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Old 26th January 2015, 05:11 PM   #1
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Default Wire gauge for amplifier's signal level input.

Hello. First of all, I'm sorry for bad english. I know I'm not fluent nor I have an excellent english, but I'll do my best to be understood.

I'm building an amplifier that will have an XLR balanced input. I want to know if theres a good reason to not use, for example, a 14awg copper wire to connect the panel XLR to the amplifier input. It's a little too thick, I know, and it's more expensive than an ordinary 24awg wire and harder to work, but since I have already bought it, it makes no difference.

I'm asking because I read somewhere that for signal levels it would be better to have a higher gauge. I don't remember the explanation but I think it was related to skin effect. I don't believe skin effect being a problem at audio signals nor I believe there is a reasonable explanation to use silver instead a solid reliable copper wire.

Just asking to know if there is a scientific electrical phonomenon or reason that can be measured that would justify buying higher gauge wire to connect the XLR at my amplifier input.

I'm really grateful for any kind of reply. Again, sorry for my poor english, but I swear I did my best.

Peace,
Eduardo Barth.
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Old 26th January 2015, 05:13 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eduardokbb View Post
I don't remember the explanation but I think it was related to skin effect. I don't believe skin effect being a problem at audio signals nor I believe there is a reasonable explanation to use silver instead a solid reliable copper wire.
Your understanding is perfect. There's no reason to avoid a thicker wire other than mechanical.
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Old 26th January 2015, 05:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SY View Post
Your understanding is perfect. There's no reason to avoid a thicker wire other than mechanical.
Thanks for your quick reply. So, I'll keep my 14awg wire and save some bucks that will be well spent with some adapters I need right now!
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Old 27th January 2015, 10:32 AM   #4
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Thicker wire will have higher capacitance, but this is irrelevant as presumably the source has low impedance. I would use the thinnest wire which has adequate mechanical strength. Twist the two wires together.
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Old 28th January 2015, 12:16 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
Thicker wire will have higher capacitance, but this is irrelevant as presumably the source has low impedance.
The highest impedance I'll ever feed the amplifier is 0,7ohms, and that if I ever decide to use my headphone amplifier as the 'signal level' source.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
Twist the two wires together.
By twist both wires you mean to twist the signal (hot) and return (cold) wires from the panel's XLR to the amplifier input? Twisting the ground together would not give me any kind of benefit?
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Old 28th January 2015, 04:43 AM   #6
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Eduardo,

Your English is very good. No need to apologize.

Please consider carefully what you are about to do. You have taken great care, a lot of time, and considerable expense to build your own amplifier. Now you are concerned about the expense of a few inches, possibly a few feet of 24ga wire? I have built many cables and amplifiers with various wire sizes. I can tell you without a doubt that even a few inches of wire will make a difference in the sound of your amp. Large input wire will dull the highs. I don't know why. Skin effect calculations indicate that it should not be a problem at audio frequencies. Experts will tell you it is of no concern, and that is simply NOT true. Wire gauge, at every stage of the circuit path, will make an obvious difference. Buy the 24ga wire. I doubt that 14ga will even fit onto your XLR connector terminals.

Peace,
Tom E
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Old 28th January 2015, 11:45 AM   #7
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eduardokbb
By twist both wires you mean to twist the signal (hot) and return (cold) wires from the panel's XLR to the amplifier input?
Yes.

My reason for suggesting thin wire was flexibility and cost, nothing to do with audio quality as it is just a piece of wire. Just use the cheapest wire which is mechanically suitable.
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Old 28th January 2015, 12:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madisonears View Post
Experts will tell you it is of no concern, and that is simply NOT true.
You are making an extraordinary claim here. Could you show the data backing up this claim? Electrical measurements, or at the least, well controlled ears-only listening tests?

Lacking that, this claim should be dismissed as audiophile legend. It's been shown that in line-level signal transfer, audiophiles couldn't distinguish- by ear- copper from a potato.
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Old 28th January 2015, 06:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SY View Post
You are making an extraordinary claim here. Could you show the data backing up this claim? Electrical measurements, or at the least, well controlled ears-only listening tests?

Lacking that, this claim should be dismissed as audiophile legend. It's been shown that in line-level signal transfer, audiophiles couldn't distinguish- by ear- copper from a potato.

I'll keep the 14awg wire. It perfectly fits the Neutrik's panel mounting XLR I bought. If my wire had one more strand I think it wouldn't fit, haha! That said, the soldering process will be extremely easy, and the wire will be tightly and reliably soldered.

Allow me to do just one more question: At speaker level signal, the lower the gauge, the better, right? I bought 12 gauge wire to connect the amplifier output with the Speakon/binding posts. I thought about 10 gauge, but it would not fit my binding posts solder lug! Is the 12 gauge a good option - the max amplification power will be 500w rms into 8ohms - or should I change the binding posts to go with 10 gauge wire?

Thanks again!
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Old 28th January 2015, 06:41 PM   #10
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Yes, that's right- generally you want the thickest wire that's practical for speakers. And the shortest length.

There a a few exceptions, but those are pathological cases or some poor engineering.
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