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Cat 5 Vs. True speaker wires - Worth re-wiring?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Surpise Surpise, turns out I have inherited Cat 5 cables pre-wired for my surrounds..

I was able to fish 14g wires for front and center, but almost impossible to switch the rear\\surround wires. Might need professional help. Is it worth the effort\\$?

Set-up is downstairs and that's what makes it tough to run wires without punching holes.

Appreciate your advice.
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iAusio80 View Post

Surpise Surpise, turns out I have inherited Cat 5 cables pre-wired for my surrounds..

I was able to fish 14g wires for front and center, but almost impossible to switch the rear\\surround wires. Might need professional help. Is it worth the effort\\$?

Set-up is downstairs and that's what makes it tough to run wires without punching holes.

Appreciate your advice.

Yes
post #3 of 12
If I'm not mistaken, CAT-5 wires have a copper diameter of 0.5mm. That's about 2 hundredths of an inch. Way too small for loudspeakers. Suggest you try to do it yourself: Attach VERY securely your speaker wire to the CAT5 by separating the individual strands and twisting them around each leg of the speaker wire. Then bind the whole mess with tightly wound electrical tape. They key is to try to keep this strong but without increasing too much the diameter. Grease up the cable with some vaseline or something and then start pulling it through. It might take a few sharp jerks to get it going, and it helps to have someone else feeding the sppeaker wire (and applying vaseline occasionally) as you pull. If there are not too many sharp bends in the cable run you might be lucky. If it is too difficult, you will probably separate the cat5 from the speaker wire, and in that case you will have to start from scratch with one of those plastic feeders for running cable (you will find at any hardware store). Even then, you might not be successful. But CAT-5 is just WAY to small for speakers.
post #4 of 12
If professionally installed prior to sheetrock, the Cat 5 is likely secured along its path with cable staples making it impossible to use to feed new wire.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gooddoc View Post

If professionally installed prior to sheetrock, the Cat 5 is likely secured along its path with cable staples making it impossible to use to feed new wire.

Correct. Also, is the cat5 wire only using one twisted pair for a speaker? I used cat5 wire for my speakers in one of my rooms (I had a bunch of scrap) but I ran four runs (not four twisted pair) to each speaker.
post #6 of 12
you can use use 2 twisted pair for one speaker lead (+), and the remailing 2 twisted pair for the other lead (-). Twist all four conductors of a two pair group together to make one effective conductor. Write down you color codes used for each made-up conductor and use for the other surround speakers.

While not perfect, it is FAR better than using the tiny individual conductors in only one twisted pair.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Great! Thx for all responses.

I may just pay someone to re-wire this before I buy new speakers.
No point buying good speakers (haven't decided yet) and feed 'em with bad wiring.

Thx again!
post #8 of 12
Why would someone have used CAT 5 for speaker cables (I mean the person who installed it, not the OP)? Even for surrounds? Ignorance, or is there actually a reason? Just curious?
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

Why would someone have used CAT 5 for speaker cables (I mean the person who installed it, not the OP)? Even for surrounds? Ignorance, or is there actually a reason? Just curious?

Perhaps, one of those sound systems like they install in supermarkets? I don't know anything about them, just that I ripped a bunch of them out of a house I bought. They run on 70V and have an associated transformer (well, actually two - you need to boost the output from source up to the 70V level, then another one on the speaker end to come back down to levels for speaker). So with the high voltage, currents are much smaller. Maybe its just a way to run a bunch of speakers with very small wire, like in a supermarket. I can't imagine that sound reproduction would be any good.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

Why would someone have used CAT 5 for speaker cables (I mean the person who installed it, not the OP)? Even for surrounds? Ignorance, or is there actually a reason? Just curious?

Grouping cat5 wire (using three or four runs of cat5 per speaker makes nice speaker wire, but I would not buy cat5 just to cut it up for speaker wire. I had scrap cat5. If buying, just buy some 12 gauge speaker wire from Monoprice. I know that you can get by (most of the time) with 14 gauge, but the cost is not much different and you will be covered for later down the road, if you go to a higher powered system.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by iAusio80 View Post

Great! Thx for all responses.

I may just pay someone to re-wire this before I buy new speakers.
No point buying good speakers (haven't decided yet) and feed 'em with bad wiring.

Thx again!

You could always use the Cat5 with line level (pre-out) signals and then put an amp on the other side too.

Not sure what would be more expensive--paying someone to rewire, or buying a decent stereo amplifier for surrounds?
post #12 of 12
What's the voltage rating of Cat 5 wires? I imagine it's high enough, just curious.

For reference, 100 W into 8 ohms is 80 Vpp.
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