Help with speaker cable, building my first real system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-26-2013, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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So I've Googled around for hours now and I feel like I know less than before I started. I made the decision to make an investment and built myself a nice system from the ground up.

It will be comprised of:

Amp: NAD 356 BEE DAC

Turntable: Rega RP3 w/ Elys 2

Phono Stage:
Clear Audio Basic (picked one up pre-owned)

Speakers:
Audio Physic Classic 10's


What I'm stumped on now is speaker cable, the price ranges are massive and I really don't know what's snake oil vs real benefit. Is my system high end enough that speaker cable becomes a weak link? Thanks in advance to anyone who chimes in, just trying to figure this all out.
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-26-2013, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by dvon1981 View Post

I really don't know what's snake oil .
Anything that's priced higher than Monoprice.

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post #3 of 11 Old 06-26-2013, 08:53 PM
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Whatever 16 GA cord they have at the local home depot will be fine.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-26-2013, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by dvon1981 View Post

What I'm stumped on now is speaker cable, the price ranges are massive and I really don't know what's snake oil vs real benefit. ***.

Here's a good rule of thumb for wire: as soon as someone starts talking about how it "sounds," they're trying to feed you snake oil. It's really as simple as that, regardless of what else is in the chain.

As for what's appropriate for your gear, I was in Home Depot today, and my local store is swapping out brand names for their audio accessories. The old ones were branded "GE." The new ones...something else. So the GE stuff is on clearance. They had a 50' roll of 14AWG wire marked down to $10. That's a couple bucks cheaper than Monoprice's cheapest 14AWG.

They also had a few of their really nice compression spade lugs marked down to $3 a pair. I like those connectors. Even if they're a bit expensive for Bill. smile.gif
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 06:06 AM
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They also had a few of their really nice compression spade lugs marked down to $3 a pair. I like those connectors. Even if they're a bit expensive for Bill. smile.gif
When I use connectors they're Speakon, on my pro-sound systems, where the cable is connected before the gig and disconnected afterwards. On my home systems I don't regularly connect and disconnect the speakers, so I don't use connectors.

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post #6 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 06:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

They also had a few of their really nice compression spade lugs marked down to $3 a pair. I like those connectors. Even if they're a bit expensive for Bill. smile.gif

Spade lugs make no sense to me. For about a buck more I can get a 4 pole Speakon. My speaker cables either have bananas because that's what they mate with on receivers and/or speakers, or Speakons because they are head and shoulders above everything else, or bare wires because that's what is on my current AVR.
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When I use connectors they're Speakon, on my pro-sound systems, where the cable is connected before the gig and disconnected afterwards. On my home systems I don't regularly connect and disconnect the speakers, so I don't use connectors.

I don't see myself as a person who frequently reconfigures his system, but my speaker lines all have one or more Speakon connectors in them. Several years back I badly overkilled the wiring in my listening room "Just because of" and now I'm enjoying using those unneeded cable runs because they are just there and all I have to do is hook them up.
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

When I use connectors they're Speakon, on my pro-sound systems, where the cable is connected before the gig and disconnected afterwards. On my home systems I don't regularly connect and disconnect the speakers, so I don't use connectors.

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Spade lugs make no sense to me. For about a buck more I can get a 4 pole Speakon. My speaker cables either have bananas because that's what they mate with on receivers and/or speakers, or Speakons because they are head and shoulders above everything else, or bare wires because that's what is on my current AVR.

I agree with both of you that the Speakon is by far the best way to connect speaker wires to amps or loudspeakers, though the problem is that commercial AVRs and consumer multichannel amps don't have Speakon outputs, and off-the-peg domestic speakers rarely have Speakon inputs. Every DIY or bespoke speaker (or amp) should definitely use them, because they're not only better but also quite inexpensive. For example, here's the link between my left flanking sub and left speaker. (I color code my speaker wires per CEA-863B, which is more OCD than anything else on the speaker end, but very useful on the amp end. Neutrik makes Speakons with appropriately-colored boots for left-center-right though no purple for subs or appropriate colors for side/rear surround.). )



As for when spade lugs make sense, let me give you an example. You want to fit an 18" deep amp inside a 19" deep cabinet, while being able to slide the cabinet's front door in front over the amp, and have the ventilated back panel cover the wiring in the back of the amp. (As well as the wiring for your DSP sub controller, and the wiring for your multisub amp.).

Bananas will stick out, and you won't be able to close the cabinet if you use them. Spades only add the thickness of the spade itself to the depth of the amp, so spades you're good to go. (Well, with spades on the speaker wires, and interconnects with short barrels.)

True, tinning bare wires works just as well to keep the wire together as spades do, but for someone who does not solder things very often reasonably-priced screw-compression spades end up being the better value.

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post #8 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 04:57 PM
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Some of the pre-packaged cables with what seem to be the great old brands like GE or RCA, are in fact junk! They are not copper cables, they are copper plated/clad aluminum cables and some are under sized at that.

See this old thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1415768/speaker-wire

Or search for:
'RCA speaker cables not copper'

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post #9 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

True, tinning bare wires works just as well to keep the wire together as spades do, but for someone who does not solder things very often reasonably-priced screw-compression spades end up being the better value.
If you're running wire through binding posts you don't want to tin them. Binding posts work best when they deform the wire when they're tightened down, and tinning makes the wire too hard to deform. For the same reason don't tin the ends of the wire if you're using Speakons, insert bare wire into the socket and tighten the screw.

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-27-2013, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

True, tinning bare wires works just as well to keep the wire together as spades do, but for someone who does not solder things very often reasonably-priced screw-compression spades end up being the better value.
If you're running wire through binding posts you don't want to tin them. Binding posts work best when they deform the wire when they're tightened down, and tinning makes the wire too hard to deform. For the same reason don't tin the ends of the wire if you're using Speakons, insert bare wire into the socket and tighten the screw.

I see what you're saying and think your reasoning sound, but whether or not tinning is worth the compromises depends IMO on the fineness of the individual strands in the wire. If it's something like a 16AWG mil-spec (19 strands of 29AWG, IIRC) then likely not an issue. The strands have enough meat to hold up on their own if you just twist them together. But if you're using one of those wires with superfine strands - 3x the strand-count or more -I would tin to avoid a hair-fine loose strand potentially shorting something, even though you're right that tinning leads to an inferior (higher resistance) connection.

Inside a Speakon, I can't imagine tinning. However, even though tinning is going to lead to a higher resistance connection, I always tin large-gauge wires in a Phoenix connector. They're just so close together.

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post #11 of 11 Old 06-28-2013, 05:23 AM
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But if you're using one of those wires with superfine strands - 3x the strand-count or more -I would tin to avoid a hair-fine loose strand potentially shorting something.
I don't use wire with super fine strands. It costs more but doesn't work any better.

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