Speaker cables: What's important?

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Basics

Each speaker is controlled with its own electrical signal. A 5.1 system requires 6 cables, a 7.1 system 8 cables. The subwoofer is usually connected via mono RCA cables ("sub out"), the other speakers are each connected with two-core speaker cables. Two copper wires (strands) each transmit the signal from the receiver to the speaker cabinet. The strands, in turn, consist of a large number of thin wires. The cable is sheathed in plastic, and the ends of the strands are exposed - after all, the current is supposed to flow. Stripped speaker cables are attached directly to the receiver outputs. No wires should stick out or kink. (Alternatives: banana plugs or cable lugs).

How to determine the correct cable cross-section

The choice of the appropriate cross-section is often underestimated, regardless of whether stereo speakers or home theater system. Speaker cables in modern living rooms now have to perform more than just a technical function, and so the demands on the cables are also changing. The cables should often be as invisible as possible or basically match the other furnishings and on the other hand also be able to transmit the sound signal perfectly.

For the determination of the suitable cross-section, it must be assumed physically on the one hand that a certain signal loss per cable meter occurs. On the other hand, with cable lengths of up to 10 meters, this loss is actually inaudible, especially in living room home theater systems with an amplifier output power of up to 80 watts. Of course, the cable should also fit into the connections of the satellites or speakers. The speaker cable cross-section up to which the satellites are designed is explicitly stated on the product pages.

Common cross-section sizes are: 0.75 mm², 1.5 mm², 2.5 mm² , 4 mm² and 6 mm².

✔ Tip: As a general rule, the shorter the transmission path, the higher the possible volume. Now, short cable runs are not always possible, especially with home theater systems. For transmission distances of more than 7 m, it is therefore recommended to use a speaker cable with a cross-section of 2.5 mm2. Otherwise, the maximum volume could literally fall by the wayside.

Wiring in 5 steps

  • First set up the speakers and receiver or amplifier. The connections should be freely accessible.
  • If possible, the speaker cables should be routed so that they do not interfere and do not become tripping hazards. Plastic strips or cable hoses can help here.
  • Screw the screw caps on the receiver output back far enough to create a gap. Clamp a stripped cable end into each of them. Make sure that no wires are sticking out.
  • It's easy to see which outputs you're connecting the speaker cables to, since the jacks are labeled precisely: The speakers on the right side are connected to the "Speaker right" output.
  • Be careful not to reverse the polarity of the speaker cables. The cable core that is connected to the positive pole of the speaker must also run to the positive pole of the receiver. For better orientation, the cables are color-coded. If the polarity is reversed, the bass will resonate inwards and not outwards, which will result in a considerable loss of sound quality.