Choosing the correct speaker wire size can be tricky, but a little bit of audio knowledge can go a long way.
When choosing speaker wire for your system, there are three things to consider: gauge, length, and insulation.
The gauge is the thickness of the wire and determines how much power the wire can handle.
The length is how far you will run your line and affects signal loss. Lastly, the insulation is what protects the wire and should be matched to the wires it will be running alongside.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to buy good speaker wires. I’ll cover how to evaluate the gauge of wire and what type of wire is best for your speakers.
What size speaker wire do I need?
Speaker wire size quick guide :
For most low-power home or car speakers (not subwoofers), 18-gauge wire is fine. 18-gauge wire is good for about 50 watts for 4 ohms and 100 watts for 8 ohm loudspeakers up to 50 feet (15 m) or 100 feet (30 m) respectively.
For longer wires or bigger amps, 16 gauge wire is a great option.
If you are using longer lengths of speaker cable (50-100 feet or 15-30.5 meters), you need to use wire that is 2 gauges larger (14 gauge). You will lose power over long distances. You can use larger wire to avoid this loss or reduce it.
If you’re using an 8 ohm set of speakers ( A higher speaker impedance value ), you’ll be able to use a thinner wire than if you were using 6 ohm speakers.
What is a good size for speaker wire?
18 gauge wire is recommended for speakers in cars and homes up to 25 feet away with an average of 50 watts or less.
16-gauge wire recommended for speakers between 15 and 20 feet in length. For medium power subwoofers under 225 watts with short lengths.
Long speaker wires are ideal for high-power applications. It’s recommended that you use 14-gauge wire in these circumstances.
note : Bigger speakers or long distances will be better with thicker wire 16, 18 gauge etc.
Speaker wire gauge chart
If you’re looking for a speaker wire to connect your stereo or amplifier.
You’ll need to know these two things: the Ohm rating of your speakers and the maximum output of your stereo or amplifier.
This chart and table will help you make that calculation
Choosing the Right Gauge Wire Size for Your Audio Speakers
Determining the right wire for your audio speakers can be difficult. However, if you have some basic knowledge about speaker wires, it becomes easier to make the best decision.
Speaker Wire Gauge
Wire thickness is measured in gauges. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire. For example, a 12-gauge wire is thicker than an 18 gauge.
The most common speaker wires are 12 gauge, 14 gauge, 16 gauge, and 18 gauge.
Solid wire is more rigid and inflexible than stranded wire. However, exposed wire is more commonly used in speaker wiring than stranded wire because it is less expensive and easier to route.
The resistance of the wire depends on the thickness and length of the wire.
A longer thinner wire will have higher resistance than a shorter thicker wire of the same structure. An ideal wire should have the lowest resistance possible.
To get the best energy transfer, a thicker wire would be preferred to a thinner one.
Cable Length and Distance
The length of your cable run is important. It needs to be long enough to reach your speakers, but not so long that it’s a hazard or that it hinders the sound of your sound system.
When measuring the distance of your cable run, make sure to leave extra slack, otherwise your wires will be prone to damage.
Once you know the length of the speaker wire, it’s time to choose the gauge.
If your speaker has an impedance of 4 ohms or lower and needs a lot of power, go with a 14- or 12-gauge wire, even if you’re using it for a short distance.
If your speaker is 8 ohms, and you need it for less than 50 feet, go with 16-gauge wire.
If you’re running a long cable, make sure to use thick wire.
Thicker wire won’t have as much resistance. As you increase the distance of your cable run, the resistance of your wire will increase.
If the resistance gets too high, it can affect the performance of your cable. So when you’re running a long cable, always use thick wire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is oxygen free speaker wire worth it?
Don’t spend more money on oxygen-free pure copper wire. It doesn’t improve sound or power.
A great marketing feature is not worth paying more for. The data shows that there is little difference in performance between a good quality wire and an expensive wire.
Don’t waste your money on more expensive wires.
Can speaker wire be too big?
Speaker wires can’t be too thick because thicker wire means lower resistance, more signal flow, and better sound quality.
Not every setup needs a thick wire, but it depends on your speaker’s impedance and the distance between your audio sources. You can’t have too much of it.
Which speaker wire is positive?
The silver wire is usually positive, the copper wire is usually negative.