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Discussion Starter #1
I realize there are people here who have much nicer and more expensive audio equipment than I have. You probably wouldn't dare use cheap speaker wire at all. But, I figured you guys were the experts so I'd give it a shot...


I have a set of Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble speakers. These are satellite/woofer speakers which are a bit different than the norm. Rather than have two satellite midrange/tweeter speakers and one woofer "enclosure", there's actually two woofer "boxes". One woofer for left and one for right. The 8" woofer grill is exposed (there's no "port" or hole in the box) and the boxes themselves are fairly wide and long but are also quite thin. I only care about having good/great sound for movie watching. I found, after some experimentation, that I'm most happy with the sound/feeling of putting both of these boxes underneath my loveseat (my main seating when watching movies) because I can really feel the bass/rumbling. Now for my question:


I need to run the speaker wire about 40 feet. Since these are "just" woofers, can I just use cheap, thin, 24 gauge speaker wire or should I really use better speaker wire than this? I'm thinking that since this will just be producing the low frequencies, that the quality of the cable could be cheap, but, admittedly, I know quite little about this.


Thanks in advance,


Scott
 

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While it doesn't sound like you have either a need for or interest in high end speaker cable, 24 gauge is awful small. 16 or 18 gauge is still pretty cheap and might actually make a difference to you, especially over a 40 foot run.


I would at least go get some generic 18 gauge for a run like that. Others will probably say even 14, but 24 gauge is small enough that, at 40 feet, it will be an audible difference to almost anyone, I would think.


BB
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Brandon. I'm already running "Acoustic Research" 16-gauge wire for the rest of my setup. I bought this from Best Buy. It's probably considered cheap, but it is all copper. I was hoping to go with 24 gauge, not just because it's cheap, but because it's thin. I'm running this cable through a "wire hider" (plastic runner that runs on top of my baseboard trim) and I'm already running two 16-gauge speaker wires and a telephone wire through this. Two more 16-gauge wires would make this tight.


I still have to wonder if audible differences would be noticeable, even at this long a run, considering we're just talking about low-frequencies that are meant more to be felt than to be heard.


Scott
 

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I just happen to buy 50' of 14-guage flat wire from RadioShack for $20 or so.. Maybe the flat wire will work better for you, running it on top, or below the trim/wire hider?
 

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I'd figure out some way to route heavier wires. Generally, the longer the wire, the fatter it needs to be. If it was me, I'd use 10 ga. for a 40' run but 12 ga. would probably be okay. The cheapest 10 or 12 ga. lamp cord you can find would be MUCH better than the most expensive 26. A long run of 26 will kill your bass, IMHO, because it has too much DC resistance. Is the floor carpeted? If so, you might be able to tuck the wires between the baseboard and the carpet.
 

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When I say hear a difference, I didn't mean fine details or anything like that. As Catapult says, wire this small will have a resistance that will cause an audible diminishing/degradation of the signal (amount reaching the speakers).


If thin is your goal, you really ought to find another way to achieve this, i.e. the flat wire. Some is white, some even paintable.


I have a link on my work computer for some company that sells a whole line of flat wire products (speaker, power, RG6 cable). They were featured on Regis and Whoever it is now, of all places, so I don't think they are high end pricey stuff. I will post it later today.


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Discussion Starter #7
OK, I give in. Thanks for all the replies. I'll give up on the idea of using 24 gauge.


I don't think the flat wire will buy me anything. It may be thinner, but I'd expect that it will be wider than the 16 gauge I've been using. BTW, floors are hardwood.


But now catapult's reply concerns me. Are you saying that even 16 gauge isn't enough for a 40' run? I really would rather not go above that.


Scott
 

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srauly,


on the wire issue, I will chime in with everyone else to reiterate that you really need thicker wire. I would put 16ga as a minimum.


but you've already heard that...


with the CSW ensemble speakers, your two woofers really are woofers and not just subwoofers. I'm not sure of the exact freq. range they are intended to cover, but it is quite wide and extends well above 100Hz. The smaller satellites you have as mains (even in the top of the line ensemble package) are intended for mid and high frequencies and are not capable of reaching the lower end of the spectrum.


what I'm getting at is that those two woofers are for much more than barely audible low bass and you are probably losing much of your midrange sound by hiding them under your couch. this is not the best place for a true subwoofer, much less one that carries much of the midrange burden.


if you really like the rumble under the couch (and who doesn't ;) ), you may want to try some bass shakers. These are transducers that connect directly to the frame of the couch, floor, etc and make them vibrate. It works just like a speaker, except the whole couch becomes the "cone". these can be had pretty cheap and will need a separate amp (like an old receiver).


jake
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Jake, now why did you have to go and say that? ;)


I had suspected that my speakers might have carried some of the midrange burden, though I know that when I first bought them, Cambridge Soundworks "documentation" listed all sorts of possible setups, most/all of which involved either putting them under furniture, aiming them at a wall, or aiming them at the floor (as well as configurations involving stacking them). Few, if any, of their configurations suggested aiming them at the listener. When I tried out the various configurations recently (which included positioning one near the screen aimed at me), I greatly preferred the greatly increased "rumbling" I got from positioning both of them beneath my loveseat aimed down. I did not notice a loss in midrange, though I'll admit that my demo tests were all focused on really low bass.


I'm aware of the bass shakers. My intention was to save money/aggravation by using what I already have. I think I'm going to go forward with my plan with positioning them underneath the loveseat, though I will be using 16 gauge wire. :) While I may be missing out on some of the lower midrange, I'm skeptical that my ears are acute enough to notice this loss. More significantly, I think that, for me, the benefits of the "rumble" may outweigh this.


Perhaps I'll give a call to Cambridge just to get their opinion, though considering the age of the speakers and the fact that they were absorbed by Creative Soundworks some time ago, I'm not sure if I'll be able to get to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the Ensemble.


Scott
 

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srauly,


I've been a proud owner of many different CSW speakers for many years now, and have been happy with the service I've gotten in their stores. Are there any stores near simsbury?


While I never owned the Ensemble I package, I did have Ensemble II, which uses the same satellites but a single, more traditional, subwoofer. I've since traded them in for Towers, but I do have fond memories. Anyway, I recall them always having the Ensemble I setup in the stores with the woofers' drivers facing the audience.


Facing the drivers at the floor or wall creates an effect called "wall loading" which creates the loudest possible bass, but with a very boomy, imprecise quality. Some like this because it has the maximum "punch". Putting them under a couch is more like covering them with pillows. All the padding will absorb much of the sound; some will get through as either vibrations in the couch/floor and some will actually make it into the open air, but nowhere near as much as you could get.


You may get less rumble elsewhere in the room, but your ears will love you for it.


jake
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OK, Jake, seeing as I haven't gotten around to running the wire yet, maybe I'll give it a chance. I suppose I can try and watch some extended movie passages with the speakers positioned in front and, separately, with them under the loveseat. I still think I'll go with the under-loveseat method because it not only offers me the "rumble" but it also hides the speakers. But, who knows, maybe my ears will notice a significant improvement in overall sound quality and I'll change my mind.


There aren't any CSW stores near Simsbury that I know of. They used to have one at the West Farms Mall (in W Hartford / Farmington), but I believe it closed a while back. I had originally purchased my speakers mail order direct from CSW. Whereabouts in Mass are you?


Scott
 

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scott,


I live in Franklin, which is about midway between boston and providence. I usally go to the Framingham CSW store and have had great experience with the manager there, John Hammond. They have been very gracious over the years in helping me to gradually upgrade my system, giving me good advice and great trade-in prices. I love the fact that they will accept old speakers in trade for upgrades and usually come within 80% of what I paid when they were new. I got my first non-boombox speakers there and have stayed with them ever since.


My setup was their top end system before the Newtons came out; Towers, Centerstage, TheSurround, and basscube 12. Now, I'm not sure if I'd upgrade to the Newtons or move on to another company because I think I've pretty much maxed out what I can get from CSW, but it has been a great experience and excellent value that I would reccomend to anyone.


jake
 

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I just upgraded my speaker wire for my four-channel surround sound.


I went to Home Depot and purchased 10-gauge 3 conductor electrical wire. Black was about $0.80 per foot, and yellow was closer to $1 per foot. After installation, I noticed a nice change from what I had previously.


Get the biggest fattest pipe (wire) you can. It always makes a difference.
 
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