How Far Can You Run Speaker Wires?

 

Speakers are an important part of both indoor and outdoor event programs because they help people communicate. Because of this, we have to figure out how far we can run our speaker wires and how far they can send sound without losing quality.

The resistance (or impedance in ohms) of the speaker and the gauge of the speaker wire tell you how far you can run the speaker. It doesn’t matter how big the speaker is.

As a rule of thumb, the total resistance of the speaker wire should be less than 5 percent of the impedance (resistance) of the speaker. For example, if your speaker is rated at 4 ohms, you can run a 20 gauge wire 20 feet, an 18 gauge wire 32 feet, and a 16 gauge wire 48 feet.

Below is a table that shows the maximum length of a speaker wire based on the wire’s gauge and the speaker’s resistance:

WIRE SIZE 2 OHM LOAD 4 OHM LOAD 6 OHM LOAD 8OHM LOAD
22 AWG 3 feet max 6 feet max 9 feet max 12 feet max
20 AWG 5 feet max 10 feet max 15 feet max 20 feet max
18 AWG 8 feet max 16 feet max 24 feet max 32 feet max
16 AWG 12 feet max 24 feet max 36 feet max 48 feet max
14 AWG 20 feet max 40 feet max 60 feet** 80 feet**
12 AWG 30 feet max 60 feet** 90 feet** 120 feet**
10 AWG 50 feet max 100 feet** 150 feet** 200 feet**

From the table above, you can see that the longer you can run your speaker wires, the larger the gauge of the wire and the higher the impedance of the speaker.

Things to Consider Before Running Your Speaker Wire 

We have to look at the impedance of the speaker and the gauge of the speaker wire to figure out how far it can go. 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 AWG are the standard wire gauges, with 10 AWG being the thickest (Note that AWG is American Wire Gauge)

To figure out what size wire is needed, we must also figure out how long the run is. The bigger the wire size we need, the longer the length we need to cover.

If you know the distance, you can figure out what gauge is needed to meet the power demand. If you have to go further than 50 feet, you should use 12-gauge or 14-gauge speaker wire.

Always add a few extra feet to make room for mistakes and slack. You don’t want to cut 80 feet of speaker wire only to find out that you need 82 feet.

Can Speaker Wire Be Too Long?

There are times when speaker wires are too long. Around 50 feet is the longest length of speaker wire that should be used. Anything that is longer than 50 feet is too long. The length of the speaker wires from the amplifiers to the speakers affects the sound quality of a system.

This means that the wire’s thickness is important, but so is the distance it travels. Even if the wire is thick enough, speaker runs longer than 50 feet are not a good idea. This is because as the distance grows, the sound quality gets worse.

It’s important to know that speaker wires with smaller gauges and thicker wires work best for longer distances between the audio amplifier and the speakers.

Bigger speaker cables have less resistance, so you can run these wires over longer distances.

Overlong distances and bigger speaker wires can actually help reduce or eliminate power loss and dampening. When used over long distances, speaker wires with bigger wires are also better at reducing the effect of resistance on the signal.

Indoor Vs Outdoor Speaker Wire Cabling

If you want to use speakers outside, make sure the cords can handle the weather. Because of this, they will be called direct burial cables, which are easy to set up. The cables can be buried in the ground without any extra protection.

The shielding keeps the cables from being damaged by pressure, heat, and moisture, so your speakers will always work well.

Depending on how your wires are set up in your home, the right UL rating will be needed for your indoor speakers.

If you want to hide the wires in your ceilings or walls, make sure they are CL2 or CL3 certified. This is to make sure that the cables aren’t close to things in your ceiling or walls that could catch fire if they catch fire.

Can A Speaker Wire Be Too Short?

When it comes to speaker wire, the shorter it is, the better. Long runs can add more impedance, which can cause power loss in some situations.

Also, signal loss in long speaker cables is greater than signal loss in interconnects of the same length. I know that some cable manufacturers, especially those who make cables for in-line networks, may not agree with me, but I think that long interconnects with shorter speaker cables usually sound better.

Also, speaker cables of the same quality are usually much more expensive per foot than their line-level counterparts. This makes it cheaper to use longer interconnects and shorter speaker cables.

Speaker wire is an important part of the system because it protects voltages as they move from one link to the next in the audio chain.

Because the electrons have to move through the conductors and try to jump over the limits set by the connections at each end, no cable can do more than just limit the amount of loss during that transmission. Better cables “do less damage” or, to put it another way, they lose less signal.

Balance And Unbalanced Speaker Cable

When you live stream or record a live event, the audio cables you use can have a big effect on how good the sound is.

Even when used correctly, every audio connection can add noise and distortion to your mix, so it’s important to use the right cable for the job.

It can be hard to tell the difference between unbalanced and balanced cables. To know which cables to use and when, you need to know some basic things, so let’s get started!

  • Unbalanced speaker cable: This kind of cable has two wires inside the plastic sheathing: a signal wire and a ground wire. The signal wire in the middle of the cable carries the audio signal, while the ground wires around it protect it from electronic interference from the outside. “Unbalanced” refers to a cable that takes the audio signal from a piece of equipment and sends it directly to a mixer or other capture/receiver device. Leaving the audio alone makes things easier, but sometimes the sound can get messed up.
  • Balanced speaker cable: Balanced cables have two signal wires and one ground wire inside the plastic shell. Like unbalanced connections, the signal wires each carry the same audio signal, but the ground wire around them protects the signal wires from electrical noise. With balanced cables, the difference is that both the equipment that sends and the equipment that receives have a converter that lets them use both signal wires.
Can A Speaker Wire Be Too Thick?

Wires that are thicker are better. It’s true that resistance is less of a problem when wires are long.

But a 16-gauge cord will work for almost all installations (where the speakers are less than 100 feet from the amplifier). 14 gauge wire is what experts recommend for speakers that are 100 to 200 feet away from the amplifier.

Conclusion

This article will tell you how far your speaker wire can go and what balanced and unbalanced speaker cables are used for. This post will help you decide which speaker cable will work best for you.

 

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