How to Buy Speaker Cables

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How to Buy Speaker Cables

Speaker cable is an essential part of any home theatre system. Many of the components need to be connected to speakers in order for sound to be audible. Speaker cables also allow a person to establish a surround sound system without having to keep each speaker near the receiver. There are a lot of types of speaker cables to consider, and getting the right one is very important to the quality of sound that a person wants. Speaker cable can be purchased at many electronics shops as well as on the popular auction website, eBay. When purchasing speaker cable, one needs to consider a few different factors. Some of these factors are how much speaker cable they need, taking correct measurements, knowing which speaker cables connect best to the components, and which accessories are needed to attach the speaker cable to the surfaces it is run across.

Measuring for Speaker Cables

When one gets ready to install new speakers, it is important to measure between the speaker unit and the device it is going to be plugged into, like a receiver. The gauge of the speaker wire depends on the length of the wire that is being run. Using a tape measure, measure the distance from the speaker cable connections on the speaker to the floor or ceiling. Then, measure the length of the floor or ceiling that the speaker wire is run across. Whether or not the speaker cable runs through the ceiling, under the carpet, or across the floor is up to the user and the design of the system.

Remember that the speaker cable has to lie flat across a surface so someone does not trip over it. Once the distance from the speaker to the floor or ceiling, the length of the floor or ceiling, and up or down to the receiver is measured, one should also add a metre or two to be sure that they have enough cable. Extra cable is almost always a good thing. After the distance is measured, then determine exactly which gauge is needed.

Determining Which Gauge Speaker Cable Is Needed

Speaker cables come in a few different gauges. The gauge is how heavy the speaker wire needs to be to cover the distance between the speakers and the receiver or amplifier. Some sound systems have speakers that are very close to the amplifier,, which means a light gauge short speaker wire can be used. In full surround systems, the length of the speaker wire is considerably longer, and therefore, a heavier gauge is needed.

The heavier gauge wire allows for better sound transmission from the speaker to the amplifier or receiver. Unfortunately, heavier gauge wire is more expensive than the lighter gauge speaker wire. Whether or not heavy gauge or light gauge wire is chosen depends on how long the speaker wire needs to be and the quality of sound that is desired. The normal gauges range from 16-gauge close wire to 12-gauge distance wire.

Length of Wire

Gauge of Wire

Use of the Wire

Under 15 meters

16-gauge wire

Simple, small systems

Low-distance surround sound

Over 15 meters

14-gauge wire

Distances that the sound has to travel

Broad distance surround sound

Over 60 meters

12-gauge wire

For distance and surround sound

No suitable for outdoor use

Under 15 meters outdoor

16-gauge wire

Outdoor speakers with wire run through conduit

Over 15 meters outdoor

14-gauge wire

Outdoor speakers with wire run through conduit

There are more types of speaker cable available, however, these are the main types. Many people do not need advanced wire technology for their speakers. Although they are extremely expensive, there are speakers that do not require a speaker wire at all. Instead, they operate with wireless Bluetooth,, RF, or IR. Unfortunately, these technologies are relatively new and there can be a lot of interference so more people opt for the hardwired cable systems.

Choosing the Right Accessories for the Speaker Cable

There are several ways to connect the different speaker cable wires. There are specialty connectors that can be plugged into each other for each of the wires, there are pin connectors that plug directly into the speaker system, and then there are the bare wire connections. Many speakers have a pinch clip on the back of the speaker. The rest of the speaker wire connectors just plug into the speaker, but bare wire requires a bit more work before it can be connected.

Direct Wire Speaker Cable Connections

Bare wire has to have the insulation stripped back, and then placed into the clips on the back of the speaker. Most speakers have left, right, and centre channels that need to be connected to the speaker wire. Speaker wire can be pulled apart to make this separation, or separate speaker wire cables can be used.

Pin and Proprietary Connections for Speaker Cable

Many speaker wire cables now come with pinchable connections or proprietary pin connectors already attached to make connecting them easier. To purchase the right accessories, a person has to first figure out which type of connections their speakers have, and then buy the right accessories and connections for that speaker. Connections can be combined if the speakers have different styles of connector. One speaker may have a pin connector, while another may have a plug-in connector. Two different speaker wires can use two different connector types if they require them.

Covers and Other Accessories for Wire Speaker Cables

There are also accessories for keeping control of speaker wires. Wire conduit is great for running speakers outdoors or through an attic or basement. There are also plastic strips that blend into the walls, ceilings, or floors in case a person cannot run the wire through the walls, ceiling, or floors. These strips suction or glue down to keep the cable safe from being tripped over. Having a secure speaker wire saves the equipment from becoming accidentally damaged if someone does happen to trip over it.

Extending Speaker Wires

When speaker wire is too short, or a user decides to move one of the speakers, there are ways to extend it. The extensions can be made with cable twists or electrical tape. Simply add the new wire extension to the existing cable by stripping back some of the insulation and twisting the wires together. The wire can then be capped or taped to secure the connection. By doing this, you can extend speaker connections considerably. There are a few important things to note when extending speaker wire, such as the wires need to be of the same gauge. The connections also must be completely secure before the system is powered on again. If there is still a break, it could short circuit the speaker or the amplifier. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence as long as the connections match and the circuit is closed.

Buying Speaker Cables on eBay

Once you have figured out how much speaker cable that you need, you can search for the amount needed on the popular auction website, eBay.. They have a vast variety of all of the gauges of speaker wire and speaker wire accessories. All you have to do is enter the keywords for the type of speaker cable that is needed into the site’s search bar, and eBay populates a list of all of the matching entries for those keywords. You may have to reword your search to narrow down the search results. Then, after you have found a listing in which you are interested, you can click on the listing to read information about the product and seller.

On the listing page is a description of the product, the shipping and return policies, and the seller’s feedback. Read the listing carefully, and if there is something that is not described in the listing, feel free to use the “Ask the Seller a Question” feature. Most sellers are happy to answer questions about their products. Then, read the seller's feedback, and if it is mostly positive, then your buying experience is likely to be positive.


There are many different types of speaker cable and many ways to run wire to a speaker. The measurements are probably the most important consideration that you need when purchasing speaker wire. Too much speaker wire is much better than having too little speaker wire. Making sure that the right accessories and connections are ordered is a good idea as well. Many people make the mistake of purchasing the wrong gauge of speaker wire, which may cause their surround sound systems to have a poorer quality of sound than they would when connected with the correct gauge of speaker cable. This is another reason why the measurements need to be as exact as possible. The different gauges of speaker wire are meant for speakers of different distances from the receiver or amplifier. One of the many places to purchase speaker wire and accessories is the popular auction website, eBay, where you can most likely find speaker cable at a lower price than most electronics shops.

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