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Choose The Right Speaker Wire For The Best Results

alexsandralyn By alexsandralyn on
Badge: Advisor | Level: 17 | Audio & Visual Expertise:

My old GE home-theater-in-a-box speakers came with 22 AWG speaker wire already soldered onto the five 6 ohm satellite speakers, so all I had to do was plug them in and let them play. And I didn't realize the importance of choosing the right sized speaker wire for the job until I started researching and building my garage sale component stereo and home theater system, one separate piece at a time. For 6 ohm speakers, the maximum wire length for 22 AWG speaker wire should only be 9 feet. Beyond 9 feet in length, the power becomes lost in the speaker wire and the speaker won't play as loud as a result. My GE 6 ohm rear satellite speakers had 27 feet of 22 AWG speaker wire already soldered onto it, and to hear any of the sound, I had to put those little rear speakers right up to my ear while the front speakers were playing at a normal level. There was nothing wrong with the speakers, but there was something very wrong with the speaker wires.

To get the best volume of sound out of your home theater speakers, choose the right gauge number of speaker wire for the level of resistance of the speaker and the total length of wire needed. These days, speakers come in a variety of different resistance levels, indicated by "ohms", and there's probably a little sticker on the back of your speaker that will tell you its resistance level. The 22 AWG speaker wire is good for 3' on a 2 ohm speaker, 6' on a 4 ohm speaker, 9' on a 6 ohm speaker, and 12' on an 8 ohm speaker. The 20 AWG speaker wire is good for 5' on a 2 ohm speaker, 10' on a 4 ohm speaker, 15' on a 6 ohm speaker, and 20' on an 8 ohm speaker. The 18 AWG speaker wire is good for 8' on a 2 ohm speaker, 16' on a 4 ohm speaker, 24' on a 6 ohm speaker, and 32' on an 8 ohm speaker. The 16 AWG speaker wire is good for 12' on a 2 ohm speaker, 24' on a 4 ohm speaker, 36' on a 6 ohm speaker, and 48' on an 8 ohm speaker. And the 14 AWG speaker wire is good for 20' on a 2 ohm speaker, 40' on a 4 ohm speaker, 60' on a 6 ohm speaker, and 80' on an 8 ohm speaker.

As speaker wire gets thicker in diameter, it also gets more expensive. But you don't want to settle for the cheapest speaker wire on the store shelf because it just won't get the job done if your speakers are going to be located a fair distance across the room from your receiver. Nor do you want to buy the most expensive speaker wire on the store shelf if a reasonably priced mid-sized speaker wire will do the job. With the above guide in hand, you'll be able to choose the best speaker wire for your home theater system with confidence.