So you’re looking to break into the thrilling world of home theater sound and entertainment. Congratulations! With a few tutorials, a little advice, the right equipment, and some practice- you’ll be able to assemble a sound system that will make the most of your living space, impress your friends, and change your favorite shows and music into a truly worthwhile experience. Possibly the most important thing you’re going to need to master is matching your speakers with speaker wires of the correct gauge and length. Fortunately, this is probably a lot easier than you have been led to believe.
Choosing the Right Speaker Wire Gauge for Your SpeakersThe most important thing to understand when matching speakers to wires is the concept of electrical impedance. This is a measure of how much a speaker or wire will resist electrical current. You could think of it as being analogous to the width of a hose, the wider the hose, the more water you can move through it. Likewise, the less electrical impedance, the more power you can move through a wire or speaker. Get the wrong match, and your speakers will either sound like tinny toys speakers- or you could blow them out. All speakers come marked with an impedance rating. This is measured in ohms. Large speakers will have a lower impedance rating compared to the headphones you might be used to. Most will range between 6 and 8 on the electrical impedance scale. Any additional electrical impedance introduced by using the wrong kind of wiring will reduce the quality of their performance.
The BasicsThe good news is that knowing what kind of speaker wire to buy is not very difficult once you get beyond all of the unnecessary and confusing frills that manufacturers often use to make their speaker wire look superior to other brands. The most important things to be aware of when choosing your speaker wire are length, width, and the ohm rating of the speaker. Remember our garden hose analogy; the wider and shorter your wire- the less electrical impedance it will have. Low impedance means higher capacity- just like a wider and larger hose would have a lower impedance to the movement of water. To put it simply, lower impedance means a greater ability to move electricity. The highest quality speakers will have a very low electrical impedance between 3 and 4 ohms. This means that they will require speaker wires that are quite short and thick. This also means the lower the impedance, the more difficult it will be to route your wires around your home. The thickest speaker wires may require you to perform some small renovations like putting holes or slots in your walls to accommodate them. But it’s pretty unusual that an ordinary household would use such enormous speaker cables.
Working Within a Standard Range of Tolerances
Common Speaker Wire Gauge to Speaker Wattage PairingsKeep in mind that the wattage level of the speaker is an indication of how much power it is able to safely accept from the amp- so you should never exceed the upper limit of a speaker's Watt range.
- 18 gauge speaker wire
- 16 gauge speaker wire
- 14 gauge speaker wire
- 12 gauge speaker wire