Speaker Wire Gauge Guide: Comparison of Size, Watts and Connectors

Speaker wire is a vital part of any audio set-up because it is used to connect your speakers to the audio amplifiers and tuners.  Although subjected to debate and discussions, audiophiles are convinced that speaker wire has an impact on the quality of the sound output in an audio system. It is most evident especially when you are using it in high fidelity component units. But quality wiring does not only deal with quality performance, it also ensures safety and dependability of your entire home theatre system.

The thickness of the speaker wire’s copper bundle that conducts energy or power is called its gauge. This is also called AWG (American Wire Gauge) which is used in the US and SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) which is used in the UK. For this article however, AWG is applied to all set-ups. Lower gauge has thicker wires and it has better capacity to transmit audio signal.  In choosing wire gauge, you need to determine the power (referred to as watts) of your audio component and speakers and its load or resistance capacity (referred to as ohms). The distance between the speakers and your amplifiers is also an important point of consideration because the length of wire has significant effect in power losses. The longer the wire, the thicker the cable that will be required. Thicker wires are designed for more efficient handling of high levels of electrical power. The most common wire gauge that is used in home and car audio system ranges between from 12 gauge to 16 gauge. The appropriate wire gauge is relevant in maximizing the performance of your audio system.

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Speaker Wire Gauge Size

Speaker wire gauge comes in different sizes which are specially designed to conform to the distance and settings of your audio set-up. The larger numbers indicate wires with smaller widths or diameters. Since wires serve as the channel or conduit for the signals, size is very important to come up with a better performing system. Large speaker wires minimize signal loss in long distances between the power source and the speakers.


The smallest size is 24-gauge and it usually comes as a standard accessory upon purchase of an audio unit. It is ideal for close or side by side distance connections; it is usually cheaper if bought separately but serves its designated purpose efficiently. For longer distances like 40 to 48 feet, a 16-gauge wire is a good choice; it is enough to produce safe high-quality sound. For 50 to 80 foot runs, 12-gauge speaker wires can be the best and safest choice. This general guideline is ideal for an 8 ohm resistance load; the quality of sound output will be different in other resistance measurements. In big settings like concerts and forums, 10-gauge wires can be used to ensure that the audience will experience an impressive and remarkable sound.

Speaker Gauge Wire Watts

To avoid short circuits and to ensure safety, the power or wattage of your source should be compatible with your speaker gauge wires. For home theatre applications, which usually utilizes from 150 to 1000 watts amplifiers, the most ideal and recommended is the 12-gauge speaker wire. For a 20 foot run, this size can handle up to 1900 watts and is generally a safe choice. For serious audiophiles who use powerful sub woofers and 2000 watts amplifiers, the 8- gauge wire will perfectly work within the parameters. There are several DIY audio set-ups which provide helpful tips and instructions on proper installations with corresponding speaker wire sizes, lengths and power capacity.

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Speaker Wire Gauge Connectors

There are different kinds of wire gauge connectors available but for convenience and worry free connections, use speakers wires with attached or pre-terminated connectors. The bare wire connector is simple but it is prone to hazards like short circuits. A pin connector is better compared to bare wire and it fits well to both types of terminals: the binding post and the spring clip.  The most preferred and popular connector is the banana plug because it provides a secure and solid connection. Another type is the spade connector which is perfect for binding post terminals. For more complicated connections, the dual banana plug type is ideal because it fits the 5-way binding post terminal. Before buying your connectors, make sure that the terminals of your speaker and receiver are compatible. There are connectors available that can easily be attached to the wire; if you want to cut the wires for clean finish, these connectors are very useful.

Bose Speaker Wire Gauge

Bose is known for its commitment to generating new technologies for the further enhancement and improvement of sound reproduction. One of its best sellers is the Bose In-Wall Speaker Adapter Kit. It is a pre-installed speaker wire system designed for easy and convenient installation. The adaptor kit includes a speaker connection plate, a white cover plate, a 7′ home theatre speaker cable, and four mounting screws. This kit is compatible with 6.1 and 5.1 channel system version and can be used with a 14 gauge speaker wire. Its clean design gives your home theatre system a polished and professional look. Bose accessories such as speaker wires are made exclusively for Bose speakers, so alternative wires are not compatible with its terminals.

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Car Speaker Wire Gauge

The wire size most commonly used in car audio systems ranges from 4AWG to 22 AWG. To get the appropriate gauge always measure the distance of your speaker from your main unit or amplifier. The length of the speaker wire also affects the performance of your speakers. The resistance load expressed in ohms is also an important factor to consider. Always consult your manual regarding wiring and connections to maximize the performance of your car audio system. Installation of car audio is a very easy task; you can have the best sounding system in no time.

Connecting wires from the amplifiers to your speakers is one of the simplest steps in setting up a home theatre system. Choosing the appropriate speaker wires is the important aspect of it. Speaker wires available now are loaded with features which enhance conductivity and protective attributes which shield your audio components from potential damage and interferences.

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