Best Speaker Wire For You In 2022: The Complete Guide

A speaker wire is a cable with high-end speakers to ensure sound is delivered without signal loss or quality degradation. These wires are manufactured from oxygen-free copper and are multi-twisted for superior performance. 

This review examines the most delicate speaker wires for home theatres and audio systems. 

Whether you’re just getting prepared to set up your system or want to expand your existing equipment, I will clarify some of the terminologies and help you choose the best speaker wire for clear audio. 

What Is Speaker Wire?

A speaker wire connects an amplifier to a set of speakers. An amplifier transmits an audio signal to a speaker, powered by an electrical current. A speaker wire merely transfers electrical current, just like a wire that powers your lamp or television. 

These wires are compatible with banana plugs, spade plugs, and bent pins for simple installation in home audio systems, and they are also rigid and flexible. For quality sound performance, these wires are at least 100 feet long. 

The American Wire Gauge (AWG) determines how large a speaker wire is; a 12 AWG wire is more significant than an 18 AWG wire. You’ll use these numbers when setting up your wire runs for a system. 18 AWG or 16 AWG wire might be used if the receiver and speakers are located close to one another (less than 50 feet from one another). 

Impedance increases as the distance between receiver and speaker increases, resulting in a requirement for a larger wire such as a 12 or 14 AWG wire. 

Copper is a superb conductor of electricity son; the most outstanding speaker wires are constructed from copper. You should seek out wires made of pure copper since they provide the finest quality. Copper-plated or copper-clad aluminum wires are a decent alternative and don’t impact the sound quality. 

What Does Speaker Wire Look Like?

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Amplifiers and speakers have the same type of connections on their positive and negative terminals. The wires generally have the same kind of the core, usually copper. An insulating plastic coating covers the inner core on the outside. 

Before connecting to your amplifier or speaker, the plastic coating should be removed, leaving the bare wire. You may connect the bare wire directly to the speaker terminals, or, in some cases, termination is used to make the connection more effortless and reliable. 

Do You Have to Use Speaker Wire?

Connecting your amplifier and speakers does not necessarily require a traditional speaker wire. Regular electrical wires can be used in place of speaker wires. Is there much of a distinction between speaker wire and standard electrical wire? 

Here’s what you need to know. It is theoretically possible to use anything transmitting electricity from one point to another. You may use a coat hanger or a lamp wire, for example, as long as it’s electric current from A to B. You don’t have to do this if you have no money to spend. 

The most common types of wire are available in a wide range of sizes and prices. Decide what type of wire is suitable for your equipment. 

Some say buying an audiophile speaker wire is the best method to get excellent sound in their rooms, while others do not. If you think it will help you, buy whatever you like, but if you aren’t sure, just purchase a cheap, simple cable. 

What Is the Advantage of Buying the Right Speaker Cable?

It is challenging to connect speaker wire properly, but if you buy the right stuff, it will have a line or ridges on one side to help you out. On the other hand, dedicated speaker wire also has other advantages. It will be easy to install and feature outer insulation that is flexible, durable, and resistant to electrical interference. 

Some of them include:

  • Oxygen-free copper
  • Cryogenic treatment
  • Directional cables

People argue about whether or not exotic speaker wires can be heard for years. Your own decision is required as a result. You’re unlikely to listen to any significant difference in performance between a simple wire and a ‘special audiophile’ speaker wire. 

Connectors are preinstalled at each end of some speaker wires manufactured by certain brands, which may be beneficial if you want a reliable connection and don’t want to put in the work yourself. In most cases, you can use bare wires. 

What Makes a Good Speaker Wire?

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Copper is the preferred material for electrical and speaker wires because of its common resistance properties. The essential feature of the speaker wire is the low resistance core. Low capacitance and inductance are also desirable in speaker wires, but they are less significant than resistance.

Despite these advantages, the outer insulation should be flexible, durable, and resistant. The cable should also be easy to install in small areas. Electrical interference and oxidation can be prevented if the insulation is not degraded over time. 

Quality of Speaker Wire

The speaker wire’s most significant feature is its low resistance core. Copper has always been the inner conductor of electrical and speaker wires because it has low electrical resistance. 

Capacitance and inductance are less significant than resistance concerning speaker wire, but they are still important. The insulation should be versatile, long-lasting, and impervious to electrical interference and oxide. You should be able to install the cable under challenging spots with little difficulty. 

Materials for Speaker Wire

Choosing the best speaker wire is essential to selecting the best speaker wire material. There are many different metals and levels of purity when it comes to speaker wiring, and the more pure the wire is, higher the cost per foot. Your preference and ear, not whether or not this provides a significant advantage to your audio, is what matters. 

Generic Copper Wire

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Copper has been an electrical conductor in many industries for decades. It is utilized in speaker wire due to its low cost and low resistance. Since it consists of many filaments of copper, wire is manufactured from a strand of copper, covered with a plastic coating. It must be well insulated and protected. 

CCA (Copper-Clad Aluminum) Wire

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Speaker wire enthusiasts prefer copper-coated aluminum wires for their wide variety of uses. The copper-coated conductive wire requires a thinner aluminum wire because the copper around it is less conductive than the aluminum around it. Despite being a popular choice, this wire provides excellent sound quality at an economical price. 

Silver Wire

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This wire is very popular in the more specialized world of sound system products. Because of its lower resistance, a thinner gauge wire can still deliver the same low resistance and higher electrical flow as other wires; silver is a popular choice. On the other hand, silver is more costly than copper so, thicker copper wires might be cheaper and provide comparable resistance levels. 

Essential Qualifications of Speaker Wire

Aside from gauge, resistance, and length, other vital specifications and characteristics are pertinent to speaker wires; they will be covered in the section below:

Gauge

A speaker wire’s gauge is simply a measurement of its thickness—the lower the gauge, the thicker the cable. The resistance of the wire is always lower with thicker wires and lower gauges, and resistance should always be kept below a certain level. North American wire gauges are based on the American Wire Gauge (AWG), the most common being 12, 14, and 16-gauge wires. 

Resistance

Speaker wire materials vary in metal and thickness to compensate for variable resistance. When selecting wires, keep their resistance no higher than 5% of the speaker’s output. Lower resistance allows a better signal from the amplifier to the speaker through the wire.  

Length

There are 2 things to remember while choosing speaker wire length. The first is to keep your wires as short as possible, as resistance increases with length, leaving the electricity less ground to cover. 

What is the Type of Speaker Cable that You Need?

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When purchasing speaker wire, you should focus on the material employed for the internal conductor and its thickness. Most other aspects are just marketing smoke and mirrors to make you buy the wire. 

1. Wire Core Material

There are 3 primary conducting materials used to make a speaker wire:

  • Copper: Speaker wires are stranded copper, consisting of many tiny pieces of copper wire braided together. It is employed in many sectors to convey electricity. 
  • Copper-Clad Aluminum (CCA): Because copper became more expensive, CCA wires became more popular because they were less expensive to manufacture – and purchase. CCA wire is also generally stranded and has an aluminum core with a thin copper coating, which performs adequately. However, its copper resistance is different, so you may need to purchase a thicker cable than copper for the same length of wire. 
  • Silver: It is more common in audiophile speaker wire products to use silver than copper, which is thought to offer a superior solution due to its better electrical conductivity. Although there are instances where solid silver is used, it is more likely to be silver-plated copper. Even if the resistance is low enough for the cable length, there is unlikely to be any difference between copper and silver. 

2. Speaker Wire Gauge Types

The gauge of the speaker wire is used to determine its thickness. The American Wire Gauge (AWG) system is used to determine the thickness of the wire.

Although the AWG ranges from 0 to 36, speaker wire gauges of 12, 14, and 16 are the most popular. Although the AWG was not developed for speaker wire, it is used in various industries. Brown & Sharpe is the most common usage for gauge measurement. Despite the wide range of gauges available, the most common sizes are probably 12, 14, and 16. 

How I selected the best speaker wire

I examined wire material, thickness, and manufacturer reliability to select the most delicate speaker wires. My team read over 25 recommended brand studies and investigated first-hand user reviews to determine whether wire quality or price is more important. 

In addition, I also looked at home systems to help you pick wires to give you a personal touch. Whether you think you’ll hear a significant difference in audio quality using specific wires, my selections will provide a solid and sturdy connection for good sound. 

Things to consider before buying speaker wire

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Choosing the right speaker wire can be complicated, especially since most wires are relatively similar. To understand the language manufacturers use to describe them, you should consider and understand impedance, gauge, and resistance. Following a discussion of these terms, I will discuss some recommended products. 

Function and material

Speaker wires link amplifiers and speakers so electrical current signals flow correctly and produce an exciting sound. Every speaker has two independent conductors that send electrical signals to the amplifier (minimum). These separate positive and negative wires connect every speaker. They are usually marked to indicate audio signal polarity so that they can be correctly matched with red and black terminals on both the amplifier and speaker. It ensures that the correct voltage is transmitted/received. 

Copper, CCA, and oxygen-free copper wires are the most typical materials used in speaker wires. CCA wires are less expensive and more resistant to corrosion, while oxygen-free varieties range from superior conductivity to increased durability. Silver and gold wires are available but do not offer much more benefit than other wires. 

Treble and bass may be better with a silver (copper wires plated with silver) and gold wires, but the difference is relatively minor. Some wires are covered in PVC or Teflon, whereas others are covered in rubber (you can see the red/black polarity from transparent casings). Unless you invest in a particularly well-tuned system, you won’t get much more for your money by spending more on speaker wire. 

Resistance

The most critical point to consider when buying speaker wire is its resistance. By delivering more of the amplifier’s energy to the speaker’s voice coil, a wire built into the driver that produces a magnetic field after electrifying, the speaker’s cone is moved when a waveform is supplied. 

The amplifier’s power activates the voice coil if the speaker’s resistance is low. A speaker produces sound by creating a magnetic field. A wire with a higher impedance is likely to deliver a more precise, cleaner sound. More signal leads to better sound quality. In simplest terms, impedance measures how difficult electricity is to pass through a material. 

Many factors can impact the resistance of a wire, including length, thickness, and impedance. Impedance is generally given in ohms in speaker product descriptions (usually 4, 6, or 8 ohms). To ensure that the impedance of your amp/receiver and speakers match, you should be aware that the lower the impedance, the more critical it is to have a low-resistance wire. 

Gauge

The gauge, or thickness, of speaker wire, is measured in gauge numbers lower than the gauge number. There are 12-, 14-, 16-, and 18-gauge speaker wires, with 12-gauge wires being the thickest. Thicker wires reduce resistance in most situations but are only needed in some instances. 

You should use a 16-gauge wire with 8-ohm speakers, and a 50-foot cable runs to the amplifier. Avoid sound degradation by choosing a thick wire. 

Connectors and wire type

You can purchase a package or raw wire spool and use your terminations. (Don’t forget to get a wire stripper and cutter if you’re doing it yourself.) Banana plugs are optimal if your speaker has a binding post (circular sockets). But, you’ll require a pin connector for a spring clip terminal (square clips clamp down on the wire). 

It’s easier to control bare wires than they are to control those that are covered. You don’t need to worry about the wire type for either connection, but it can be a hassle. Bookshelf speakers or desk monitors don’t require any wiring. If you want to run wire inside your walls, look for a unit rated CL2 or CL3. If you’re running wire outside or underground, look for a wire rated for “direct burial.” 

Price

There is much controversy over whether higher-priced speaker wires perform significantly better than cheaper models. The consensus is that the quality of your speaker wire will be identical across the board due to listening tests and extensive research performed by audio professionals. 

You should probably reach for a speaker cable in the middle of the price range; the cheapest cable may not be able to endure, while the most expensive cable may not improve the quality of your audio. You should save money to purchase more critical equipment like amplifiers/receivers, interfaces, and more that affect your sound. 

Comparison of Best Speaker Wire


IMAGE

MODEL

LENGTH

GAUGE

COST

RATING

MaxBrite 16 AWG Speaker Wire
50 / 100 / 200 feet

16 AWG


CHECK PRICE


4.8 / 5

GearIT 14 AWG Outdoor Speaker Wire
50 / 100 / 250 / 500 feet

10 / 12 / 14 / 16 AWG


CHECK PRICE


4.7 / 5

Monoprice 102747 12AWG Speaker Wire
50 / 100 / 300 feet

12 / 14 / 16 AWG


CHECK PRICE


4.7 / 5


AmazonBasics 16AWG Speaker Wire

100 feet

16 AWG


CHECK PRICE


4.7 / 5


InstallGear 14 AWG Speaker Wire
100 / 500 feet

14 AWG


CHECK PRICE


4.8 / 5

Let us explore each of the listed Speaker wires.

Best Speaker Wire Reviews

Here’s a list of the best speaker wire based on my research. Here are they:

1

MaxBrite 16 AWG Speaker Wire

Top-rated speaker wire for home theater

SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • 16 AWG gauge
  • 50 / 100 / 200 feet length
  • Oxygen-free copper wire

UNIQUENESS

I love the MaxBrite speaker wire’s polarity indicator and every 2-foot mark, making it simple to measure. 

TODAY’S BEST DEALS 

CHECK ON AMAZON

Positive
  • Options for 200 feet length
  • UL Safety Certified
  • Markings at every 2 feet
Negatives
  • Lengths more significant than 200 feet are unavailable

This thin, 16-gauge wire is suited for low-impedance speakers and short cable runs 

The OFC conductors are compatible mostly with all connectors, and the visible red stripe indicates polarity. Every 2 feet, there is a sequential marker to measure the required length more accurately. For residential and business purposes, this wire is UL safety-certified. 

2

GearIT 14 AWG Outdoor Speaker Wire

Excellent outdoor speaker wire

SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • Oxygen-free copper wire
  • 50 / 100 / 250 / 500 feet length
  • 10 / 12 / 14 / 16 AWG gauge

UNIQUENESS

For outdoor installations, I recommend this GearIT wire because it has a UL CL3 rating and is suitable for burial. 

TODAY’S BEST DEALS 

VIEW AT AMAZON

Positive
  • It is durable
  • CL3 Rating
  • Many gauge options 
Negatives
  • It can be challenging to cut Sheathing
  • Little costly

An extra black, UV-resistant PVC jacket from GearIT protects your connection and keeps you safe. This wire is ideally suited for direct burial as it keeps everything secure. Every foot has a sequential marking for more accurate measurement approximations. Polarity identification is possible via the color-coded jack inside the external layer. This wire can be installed outdoors and indoors, and it pairs well with most connectors. 

3

Monoprice 102747 12AWG Speaker Wire

Altogether, the best speaker wire.

SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • Oxygen-free copper wire
  • 12 / 14 / 16 AWG gauge
  • 50 / 100 / 300 feet length

UNIQUENESS

The Monoprice 12-AWG cable is a safe and economical choice for home and professional setups. The thick wire gauge and transparent PVC shell make polarity identification straightforward. 

TODAY’S BEST DEALS 

VISIT SITE

Positive
  • Comes with a polarity indicator
  • Multiple lengths/gauges available
  • Renowned brand
Negatives
  • Wire needs to be shortened for at-home systems
  • Somewhat expensive than other mid-range models

The transparent PVC jacket on this speaker wire lets you keep an eye on the copper wire to look for any signs of damage and distinguish polarity, thanks to its 99.95% pure oxygen-free bare copper construction. The low resistance pathway created by this material allows signals to pass through easily. 

4

AmazonBasics 16AWG Speaker Wire

Valuable speaker wire

SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • Copper-Clad Aluminum wire
  • 16 AWG gauge
  • 100 feet length

UNIQUENESS

Amazon basic speaker cable is an excellent economical choice that has received excellent reviews for its performance. It may not be top quality or utilize pure copper, but it will do the job properly for home setups. 

TODAY’S BEST DEALS 

CHECK ON AMAZON

Positive
  • It is flexible
  • Top-rated speaker wire
  • Budget-friendly
Negatives
  • Polarity can be harder to identify

This straightforward option will still fulfill your demands even if you don’t care about the CCA versus OFC materials debate. A plastic-covered 16-gauge wire with a white line down one side to signify polarity is available. This option isn’t as noticeable as colored jackets, but you will still be able to tell which channel’s polarity matches the amp’s and speaker’s. It comes neatly wrapped around a plastic dispenser and is compatible with various connectors. 

5

InstallGear 14 AWG Speaker Wire

Perfect speaker wire for car audio

SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • Copper-clad aluminum wire
  • 14 AWG gauge
  • 100 / 500 feet length

UNIQUENESS

The InstallGear 14-gauge wire is thick enough to reduce resistance and includes features to make installation easy, including a soft, colored jacket and included connectors.

TODAY’S BEST DEALS 

VIEW AT AMAZON

Positive
  • It is flexible
  • Inexpensive
  • The colored jacket helps identify polarity 
Negatives
  • Short-length options are unavailable
  • Short-length options are unavailable
  • CCA might be less conductive than other materials 

InstallGear speaker wire is popular for car audio setups but may also be used in the house. The dual-colored jacket makes polarity simple to detect, and the PVC material is soft and straightforward to move around under carpets, behind side panels, and through small spaces (and you can remove it quickly). You may purchase InstallGear wires with banana plugs if you want to simplify things. If blue and black aren’t your thing, InstallGear provides wires in various colors, including clear, white, and black, so you can select your favorite color combination.  

What are the Options in Speaker Wiring?

The wiring you need will depend on the amplifier and speaker combination, whether a double or single connection. More expensive amplifiers are typically double-terminated. 

Bi-Wire

A four-cored wire unit is employed when there are two sets of connection sources for the amp and speaker, typically one for bass and one for other frequencies. A “crossover unit” can either be in the speaker, producing two outlets or in the amplifier, separating the lower and higher frequencies. 

Using a bi-wire is unnecessary unless your amp has that double set of connectors. People believe these levels tailor the sound of music and produce more detail, but this is considered a personal preference. 

Single Wire

If your speakers and amplifier have only one connection source, this one is your golden ticket! A single-wired speaker, which is a two-core wire, is the solution. Some people believe that a single-wired speaker setup produces a more musically cohesive sound than a bi-wired one. Still, as with many issues in audio, this is a matter of personal and musical opinion. 

Maintenance of Speaker Wiring

Keeping speaker wires in good condition is pretty simple and something you can do to maintain your home sound system! You only need some standard cleaning supplies and a little time to clean and maintain your speaker wires properly. Maintaining your sound system, which sounds great and looks good as well, is an intelligent way to keep your setup. 

  • Unplug everything beginning with the wall socket connection, then the component box connection. After the power has been turned off safely, you may unplug the wires at your convenience.
  • You can clean speaker wires and power cables with any type of Isopropyl alcohol cleaning fluid in addition to a brand-name contact cleaner. Alternatively, you can clean the wires’ outside and the contacts with any Isopropyl alcohol cleaning fluid, but only if it is not contaminated.
  • Fortunately, the speaker wire within a banana plug or other connection terminations is well safeguarded from dirt, which is an advantage of using those types of connectors. If the connectors themselves appear a bit filthy, feel free to wipe them down! 

FAQs on Speaker Wire

Are high-end speaker cables worth it? 

There is no need to purchase high-end speaker wires, especially if other parts of your sound system require an upgrade. While you may not notice a difference in your music if an expensive cable supports it, one thing is sure: you will not see a difference if you select a low-resistance speaker wire. It is a controversial subject, and a few audiophiles disagree. You must listen to your material and choose the cable that sounds best to you. 

How much wire do you need?

The length of speaker wire required is determined by the distance between the amplifiers and the speakers. To ensure that your system will function adequately, string a line or rope across the wires’ path, then measure it. I advise adding a few inches to either end in case you need some extra length. To trim a speaker wire, simply snip it with wire cutters. However, you can’t add more if you have too little wire. Remember that if your cable run is longer than 50 feet, you should purchase a thicker 12 or 14 AWG cable. 

What type of wire do you need?

A wire must have the appropriate copper, silver, or copper-clad aluminum composition and be suited to transferring and storing electricity. For installations inside a wall or below ground, you must have the right CL2 or CL3 certification. Advantages of purchasing a wire that includes pre-installed connectors include easy installation, but, unlike bare wire, it is not dangerous and will also perform well. 

Is Thicker Gauge Speaker Wire Better?

A thicker gauge wire is crucial if you need to run it a long distance to maintain low resistance (impedance). The resistance kept below a certain level in your system will not degrade the audio quality as it travels from your amplifier to your speakers. 

It’s not about whether the wire is thicker or thinner–it’s about choosing the right size for your job. Because a lighter cable may have the same audio performance as a thicker one, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a thicker cable is better. A longer speaker cable may be better if you need to run it a long distance. 

What Is OFC Speaker Wire?

OFC stands for Oxygen-free Copper. The reduction of oxygen in OFC copper is believed to improve electrical conductivity. It is not technically ‘oxygen-free.’ It has become a popular material for speaker wire because its purity should improve electrical conductivity theoretically. 

You might be convinced to purchase because the pure OFC speaker wire will improve the sound, right? As a result, first, consider that the copper typically used for electrical purposes (C11000) has a purity of 99.9 percent. OFC has a purity of 99.95 percent. That tiny percentage might make a difference to the sound from your speakers, right? It’s all just hype. 

What Is the Maximum Length of a Speaker Wire?

There is no precise measurement of how much speaker wire you can run. In general, 50 feet or more might cause audible variations in sound quality, regardless of cable thickness.

Which Is Positive and Negative on Speaker Wire?

There is no positive or negative on the speaker wire, so the amplifier and speaker must be connected using positive and negative terminals. Connect the positive terminal on the amplifier to the positive terminal on the speaker, and the same applies to the negative terminal. 

Look carefully, and you’ll find the marker. It could be a line or ‘+’ and ‘-‘ lines. Make sure the marker is connected to the corresponding terminal at either end, but it doesn’t matter which terminal it’s connected to.

Make sure you do the same with every speaker. Is the same wire connected to positive and negative terminals at both ends? If so, it’s all good. 

Final thoughts

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Choosing the ideal speaker wire is essential because it provides electricity, connects your system efficiently, and ensures accurate audio reproduction. When selecting a cable, don’t overthink it and choose a mid-tier option that suits your amp and speaker needs. It is usually advisable to allocate 5% to 10% of your system budget to wire. 

You might want to test the limits of each type of wire if you’re an audiophile, but most of us won’t notice the difference between premium speaker wires and cheaper options as much as I will see the difference between music and no music. You just need to ensure that you have the proper length, connect your terminals correctly and are ready to party. 

First, you must determine the length of cable you must run and the impedance of your loudspeakers to purchase the appropriate gauge wire for your room. It doesn’t have to be more complex than that. 

If you desire to purchase some pricey ‘audiophile’ wire, that’s your decision – but it probably won’t make much difference to the sound in many rooms. If you desire a better amplifier or speakers, spend the money on them – but make sure you keep it simple and buy the appropriate gauge wire. That said, you are in charge.

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Mark Dalio

Mark Dalio

Mark is a tech-obsessed serial entrepreneur who also enjoys reading and writing. He has a strong urge to keep learning and talking about technology, which led him to become an author. Mark has co-founded two successful startups, one of which was acquired in 2018.

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