What Gauge Do You Need?

Posted by PinPoint Mounts on 9/22/2014

When it comes to installing your speaker system or home theater system, the speaker wire you use will most likely have a noticeable impact on the overall sound quality of your system. Even the greatest speakers won't sound all that good if you use poor-quality wire. Most speakers don't include speaker wire, and choosing from the available options can sometimes be confusing. You’ll want to select the right gauge, length, and type of speaker wire for your system, plus understand techniques and options to help you make dependable connections to your gear.

Some Are Included

There are some speakers, however, such as the ones included with Bose Lifestyle systems and some other pre-packaged surround sound systems, that use non-standard plug-in connections. In such cases, using separately purchased speaker wire is not going to be possible.

Gauge Matters

The thickness of a wire's conductive copper bundle is identified by its American Wire Gauge (AWG, or usually simply "gauge") number. The lower the gauge, the thicker the wire, and the better its capacity to pass the amplified audio signal. Most speaker wire available on the market today ranges in thickness from 12-gauge to 16-gauge.

Considerations

When choosing wire gauge, consider the quality of your components and speakers, the overall sound quality you're trying to achieve, and the budget you're working with. Also, keep in mind the distance between your receiver or amp and your speakers. Long wire runs can cause significant power losses and thus require thicker cable.

Reasons To Use Thicker Speaker Wire

Choose thicker speaker wire when connecting an audiophile-quality music system or a surround sound home theater setup. Thicker wire can help your system deliver fine musical detail or the explosive effects of 5.1-channel surround sound. Another situation requiring thicker wire is when you can't avoid long wire runs to your speakers. For example, in the case of a wired multi-room system, you'll likely use in-wall speaker wire from room to room. Thicker wire reduces the overall resistance, lightening the load on your receiver or amp. This can mean not only a difference in sound quality, but also in the overall long-term dependability of your system.

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