Which speaker cable is best?
Choosing the best speaker cables for your home, office, patio or other sound setups can be tricky, especially if you aren’t sure what you’re seeking. Ultimately, the best speaker cables will be those that fulfill the user’s needs, so it’s essential to define what you need before making your purchase.
Out of all the options, this AudioQuest Gray Jacket 14 AWG Speaker Cable is an excellent pick for just about any application, and buyers are almost always satisfied with their purchase.
What to know before you buy speaker cables
Dual-wire vs. single wire
While the best speaker cables come in either dual or single wire configurations, you’ll want to consider if you need your audio to run as a stereo or mono signal. A single wire is an obvious choice for mono signals or audio sources that only include one speaker input/output rather than two. On the other hand, dual-wire setups are a bit more common and offer the user to run a stereo audio signal rather than a mono one.
Unterminated vs. terminated
Speaker cable terminations are the breaks in a single cable’s line or the connections that happen at each end of your audio setup. These terminations usually come in the form of banana plugs or other spliced wire connections. Unterminated speaker cables come in bulk and have no default terminations within the wire itself but are cut by the user to their preferred length. In general, fewer terminations are better, though unique layout and configuration needs may require users to use more.
While shielding is a fairly important consideration for most wires and cables, it’s often considered less critical for speaker cables. Still, many companies produce speaker cables that include noise-reducing shielding in their connections and conductors, which many users elect to purchase.
What to look for in a quality speaker cable
High-quality wire material
Ultimately, the quality of a speaker cable’s internal wire will determine how the overall audio quality sounds, reducing any unwanted noise or interference. Copper is by far the most commonly used material for speaker cables since it comes at a reasonable price point and offers low resistance levels. In addition, silver and gold are sometimes used for speaker cables, though they’re more expensive and offer an even lower resistance.
Ultimately, the length of your speaker cable will be a necessary consideration, especially if you have a long way to run the cable. Many speaker cables come in bulk forms, which allow the user to cut the length of wire and keep more cable to spare for future needs, unique layouts and configurations. In addition, the length will, in part, determine the necessary impedance, or max ohm load and resistance of a speaker cable.
Speaker cable AWG
Speaker cable size, otherwise called wire gauge, is an essential factor to consider when buying a speaker cable. A wire’s gauge can vary from 10 AWG at the light end of the spectrum to as heavy a gauge as 22 AWG. The biggest difference in varying speaker cable sizes is simply a cable’s resistance, which you must consider alongside the cable’s length and impedance.
How much you can expect to spend on speaker cables
Speaker cables can span a wide range of prices, depending on the speaker cable’s size, length and configuration. In general, cheap speaker cables can cost as little as $10. Other professional-grade speaker cables can cost as much as $400, with a wide range of different pricing and cable type options in between.
Speaker cables FAQ
Do speaker cables degrade over time?
A. While low-quality speaker cables are more likely to degrade over time than other, higher-quality speaker cables, most are built with strong shielding to avoid any significant degradation. Still, speaker cables will degrade over time like most cables. However, the difference in audio quality from a new cable to an old one is marginal and not noticeable by the average listener.
Can you splice speaker cables?
A. Yes, you can splice speaker cables, and you can do it more simply than many other types of wires. Some braided cables have high-quality connections or include tough to remove protective outer layers, making it more difficult to splice speaker cables. The most effective way to splice speaker cables is by using a dedicated, in-line speaker wire splice. However, you can also simply pull back the cable’s external protective layer, twist each end of the connecting wires together, and cover it well with electrical tape.
What are the best speaker cables to buy?
Top speaker cables
What you need to know: This bulk spool of unterminated gray jacket 14 gauge speaker cable includes long-grain copper from the trusted brand AudioQuest, and
What you’ll love: AudioQuest’s reputation naturally speaks for itself, but when it comes to aesthetics, this semi-solid gray jacket speaker wire is great for running audio in just about any space.
What you should consider: These speaker cables come at a higher price than many buyers were hoping to pay, and few found the differences notable enough to justify the difference.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top speaker cables for the money
What you need to know: For those less concerned with a super high-quality speaker cable and more concerned with keeping to their budget, this 100-foot gauge speaker cable from Monoprice comes at a fair price and offers excellent audio.
What you’ll love: These speaker cables include 99.95% oxygen-free makeup and offer super reliable conductivity. The outer jacket comes in a clear PVC, with a blue strip showing the cable’s polarity level.
What you should consider: Some users complained that the thinness of the outer jacket caused imperfections in the cable itself.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These pre-measured speaker cables offer a nice braided external layer and superior audio quality, along with gold-plated banana plugs making them convenient to plug in.
What you’ll love: This pair of speaker cables is very durable and will likely last the buyer a long time. At 10-feet long, this pair of braided speaker cables is perfect for those whose cables need to run a short length, and they feature 14 AWG copper with 99.99% oxygen-free makeup and 24K gold banana plugs.
What you should consider: Many buyers found this speaker cable too expensive for the length and decided to go with a different set of cables.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Zachary Visconti writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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