# Is 16 gauge speaker cable enough?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by mapleglo, Nov 8, 2018.

1. ### maplegloGold Supporting Member

Sep 7, 2013
phoenix, az
I have a 500 watt amp and two 8 ohm cabinets.

The speakon cables I bought (at outrageous pricing, I might add) are like 12 gauge. I thought to make a few extra cables (because I'm OCD that way) but the only speaker cable I have in stock is 16 gauge.

The strain relief seems to work fine on the speakon connectors I bought, with the 16 gauge cable, but I began thinking that commercial cables may be 12 gauge for a reason I'm not aware of.

For short cable runs of 3 or 4 feet, for use with 500 watts of power, 16 gauge should be plenty, right?

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2. ### S-Bigbottom

16 is perfect for this. The 12 gauge for amphead to cab short runs is mostly marketing, "Bigger is better."

3. ### maplegloGold Supporting Member

Sep 7, 2013
phoenix, az
Great thanks, I was thinking similarly. Isn't there some maths that engineers use to determine sufficient gauge? Anyone know the formula?

4. ### voided3

Nov 11, 2008
Absolutely. The wire gauge inside your cabinets is probably only 18 gauge, anyway.

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5. ### 4stringmf

Mar 2, 2008
San Francisco
I believe, and I forget which....... But the fact whether the cable needs to be shielded or not . Look into that before you start

6. ### brianrostGold Supporting Member

Apr 26, 2000
Boston, Taxachusetts
ElectroVoice has an online calculator here.

With 500 watts into 4 ohms, 3 foot cable:

16 gauge 0.05 dB loss, 494.05 watts

12 gauge 0.02 dB loss, 497.63 watts

But if it was a 20 foot cable:

16 gauge 0.32 dB loss, 462.23 watts

12 gauge 0.14 dB loss, 484.53 watts

Of course, losses that small will be inaudible.

7. ### S-Bigbottom

She has two conductor Speaker Cable it will also say Speaker Cable on the actual cable, she is good.

You do not want Shielded Instrument cable as they only have one conductor and are small.

Here is a picture of the differences inside.

Read the outside of the cable if you are unsure what you have before using a mystery cable. Speaker cable is only for amp to speakers.

Jan 21, 2016
Injiana
Round power cable by the ft at homey depot.

9. ### ctmullinsfueled by beer and coconutGold Supporting Member

Apr 18, 2008
MS Gulf Coast
I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
As mentioned, 16ga is more than adequate for this, especially when you consider that you’re only actually putting out 500 watts on the very loudest transients. Averaged over time (a bridge or a chorus, doesn’t really matter) you probably are only pushing 100 watts (give or take) down that cable.

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10. ### agedhorseSupporting MemberCommercial User

Feb 12, 2006
Davis, CA (USA)
Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
16 gauge is plenty big

11. ### wizerd

Jan 5, 2012
805
Prone to ranting, episodes of moral outrage.
Agedhorse speaketh truth.

Aug 17, 2018
Daytona Beach, FL
Fine for short runs. Last time I bought 12Ga was for a 20 amp extension cord. I was pretty sure 14Ga would have worked, because it only needed to be 10 feet, but the salesman uphold me.

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13. ### maplegloGold Supporting Member

Sep 7, 2013
phoenix, az
Great, thanks for all the replies! I'm off to making a bunch more cables

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14. ### Gluvhand

Feb 19, 2014
Rockland County, NY
He didn't upsell you. He kept you code compliant.

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15. ### agedhorseSupporting MemberCommercial User

Feb 12, 2006
Davis, CA (USA)
Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
If it was truely for a 20 amp load, then 12ga would be compliant but if were a 20 amp branch circuit with say a 10 amp load 16 gauge would still be compliant.

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16. ### MunjibungaRetired Member

May 6, 2000
San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
ProCo Guardian Fat Max 8 gauge. [ / thread]

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17. ### maplegloGold Supporting Member

Sep 7, 2013
phoenix, az
OK, three new cables made and tested, \$6.00 each, not including the cable which I had in stock. As opposed to \$30.00 each at GC. Much better. Thanks again everyone!

18. ### Bassamatickeepin' the beat since the 60'sSupporting Member

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19. ### sissy kathyBack to Bass-icsGold Supporting Member

Apr 21, 2014
Arbutus, MD
No. Speaker cable and power cable aren't the same thing. The speaker cable is a twister pair, power cable isn't.

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20. ### john mSupporting Member

Jan 15, 2006
No need for twisted pair on the output of an amp. Twisted pair is used where noise immunity is needed.