Should you really spend 10% of total budget on wires? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 12-19-2012, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone!

I'm asking this question because I'm kind of confused on what I read on diverse sources... Some say that good cables are absolutely mandatory, and other ones say that a standard big gauge copper wire will perform as well as exotic cables...

The first source that screws it all in my head, and from someone I think has a great credibility:

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm

On the other hand, some sites like whathifi insist on the need of high quality speaker wire...

Other than the fact that most fancy cables color your system in a sometimes favorable way, is there a sonic benefit upon good old quality copper wire? Personnally, I do not want to color my system at all, so if there is little or no gain shelling out 400-500$ on a pair of speaker cables, then I will continue with my ugly but efficient standard copper wires...

And if it really has an impact on a system sound quality, what are some good brands that aren't too overpriced? Transparent cable? Kimber Kable?

Any thoughts on this?
Thanks !

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post #2 of 49 Old 12-19-2012, 09:21 PM
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I would not buy anything more costly than what Blue Jeans Cables sells. I buy oxygen free 14 gauge wire from Mono Price. Its cheap and I add some nice gold plated banana plugs - you'll never be able to tell the difference between them and some very expensive wires. I think 99% of all posters here will tell you the same thing. It is audio video science after all.

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post #3 of 49 Old 12-19-2012, 10:40 PM
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You could buy expensive wiring. Afterall, snake oil salesmen have to eat, too. wink.gif Seriously, though, this subject has been addressed ad nauseum here. Knucklehead90 is being too kind by saying it's 99%. More like 99.9%.

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post #4 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 06:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aarghon View Post

some sites like whathifi insist on the need of high quality speaker wire...
Reason enough to not believe a word you see there, and not go back again unless you're looking for a good laugh. cool.gif

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post #5 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Reason enough to not believe a word you see there, and not go back again unless you're looking for a good laugh. cool.gif

Haha. I was just thinking, 'I need to go check that place out. They sound fun.'
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post #6 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 06:26 AM
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Hey, guys go easy...those HiFi wires salesmen have to make boat payments!

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post #7 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 06:47 AM
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NO.

Get 14 gauge speaker wire from Monoprice. Use 12 gauge if your amplifier is over 100 watts.

I have tried various hi-end speaker cables, including the Audioquest cables I have now, but they don't sound any better than plain old 14 gauge copper wire.
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post #8 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 07:18 AM
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I am not sure wire gauge has anything to do with amp watts rather than the distance the wire would run

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post #9 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymalya View Post

I am not sure wire gauge has anything to do with amp watts
Watts, no, current, yes. This calculator considers current as well as voltage drop:
http://www.bcae1.com/images/swfs/speakerwireselectorassistant.swf

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post #10 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 09:44 AM
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You should not set a % on wires. You should just put most of your budget into speakers and get monoprice or other inexpensive bare wires from Amazon for now. Then later when budget permits, if you fancy wires, you could get something like Kimber Kable 4PR or 8PR wires.
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post #11 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 10:44 AM
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All speakers wires at a given gauge work as well as others. What I find to be different is some are easier to work with. You can strip them more easily and/or the strands are easier to bend and/or it's easier to distinguish the postive and negative wires from each other.
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post #12 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

You should not set a % on wires. You should just put most of your budget into speakers and get monoprice or other inexpensive bare wires from Amazon for now. Then later when budget permits, if you fancy wires, you could get something like Kimber Kable 4PR or 8PR wires.
Bare wire? Shouldn't the wire have insulation? :P

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post #13 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Any thoughts on this?
Don't waste your money on overpriced speaker wire, cables or power cords. Monoprice makes good, inexpensive stuff; BlueJeansCable makes good, slightly more expensive stuff.
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post #14 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post

I would not buy anything more costly than what Blue Jeans Cables sells. I buy oxygen free 14 gauge wire from Mono Price. Its cheap and I add some nice gold plated banana plugs - you'll never be able to tell the difference between them and some very expensive wires. I think 99% of all posters here will tell you the same thing. It is audio video science after all.

+1!

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post #15 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the input, it confirms what I was thinking... Snake oil pouring all over the placeeeeeeeee

I had bought a set of maxx biwiring cables (at a great price, so it doesn't hurt too much), and I've returned to standard 12 awg copper wire in a passive bi-amping set-up... And the "apparently" better maxx cable sounded no better than my regular cables... The regular cable sounded even better, but I thought it had to do with bi-amping vs bi-wiring.

Think i'll buy cable sleeves and pretty banana plugs , and make myself pretty cables. Because in the end, esthetics and professional looks is all you get with branded cables, uh?

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post #16 of 49 Old 12-20-2012, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aarghon View Post

I had bought a set of maxx biwiring cables (at a great price, so it doesn't hurt too much), and I've returned to standard 12 awg copper wire in a passive bi-amping set-up... And the "apparently" better maxx cable sounded no better than my regular cables... The regular cable sounded even better, but I thought it had to do with bi-amping vs bi-wiring.
Bi-wiring is snake oil too, and there's no such thing as 'passive bi-amping'. By definition bi-amping uses an electronic crossover instead of passive, along with dual amplification.

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post #17 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Bi-wiring is snake oil too, and there's no such thing as 'passive bi-amping'. By definition bi-amping uses an electronic crossover instead of passive, along with dual amplification.

I agree. In theory, bi-wiring can make a difference, but I've never heard a difference in practice. Maybe if the crossover circuitry were bad, you could hear a difference.
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post #18 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aarghon View Post

Hello everyone!
Any thoughts on this?
Thanks !

10% is way too much IMO. Buy or make a nice looking pair of cables that won't be an eye-sore if seen and be done with it. Spending 10% of your budget is_________ (fill in the blank biggrin.gif).

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post #19 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Spending 10% of your budget is_________ (fill in the blank biggrin.gif).

...God's way of saying you make too much money. wink.gif
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post #20 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aarghon View Post

Hello everyone!

I'm asking this question because I'm kind of confused on what I read on diverse sources... Some say that good cables are absolutely mandatory, and other ones say that a standard big gauge copper wire will perform as well as exotic cables... ***
On the other hand, some sites like whathifi insist on the need of high quality speaker wire...***

It's a simple exercise in following the money.

Sources that have some pecuniary interest* in wires and the various other cons permeating "high end" audio will invariably recommend setting aside some portion of the budget for such cons. After all, such things tend to have low costs and high prices, so that allows big marketing budgets, fat dealer margins, etc.

*i.e. because they're involved in the sales/distribution chain, receive ad revenues, desire to maintain the resale value of scam wires already purchased, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymalya View Post

I am not sure wire gauge has anything to do with amp watts rather than the distance the wire would run

For most domestic uses, it doesn't. But wires that are carrying a lot of power may heat up unacceptably. (The act of carrying voltage and current through a device with nonzero resistance will always result in some heating.) The calculator Bill linked-to is good, because it accounts for that even though for most home uses it's irrelevant. (When is it relevant? For example, enter values of 1000W, 4Ω, 45 ft., and 14AWG.)

But basically, the factors a intelligent person uses to determine how much to spend on speaker wires is the following:
  • The "Russell/BCAE1" technical factors. That is to say, the minimum impedance of one's loudspeakers and the length of each run.
  • Local building codes (for example, if wire is run in a wall, does it need to be CL2 or CL3 rated to meet code)?
  • Cosmetic/ergonomic factors. Examples of things that fit under this category include conduit, techflex, heat shrink, ends (Speakon/spade/banana/pin), etc.

The former two are objective, and the latter is subjective.

Also, keep in mind that a multichannel system will almost always require more wire speaker wire than one might expect. Especially if one is careful about concealing the wire runs. I know in my current 7.1-channel system there is about 200' of wire for the three mains and four surrounds, and about 90' of speaker wire for the five subwoofers. (Of all that wire, less than 7' total are visible.) So speaker wire for multichannel systems is best purchased in large spools.

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post #21 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

It's a simple exercise in following the money.
+1, not only who's taking it in but who's already paid it out. If you think something will work it probably will, and the more you've paid for it the more positive you're likely to be that it has to work.

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post #22 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

NO.

I have tried various hi-end speaker cables, including the Audioquest cables I have now, but they don't sound any better than plain old 14 gauge copper wire.

[sarcasm on] Yes, but there are serious audiophiles, some with as much as 30-40 years experience, who DO hear differences. Surely they can't have been fooling themselves all these years, can they? Just because you don't hear it, doesn't mean it isn't true. Perhaps your system or your ears aren't resolving enough? Or you just haven't found the cable with the right synergistic match for your system? In any case, just be happy that you don't hear the differences because you have saved yourself a lot of money![/sarcasm off]

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.
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post #23 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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hmm ok...

Bill: if the signal is coming from the same power source before it gets split and dedicated ( I have no clue what's happening there, and it's what I suppose it's doing...) in the speaker's crossover it is passive, no??? And when 2 amps power (each on its side) a HF and a LF signal when it is split by a crossover before entering the speaker means it is active. no? Thought that adding a second run of cable directly into the speaker 's crossover only gives a little more power in the end...

I think I need a little clarification there hehe!

Cruel intentions : ahah, you are so right. Being an ass guy-knows-it-all for 40 years is indeed possible.

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post #24 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

I agree. In theory, bi-wiring can make a difference, but I've never heard a difference in practice. Maybe if the crossover circuitry were bad, you could hear a difference.

Can you walk me through that theory?
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post #25 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Aarghon View Post

hmm ok...
Bill: if the signal is coming from the same power source before it gets split and dedicated ( I have no clue what's happening there, and it's what I suppose it's doing...) in the speaker's crossover it is passive, no??? And when 2 amps power (each on its side) a HF and a LF signal when it is split by a crossover before entering the speaker means it is active. no? Thought that adding a second run of cable directly into the speaker 's crossover only gives a little more power in the end...
I think I need a little clarification there hehe!
A passive crossover splits the signal from one amp to the respective frequency bandwidths required for each driver. An active crossover splits the signal into the respective bandwidths prior to their being separately amplified. The two main advantages to bi (or tri or quad) amping is that by each amplifier handling only a smaller portion of the total audio bandwidth IM distortion is reduced, while electronic crossovers work far better than passive, also reducing distortion. Electronic crossovers are also far less expensive than passive when used for very low frequencies, so much so that for the price of a good passive crossover between a subwoofer and a midbass driver you can get both an electronic crossover and an additional amp. And that's just what you have with a self-powered sub in an x.1 system.

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post #26 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 08:20 PM
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Don't buy cables from your local dollar store, but don't buy Monster or other high priced ones either.

From what I've been learning, it's something like this. 50% speakers, 25% electronics, 25% room treatment. Decent cables from Monoprice or Blue Jeans are probably fine. There aren't too many cable threads for a reason.

It's these cans! He hates these cans!
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post #27 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

It's a simple exercise in following the money.
Sources that have some pecuniary interest* in wires and the various other cons permeating "high end" audio will invariably recommend setting aside some portion of the budget for such cons. After all, such things tend to have low costs and high prices, so that allows big marketing budgets, fat dealer margins, etc.
*i.e. because they're involved in the sales/distribution chain, receive ad revenues, desire to maintain the resale value of scam wires already purchased, etc.

For most domestic uses, it doesn't. But wires that are carrying a lot of power may heat up unacceptably. (The act of carrying voltage and current through a device with nonzero resistance will always result in some heating.) The calculator Bill linked-to is good, because it accounts for that even though for most home uses it's irrelevant. (When is it relevant? For example, enter values of 1000W, 4Ω, 45 ft., and 14AWG.)
But basically, the factors a intelligent person uses to determine how much to spend on speaker wires is the following:
  • The "Russell/BCAE1" technical factors. That is to say, the minimum impedance of one's loudspeakers and the length of each run.
  • Local building codes (for example, if wire is run in a wall, does it need to be CL2 or CL3 rated to meet code)?
  • Cosmetic/ergonomic factors. Examples of things that fit under this category include conduit, techflex, heat shrink, ends (Speakon/spade/banana/pin), etc.
The former two are objective, and the latter is subjective.
Also, keep in mind that a multichannel system will almost always require more wire speaker wire than one might expect. Especially if one is careful about concealing the wire runs. I know in my current 7.1-channel system there is about 200' of wire for the three mains and four surrounds, and about 90' of speaker wire for the five subwoofers. (Of all that wire, less than 7' total are visible.) So speaker wire for multichannel systems is best purchased in large spools.

Five subs? Wow!!

It's these cans! He hates these cans!
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post #28 of 49 Old 12-21-2012, 10:25 PM
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Nobody can train electrons to travel other than according to laws of physics - if they did they would be entitled for a Nobel price.
Just buy appropriate gauge Cu wire. Oxygen-free or regular Cu - doesn't matter.
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post #29 of 49 Old 12-22-2012, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gostillerz View Post

Five subs? Wow!!

Yes. Not for high SPL, but to smooth the performance in the upper bass.

Room modes make most audio systems horrible sounding in that crucial region.

See more here.

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post #30 of 49 Old 12-26-2012, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info bill, wasn't sure about that thing hehe... So for what I'm understanding, a single quality good gauge cable used with decent cable jumpers instead of these cheap gold plated bridges would be as beneficial as bi-amping from a receiver? I can't afford having a dual stereo amp set up only for music yet...

good holidays to all!

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