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splicing speaker wire  

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
I had the builder run the speaker wire in my new house for my HT room. Unfortunately, he didn't leave much slack in the runs. The wires hanging out of the wall are about 6" too short to reach one of my speakers. Can I just splice some additional speaker wire onto the ends and wrap it with black electrical tape? What if the gauges are different? I think they used 14 gauge wires and I have a bunch of 12 gauge.


post #2 of 41
12 or 14 would be fine, you won't notice a difference. I would solder them though - it's not difficult and you won't have to worry about them coming apart.
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
I bought my first drill and saw about 3 months ago. I think soldering's out of the question.


post #4 of 41
The art of soldering can be mastered in about 5 minutes with a $20 soldering kit and an owners manual. If you can use a computer, you can certainly operate a soldering iron.
post #5 of 41
I suppose you could splice the wires with wire nuts ... but I'd break out the soldering iron.

post #6 of 41
wire nuts are fine but have the following drawbacks:

1 - They may loosen with time
2 - They are one more place that the copper is exposed to air and thus oxidation

If you are going to solder them, I suggest that you also use some heat wrap to cover the joint (remember to slide it on first :-))
post #7 of 41
Wire nuts work fine for 120V house wiring. Speaker wiring is much less demanding. That being said, there's something so gratifying about a nice soldered connection.
post #8 of 41
Anybody who says they can hear the difference between a soldered wire and one wrapped up in electrical tape is full of crap! Soldering just keeps the wire from coming apart, only needed when the wire could be getting moved around or pulled. For speaker wire just get a 99 cent roll of black electrical tape and call it day. Trust me, you wont hear a difference.

post #9 of 41
Who said anything about sound quality? We all said it would make for a more permanent connection, that's all.
post #10 of 41
You're trying to convince someone to learn a brand new skill, take some time to master it, to simply extend a speaker wire 6 inches. Thats just ridiculous when there is no advantage in this case. Unless he has a 5 year old who plans on picking up the speaker and moving it every few minutes, its probably not needed. I solder myself once in a while, but to simply extend a low power speaker wire 6 inches is completely unessessary. So I figured I would be the one, since none of you were doing it, to save the poor guy all the time and trouble.

post #11 of 41
Originally posted by drunkpenguin
You're trying to convince someone to learn a brand new skill, take some time to master it, to simply extend a speaker wire 6 inches. Thats just ridiculous when there is no advantage in this case. Unless he has a 5 year old who plans on picking up the speaker and moving it every few minutes, its probably not needed. I solder myself once in a while, but to simply extend a low power speaker wire 6 inches is completely unessessary. So I figured I would be the one, since none of you were doing it, to save the poor guy all the time and trouble.

OK, I was going to let this go until you came back with THAT.

1. Whether you tug on the wires or not, tape - over time - will degrade. Black electrical tape will NOT last forever. That is a fact. I have been using it for over 20 years.

2. If your environment has any degree of humidity or moisture it will facilitate the breakdown of the tape and expose the wires to corrosion. This will eventually lead to signal loss and indeed you WILL hear a difference.

3. Once the tape breaks down and the wires corrode you will have to do it again. This WILL happen, it's just a matter of time. So why do it half ass and worry about it when you can do it right and it's done with.

4. This may seem like rocket science to YOU, but any individual with average intelligence can buy a soldering kit, read the instructions and make a fine connection in a matter of minutes. It is a skill worth having as there are many scenerios where tape alone is not possible and a soldering kit is a useful thing to have.

There are lots of people that will settle for just taping wires together. These are the same kind of people that use glue and tape for everything they can instead of doing it right. I am a strong proponent of doing things CORRECTLY the first time, and not having to deal with the consequences of band-aid type repairs.

Do it right man, you won't be disappointed.
post #12 of 41
I think if he has high moisture and humidity in his house, speaker wires are the last thing he should be concerned about. Its overkill to solder a speaker wire that is out in the open anyway. These are wires hanging out of a wall, not inside the wall. If the house floods or it rains in his house then he could always retape it. And in about 15 years when the tape does start to corrode, I would assume he will be upgrading speakers by then anyways.

Admit it, its overkill! Admit it! You know you want to! :)

post #13 of 41
Johnny - There are two kinds of people in the world....

Those that do things the correct way the first time and learn beforehand the proper way of doing it. They accomplish a new skill which will remain with them and come in handy time and time again for the rest of their lives. They will achieve a rewarding result from the work they have done and the feeling of accomplishment from a job well done. These are the kinds of people that visit scientific forums and wish to build their knowledge and expand their horizons. They believe that doing things correctly is important and a little more work or learning in the process is time well spent.

Then there are those that simply want to put a band aid on everything and deal with the consequences later. They are too lazy or unmotivated to learn new skills and feel no sense of reward for having done so. They just want to squeak by in life with the least possible effort to accomplish the bare minimum needed to survive. These are the people that use a can of "spare tire" instead of repairing a flat tire; the people that don't sand in between coats of paint and settle for an OK finish; the people that buy the cheapest HTIB instead of dedicating the time and effort to building a quality theater system. If you are one of these people, fine - I pity you. However, the purpose of this forum is to share knowledge and hopefully in the process of building a quality sound system, you learn a few things along the way that may come in handy later in life. To those of you that are here for that reason, I applaud you.

I for one, am always looking to learn, to improve, to grow. To increase my knowledge and derive the satisfaction of having done things in the most rewarding and gratifying manner possible. Sticking a couple of speaker wires together with some tape just doesn't cut it for me. To each his own.
post #14 of 41
In large part, overkill is what this hobby is all about! ;^)

I have done tons of soldering in my lifetime, but that being said, I'm pretty lazy. I'd probably just twist and tape it, promising myself the whole time that I'd come back and solder it later...

Soldering will give you a much more durable connection, and it's not hard to learn how. And, as Greywolf pointed out, you will have the satisfaction of a job well done.

But, If you are as lazy as I am, pull out the tape...

Good luck,

post #15 of 41
Artisn, his question was "Can I just splice some additional speaker wire onto the ends and wrap it with black electrical tape?"

I answered it.

What you are doing is telling him to do it your way, you're not really answering his question. If you want to get VERY technical to do it RIGHT would require rerunning the wire from scratch with a long enough wire.

As you said "the purpose of this forum is to share knowledge", which I am pretty sure is what I am doing. I for one don't see the need to re-invent the wheel every time something is modified unless it is absolutely nessessary.

But we have takin this way to far at this point and I've lost interest.

Stew4msu, good luck my friend! Solder or Tape, just remember the important thing, crank that thing up loud when your done!

post #16 of 41
Thread Starter 
Wow, didn't mean to start such a debate, although it is interesting. By the way, the speaker wire in question will be attached to my front satellites that are almost 9 feet off the ground so I don't think anyone will be pulling on them.

post #17 of 41
Oh, boy - now we need to start discussion of the effect of increased altitude on sound quality. After all, the air density is certainly lower at that altitude as compared to that of the ear height of the listener, so sound won't travel at the same speed... ;^)

post #18 of 41
I mostly agree with Artisn's view, but I think he's being a bit harsh. I'm reminded of a webpage I read recently on Incrementalists vs. Completionists and the differences in approach some of us have to solving a problem.

Might be worth a read to give this some more perspective as it affects more in our lives than just splicing speaker wire :-)



P.S.: Personally I fall on the Completionist side of the fence, but I'm rational enough about it to see where it's not always the best approach. I'll delay some projects too long because I don't have all the pieces (information, materials, whatever) to complete it whereas the Incrementalist approach would just jump right in and get strarted (and probably end up doing some rework half way through, but so be it). I also end up feeling guilty when I do take a band-aid approach even if it does suit the situation at hand.
post #19 of 41
Stew, be sure to support the weight of the wire at that height, so the wire itself isn't pulling on the splice.

post #20 of 41
This has been fun to read! But lets help the guy out here. There is no doubt that, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, soldering would better than taping or wire nutting. But he doesn't want to solder. Yes, he could learn, it is easy, but give the guy a break!

My suggestion, which gives you, in my opinion, the best of both worlds, is to use crimp connectors. They cost a couple of cents a piece, at any hardware store. They can be crimped with any pair of pliers (although a specialized crimp tool would be preferred). And it you want it to look really nice, buy 25 cents of heat shrink tubing (Radio Shack), any color, and cover the crimped joint with the tubing (put the tubing on BEFORE you crimp the connection), borrow the wifes blow dryer and shrink the tubing, and you will have a provessional quality, professional appearing, very strong splice!
post #21 of 41
Good post as I was wondering the same thing, when I get new speakers I may need to extend the speaker wire for my front right and rear right speakers by a few feet and was wondering if I could just use crimp caps on it, which it seems like I would be fine doing. I would not mind soldering it though, but I do not own a gun, how much does a basic one go for? I would not mind owning on if the was not too expensive.
post #22 of 41
Another alternative......just pull through a new piece of wire. Should be easy enough unless the builder stapled the old wire....if he did, you may be in for other problems.

post #23 of 41

About $20...


Good luck,

post #24 of 41
Don't be intimidated by soldering wires - this is different than soldering circuit boards or other small items that can be easily ruined. There's nothing difficult about this and it's the proper way to repair a wire.
post #25 of 41
There seems to be a dearth of crimp connectors to connect a 12ga to a 14ga though.
post #26 of 41
I guess I forgot to add that even if the wires are soldered, shrink wrap works a whole lot better, and lasts a whole lot longer, and looks worlds better than electric tape over those bare soldered wires. Looks do count!
post #27 of 41
Such strong feelings!

I would solder, but what about black tape over the wire nuts? This is code for 110v, although I have neveerr seen an electrican do it.
post #28 of 41
Thread Starter 
Does Radio Shack also carry the shrink wrap?

Also, if I solder and then shrink wrap the two wires seperately (red and black), should I then shrink wrap them together?

post #29 of 41
I have to agree with with bgeiger, go with a crimp on connector. However, please do not use a pliers as your crimp tool. You can buy a very good crimp kit at Sears or Radio Shack about the price of that soldering kit. Terminals are mechanically designed for a gas tight fit when crimped to the proper height with the proper tool. The crimp connection is electrically and mechanically equivalent to a solder connection.

post #30 of 41
I am in a hurry (at work) so I haven't read all of the posts. That being said...isn't there a plastic coupler that you can put over the wires and crimp or heat them on? I have seen that done a few years back. Little plastic tubes that fit over the splice. This ring a bell? I thought that was a neat little "fix".
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