What to Consider When Buying Hi Fi Speaker Cables

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What to Consider When Buying Hi Fi Speaker Cables

When assembling the right kind of audio equipment that can deliver great sound, many consumers may choose to concentrate on the Hi-Fi equipment and components that go into creating a stereo set-up. Finding the ideal equipment, however, can be undercut by not addressing the cables and wires in a set-up properly. The wrong cables for the right equipment can leave solid equipment sounding thin and lacking in dynamics. Therefore, Hi-Fi speaker cables are especially relevant in creating and maintaining a quality sound system.

In order to find and install the desired Hi-Fi speaker cables for a stereo system, consumers need to understand the ins and outs of wiring and have a basic grasp of the factors involved in choosing speaker cables. It can also facilitate the purchasing process if one is aware of how the online auction site eBay can be utilised to find Hi-Fi speaker cables.

Basic Audio Concepts Associated with Hi Fi Speaker Cables

While the details and technological knowledge involved in stereo set-ups can be quite complex, consumers should be knowledgeable about some basic facts when shopping for Hi-Fi speaker cables. Information about what a speaker cable is and what its function is, as well as concepts such as resistance and damping factor, can help a consumer make the right decision when purchasing Hi-Fi speaker cables.

Hi Fi Speaker Cables vs. Wires

Cables and wires are actually interchangeable terms when it comes to Hi-Fi connection. All Hi-Fi speaker "cables" are essentially wires. Some can be encased in a solid plastic wrap, making them look more like a traditional cable, while others reveal the wiring component and look more like wires. Consumers can come across either term in their purchasing process and should understand that they are the same type of connector.

When shopping for Hi-Fi speaker cables,, it is important that consumers have a basic understanding of certain terms and their meanings. Understanding these terms can help inform the purchasing process and ensure that a consumer finds the best speaker cable for his or her needs.


The term resistance as it relates to audio is rather straightforward. All materials in the world can conduct an electrical signal to some degree. Even things like wood or plastic can, but they have a very high resistance to the flow of electricity. Other elements, such as the copper used in speaker wires, are highly conductive, allowing the electrical signal to flow through the material well. This means that the resistance in a copper wire is quite low because it is highly conductive.


Capacitance involves the speaker wire’s ability to hold a charge or electrical signal. Loss of capacitance can occur within the speaker cable itself, with one wire reacting to the other, or between the speaker cables and an external conductive object. A low-capacitance speaker wire means that it loses little charge over a long stretch of cable.


Inductance is a conductor’s resistance to change in the flow of a current. This is important in speaker wires because high frequency signals create very rapid changes in the current. In speaker wires, inductance is represented as inductive reactance in Ohms, with a lower rating meaning that a speaker experiences less signal loss because it is less resistant to change in the current.

The Importance of Capacitance and Inductance in Hi Fi Speaker Cables

Capacitance and inductance are both considered important factors in the selection of quality speaker cables and are often interrelated. Sometimes, manufacturers sacrifice a better rating in one category to achieve a better percentage in the other; for example, a high-end Hi-Fi speaker cable may have a higher capacitance in order to achieve lower inductance. As a general guideline, however, achieving a capacitive reactance and an inductive reactance of around 1 percent each is a typical goal of most quality Hi-Fi speaker cables,, and it is generally recommended that inductance stays below 5 percent of the entire circuit.

The Importance of Resistance in Hi Fi Speaker Cables

While capacitance and inductance are important issues to consider, and there is much debate over which factor more clearly defines quality in a speaker cable, some audio specialists believe that resistance is the central defining factor when it comes to a Hi-Fi speaker cable’s quality. The resistance of a speaker cable can directly affect insertion loss and the damping factor in the audio signal.

Insertion Loss

Insertion loss is defined as the amount of load power lost between the amplifier and speaker due to resistive losses along the length of the speaker cable. The longer the cable, the higher these losses can pile up. A high amount of insertion loss can result in a speaker not playing as loudly as it is intended to play.

Damping Factor

The damping factor in an audio set-up is defined as the ratio between the impedance of the speaker and the impedance of the source. When the damping factor ratio in a system is too low, the linearity and balance in a sound system can be off, resulting in weak speaker performance and bass that booms a bit too much.

Selecting Gauge in Hi Fi Speaker Cables

The resistance of a speaker cable is directly related to the gauge of a speaker cable and how well that gauge of wire performs over the length of the cable. The gauge of a speaker cable defines the size and cross-sectional area of a wire. Two standardized systems for rating a wire’s gauge exist, and they are American Wire Gauge, or AWG, and Standard Wire Gauge, or SWG. AWG is primarily used by manufacturers in the United States and Canada, while SWG is the dominant choice in the United Kingdom. Consumers may find either choice available in the marketplace.

The general guideline for selecting a gauge is that the resistance of the speaker wire should not surpass 5 percent of the rated impedance of the sound system. The length of a speaker cable is directly related to its resistance and can factor into the choice of gauge. The following chart annotates recommended gauges and lengths of speaker cables in relation to the impedance load of a system, based on the common cable speaker design which contains two insulated wires:

Wire size

2 Ω load

4 Ω load

6 Ω load

8 Ω load

10 AWG / 12 SWG

15 m

30 m

46 m

61 m

12 AWG/ 14 SWG

9.1 m

18 m

27 m

36 m

14 AWG /16 SWG

6.1 m

12 m

18 m

24 m

16 AWG / 17 SWG

3.6 m

7.3 m

11 m

15 m

18 AWG / 18 SWG

2.4 m

4.9 m

7.3 m

9.7 m

20 AWG / 22 SWG

1.5 m

3 m

4.5 m

6 m

22 AWG / 24 SWG

0.9 m

1.8 m

2.7 m

3.6 m

The above chart is a general guideline, and consumers should understand that speaker cable needs can change based on the equipment involved. This table merely provides an idea of what could work in certain scenarios. In household stereo applications, it is typically not recommended that a consumer use a speaker cable longer than 15 m.

Buying Speaker Cables on eBay

One of the larger resources for purchasing Hi-Fi speaker cables is the online auction site, eBay . This website functions as an aggregator, bringing together countless sellers and audiophiles with a wide array of options available for purchase. When visiting the site to purchase Hi-Fi speaker cables, you can begin by entering a search term in the search bar on any page on the site. You can use a specific term if you already have a speaker cable type and gauge in mind, or a general term such as "Hi-Fi speaker cable" to get a look at the overall range of choices available.

Once you start looking through individual listings that relate to Hi-Fi speaker cables, you should take a bit of time to get to know the sellers involved. This is easily done by visiting a seller’s page where you can access information on past auctions and customer feedback to get a perspective on the seller’s track record. Do not hesitate to communicate with a seller as well if you have questions about a product. By following this simple step, you can ensure that you receive the Hi-Fi speaker cables for your needs.


Getting the right Hi-Fi speaker cable is an essential element in building a quality sound system. The link between the amplifier of a stereo or entertainment system and the speaker is a critical final point in the entire audio system which can make or break the quality of sound produced by that system. Consumers on the lookout for Hi-Fi speaker cables should make sure that they understand the basic concepts involved in speaker cables, such as resistance, capacitance, and impedance. Consumers should also be aware that the length and gauge of a cable can affect its performance and should factor into the choice.

When shopping for Hi-Fi speaker cables, consumers can benefit from the extensive catalogue on eBay, the online auction site. On eBay, consumers can look through countless listings and, by just taking a bit of time to evaluate the sellers on the site, find the right speaker cable to complement a system that delivers quality audio.

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