Get In Gauge: How To Choose the Right Speaker Wire

Get In Gauge: How To Choose the Right Speaker Wire

Chris Perez
Mar 4, 2013

You've got the cables to hook up your receiver to your TV, but what if you're looking for the right speaker wire to route your speakers to your receiver. There are lots of choices out there, and what you choose will depend on your particular application. Here's how to pick the right wire for you.

Speaker wire is measured in metric system defined by AWG (American Wire Gauge). This system defines current carrying capacity based on the thickness of the cable diameter -- higher AWG numbers translate to a smaller diameter and thinner cable, while lower AWG numbers translate to large diameters and thicker cables.

As you may imagine, thicker cables have the benefit of being more reliable and can maintain a more noise-free signal. However, thicker cables are more expensive and harder to work with (a spool of Mediabridge 16 gauge can be had for a big discount over at Amazon right now).

When choosing speaker wires you need to consider your personal use case and how far of a run the wire will be asked to make.

• Less than 10 foot runs : 16 gauge wire
• Less than 18 foot runs : 14 gauge wire
• Less than 30 foot runs : 12 gauge wire

If you will be routing the speaker wire through an interior wall or ceiling you'll need to also make sure that the speaker is at least CL2 rated. This rating is safe for in-wall applications because it is coated in materials that are flame retardant and non-corrosive.

(Images: Shutterstock)

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