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Ezekiel Price
Ezekiel Price

Where To Buy Speaker Cable

The best speaker cables (speaker wire to our American friends) can't make your system sound better than it really is, but they can and should ensure that every last drop of performance makes its way from your amplifier to your speakers.

where to buy speaker cable

Conversely, a poor speaker cable can definitely make your system sound a lot worse than it really is, so it's absolutely worth budgeting for decent cabling when buying or upgrading your system. Fail to do so and you could end up with cheap, badly made cables that will waste the talent of your expensive kit. (The same goes for the cables connecting your electronics, so make sure you invest in decent audio cables too.)

Do remember to budget for the lengths of speaker wire that you need (and the number of speakers you're wiring up if it's a surround system) and bear in mind that the cable prices we quote usually don't include the banana plugs that you'll see in the pictures, largely because you don't necessarily have to buy them.

QED has always been about clarity, detail and insight, with the Reference XT40i speaker wire being no exception. It will allow any budget-to-midrange system to show off all the information at its disposal, providing it with accuracy and precision. Just what you'd expect from this Award-winning stable.

The nearly 50-year-old British company is introducing its brand new Air Gap dielectric to these 99.999 per cent oxygen-free copper cables, a technology that increases the separation of conductors inside the cable and thus the amount of air between them. In turn, this halves the dissipation and capacitance characteristics inside the cable.

The cable has a multi-core construction, consisting of a pair of identically matched conductors. Atlas uses oxygen free copper (OFC) conductors in the 2018 version of these speaker cables. The purity and amount of copper used has been increased from the previous Equator version that we reviewed in 2014, too.

For the money, there isn't much to grumble about as far as the XT25 is concerned. It allows for an extremely insightful and detailed sound, which is up there with the very best at this level. Music is encouraged to display an airy sense of openness with plenty of subtlety and sophistication. It's the kind of cable that would be a good option for warm-sounding, less spacious set-ups.

If you're looking for a speaker cable that can fit into tight spaces, then the Clearwater is definitely an option. It's terminated in attractive dinky plugs and is covered in an almost jelly-like jacket which helps with flexibility.

We were impressed with its ability to keep music sounding balanced, involving and cohesive while it also helps deliver plenty of power and depth from low frequencies. Add natural-sounding vocals and lashings of detail into the mix and you've got yourself quite the speaker cable.

For more than 50 years, we've worked hard to deliver products that help you hear your music at it's very best - with nothing added, nothing taken away. Designed and engineered in London, by the same team response for you award-winning kit, Melomania headphones are no exception. Immerse yourself in high-quality audio, wherever you are.

So rather than poking our nose between these two opposing camps and risk getting dragged into the ongoing battle, lets elude the heated quarrel and instead offer up an overview of speaker cable jargon and give you some useful tips on how to buy your own.

Copper is the most widely used material for speaker cable due to its low cost and low resistance. However, copper does oxidise so it needs to be well covered and insulated. When exposed to air, pure copper reacts to creating copper oxide which covers the exposed surface; this creates a barrier between the cable and the speaker/ amplifier therefore can weaken connections. Silver is slightly less resistive than copper meaning a thinner gauge will still offer a lower resistance, however as you might have guessed silver is expensive so a thicker copper wire will actually still be cheaper to buy. Gold however does not oxidise so it can be used for open terminations but as it has a higher resistivity to copper or silver it is rarely used as speaker cable. As with all metals, the purer the wire used, the higher the cost (per metre). Many different levels of purity are available for cables, and whether or not this brings a significant benefit to the audio is down to personal preference and for you to decide for yourself.

In addition to these key features there are many electrical properties claimed by cable manufacturers such as additional insulation and better purification of oxidising materials to improve sound quality. However, the difference that these features have on the end result is rather undecided; the most important consideration is that your wire gauge is suitable for the impedance of your speakers and the length of your wire. Anything beyond this it is for you to test out. There are different sound preferences for different listeners, so try some out, listen for yourself, and let us know what you prefer by commenting below.

Audiophile types almost always say thicker wire is better to transmit sound: 'thicker cables sound better.' On the other side of the spectrum, hardcore non-audiophile skeptics say there is no difference in cables, so get the cheapest speaker wire you can find. For them, even 18 gauge is too expensive; that 24 gauge wire for pennies a yard is enough.

All speaker cable is part of an electrical circuit that includes each driver, the other components in a speaker, plus all the elements in the output stage of the amplifier. Each cable is going to have slightly different properties that in theory can subtly change the sound.

The prices between these were close enough that they all seemed reasonable competitors, and all were the cheapest or near-cheapest of their respective gauges. All the other cables on my initial list were either significantly more expensive, or brands of dubious longevity.

For our next test, I selected one of the cables I liked from the first round, and we put that against the Monoprice 2747 12 gauge. This was to see if the move to a thicker gauge made an audible difference.

For one final test, we swapped in the $320/pair Hsu Research HB-1 Mk2 bookshelf speakers. This was to see if we heard a difference on inexpensive speakers, and to see if different cables sounded better on these speakers than those that sounded good on the Krells.

Since the difference between the 14 and 12 gauge wires was the most obvious difference, we re-did this test with the less expensive speakers. The difference was far less noticeable than with the big Krell speakers. We were fairly confident in our choice (not nearly as much as we had been with the other test), and that choice turned out to be... the 14 gauge. Defeat snatched from the hands of victory.

Should we have done another round of testing, and figured out what the best 14- or 16-gauge wire was for the Hsu? We could have, but to what end? That would just have just told us what was good for those speakers.

Speaker cables are simply wire that connects different parts of an electrical circuit, as I mentioned earlier. This wire has three different electrical properties: resistance, inductance and capacitance. These can change depending on the gauge of the wire, the length of the wire, the material of the wire, and so on. In general, the thicker the wire, the lower the resistance.

It turns out that the cable shown in the Amazon review is a different product. The cable is packaged differently, and the Amazon reviewer says they counted 87 strands within a single wire. Our sample of the 2747 cable had 64 strands, each measuring 0.25 mm (30 gauge), which conforms to one of the standard configurations for 12-gauge stranded wire as shown in this chart (PDF).

To support the suggestion that the conductors in the wire are too loosely packed to conform to standard 12-gauge stranded wire construction, the Amazon reviewer states that the conductors in the wire they purchased weighed 6 grams per foot instead of the 9 grams per foot expected of 12-gauge stranded copper. However, in the 2747 cable we tested, 1 foot of a single conductor with the jacket stripped off weighed 9 grams. We conclude that the 2747 cable is what Monoprice advertises it to be, and we stand by our recommendation.

Steve is a volunteer DJ at community radio station WTJU, where he's a regular host of the American folk show "Atlantic Weekly," as well as the world music program "Beyond Borders," where he gets to share his love of African music.

To figure out how much speaker wire you need, run a string from your receiver or amplifier location to each of the speaker locations. Measure the string, and then add a few extra feet (to provide some slack for easier connection to your gear).

With a 4-conductor cable, you pull a single cable over the long distance from your amplifier or receiver to an in-wall volume control in another room. You can then run 2-conductor cables from the volume control to each of the stereo speakers in that location. Four-conductor wire is also good for connecting stereo-input speakers.

Spring clips are very easy to work with. Simply press down on the clip, insert the speaker wire, and release. The spring-loaded mechanism holds the wire in place. Spring clip terminals can accept bare wire and pin connectors, but not spade connectors, banana plugs, or dual-banana plugs.

In an actual listening room, you'd find that some speakers play louder than others when fed the same amount of power. In equal power mode, you'll hear these differences in loudness as they naturally occur between speakers.

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