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Home Depot Speaker Wire - Good?  

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I notice that Home Depot has 250' spools of 12 gauge all copper speaker wire. Does anyone have an opinion, good or bad, on thtis wire?

All comments welcome.
post #2 of 16
Greetings Tom,

I can attest to this wire. It will carry a signal.

It fit my needs, but I suggest you buy "better" cable.

To elaborate, I found no defects in the insulation, the cost was peanuts, and I even had help getting them to the car (a Toyota). jdb

More babbling. My Home (an old commercial building)is in the middle of a downtown redevelopement zone. Constant concerns of being knocked down. So, I stand to "loose" anything that's nailed down. Thus the low cost HD wire.

note: The 12 ga. is whimpy for some of my long runs. (namely the run out to the tree house to call the kids for dinner, 85').

Peabody Theatre
post #3 of 16
I use this wire for all my speaker connections in my home(longest run is 50 feet) and consider it "top of the line" although the "connector people" will tell you it is not good enough.

post #4 of 16

Your question, and the answers you've received so far, will no doubt give apoplexy to the people who relish paying $10 a foot for speaker wire, but IMHO the Home Depot 12 gauge is just fine. In fact, if you are using 8 ohm speakers and your runs are less than 50 feet, then 16 gauge will do just as well.

Back in the 80's, McIntosh used common zip cord in their trade show booth. High end cable manufacturers were just beginning their marketing blitz and the sight of all that cheap speaker wire caused great consternation among the brain washed masses. This became such a source of concern that McIntosh, in deference to its dealers who were making good money selling the monstrously expensive cable (heh, heh), went out and bought the expensive stuff for the booth. This got people's minds off the cable and back on the equipment.

Here's a link to a site that recounts this story and has a lot of other information on speaker wire.

post #5 of 16
I use to be in the camp that believes that speaker wires dont matter. I use to buy Home Depot speaker wires. Then I bought middle road speaker wires and then a litte higher end speaker wires aand here is my observation.

When I had an Aiwa receiver and Aiwa speakers, I used various Home Depot speaker wires and there were no difference in the sound quality.

I then upgraded to a SONY DB915 receiver I upgrade and my speakers , but used the same Home Depot speaker wires - the sound quality improved. When I got some generic 12 gauge speaker wires from an High end audio store. The difference was immediate.

Later I upgraded to a Parasound amp & Marantz preamp and used the same 12gauge wire. The separates improved the system. Later I upgraded the speaker wires to MIT T2. The sound quality increase wasn't dramatic ,but at louder volumes I would hear nuances much better. In the Prince of Egypt soundtrack there is a shooting star sound in the first song and it came in clearer than before.

I do believe that wires make a difference to a certain point but I also believe that your components have to justify the upgrades to hear the differences.
post #6 of 16
About 5 years ago I bought a 250 foot spool of 12 gauge zip wire for $59 from Fry's electronics, (one conductor copper and the other aluminum) and I have used that as my speaker wire since then. Overall, I think the value is tremendous and it seems like I would have no problem using it for a while longer. The minor "problems" I have with it are that it seems to be getting just a little stiff as it ages. I'm not sure whether it's any worse or better than other wire, but in say 10 years I think it might be so stiff that it starts cracking. Something in a teflon jacket would probably be better. And I notice that wires get oxidized easily around the ends, and even under the insulation by the ends. There is greenish corrosion. Again, teflon would probably prevent this, but I'm not convinced that it is an audible problem. This probably isn't an issue if you have high-quality connectors that form an airtight seal. I personally don't use connectors; I just put the wire directly into the T-nuts on speakers and amps. For this purpose the wire is actually too thick, and to get the wires into the holes on my Carver amp that I use for surrounds, I had to cut away part of the wires. Every couple of years when I unhook the wires to change configurations or whatnot, I cut off the old corroded wire ends to expose fresh copper.

But I recently upgraded my speaker wiring to Canare 4S8 (which is a 4-conductor wire in a spiral pattern). My reason for doing that is that I'm going to be running the wire in a fairly permanent location (under a rug where access is hard), so I wanted something where I won't have to worry about the quality. Also, the wire will be running next to some video and digital wires, and the spiral of the Canare wire helps rule out interference. As an engineer (well, a software engineer but trained in electrical engineering), it makes sense to me to worry a little about interference in speaker wires since the speakers are attached to the amp and depending on the design of the amp, the amp can turn into a radio if the speaker wires send in a signal. The final reason I went with the Canare wire is because the 4 conductors (I tied 2 and 2 together for now) would allow me future expansion possibility if 6.1 or 8.1 or whatever made me decide to get more surround speakers.

I personally have observed in blind tests that RCA-to-RCA interconnects can make a small difference in sound quality if you have very high quality components. But I'm not convinced that speaker wire can (beyond the issues of interference, connection quality, and resistance decreasing output). I've heard what I think is a difference with MIT speaker cables on nice systems, but those aren't really cables; MIT "cables" are components!

You can email me at: tmorrow at us dot oracle dot com
post #7 of 16
Great topic! I'm at that point too. A friend of my has liquid filled
interconnects, speaker cables that are big, heavy, and speakers are bi-wired, and as a newbie I'm overwhelmed. It's good to read your comments and see things from a different perspective. Thanks.
post #8 of 16
I had Monster 12g then I moved my speaker apart more which required a longer length. I got the Home Depot 12g and used it for one week before I ran back out and got more Monster 12g. Did not like it. Muted the sound, less detailed and was 1db off the Monster level. Just my opinion but at least I tried it.
post #9 of 16
The final reason I went with the Canare wire is because the 4 conductors (I tied 2 and 2 together for now) would allow me future expansion possibility if 6.1 or 8.1 or whatever made me decide to get more surround speakers.
Tom, sorry if this sounds ignorant, but how would that help. I've been trying to come up with a way to connect an additional pair of surrounds to my system without dropping the load to 4ohms. Would you simply cross 2 of the wires and connect it to lets say the - on the left surround on the amp and then cross the other 2 and put them in the + on the left surround on the amp. How would you connect the other end to the lets say, 4 surround speakers (2 left surround and 2 right surround)?

"It's better to burn-out than fade away"
post #10 of 16
I use Home Depot 12 gauge wire and am quite satisfied with it. Even more so after demonstrating for a friend how much better his system would sound if we pulled his speakers away from the front wall. We did a quick and dirty placement 1/3 into the room from the front and 1/5 from the sides. The seating position was changed to 1/3 from the rear. Since he had no wire lying about, we were forced to use fine strands out of a telephone extension cable to get the extra length. Now those are some VERY wimply wires to be twisting together and insulating with masking tape. It was pretty silly to use such wire in a biwired system with monoblocks and a pre/pro, but I wanted him to hear what positioning does. Positioning and lousy wire won hands down over good wire and lousy positioning! In comparison, 12 gauge Home Depot wire is enormously more capable of carrying the signal and should work well.

Guy Kuo
Ovation Software, the Home of AVIA DVD
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great comments! It's Home Depot wire for me...

Now, how do we seal off the wire ends to prevent corrosion and oxidation? I live in a high humidity beach environment. My speakers (Atlantic Technology 450e THX)have standard terminals, amplifier is a Dennon AVR 4800.
post #12 of 16
Since you have a 250' spool, cut each run 20' extra long. (coil slack behind each speaker) Then once a month, trim off 1 1/2" and reconnect. A new item for your HT maintaince program, eh? Enjoy, jdb

In 12 years buy another spool of wire and start over.
post #13 of 16
Dan Smith wrote
<<...how would that help. I've been trying to come up with a way to connect an additional pair of surrounds to my system without dropping the load to 4ohms.>>

My reason for the 4 conductor cable is to be able to connect up additional surround speakers to _separate_ amps in the future. It wouldn't help in your situation, where you want to connect more surround speakers to the same amp. In general, for your situation, you need to look at the amp's specs and determine whether it does better with 4 Ohm loads or 16 Ohm loads. Then for 4 Ohms, connect the 2 speakers in parallel, or for 16 Ohms connect in series. If the amp will only support 8 Ohms, then either buy another amp, or buy 2 more speakers per channel and connect pairs of parallel speakers in series (requiring 4 speakers per channel; I'm being facetious).

You can email me at: tmorrow at us dot oracle dot com
post #14 of 16

Pet peeve time!

I spent ten years or so, off-and-on, investigating transmission line theory and just plain thinking about it, and my conclusions are that speaker and other wide bandwidth wire is an incredibly difficult thing to do properly. Tara Labs is the closest yet to a proper wire design availible at this time.

There is a HECK of a lot of things that aren't known about signal propgation yet, or there are a heck of a lot of known problems, but no known solutions in sight. Take your expressionistic pick of the two.
(that's it dude, just make up the words as you go)

I won't get into discussing product availible from different manufacturers, but is a good idea to consider about 10% of the value of your system being tied up in wires, but the proper ones....

I stated my opinion, and feel that Tara Labs Cables are the closest to an actual correct design, (well, siltech being a close second) and being a terrific bargain to boot.

I have about $1200 bucks or so tied up in a pair of 14 foot speaker cables, but that is porportional to the speaker value, they being in the $20k range. I am not allowed to use my own wire designs, as the colorations from existing cables will impart their own sound, and I have to design speakers with these problems in mind.....so I can't even use my own stuff. Oh well. Such is life.

Like a bird being released from the cage, once you have been introduced to the good stuff, and had a chance to get comfy and enjoy, then you will never go back. Your wallet and buget will hate you.

If you think this is FOOLISH TALK, why don't you take a look in the mirror, oh foolish one!


I rest my case.

---Place Signature Here---

[This message has been edited by KBK (edited August 05, 2000).]
post #15 of 16
KBK: Yes. And for me the words "Finacally challenged" are equally fitting. But you know what? We have a he77 of a lot of fun around here! jdb

PS. I would personally rather live in a teepee, surrounded by wide open spaces, in a time before bombs, taxes, and pollution. Of course, being almost 40 means I'd be long dead; but since this isn't an option, I eyeball the bargin wire spools in Home Depot on my way to the tool dept.

pps. nudge nudge wink wink, know what I mean?
post #16 of 16
I will be going to The local home depot and radio shack to see if they have the components required to 'make' audiophile approved quality speaker wire.

Here's a good one to get you started into the world of WIRE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!


Actually, I'm going to take it over to the tweaks forum. I swore that I wouldn't be doing this sort of thing....but here I am doing it anyways....

I have a camera for my computer ,and will take photos of the whole process.
I will try and post it soon, within the next two days or so, max.

Bear with me here. Back to you soon.

This will include interconnets as well.

---Place Signature Here---

[This message has been edited by KBK (edited August 05, 2000).]
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