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wire gauge?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by metallicarules, May 18, 2003.

  1. Hey guys. I was just wondering, what gauge wire should be used to connect the input in the back of your cabinet to the speaker itself? I was recently having problems with my cabinet so I took it apart and noticed that these wires seemed quite small for the kind of current I assumed they would be handling.

    Also, thanks to this site, I just learned the difference between speaker cable and instrument cable. I double-checked and I am using speaker cable to connect the amp to the cabinet, but it has 1/4" jacks. Is there a serious sound quality/volume difference with better connections? Would better connections even fit into the 1/4" output on my amp and input on my cabinet?
    In reference to instrument cable vs. speaker cable, is it the same deal for guitar? I just noticed that my friend is using instrument cable to connect his amp and cabinet.

    Any replies are appreciated.
  2. If you really want a shock (excuse the pun) look at the size of the wires in your speaker coil. Teeny tiny in comparison to the wire from the input jack to the speaker.

    And we aren't talking about that much current either, maybe 10 amps or so, and it's not continuous either.

    The distance is short too. For longer runs--like PA speaker cables--the longer distance requires heavier cable, since resistance is a function of the length of the conductor.

    As far as your friend's guitar amp, yes he should use speaker cable to connect his head to his cab.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    8 gauge. Nothing less.
  4. Inner connections between the 1/4" female or speakon to the speaker its self is usually done with 16 to 14 ga wire. The consensus on this forum is THE BIGGER THE BETTER and there is good reasoning for that. Going bigger can't hurt but going too small could definitely hurt. I see no reason to go any bigger than 14 ga but that is just my opinion.
  5. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    The reason for that is that the aim is to get the maximum voltage drop and hence power dissipation across the speaker coil. If you wire up the speaker with wire as thin as in the coil you'll waste loads of power in the speaker cables and the ability of your amp to damp the speaker movement will be drastically reduced.

    Get the thickest cable you can afford.

  6. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    You seem to be saying that it's to deliberately raise the voice coil resistance; is that correct?If so, then I'd have to say no, it's because the voice coil has to have many turns, and so the wire has to fit. There's a trade-off between reducing the resistance of the voice coil by using a larger gauge wire and strengthening its magnetic field by increasing the number of turns.

    For simply connecting between an amp and a cab--a distance of, say, three feet or less--you can use 14 or 16-gauge wire with superb results. If you want to make your own, it'll run you maybe 20 to 30 cents (USD) a foot, plus connectors. Ready-made, I'd say $10 to $15 would be fair. It doesn't hurt to go larger, like 12 gauge, but with that short a length there's really nothing to gain from it either.

    Unless the connection is bad, there's no difference in sound quality between a 1/4" connector and Speakon or banana plugs. However, 1/4" phone plugs and jacks are much less reliable and durable for high-power speaker-level use. If you can use something else, do it.
  7. ...what he said, you want the shortest, fattest one you can find, mine is 10 gauge (i think) and it uses large platinum spade connectors as opposed to 1/4". i'm convinced that more contact surface in a connector makes a noticeable difference, and if you combine it with a good quality instrument cable like Canare, you'll notice an improvement in tone.
  8. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Good contact surface is important for reliability, but it won't affect your tone (unless you're comparing it to a bad or intermittant connection).
  9. i did not know that :meh:
  10. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    43° 42' 00" N - 79° 25' 00" W. Elevation: 112m

    Where's your location--around Toronto?
  11. Ok, thanks for the replies so far. I just want to make sure you guys know that I am talking about the wiring inside the cabinet from the connection in the back to the speaker itself, not the speaker cable. Is it ok if I just go and buy some wire from radio shack and put some spade connectors on it? Lately my amp is cutting in and out now and then and I really don't think that is good for the speaker.
  12. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    yep, they realise and the answer is the same for any speaker wire that's after the amp.

    yep but go in there knowing what you're looking for. Don't rely on their advice, they're not usually clued up on high power audio applications.
  13. Alright then, thanks a lot everyone.
  14. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    The wires inside your speaker cabinet are fairly short, so they don't have to be really thick. In fact, using wire that's too thick inside a speaker cabinet can have unintended reliability hazards: for example, for assembly and disassembly the wire has to be flexible enough that it won't put undue stress on the connectors and connections. If it's not, the wire will transmit vibrations and stresses into the connections and may cause cracks or breaks.

    Go ahead and rewire your cab, but don't go overboard on the wire; stranded 16 or 18 gauge will work fine. Radio Shack wire is perfectly all right for this.

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