or cabling.
Evolution of speaker wire gauge
To fully understand what you need, we should first take a step back and see where speaker wire came from and how it has evolved. After reading this article, I hope that one will at least have a clear path forward on choosing the correct wire for their needs while also getting rid of some common myths along the way. Whether you’re a home audio enthusiast or a seasoned audiophile, I will attempt to shed some light on this often discussed topic.
Importance of wire gauge
It didn’t take long for companies to realize that by changing the gauge (or thickness) of the wire along with its length, they could design the proprietary cable geometry that would give them an advantage in the consumer market. Thus began the marketing hype machine behind speaker wire.
Myths about speaker cable
All speaker cable has oxygen in it and is made up of several different types of metal, including some amount of copper. That’s what conductor wire is. It’s made up of different kinds of metal. You can’t have an oxygen-free anything in the real world except for maybe some inert gasses that would react with everything around it.
And you can’t make single crystallized anything either because crystals are defined by their geometry, or the geometrical structure is dependent on the cooling process, which varies by temperature and duration. Therefore, no matter how thick or thin you make a piece of conductor wire, each strand will contain some amount of oxygen inside its atomic matrix.
What else do all speaker cables have in common?
They’re susceptible to EMI (electromagnetic interference) just like any other cable used in your home theater setup! Think about it, if a wire creates EMI, then a hundred feet of the same wire will create a more intense signal. You can’t shield yourself from EMI unless you have 100% coverage, and even then, there is loss.
The solution to this issue isn’t to use superconductors with anti-gravity fields that defy our current understanding of physics, but rather to design speaker cables that are less prone to pick up interference in the first place by using geometry that has been proven over time as being resistant to outside noise sources.
· What is the best gauge speakers wire to use?
The minimum recommended gauge for any application is 18 AWG. For distances less than 50 feet (15 meters), 16 AWG should be used.
· Which size wire do I need for my speakers?
The wire size needed will depend on the distance between the amplifier and the speakers. As a general rule, use thicker wire for longer distances. For spaces less than 50 feet (15 meters), 16 AWG should be used.