• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Is 14 AWG good enough for speaker cable?

ripwire

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2022
Messages
13
Likes
2
This one has me a little confused. I'm going to DIY some speaker cables, figure it's going to be under 6 feet (2m). I've been browsing through the forum to see what size I need/is recommended, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

One post did mention 16 AWG is good enough. Then there's Amirm's review of various 12 AWG cables.

Why am I looking at 14 AWG? Well, I'm also having to look around for connectors. Since it's a banana jack, my first instinct is to look at one of these Stäubli L-41/A plugs. They're used in electrical engineering test & measurement, are from a reputable company, are rated for 32A and are gold plated to boot. The only issue is they're speced for 2.5 mm² wire at most. 14 AWG will fit, 12 AWG won't.

Admittedly they might not be the best choice, and if I want/need thicker cable I'm going to have to search for other options.

Also, no, I'm not looking for anything fancy, just good plain copper wire. Preferably in a black jacket. I'm probably going to go for Belden's 5200UP/5100UP/5000UP, or if I really want to splurge, Mogami's W3103. The latter assuming I can find a suitable plug for it.
 

Colonel7

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 22, 2020
Messages
540
Likes
716
Location
Maryland, USA
This one has me a little confused. I'm going to DIY some speaker cables, figure it's going to be under 6 feet (2m). I've been browsing through the forum to see what size I need/is recommended, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

One post did mention 16 AWG is good enough. Then there's Amirm's review of various 12 AWG cables.

Why am I looking at 14 AWG? Well, I'm also having to look around for connectors. Since it's a banana jack, my first instinct is to look at one of these Stäubli L-41/A plugs. They're used in electrical engineering test & measurement, are from a reputable company, are rated for 32A and are gold plated to boot. The only issue is they're speced for 2.5 mm² wire at most. 14 AWG will fit, 12 AWG won't.

Admittedly they might not be the best choice, and if I want/need thicker cable I'm going to have to search for other options.

Also, no, I'm not looking for anything fancy, just good plain copper wire. Preferably in a black jacket. I'm probably going to go for Belden's 5200UP/5100UP/5000UP, or if I really want to splurge, Mogami's W3103. The latter assuming I can find a suitable plug for it.
 

BDWoody

Chief Cat Herder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
5,941
Likes
18,008
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)

Waxx

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 12, 2021
Messages
955
Likes
3,410
Location
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
I use 1.5mm² (almost 14gauge, that is 1.63mm²) wire for most of my speaker cables since like forever. Maybe for high power applications it may not be enough, but for hifi (even relative high power hifi) it's more than enough if the cable is not too long.
 

DonH56

Master Contributor
Technical Expert
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
6,919
Likes
13,653
Location
Monument, CO

wgscott

Active Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
179
Likes
37
Yes. If it is good enough for 15 amps 120 V, it is good enough for speakers. I use 12 AWG, but only because that was what the botique vendor (Blue Jeans Cable) had. The thicker the wire, the harder it is to work with.
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
2,966
Likes
3,533
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
Size matters.

/What?
 

Ricardus

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2022
Messages
386
Likes
491
Location
Northern GA
YES

Parts Express had a killer sale on 12 gauge about 2 years ago so I bought 100 ft. I can't remember the price but it was ridiculously low. They were out of the 14 so I went with the 12. But 14 is going to be fine unless you're pushing massive amounts of wattage... like live sound subwoofer kinds of wattage.
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
2,966
Likes
3,533
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
YES

Parts Express had a killer sale on 12 gauge about 2 years ago so I bought 100 ft. I can't remember the price but it was ridiculously low. They were out of the 14 so I went with the 12. But 14 is going to be fine unless you're pushing massive amounts of wattage... like live sound subwoofer kinds of wattage.
That, or low ohm speakers, or a very long run. If you have an amp with massive DF, you may want huge wire to not destroy the DF, too.
 

egellings

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
2,403
Likes
1,848
Dissipation factors larger than 20 or so do not bring any improvement in sound, unless the speaker has a vicious input impedance. Most don't. It certainly does not hurt to have high DF, but I would not pay more just to get just that kind of improvement in an amplifier.
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
2,966
Likes
3,533
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
Dissipation factors larger than 20 or so do not bring any improvement in sound, unless the speaker has a vicious input impedance. Most don't. It certainly does not hurt to have high DF, but I would not pay more just to get just that kind of improvement in an amplifier.
It depends, really. I'm happy enough with about 200 for a cone driver. But some people own an amp with large damping factor. If they use skinny wire with it, that becomes moot.

A pet peeve is those with passive speakers that go for extreme DF amps. The bad news is, the inductors in the crossover have several tenths of an ohm, or more.
 
Last edited:

egellings

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
2,403
Likes
1,848
200 is vastly more than you need, but again, it certainly doesn't hurt anything. High DF automatically comes with S.S. amps that use a lot of negative feedback to lower forward gain and consequently, DF, which is just a nominal number (8, usually, for 8-ohm speakers) divided the output impedance of the amplifier. You are correct in saying that a thin speaker wire will effectively raise the DF, since the wire's impedance just adds to the amplifier's.
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
2,966
Likes
3,533
Location
Northern Virginia, USA

peng

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
3,516
Likes
3,106

Speedskater

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,244
Likes
953
Location
Cleveland, Ohio USA
Well it all depends on the length of the cable and the loudspeakers impedance curve.
In most situations 14AWG is more than adequate.
But for the installing audiophile's peace of mind, going to a larger wire doesn't cost that much.
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
2,966
Likes
3,533
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
Well it all depends on the length of the cable and the loudspeakers impedance curve.
In most situations 14AWG is more than adequate.
But for the installing audiophile's peace of mind, going to a larger wire doesn't cost that much.
Yeah, that's my position too. The extra cost of bigger wire just isn't a big deal.
 

MattHooper

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
4,451
Likes
7,132
I have 45 - 50 foot runs from my amps to my speakers (stereo system and home theater speakers). I chose 10AWG Belden speaker cable so as to ensure as little loss as possible. Likely overkill even for my situation, but it lends some peace of mind.
 

egellings

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
2,403
Likes
1,848
I agree that having peace of mind about how a system is configured makes the music go down like good medicine, even if a change is not necessary or does nothing audible.
 

kemmler3D

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
617
Likes
1,184
Location
San Francisco
I'm going to give you some interesting advice: If you want to gain street cred on the objectivist audio forums (like this one) use the absolute cheapest cable you can find. These threads always attract comments like "I found 1200 feet of old 20ga lamp cord in an abandoned factory under a pile of broken glass, so I terminated it with bits of my kid's erector set, sounds great". If you show off how cavalier you are about speaker cable, you will earn a lot of brownie points around here. ;)

The real answer is for normal lengths, normal amps, and normal speakers, pretty much any copper wire thicker than a paperclip will deliver good performance. This is disappointing to many people as better wire seems like a really simple way to upgrade their system, unfortunately it doesn't work like that.
 

fpitas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 7, 2022
Messages
2,966
Likes
3,533
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
Large gauge extension cords on sale is a great source of wire.
 
Top Bottom