Most speakers do not come packaged with a speaker wire. This means that in setting up your home theatre system, it’s your responsibility to know the right gauge and type of wire required. There are many different options for speaker wire, with connectors and without connectors. For any in-wall or ceiling speakers, a UL-rated speaker wire labeled CL2 or CL3 is required. For any wire running underground to a set of outdoor speakers, wire rated for direct burial is recommended.
Speaker Wire Gauge
The first thing you need to know about speaker wire is what its gauge is, otherwise known as its thickness. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. The thicker the wire, the less resistance there is to the current flow.
Thick wire, such as 12 gauge or 14 gauge, are more common for long wire runs and high power applications. For speaker wire requirements of less than 50 feet, 16 gauge is the standard industry recommendation as it is cost-effective and easy to work with. That said, you should always consult on figuring out the proper gauge for your home theatre speaker wire installation.
Speaker Wire Length and Amount
In figuring how much speaker wire you actually need, run a string from the receiver to each of the speaker locations. Measure the string and then add a few extra feet that can be used as slack. We always recommend giving yourself a margin of error and add a few more feet on top of that. It’ll help in the event of a change in setup or just ensuring the connection to gear is not tight on the wire.
Type of Wire
If you do end up going with wire that does not have connectors, buy banana connectors for at least one end of each wire. If you are running speaker wire inside your walls or ceiling, UL-rated speaker wire labeled CL2 or CL3 is a necessity.
Delving deeper into it, a 4-conductor cable some prefer as it is a single cable pulled over a long distance. Then, 2-conductor cables from the volume control to each of the stereo speakers are run.
A few Extra Tips
Remember to identify the positive and negative leads to your speaker wires, and connect them accordingly. If a connector ends up crossed, you won’t be able to make it work.
Get to know what kind of speaker wire terminals you have, whether they are spring clips or binding posts. Spring clips are easy to work with, though accepting bare wire and pin connectors only. Meanwhile, binding posts provide a solid connection where banana plugs can connect directly.