Favorite speaker wire?

Well, keep in mind that amplifiers & drivers have caused more problems than wire ever has (especially if mis-matched) Same goes for connections.

Assuming you don't want the wire to do anything to the components it attaches together, then solid core, 14AWG or better is probably about as good as you're likely to get. If you can't do solid core for whatever reason, stranded of as heavy a gauge as possible does fine. If you actively want it to do something, it entirely depends on your system & what you're wanting to achieve.
Speaker wire is speaker/amp dependent. It is part of a system. Pure copper, solid core, and thin is what i find works best in most of my systems, but for higher current applications i'll use multiples. For my mains (usually a Fostex, most often an FE127eN, with an SE tube amp) i have been using single strands of cyro-treated Cat 5 (i can't tell you whether the cryo makes a big difference) ie 24g solid core high purity copper, but lately have been using some thin film copper ribbon (~30g thick x 20mm wide). For my woofers which are 5-10 dB less efficient i'll use 4-8x as much cat 5. This is all in keeping with keeping my system frugal-phile(tm) approved, but have vanquished much more expensive contenders.


Bob Brines

2003-01-31 10:11 pm
Keeping in mind that this is the "Full Range" forum, so I presusme that you are not trying to push 500 watts to you speakers....

16ga zip cord is the standard that I use to judge any cable. This is the best general purpose cable. A good variety is available in the USA from Wal-Mart. They sell it in the automotive audio section. One of the popular variations on this theme is the orange jacket extension cord from HD. Another is the white jacketed wire sold for low-voltage garden lighting.

If you are using SS, T-amps or low-Z tubes and low-Q drivers, thin wire cables might work better. Single pairs of Cat5 work well. The ultimate is a single pair of 30ga magnet wire (Radio Shack).

What am I running? Whatever I happen to be testing at the moment. I have a pair of proprietary cables on my Lowther MLTL's that I think are star-wound 4-wire solid 16ga. My FE206E (not a misprint) BR's have 4-pair cross-connected stranded CAT5. My HT has 16ga zip cord. My demo cables are 4-wire star-wound CAT5.

Take your pick.

Bob Brines said:
Keeping in mind that this is the "Full Range" forum, so I One of the popular variations on this theme is the orange jacket extension cord from HD.

There's some company out there which sells a cable in which a battery is used to polarize the (vinyl?) insulation.

Perhaps much the same effect could be realized with the orange HD cable and a 9V bunny-battery connected to the green conductor in the HD cable.

I was over at a real audiophile's house in which the spkr cables were elevated off the floor by about 5" with some very expensive audio-pillars. I guess that the tongue-n-groove oak flooring was really screwing up his audio experience. Were I 20 years younger I would probably trip over the darn things getting the baby's bottle at 2:00 a.m.
Cardas makes a large gauge wire that while not cheap is much cheaper than commercial "high end" cables. It is a Teflon jacketed 6N copper multi-strand litz design drawn between ceramic rollers in a nitrogen atmosphere and enameled to prevent oxidation.

Look under Chassis wire at Michael Percy Audio. The 9.5 AWG is $3.95/foot (so an 8 foot stereo pair would be $126.40). Lower prices for smaller gauges.

Cardas also makes a nice rhodium plated lug (I like lugs better than bananas because of lower total contact resistance).

For better systems, a generously oversized cable seems to improve sound quality beyond any clear electrical engineering reason.


2007-03-18 9:22 am
Just be careful using cat5 with some amps, the capacitance of the closely twisted conductors makes a good capacitor which can make the amp take off and go PFFFFT. Especially if you braid multiples into a huge rope.

I'm using a truly hideous combination of brown packing tape, old telephone wire and dust bunnies.
Still 24AWG solid copper but the twist rate is only 2 or 3 per foot. I untwisted it and stuck it between two bits of tape to keep the conductors an inch apart. The dust bunnies are a recent addition.

For high power easy low inductance cables get a 4 core cable and wire as follows:
+ -
- +

Some use two pieces of RG59, inner of one and screen of the other in parallel. IMHO only worth the effort if you got a bunch of it for free.
My most recent "Hi-End" speaker cables are Utilitech 16 AWG wire in the 2+/1- configuration with simple tinned leads. I'd say they may be better than my previous Carol brand speaker cable, but I honestly haven't been doing any A/B testing. But at 21 cents a foot, I'm not disappointed either.

Best Regards,


2007-03-18 9:22 am
I'd put speaker cable at a similar "bang for your bucks" grade as the paint/finish on your cabinets. Any acoustic improvements are very minor compared to the cost.

Basically it's not important enough to spend any serious money on. Spend the money on drivers instead. Save for speakers, scrounge for cable.
I fell into the "audiophile" speaker cable trap. Fortunatly I never had enough money to do that much damage. I still run a set of Tara labs inwall cable to my KEFs. Once I get some of my single driver projects done I'll have to brew some of my own.

I've used some of this guy's stuff for internal wire and interconnects. Good stuff. I'll probably try some for speaker wire.
Scottmoose said:
A minor point to be sure, and more significant for microphone etc. leads, but keep in mind that silver in contact with teflon is about the worst possible combination in terms of triboelectric charging / distortion.

??? Silver/teflon is still the standard AFAIK for up in the mHz BW where any distortion is far more an issue than at audible frequencies, so what am I missing?

Nothing AFAIK. You know far more about it than I do Greg. :) It was more an observation that teflon has rather lively triboelectric properties, especially in contact with silver. And as both are relatively stiff, mechanically speaking, then my simplistic reasoning suggests that we have potential for microphonic issues, though one would assume that would be more of an issue for (say) mic. leads or something likely to be subject to vibrations.

Sadly, I'm a cable luddite at best. :bawling: I usually stick with either solid core of about 12AWG, or something like 8AWG stranded, which seem to work fine for me most of the time. Probably laziness on my part.
Scott - at your next "meeting of the clans", you should try to spend some time listening for the signatures of different wire/cable types.

My vote is for the simplest to use light gauge solid copper - CAT5 plenum for at least the last 5 years now. A lot easier to work with than those at either extreme. (for some anxious entertainment, try terminating KSL speaker wire into a banana plug)

Having owned only a small sampling of the "nearly audiophile tweaky stuff" in the past - "Cobra" cable, Fulton, Naim, Linn bi-wire, QED, plus an assortment of hardware store zip/lamp cord, I just give up.

After a few hours of listening to the music, and with the aid of your favorite liquid relaxation agents, I think the little analog computer between one's ears can compensate for all but the most egregious of deficiencies the complete system might demonstrate.

The only two times I tried to seriously assess the ribbon type were the cheap (excuse me, entry level) Nordost (which I didn't particularly like the sound of, and is a PITA to terminate), and Dave's current DIY ribbon cable.
chrisb said:
The only two times I tried to seriously assess the ribbon type were the cheap (excuse me, entry level) Nordost (which I didn't particularly like the sound of, and is a PITA to terminate), and Dave's current DIY ribbon cable.
You seem to acknowledge that different cables have different sound, even if you didn't like the sound. Is it therefore a leap to guess there might be a cable whose sound you do like?

I agree the process is a PITA, there are many brands and we haven't even touched upon bi-wiring. For me the end result was worth the effort, of course for someone else, their mileage may vary.