How Far Can You Run Speaker Wires?

How Far Can You Run Speaker Wires

Speakers are essential for effective communication when conducting both outdoor and indoor event programs. As a result, we must evaluate how far we can run our speaker wires as well as the distance our speaker wires can convey sounds without losing quality.

The maximum length you can run a speaker is determined by the resistance (or impedance in ohms Ω) of the speaker and the gauge of the speaker wire. The size of the speaker does not matter.

The rule of thumb to determine the maximum length of your speaker wire is that the total resistance of the wire should be less than 5% of the impedance (resistance) of the speaker. For example, if your speaker is rated at 4 ohms, then you can run a 20 gauge wire 20 feet, an 18 gauge wire 32 feet, and a 16 gauge wire 48 feet.

Below is a table that shows the maximum length you can run a speaker wire depending on the gauge of the wire and the resistance of the speaker:

Wire Size2 ohm load4 ohm load
6 ohm load8 ohm load
22 AWG3 feet max6 feet max9 feet max
12 feet max
20 AWG5 feet max10 feet max

15 feet max20 feet max
18 AWG
8 feet max
16 feet max

24 feet max
32 feet max
16 AWG12 feet max24 feet max36 feet max


48 feet max
14 AWG20 feet max40 feet max60 feet**80 feet**
12 AWG30 feet max60 feet**90 feet**120 feet**
10 AWG50 feet max

100 feet**150 feet**

200 feet**

(**) Please note that 50 feet is the maximum recommended length for a regular line cord or Romex solid copper wires

From the table above, you can see that the greater the gauge of the wire and the greater the impedance of the speaker, the longer you can run your speaker wires.

Things to Consider Before Running Your Speaker Wire 

We must examine the speaker’s impedance as well as the gauge of the prospective speaker wire to determine how far you can run it. The standard wire gauge is 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 AWG where 10 AWG is the thickest (Note that AWG is American Wire Gauge)

We must also calculate the length of the run in order to determine which wire size is required. The longer the length we need to cover, the larger the wire size required.

Knowing the distance allows you to calculate the gauge required to meet the power demand. If you need to go more than 50 feet, 12-gauge or 14-gauge speaker wire is recommended.

It’s always a good idea to add a few extra feet to allow for slack and errors. The last thing you want to do is cut 80 feet of speaker wire just to find out that you actually need 82.

Can Speaker Wire Be Too Long?

Speaker wires might be excessively lengthy. The greatest length of speaker wire that should be run should be around 50 feet. Anything longer than 50 feet is deemed excessive. The quality of sound generated by a system is influenced by the length of speaker wires running from amplifiers to speakers.

This means that, while the wire’s thickness is significant, the distance it covers is equally important. Speaker runs of more than 50 feet should be avoided even if the wire thickness is adequate. This is due to the fact that as the distance rises, the audio quality decreases.

It’s worth noting that speaker wires with smaller gauges/thicker wires are ideal for longer runs between the audio amplifier and the speakers.

The resistance of bigger speaker cables is low, allowing you to run these wires over longer lengths and distances.

Overextended distances, bigger speaker wires can actually help decrease or eliminate power loss and dampening. Speaker wires with bigger wires are also better at lessening the impact of resistance on the signal generated when used over long distances.

Indoor Vs Outdoor Speaker Wire Cabling

If you’re using outside speakers, make sure your cords are rated for that environment. As a result, they will be classified as direct burial cables that are simple to install. Without any further protection, the cables can be buried directly underground.

The shielding protects the cables from pressure, heat, and moisture, ensuring that your speakers work effectively at all times.

Depending on how your wires are run throughout your home, indoor speakers will require the appropriate UL rating.

If the wires will be run in the ceilings or walls of your home to hide them, be sure they are certified CL2 or CL3. This is to guarantee that the cabling is not positioned near potentially combustible elements in your ceiling or walls, which could cause a fire.

Can A Speaker Wire Be Too Short?

Speaker wire being short is of higher advantage, In terms of the additional impedance that long runs can introduce, in some situations this results in power loss.

And also, signal loss through long speaker cables is higher than signal loss through equivalent-length interconnects. understanding that some cable manufacturers may disagree (especially those who create cables for in-line networks), but I believe that long interconnects with shorter speaker cables sound better the great majority of the time.

Furthermore, comparable quality speaker cables are typically far more expensive per foot than their line-level counterparts, making longer interconnects/shorter speaker cables a less expensive option.

Speaker wire is a key system component that protects fragile voltages as they are transmitted from point to point among the audio chain’s links.

Because the electrons make their way through the conductors and struggle to jump the bounds set by the connections at each end, no cable can accomplish better than just limiting the amount of loss during that transmission. Better cables, “cause less harm,” or, to put it another way, reduce the quantity of signal lost.

Balance And Unbalanced Speaker Cable

The audio cables used in a system can have a significant impact on the sound quality of your live event production when live streaming and/or capturing it.

Even when used properly, every audio connection has the potential to introduce noise and distortion into your mix, therefore it’s critical to pick the ideal cable for the job.

The distinction between unbalanced and balanced cables can be quite confusing. Knowing which cables to use and when to use them necessitates some basic information, so let’s get in!

  • Unbalanced speaker cable: Inside the plastic casing of this sort of cable, there are two wires: a signal wire and a ground wire. The audio signal is carried by the signal wire in the cable’s center, while the surrounding ground wire protects it from external electronic interference. When a cable takes the audio signal from a piece of equipment  and sends it straight to a mixer or other capture/receiver device, it’s said to be  “unbalanced.” Leaving the audio alone simplifies things, but it also means that the audio can become distorted at times.
  • Balanced speaker cable: Inside the plastic shell of balanced cables are three wires: two signal wires and a ground wire. The signal wires each carry an identical audio signal, but the surrounding ground wire shields the signal wires from extraneous electrical interference, just like with unbalanced connections. The difference with balanced cables is that both the sending and receiving equipment have a converter that allows them to utilize both signal wires.

Can A Speaker Wire Be Too Thick?

Thicker wires are better: It’s true that thicker wires reduce the effects of resistance for long lengths.

However, for the vast majority of installations (those with speakers within 100 feet of the amplifier), a 16-gauge cord will suffice. Experts recommend 14 gauge for speakers that are 100 to 200 feet away from the amplifier.

Conclusion

From this article, you will be able to know how far your speaker wire can be run, and also the uses of balance and unbalanced speaker cable. This post will help you choose the best speaker cable for your needs.