Audio and Speaker Cables: the Basics

Posted by Daniel Lawrence on June, 2016

Your speaker cable is the wire that connects your speakers to your amplifier, allowing electrical current to pass through and Power your musical experience. Here’s a look at what your speaker cable parts include, up close:

What it is

The anatomy of your audio and speaker cables typically includes two copper conductors stranded together. It’s designed with insulation as well as fillers and protected by an outer jacket. A speaker cable is a type of unbalanced cable, so it packs along higher voltage signals.

What it’s made of

Copper is the ideal choice for your speaker cables. It’s durable and packs a lot of power in one diameter of a wire than any other wiring material out there. The more power you get, the cleaner and more optimized the audio you’ll get.

What’s inside the housing

Don’t get taken in by fancy trappings. The connector housings might seem shiny, new and polished to a sheen but they could be anything but underneath. The cable housing of cheaper versions in the market often hide a multitude of sins. So pay any attention to the details to keep from getting units with poor construction with not enough shielding.

Why gauge and distance matter

Wire gauge is important in picking out the best audio and speaker cables. The gauge is between 10 and 18 and the lower you go, the thicker the cables get. Thicker cables allow for more power to come through, creating better sound. Don’t forget to note the proper distance between your speakers and amplifiers as well, as recommended by The Wire Cutter. Too long and you could end up tripping on those wires. Too short and you could limit cable use to a number of applications.

These are just a few of the things you should know about your speaker wires. The more you know, the better your shopping decisions and experience will be.

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