True audiophiles probably know about speaker cables and sound production. On the other hand, if you want to develop a fantastic sound system, you must learn about speaker cables.
High-definition sound is only as consistent as an excellent speaker cable. However, unlike other types of cabling that most tech-savvy people know, these don’t get much attention.
Nevertheless, if you want to experience high-quality sound, we’ll get into the details and complexities of a speaker cable. Moreover, we’ll answer whatever customized questions you may have.
Chapter 1: What is a Speaker Cable
Ever thought of how the sound comes out of your speakers? It’s not magic! It would be best to have a speaker cable to form an electrical connection between an audio amplifier and a loudspeaker.
It has three main electrical features –inductance, capacitance, and resistance. When choosing a speaker cable, most users focus more on resistance than anything else.
Basics of a Typical Speaker Cable
The significant emphasis on resistance is because of the system impendence and the use of low frequencies.
In standard speaker systems, the impendence can range from 3 ohms to up to 15 ohms. Now, most loudspeakers commonly have 4 to 8-ohm impendence.
If the resistance increases, it negatively affects the speaker system’s performance. Sure, you can reduce the amount of current going into your speaker system as the voltage running across the cable increases, but you can compromise on quality in the process.
Another problem is that the loudspeaker creates a back electromotive force. This force should work against a source of low impendence.
If the source impendence increases, the back EMF is absorbed less, influencing loudspeaker sound quality.
Speaker Cable Materials
Like in other cables, you need a conductor material as the basis for a speaker cable. Manufacturers have a few choices, but it all comes down to the performance vs. cost debate.
Copper is the most common choice for making speaker cables. For manufacturers, it maintains a steady balance between conductivity and cost. Conductivity, in this case, means that low resistance runs through the wire.
However, on the flip side, copper can oxidize. A layer of copper oxide starts covering the surface when exposed to air. The oxidation makes a barrier of extremely high resistance between the speaker and the cable.
Usually, you can use screw pillars or similar fixes to break through the layer. Even then, you get a much higher resistance level than what you need.
With silver, manufacturers achieve a slightly lower resistance level, but it still oxidizes. Not to mention, it’s also more expensive when compared to copper. Compared to a typical gauge silver speaker cable, a cable with thicker copper wire would still be cheaper.
This provides the best performance since it doesn’t oxidize and has the least resistance. However, it’s costly, so manufacturers don’t use gold for the wire. Instead, they use it for the point of connection that gets air exposure. Using a thin layer of gold plating can allow optimal contact at connection points.
Chapter 2: Types of Speaker Cable
Of course, you can choose from many speaker cable types, considering how changing one aspect impacts the overall quality. Besides, it would help if you considered other factors.
Bi-Wire or Single Wire?
Aside from choosing what insulation and materials make up your speaker cable, you can also select a bi-wire cable.
You should use this cable when the amplifier and speaker have two connections – one for the bass and one for other frequencies.
It is easy to decide if your speakers only provide a single connection. However, if your speakers and amplifier have a bi-wire system, you can benefit from installing bi-wire cabling consisting of four parallel conductors.
Shielded Speaker Cable
You must consider a suitable speaker cable when you’ve already installed the best speakers and amplifiers that suit your budget. Should you get an unshielded speaker cable or pay extra for proper shielding?
The speaker cable is shielded as a safety measure because it helps protect other low-voltage cables that might be running nearby.
For instance, antenna and microphone cables have low voltage running through them and are susceptible to Electro-Magnetic Induction, crosstalk, and Radio Frequency Interference.
If your speaker cable isn’t sharing the same path as other low-voltage cables, it’s fine to use unshielded wires.
We recommend using a shielded speaker cable when it shares the same path with different low-voltage cables. Remember that other low-voltage cables should have adequate shielding, too.
With Or Without Connectors
You can buy speaker cables with or without connectors, but connectors provide more convenience.
If you purchase speaker cables without connectors, you should use banana connectors because attaching a bare wire to a receiver is a hassle.
We’ve linked an informative YouTube video on using a banana plug for your speaker cable.
Chapter 3: What Speaker Cable Factors Affect Quality?
A speaker wire transmits electrical impulses between a speaker and a receiver. Like any other cable type, its materials, length, and thickness perform differently under an electrical load.
Certain attributes of a wire impact sound quality. As we mentioned above, this includes capacitance, inductance, and resistance. However, at the same time, it also concerns gauge, length, and composition.
Resistance refers to the loss of energy that occurs during the flow of impulses because of the transmission medium. If the cable has lower resistance, more power reaches the speaker.
Inductance is the voltage change that occurs due to varying currents. However, in a speaker cable, inductance levels are usually negligible.
If the cable has a higher capacitance, it can hold a greater charge at a particular voltage.
No two metals conduct electricity the same way. For most cables and wires, copper has low resistance and is cheap too. Nevertheless, at the same time, it can rust if exposed to moisture or even air.
Silver provides a lower resistance than copper, but it isn’t a practical option for manufacturers because of its higher price point.
Meanwhile, gold doesn’t oxidize when it encounters the air, making it an ideal plug material. However, gold’s higher resistance compared to silver and copper doesn’t work for cables.
A speaker cable’s resistance is equal to its length. In this regard, experts state two different principles.
- Lengths need to be equal.
The speaker cable connecting each speaker must be the same length. Both speakers experience the same resistance, allowing your system to balance.
- Lengths need to be as short as possible.
Since a speaker cable’s resistance is proportional to its length, it’s ideal for keeping lengths as short as possible. This way, the resistance reduces. However, simultaneously, you must separate both speakers at an adequate distance to get the best stereo effect.
Wires with a low gauge rating, i.e., thicker wires, tend to have less resistance. For a typical residential stereo setup, it’s okay if you use an ordinary wire.
This is a 16-gauge speaker cable, and unless you need hundreds of feet worth of wire or need to run premium speaker systems, it will work fine.
Chapter 4: Cost Vs. the benefit of a Speaker Cable
You can choose from a range of speaker cable types. Some will be expensive because manufacturers will say their cable has improved, increasing the price.
In the end, the wire gauge is the most crucial factor. A 4mm wire is the maximum gauge any person would require. In contrast, 1.6 or 2mm is an adequate gauge rating for the short cable runs used in home systems.
A speaker cable with 4mm wire will be very thick. Audio experts use this cable in well-known recording studios. This is mainly because the cable needs to run very long; they need to install it around the studio.
Chapter 5: Speaker Cable FAQ
We’ve introduced you to all the basics a typical customer should know before purchasing speaker cables. However, you might still have questions about using it and implementing modifications. That’s why we’ve answered some FAQs for you.
Does The Direction Of My Speaker Cable Matter?
Any sound expert who has worked with speaker cables for a considerable time can attest that directional sound always sounds better. This means the sound will seem more defined when you connect the cable in a specific direction.
When you purchase speaker cables for your sound system, connect them so that the print on the insulation reads in the same direction as the signal. In practice, the ‘C’ of the Chord needs to be closest to the amplifier.
Manufacturers don’t have any statements about whether a directional sound is better. The matter is highly debatable. However, in terms of experience, the difference in sound varies between slight and minimal.
Experts argue that the relationship between sound quality and direction affects coherence and timing. Connecting it this way may make you feel that the sound is articulate.
Do I Need To Burn-In My Speaker Cable?
Just as how the direction of connecting speaker cables sparks debates, so does the topic of burning in one’s cables.
Manufacturers can’t offer a perfect explanation as to how it happens. Nevertheless, professionals can agree that when you use a cable, there will be changes in sound quality over time.
Just like in the case of direction, the extent to which you’ll hear a change in sound varies from cable to cable.
Nevertheless, a general rule in the industry is to use a new speaker cable for at least 100 hours before you can experience its best performance.
Can I Terminate My Speaker Cable At Home?
Most speaker cables are available from a reel so that you can prepare and terminate your cable at home.
Many sound expertise websites have guides on terminating cables to help you achieve the desired result. Nonetheless, there are certain helpful tips.
Experts suggest crimping the spade/banana plugs wherever possible because it allows the system to produce an ideal sound.
You can use screw-type connectors, but you’ll see some oxidization over time. Due to this, you’ll have to check the screws – they may eventually work loose, which negatively impacts sound quality in the long run.
Therefore, if you’re using copper speaker cables, you’ll have to remove the cable occasionally. Then, cut the oxidized part, re-stripe the speaker cable, and finally, fit it back.
Sure, it sounds like much work but putting in the effort is worth the fantastic sound quality. You should repeat the same steps to directly connect the speaker cable’s bare wire to the binding post.
How Can I Clean My Speaker Cable?
Regardless of what type of sound system you have, we recommend that you keep the cables clean. Even if it’s a small, all-in-one sound unit, unplugging and cleaning all the connections is good practice for when you’ll have a bigger system.
Of course, plugging out all connections and re-organizing them is difficult. However, you don’t need to do it every so often.
The most suitable approach is doing so once every six months. This frequency will allow for impeccable sound performance.
Start by disconnecting your system from the mains, unplugging the speaker cables, and interconnects. Then, use a high-quality contact cleaner to wipe down all sockets and plugs. Blue Horizon Clean-IT and CAIG DeoxIT are good examples.
Chapter 6: Custom Speaker Cable
Many companies out there manufacture speaker cables for general use. However, why should you settle for less if you’re an enthusiast who enjoys high-fidelity sound production?
Your company might require custom cabling that caters to your specific needs rather than a one-size-fits-all design.
This scenario makes it necessary that clients have the option to get premium, customized services from a reliable manufacturer.
What We Can Offer
Our cabling service, CLOOM Tech, makes customized speaker cables for clients that meet performance and material needs.
Clients may need a different speaker cable for robust sound systems in outdoor locations. That’s because indoor and outdoor systems have varying durability.
Here’s what we can provide to companies looking for a custom cable manufacturer.
- Custom tooling services
- Original or equivalent parts
- Small and larger volume production
As mentioned in the spec sheet, our company delivers on clients’ requirements using either original or equivalent parts.
We take small and large quantity orders for custom cables – this allows you to test prototypes before ordering large batches. This way, you get excellent quality at affordable prices.
Besides, we provide other types of specialty services. Our services include custom tooling capabilities for advanced molding requirements and fully molded and locally built cables.
We follow a rigorous in-house production process, and We fulfill each custom assembly order correctly and on time.
We extensively understand cable manufacturing requirements thanks to our vast experience in different industries. This step allows us to provide impeccable service each time.
We answered some of the fundamental questions surrounding the use of speaker cables. However, this guide is just the tip of the iceberg.
You can learn more about our process, company, or services by contacting us. We’d be happy to hear from you! Before dealing with a speaker cable manufacturer for products, you should know these few things.