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How long can you run speaker wire?
treeninja
post Sep 17 2006, 15:14
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Hey guys,

Quick question: how long can you run speaker wire before the signal starts to degrade or get weak?

I was thinking about running some surround speakers to the back of a large room for a 5.1 setup, and I am curious.
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ftboomer
post Sep 17 2006, 15:18
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QUOTE (treeninja @ Sep 17 2006, 10:14) *
Hey guys,

Quick question: how long can you run speaker wire before the signal starts to degrade or get weak?

I was thinking about running some surround speakers to the back of a large room for a 5.1 setup, and I am curious.



For my rears I have about 50 feet but I would never run my mains over 10 feet.
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KnobTwiddler
post Sep 17 2006, 15:54
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QUOTE (ftboomer @ Sep 17 2006, 10:18) *
QUOTE (treeninja @ Sep 17 2006, 10:14) *

Hey guys,

Quick question: how long can you run speaker wire before the signal starts to degrade or get weak?

I was thinking about running some surround speakers to the back of a large room for a 5.1 setup, and I am curious.



For my rears I have about 50 feet but I would never run my mains over 10 feet.



Why not? If you need to run a longer lead you can switch to a heavier gauge wire. Not that it matters terribly; 16 ga. will be fine for an 8 ohm speaker up to about 80 ft.
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chelgrian
post Sep 17 2006, 18:21
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QUOTE (KnobTwiddler @ Sep 17 2006, 15:54) *
Why not? If you need to run a longer lead you can switch to a heavier gauge wire. Not that it matters terribly; 16 ga. will be fine for an 8 ohm speaker up to about 80 ft.


At which you'll get a loss in the cable probably not more than .05db which is hardly significant. The trouble only really starts when you need to drive large amounts of power into low impedance cabinets.

Also say away from "consumer" speaker cable it's usually vastly over priced for what it is. Cable sold for professional use by companies such as Sommer and VDC Trading is just as good, more durable and cheap. Do bear in mind though that binding posts on consumer amplifiers aren't big enough to take the heaviest guage professional cables.
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KnobTwiddler
post Sep 18 2006, 18:55
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QUOTE (chelgrian @ Sep 17 2006, 13:21) *
QUOTE (KnobTwiddler @ Sep 17 2006, 15:54) *

Why not? If you need to run a longer lead you can switch to a heavier gauge wire. Not that it matters terribly; 16 ga. will be fine for an 8 ohm speaker up to about 80 ft.


At which you'll get a loss in the cable probably not more than .05db which is hardly significant. The trouble only really starts when you need to drive large amounts of power into low impedance cabinets.

Also say away from "consumer" speaker cable it's usually vastly over priced for what it is. Cable sold for professional use by companies such as Sommer and VDC Trading is just as good, more durable and cheap. Do bear in mind though that binding posts on consumer amplifiers aren't big enough to take the heaviest guage professional cables.



The only caveat I'd offer is that no speaker has a constant impedance. In fact, many "8 ohm" speakers will dip below 4 ohm in sertain situations! I think that's why heavier gauge cable makes a difference in bass and dynamics when it shouldn't on paper. I haven't ABX'd this idea, so it's just my pet hypothesis. smile.gif

What do you think of solid-core cable?

This post has been edited by KnobTwiddler: Sep 18 2006, 18:56
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BradPDX
post Sep 18 2006, 21:30
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QUOTE
The only caveat I'd offer is that no speaker has a constant impedance. In fact, many "8 ohm" speakers will dip below 4 ohm in sertain situations! I think that's why heavier gauge cable makes a difference in bass and dynamics when it shouldn't on paper. I haven't ABX'd this idea, so it's just my pet hypothesis. smile.gif

What do you think of solid-core cable?


Don't waste time with solid core - it is too inflexible and offers no advantage at all over stranded core.

If you wish to feel "safe" (though you will NOT hear a real difference) you may calculate wire gauge using 4 ohms as your assumed load.

If you wish to lose no more than 0.1dB (which you cannot hear, I guarantee) then the speaker wire must be exhibit no more than 0.046 ohm (quick calculation). Using 16ga as an example, the length may then be:

0.046/0.0042 = 11ft.

With 12ga:

0.046/0.0017 = 27ft.

I would wager that you could quadruple this length and there is still no audible difference.

There is an easy table of AWG impedences here.
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Woodinville
post Sep 18 2006, 22:18
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QUOTE (BradPDX @ Sep 18 2006, 13:30) *
QUOTE
The only caveat I'd offer is that no speaker has a constant impedance. In fact, many "8 ohm" speakers will dip below 4 ohm in sertain situations! I think that's why heavier gauge cable makes a difference in bass and dynamics when it shouldn't on paper. I haven't ABX'd this idea, so it's just my pet hypothesis. smile.gif

What do you think of solid-core cable?


Don't waste time with solid core - it is too inflexible and offers no advantage at all over stranded core.

If you wish to feel "safe" (though you will NOT hear a real difference) you may calculate wire gauge using 4 ohms as your assumed load.

If you wish to lose no more than 0.1dB (which you cannot hear, I guarantee) then the speaker wire must be exhibit no more than 0.046 ohm (quick calculation). Using 16ga as an example, the length may then be:

0.046/0.0042 = 11ft.

With 12ga:

0.046/0.0017 = 27ft.

I would wager that you could quadruple this length and there is still no audible difference.

There is an easy table of AWG impedences here.


And, if you have to have really, really long speaker cable, use some of the low-inductance 4-wire low series inductance wire if you must.

It's still cheaper than the "high quality consumer grade audiophile cable". So is most jewelry.


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treeninja
post Sep 19 2006, 15:06
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Thanks for the advice guys!

Oh, one other thing that is related that I want to ask you guys about:

I will probably end up getting the wires installed into the walls, so I am wondering how long the wire usually lasts before it might possibly start to get too old and need to be replaced. Assuming that I get some decent quality wire, how many years should I expect my speaker wire to last, and how often will I have to replace it? And is there any particular kind of wire that has a longer lifespan than the rest?

This post has been edited by treeninja: Sep 19 2006, 15:07
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KnobTwiddler
post Sep 19 2006, 15:27
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The wire should last indefinitely as long as the insulation is intact. So just be careful to not burn the wire when pulling it through tight areas.
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zipr
post Sep 19 2006, 15:36
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Kinda related to this: how long can the wire be between my computer or mp3 player and my stereo amplifier?

I'm using whatever the standard gage is for RCA cables - or should I go heavier for this too?
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chelgrian
post Sep 19 2006, 23:26
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QUOTE (treeninja @ Sep 19 2006, 15:06) *
I will probably end up getting the wires installed into the walls, so I am wondering how long the wire usually lasts before it might possibly start to get too old and need to be replaced. Assuming that I get some decent quality wire, how many years should I expect my speaker wire to last, and how often will I have to replace it? And is there any particular kind of wire that has a longer lifespan than the rest?


Look for something which is sold for "installation" the only difference is in the insulation. Cables sold for touring use have flexible rubberised insulation to make the cable easy to coil and so the insulation doesn't break down under mechanical action. Cables sold for installation generally have much harder and less rubbery insulation which protects the wire better but is next to impossible to coil and if you did coil it repeatedly the plastic would disintigrate. A good quality cable is going to last decades before it needs replacing, infact it'll probably last roughly the same amount of time as the mains wiring in your house.
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chelgrian
post Sep 19 2006, 23:43
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QUOTE (zipr @ Sep 19 2006, 15:36) *
Kinda related to this: how long can the wire be between my computer or mp3 player and my stereo amplifier?

I'm using whatever the standard gage is for RCA cables - or should I go heavier for this too?


Unlike a speaker cable whose businnes is shifting power from amp to speaker cone under ideal conditions the wire between your MP3 player and and amp is acting as a transmission line and no power is being transmitted so the guage of the wire hardly matters. The problem with long signal cable runs is that they tend to act as aerials and pick up RF interference. I'd therefore keep these cables as short as possible and also keep them away (more than 6 inches) from power cables. If you have to cross a power cable do it at 90 degrees.

Having said that I've run 5 metre RCA cables with no problems, it all depends on the environment

Professional equipment uses balanced connections where two copies of the signal are transmitted one of which is inverted with respect to the other. The conductors are twisted in such a way that noise picked up from the environment will affect each conductor equally. You then recover the original signal at the other end by subtracting one signal from the other. The cable is also screened and the screen is connected to a third pin so there is a common earth level between the two bits of equipment. Such balanced runs can go to hundreds of meters without noise problems.

However almost no consumer equipment has such connections due to the extra cost and the fact that very few people actually need it in a home environment.
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Akins
post Feb 13 2007, 06:31
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As far as speaker wire length, i ran a speaker circuit through 1000 Ft of 12-2 romex. Not the best idea, but their projection horns for a local race track. Pay no attention to those Voltage Drop calculators. Wire resistance of 1.34 ohms through 2000FT of 8-2 wire equalls 100% Voltage Drop? Speaker resistance is much higher. You'd be suprised how long you can run. Just watch your gauge. Lanscape wire is good stuff
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pepoluan
post Feb 16 2007, 10:43
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QUOTE (chelgrian @ Sep 20 2006, 05:43) *
QUOTE (zipr @ Sep 19 2006, 15:36) *
Kinda related to this: how long can the wire be between my computer or mp3 player and my stereo amplifier?

I'm using whatever the standard gage is for RCA cables - or should I go heavier for this too?
Unlike a speaker cable whose businnes is shifting power from amp to speaker cone under ideal conditions the wire between your MP3 player and and amp is acting as a transmission line and no power is being transmitted so the guage of the wire hardly matters. The problem with long signal cable runs is that they tend to act as aerials and pick up RF interference. I'd therefore keep these cables as short as possible and also keep them away (more than 6 inches) from power cables. If you have to cross a power cable do it at 90 degrees.

Having said that I've run 5 metre RCA cables with no problems, it all depends on the environment

Professional equipment uses balanced connections where two copies of the signal are transmitted one of which is inverted with respect to the other. The conductors are twisted in such a way that noise picked up from the environment will affect each conductor equally. You then recover the original signal at the other end by subtracting one signal from the other. The cable is also screened and the screen is connected to a third pin so there is a common earth level between the two bits of equipment. Such balanced runs can go to hundreds of meters without noise problems.

However almost no consumer equipment has such connections due to the extra cost and the fact that very few people actually need it in a home environment.
If you want some simple shielding, go to a plumbing store and buy a flexible coiled-metal hose. Put your cable in it. Ground the hose. Ta-da! Instant shielding (and nice eye candy too smile.gif )


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schonek
post Aug 1 2010, 17:07
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QUOTE (chelgrian @ Sep 17 2006, 12:21) *
QUOTE (KnobTwiddler @ Sep 17 2006, 15:54) *
Why not? If you need to run a longer lead you can switch to a heavier gauge wire. Not that it matters terribly; 16 ga. will be fine for an 8 ohm speaker up to about 80 ft.


At which you'll get a loss in the cable probably not more than .05db which is hardly significant. The trouble only really starts when you need to drive large amounts of power into low impedance cabinets.

Also say away from "consumer" speaker cable it's usually vastly over priced for what it is. Cable sold for professional use by companies such as Sommer and VDC Trading is just as good, more durable and cheap. Do bear in mind though that binding posts on consumer amplifiers aren't big enough to take the heaviest guage professional cables.


Hi - was reading the post and comments since I'd like to run speaker wire to some outdoor speakers placed in the yard (about 100ft). @chelgrian, do you have any links for the reference to "Sommer and VDC Trading" or what wire/cable to specifically look for that would withstand the elements (in Michigan)? Can you get it in 12 gauge (I think that's the max for these speakers)? I read on some of the audiophile sites that copper quality was the deciding factor...any idea how "pure" the copper is? BTW, any thoughts or recommendations on what to run on the inside of the home for distances <100ft?

Thanks for the advice/suggestions!

This post has been edited by schonek: Aug 1 2010, 17:14
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Speedskater
post Aug 1 2010, 17:17
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Low voltage garden lighting wire is a good choice. It's U/V resistant, can be buried and has a budget price at any home supply store.


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Ed Seedhouse
post Aug 1 2010, 17:45
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QUOTE (Speedskater @ Aug 1 2010, 09:17) *
Low voltage garden lighting wire is a good choice. It's U/V resistant, can be buried and has a budget price at any home supply store.


Well, if you are running any wire outside and if there has ever been a lighting storm in your area in recorded history, I would think twice about adding another route for large amounts of power to get into my system. At the very least you need a good ground.




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RonaldDumsfeld
post Aug 1 2010, 23:58
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Good Source of Quality Cable

Sommer Meridian Halogen+Oxygen Free @ 2:20 would appear to be the last word in economy cable one upmanship.

How many of your mates have got the same Fireproof cable as Led Zeppelin use?

This isn't a complete joke. Sommer make professional gear and the Studiospares cable finder app can provide hours of free fun.

(p.s. I don't actually know for 100% certain Led Zeppelin used Sommer speaker cable but as cable claims go it's more plausable than most).

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Speedskater
post Aug 2 2010, 02:11
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QUOTE (Ed Seedhouse @ Aug 1 2010, 12:45) *
QUOTE (Speedskater @ Aug 1 2010, 09:17) *
Low voltage garden lighting wire is a good choice. It's U/V resistant, can be buried and has a budget price at any home supply store.

Well, if you are running any wire outside and if there has ever been a lighting storm in your area in recorded history, I would think twice about adding another route for large amounts of power to get into my system. At the very least you need a good ground.

I wouldn't ground the loudspeaker wires.
But that reminds me of the early Crown amplifier's instruction manual. In the section about outdoor PA speaker systems, it warned that a lightning strike would invalidate the amplifier. That's the amplifier not the warranty that gets invalidated.


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dhromed
post Aug 3 2010, 22:03
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QUOTE (Speedskater @ Aug 2 2010, 03:11) *
a lightning strike would invalidate the amplifier. That's the amplifier not the warranty that gets invalidated.


Well, obviously an immolated hunk of partially liquefied metal does not qualify as an amp any longer, so it seems rather reasonable. The warranty would be void by proxy, I guess.

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Woodinville
post Aug 3 2010, 22:10
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In the (now defunct) AT&T Listening room we had ove 100' runs, we used the Belden low-inductance 4-wire stuff (two sets of wires, opposite twists, use 1-4 and 2-3 as conductors. Steve Lampen could tell you more about that.

No problems to speak of.

The only problem is if you have a poorly designed speaker, say one that goes from 4 ohms to lots at resonance. I've seen some of these.

Then you MIGHT get a bit of frequency shaping.

One caveat: If you run 2-conductor wire laying in ferrous conduit, you may find yourself with some extremely "interesting" distortion products. If you're using conduit, use plastic conduit. Please.

Edited to add:

If you're doing underground runs, the biggest problem is joints. Do not have ANY joints underground, or if you do, make sure they are permanently sealed. Cable providers have some good means of doing this, and you might look into that if you have to put joints where they may sit in water.

If you have speaker level signals sitting in water, you can get some of the most bizzare ground loops you'll ever hope to have, to say nothing of winding up getting surge damage in places you'd never expected.

This post has been edited by Woodinville: Aug 3 2010, 22:45


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 3 2010, 22:57
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Aug 3 2010, 17:03) *
QUOTE (Speedskater @ Aug 2 2010, 03:11) *
a lightning strike would invalidate the amplifier. That's the amplifier not the warranty that gets invalidated.


Well, obviously an immolated hunk of partially liquefied metal does not qualify as an amp any longer, so it seems rather reasonable. The warranty would be void by proxy, I guess.


Lightning damage can be far more subtle than that. A lot of lighning damage is due to near hits, not direct hits.
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