You just purchased your brand new set of outdoor speakers and you can’t wait to get them mounted and cranked up on full blast. There is just one problem. The speakers you purchased did not include speaker wire. Not only do you now have another purchase to make, but another decision as well. How do I know which outdoor speaker wire to purchase? You might be inclined to just pick one at random, likely the cheapest option after completely splurging on your Klipsch AWR-650 Rock Speakers for your pool deck. However, the same logic applies to speaker wire that did with your speakers: you get what you pay for. You might be surprised to hear that speaker wire can also have a major impact on the sound quality produced by your speakers. You can buy the top of the line outdoor speakers, but if you don’t pair them up with the right kind of outdoor speaker wire, you won’t get that same beautiful sound quality that you heard in the store. You might as well make the most of your purchase. Do your research to find the best speaker wire for your set of speakers and do it right so you have no regrets when that sweet music is filling your room.
Determine the Gauge of the Outdoor Speaker Wire Needed
American wire gauge (AWG), also referred to as just “gauge”, is the system used mostly in North America to classify speaker wire by the size of the diameter, or size of the speaker wire. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the speaker wires. This is because the gauge was originally determined based on the number of passes it has to make to produce the audio. Therefore, a wire with a gauge of 30 has to make more passes than a wire with a gauge of 12. That being said, the most common speaker wire you will find today is often between 12-gauge and 16-gauge. In order to determine the size best suited for your speakers, there are a few things to consider. To begin, you must figure out the length of speaker wire that you need. You will need to measure the distance from your receiver to your speakers, allowing plenty of slack to run along the wall, ceiling, door frames or anything else that might be in the way. You want the speaker wire to be able to flow freely without any kinks that could muddle the sound. Generally, if the length of the wire will be less than 50 ft, then a 16-gauge wire will do. If it is over 50 ft, a 14-gauge wire is recommended. This is because a longer wire can result in a loss of power. It’s best to keep the wire length to a minimum, but in some cases that is not always possible.
How Much Should You Spend on Speaker Wire?
In addition to the length of the wire required, you should also take into account your budget and the quality of sound you are looking to achieve. If you are only interested in top-notch sound quality and booming bass effects, a thicker speaker wire is going to be your best choice. Thicker wire helps to reduce the stress of your amp or receiver resulting in a better quality sound. In addition to the size of the wire, the brand and quality of the wire should be considered. A better speaker wire, often the more expensive wire, likely has better quality metals that increase conductivity, thus increasing the overall quality of sound. However, if you are just looking for a decent sound and the fine details and thunderous bass are not a priority for you, a higher gauge speaker wire (i.e. 16-gauge) might be a better choice for your budget. Regardless of what route you take, do not dig up speaker wire you have hanging out in your tool box from 1985. You will not have the same effects as a nice, new speaker wire. Make sure that speaker wire is considered in your budget when purchasing your new outdoor speakers.
Placement of your Outdoor Speaker Wire
The last thing to consider when determining which kind of outdoor speaker wire you need is the placement of your speakers and where the wire will be running which can help determine what kind of speaker wire you will need. Will the wires run along the walls, inside the walls or ceiling, through the yard to an outdoor area? If the wire will be running along the wall, there are basic speaker wires that will suit just fine and can be painted to match any décor. There are also ways to hide the speakers when running along the baseboards or walls for a clean look. If the speaker wires will be mostly outside and in direct sunlight make sure the wire you choose can handle the temperatures and elements of the outdoors. If the speaker wire will run underground, as needed for the Bose FreeSpace 51’s, you will need a certain type of outdoor speaker wire in order to trench it. This will be a more costly option; however, it is really your only option. Just remember to secure all of the speaker wire once you run it from your speakers to your receiver so that it will not cause a fall. This will not only help you to avoid a lawsuit, but will help avoid damaging the wire that could ultimately distort your sound.
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