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Is 16 gauge speaker cable enough?

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


  1. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

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

    new amp.

    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.

    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?
     
    Andyman001 and ExaltBass like this.
  2. 16 is perfect for this. The 12 gauge for amphead to cab short runs is mostly marketing, "Bigger is better."
     
  3. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold 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

    voided3

    Nov 11, 2008
    Absolutely. The wire gauge inside your cabinets is probably only 18 gauge, anyway.
     
    pellomoco14, DJ Bebop and mapleglo like this.
  5. 4stringmf

    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. brianrost

    brianrost Gold 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. 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.

    speakerinstrumentNew.

    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.
     
  8. BadExample

    BadExample

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

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold 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.
     
    mapleglo likes this.
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

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

    wizerd

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

    dBChad

    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.
     
    agedhorse likes this.
  13. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Great, thanks for all the replies! I'm off to making a bunch more cables :)
     
    ctmullins and S-Bigbottom like this.
  14. He didn't upsell you. He kept you code compliant.
     
    Nomad5, TheReceder and gitfiddl like this.
  15. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial 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.
     
    Andyman001, pcake and Gaolee like this.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    ProCo Guardian Fat Max 8 gauge. [ / thread]
     
    chadds, Bob_Ross and 7bridges like this.
  17. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold 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!

    new cables.
     
  18. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Andyman001 and mapleglo like this.
  19. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold 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.
     
    TheReceder likes this.
  20. john m

    john m Supporting Member

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

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