Speaker Wire for a non-anal listener

Okay, so I'm not about to spend mega-flow on super nice speaker wire that I won't be able to tell a difference between it and merely decent wire at 1/10th of the price. My stuff (nor my account) simply doesn't justify spending that much. If I followed the 10% rule (which I don't necessarily think is a rule to follow, but merely an end result in many cases), I'd be spending roughly $0 on speaker wire since I already have a very nice (IMO) interconnect between my CD player and my receiver.
However, I'm willing to spend up to around $100 for speaker wire, which doesn't necessarily have to be factory-terminated, but does include the price of the end terminals.

I am running a NAD T750 and a NAD C523 [soon to be] biwired to a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 3i's through at least 10' of speaker wire, maybe upwards of 15'.

As I understand it, basically I'm in the market for high percentage copper wire in a decent size gauge, though a higher number of strands would make the wire more flexible. How important is the percentage copper versus the size of the wire versus the strands per wire?

So, Monster Cable has some XP/XPHP spooled offerings that seem decent, but they're probably a ripoff knowing MC. They also make some "THX-certified" 16awg wire that I can get on ebaY for $30 for 100'. Since I'm only running 60W, I am wondering if I'll suffer by having 16awg or even 14awg wire.
Also, on ebaY, I found an auction for some high end "car stereo" speaker wire. It has 413 strands per conductor, or 826 strands per factory packaged wire. It is 10awg wire, however I can't find what percentage copper it is. I use their wire for my car stereo, and I like it, though that's not exactly an insulated environment.

So, to conclude, what characteristic of the wire should I be most concerned with, gauge, purity or strandage? Does anyone have any suggestions on a manufacturer?

I could ask a lot more questions, but I think you get the gist of where I am coming from and what I'm looking for. Any opinions are welcome!

Also, if you have any opinions on what type and brand of connectors to get, feel free to throw in a few cents worth of info. I have heard that spades offer the best connection, but screw-adjust banana plugs (not the spring tension ones) seem pretty good too.
I would recommend looking at the Kimber line. You can probably skip over the $15K Black Pearl, but they have some well regarding offerings on the less expensive end as well--the 4PR and 8PR, and see what you can afford. Since they tend to run on the slightly bright side, and the NAD gear has always sounded a bit warm to me, it might be a good match.
If I may ask, why does the wire need to be flexible? I only ask because I would have recommended TMC (the-music-cable) Gold speaker cable. Oh, wait, sorry. you asked for 10-15feet. Nevermind. I'd check out ELF or Signal Cable or Bluejeans cable.
I'm using Audioquest Type 4 factory terminated by banana. I think I paid just over 100 bucks for a ten foot pair. It's very good wire for the money. I'm not stuck on brand names when it comes to wire, I know there are some that say Audioquest isn't the best around, but I've been very happy with mine. I replaced a pair of Transparent audio wires with the Audioquest. You have a system fairly similar to mine, as far as money goes. I don't know how much thought I would put into the guage of the wire, among other things. What it really comes down to is whether or not you can hear a difference for the money you spent. Just my opinion.
"non-anal listener" - I enjoyed that. Anyway I've got a NAD powered 2nd system & I went with genuine "Builders Square" solid copper 10 gauge building wire, with white colored insulation of course. I like it, but 12 or 14 gauge would probably sound the same & be easier to hook up to the NAD.
I used AG type 4 for several years with good results. I bought it locally from a dealer who was selling from a spool and ran a full shotgun biwire, spades to bananas.(cheap! I think I did the whole job for about $ 69, including termination) They are solid core wires, so they might not be as flexible as you want. That was a really good option for the price. I recently replaced the AQ's with Signal Silver (~ $280 for 5 ft biwire, spades to bare wire). The silver's are very good, so you might consider the standard copper version of the Signals, especially since he takes returns!
In the year 2000 while in cheapskate mode, I opted for a roll (50 feet?) of Radio Shack 14 gauge flat speaker wire ($20), part no. 2781273. Also 12 or 16 gauge gold spades ($5 for four) part nos. 2780311 or 2780316. My splurge included their crimping tool ($6) no. 6400404.

Because the wire is flat ribbon pair it flexes nicely. I crimped, soldered and biwired it to attain capable but unremarkable results. The wire is clear too so you can see the thick retangular shiny copper inside. Can't say whether RS still stocks these numbers.

In 2001, I went crazy after stumbling over a local Kimber dealer with an outdated price list. Together we unspooled 49 feet of new Kimber 4TC for $147. The Kimber took a little bigger bite of the signal, making it clearer. The rest is history.
Spades or bananas? I used to be spades, now bananas. I'd originally been talked into spades being the better connection, but further research kinda blurs all that? Good bananas work well, are convenient, etc. Wire? Practically everything will be OFC, so once you get to 14GA or thicker you're really into diminishing returns. There are still gazillions of opinions about very high strand counts vs. solid vs. whatever, but at practical $$$ that stuff just doesn't matter much. Practically any good 14GA or thicker within your price range will do fine. I've used older Monster fat wire (well, it was a gift..), have tried generic 14GA, snooty/fancy braided cables, Carol 12GA outdoor (the stuff for low voltage lighting), HD 12GA outdoor extension wire, 12GA SoundKing w/ spades (and later Dayton bananas), and my feeble ears couldn't really tell a difference. My inability to distinguish all the finer nuances of wire may be due to prior misspent youth, the fact that I'm over 30 (but by just a little ;~), or that it was all good.

Here's just one example of what would fit your price limit for a 15' bi-wired set (2 pairs, shipped): Parts Express Speaker Wire w/ Bananas Or, just get SoundKing & bananas?

And I won't comment further on bi-wiring, except to point out what a wiring purveyor like Cobalt Cables has to say about that: Cobalt Cables. As usual, YMMV, etc. etc.
I highly recommend elementcable EC standard cable. This cable looks great and sounds great for the money. Check out the site.
for diy:
lowes 6 awg thhn (19 strand) with vampire spades or banana's
this is excellent especially with 4 ohm speakers(wire about .27/ft)
2nd choice 12 awg magnet wire with vampire spades or banana's this is good(like the anticables)
for low $ commercial:
signal cable
element cable
blue jean cable
better cables
rs cable
I would also look at the entry level speaker cables from Nordost, 2 Flat, 4 Flat and the Flatline. They are priced right and are exceptional at their price point.
First off, let me say in my opinion bare wire ends sound much better than any connector you can put on. If I were to look into bare wire spk. wire, my choices would be Kimber 4VS, Straightwire "Quartet" and AQ 4. All these wires will run around $3 a ft. The AQ will be solid core wire. I've had really good results from all three of these wires.
Any of the Canare speaker cables would be a good choice and give you the option of easily bi-wiring because each cable has four internal conductors. Even the heftiest of them, the 4s11, is only $.69 a foot at markertek.com. Canare is widely used in commercial audio applications and I've had very good luck with it. Comes in a nice soft gray color and is very flexible.
Canare cable at Markertek
To get maximum bang for the buck, first forget about "terminations" of any kind on either end. Just twist strands together, and apply some solder.

Next get youself some 12 or 14 AWG "speaker wire" from Radio Shack, Home Depot, or the like. Use it for a while.

Finally, if you have the urge to spend more money on wire, challenge any prospective new wire to make a significant improvement before you buy.
I'd go with the AQ Type 4 as mentioned several times above. It really isn't bad sounding wire and can be had on the cheap.
Don't forget the Home Depot cable that was reviewed reasonably highly. Beat out a bunch of the higher priced stuff, and it's about $20 for 50ft.
Spades are generally preferred over bananas due to the amount of surface area that's being contacted. Crimp then solder, and that should take care of any potential corrosion problems you'd get with bare wire.
Installation wire from local hi-fi shop sounds pretty good. 16/4 OFC for each speaker. Doubled this makes for a large awg. Allows for bi-wire configuration. Cheap as heck ($0.50/ft). No special connectors to add to complications in signal path. Simple. Easy. Cheap.
DIY a pair of Cat5 braided. Do a search on audio asylum or visit the VH Audio site or TNT audio site for recipes.
I agree with Sfar. Use Canare 4s11. I normally pay .85 per foot so the price from his source is very good. I have used aq type 4 also (still own it) but find Canare to be far superior. It should work very well in your set up. It has very good bass response and has a nice spatial quality to it. If you are really doing this on the cheap, then pass on terminations and you can do 2 - 15 foot runs for about 20 bucks. I normally buy from Dan at heartlandcalbes.com. He makes great IC's using Belden cable and Eichmann Bullet Pluggs for around 50 bucks. They are fabulous. I liked them better in my second system than the Harmonic Technology Truthlink Silver I was using. (savings of over 200 bucks)
I agree with many who suggested good Rat Shack, Home Depot or other 12-14 gauge wire. Also, twist and solder the end makes for a good "pin" to stick into the side your binding post, but test it for size before soldering because it will be difficult to "re-size" after soldering.

I kinda disagree about spades over banana plugs. The Nordost Z-plug or similar BFA type banana have a very large contact area and they fit very firmly into place. And unlike Spades, they don't require periodic tightening of the binding post. They actually put outward pressure on the internal surface area of the binder and likely prevent movement of the nut. With spades, every time the cable is tightened/moved, it has the potential to "stick" to the nut and cause it to move. This can eventually cause loosening of the connection.

I love Z-plugs! If you haven't tried them, give them a look.


Stick with a low inductance design. This means some type of twisted pair or spiral wrapped star quad cabling. Due to the length of the cable, you need to keep the gauge on the heavier side. Having said that, using a heavy gauge in a high inductance design can make things worse, so you should balance the gauge with the geometry of cabling used.

The Canare cable mentioned above is a good deal and would provide you with an excellent cable for the money. Another alternative along the same vein for even less money would be to buy a 100' spool of one of the two cables mentioned below.

Parts Express 4x16 gauge spiral wrapped #100-756

Parts Express [http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/pshowdetl.cfm?&DID=7&Partnumber=100-768] 4x14 gauge spiral wrapped #100-768[/url]

A single run of the 4x16 gauge cable split in half ( 2 pos, 2 neg ) equates to a 13 gauge conductor. This in itself should suffice, but if you wanted to, and you would have plenty of cable to do so if you bought the spool, you could run completely separate runs of cabling for the tweeters and for the woofers. This would mean 2 pos & 2 neg for the tweeters in one jacket and 2 pos & 2 neg for the woofers in another jacket. This would equate to a total of 10 gauge for the combined runs of cabling. This would total $25 plus shipping with plenty of extra cable to spare for future use.

Using the 4x14 cable in the same manner, a single run ( 2 pos & 2 neg ) divided between the woofer and tweeter would equate to an 11 gauge conductor. Doubling up the runs and then splitting them as mentioned above would equate to appr 8 gauge. This would set you back $34 plus shipping, which is still extremely reasonable and well beyond any other type of cabling that you could buy for similar money.

Either of these types of installation would pretty much demolish any other type of installation using far more expensive cabling. When properly configured, these cables are very low loss, wide bandwidth and resistive to RFI ( Radio Frequency Interference ). Using any type of high inductance i.e. "zip cord" type cabling DRASTICALLY increases the potential for the cabling to introduce radio interference into your system.

If you live near any type of major traffic area, this is something to think about. After all, you don't want to invest in a product that could end up creating problems for you. It is better to buy something that is more sensibly designed to begin with, therefore negating any potential problems in the future.

Believe me, it is no fun listening to cab drivers, CBer's or ham operators coming through your speakers, especially when you could have avoided it by simply not using zip cord ( side by side speaker cabling ). I and many others that i know have experienced this very phenomena, so it is for real. Not only can it be very frustrating dealing with such a situation, it will scare the hell out of you the first time that you hear someone wailing through your system at high amplitude via their radio communications gear. After that, it is simply annoying, but slightly more expected. Avoiding the use of zip cord not only drastically reduces the potential for such things to occur, it also increases the potential for better sonics within the confines of your system. Sean
The second link, which i screwed up, should have been as follows:
Parts Express 4x14 gauge spiral wrapped #100-768

Sorry 'bout dat. My being away for a few days has taken toll on my ability to post : ) Sean
Erik, do consider Paul Speltz's 'Anti-Cables', here http://www.zeroimpedance.com/products.html . For allegedly-high-end speakercable, they're highly affordable at $10 per pair-foot, delivered, and apparently sound quite good. ('Mine' are ordered but not yet received.)

I'm also firmly in the solid-conductor-NOT-stranded camp. You'll do yourself a favor staying away from all that stuff. (Now THERE's a statement that should generate some disagreement!). Start and end your affordable-speakercable quest with something you'll never have to replace.

BTW, I too believe Audioquest makes some VERY-nice sounding stuff. I use their KE-6, a 4-pairs-of-silver cable that uses their Dielectric-Bias System.

You'll learn a lot reading AQ's cable-theory blurb, here http://www.audioquest.com/pdfs/aq_cable_theory.pdf .
Here's another vote for Canare 4s11. This is the same cable that Blue Jeans
Cables uses and most likely is the same cable River Cable uses in their
speaker cables. River Cables has sheath on theirs, but the specs on their
"Star Flex" just happen to duplicate those of the Canare "
Star Quad." I wouldn't be at all surprised if you found Canare 4s11
inside the sheaths of other expensive cables, too. For less than 70 cents a
foot from Markertek and either bare wired or with connectors, you'll have
excellent cables.

If you look at speltz's "anti-cables," you should be aware that
these are classic "high inductance" cables. The positive and
negative are separate and left to dangle apart from each other. This will
cause high inductance and could result in attenuation and a rolled off high
end. When I say it "could" -- this is because your results will
depend on whether the positive and negative fall in proximity to one another
or not. Unless you are looking to achieve an audible loss of amplitude in your
high frequencies, this cable would not be high on my list. Just depends on
what you are trying to achieve.
...and then again, one could just twist the 2 conductors together, as lots do.
Try e-ticketcables. Great cable and great price.
Kimber kable or one of the older Monster Cable Powerline series are great for the money.
Jeffrey,the anticables are good,I heard them already,
my friend brought them for me to listen.I ordered
already.I will compare them with my good cables, I
have a feeling they will measure up.I will post the
result here.Thanks
As previously stated, Canare 4s11 is what you are looking for. Flexible, relatively inexpensive, quality made and sounds great. Try it, you'll like it.
Here's another Boo-ya! for Canare 4S11.
>>...and then again, one could just twist the 2 conductors together, as lots

You could twist them or tape them together with electrical tape -- but, then
you are changing -- or correcting, depending on how you look at it -- the
design of the cable. One has to wonder why the designer would have made a
design like that and why he doesn't say anything about the inductance in his
literature. I also wonder if the coating on the cables will stand up to
prolonged use after being twisted, since the cables were not designed to be
twisted. In any case, I just think any prospective buyer of the "anti-cables"
should be aware of the issues involved.
Tvad: "Here's another Boo-ya! for Canare 4S11."

Let's see...'boo' is negative'; 'ya', presuming that's short for 'yes', is positive, so 'boo-ya' means 'no-yes'?


Wait a minute.

...perhaps the ESPN reference was too abstract on the audio board.

Do you think a non-anal listener would ever analyze the parts of boo-ya?
Yet another home run for Uncle Paul's Auntie Cable.
I question if you are really "non-anal" or you wouldn't be bi-wiring. If you can do without bi-wire go for the Goertz speaker cable. The 13 ga basic Cu ribbon cable with rhodium connectors and Teflon insulation should be about $160. Be sure to get the filters to protect your amp as suggested by Sean in the past.
AC power runs from the generating plant through miles of standard High tension" lines to a substation. Once there it is stepped down to usable voltage for the home. It then runs through "cheap" romex cable where it is magically transformed into high end audio power. Come on now, can anyone explain how this is not TOTALLY ridiculous? And why is it that NO ONE can differentiate expensive speaker cables from the ordinary in a double blind study?
Say811, I suggest reading the many threads on this topic. It's been beaten like flat, dry road kill. It should keep you entertained for hours and hours...
If you are truly "non-anal" then you shouldn't care what the cable "sounds" like. At least that's what my proctologist says!
Rja, if your proctologist is messing with your cable, you might want to seek the advice of an attorney.
A proctologist reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a rectal thermometer and say "crap, some a$$holes got my ink pen"!!!!!


Fishboat wins!
Sean comes in second.
Not sure what you people were thinking, suggesting cable over $100 per stereo pair, or over $200 per stereo biwire pair. I paid $600 for all my gear. Speakers, CD player and receiver. Why would I spend over $100 on cables? Think outside the marketing jargon box, and recommend something that does well in blind testings (that's the only way to buy wine, IMO).
Granted I was ignorant too, y'all ought to read the original post a little more clearly. The goal has always been the best wire for the money. How come so few people know how much a zipcord pair sucks for inductance? And that lack of individual insulation messes up the tweets and muddles the sound, and that smaller gauge is better for frequency response? So much misinformation. I suggest you all go to that TNT website and do some reading.
Erik, you asked a question that many people were kind enough to answer. Is it necessary to be so condescending to those with whom you disagree? That's really bad form, and it won't encourage folks to offer their help to you in the future.
No, but it will encourage folks to treat his post in kind ---

>>recommend something that does well in blind testings<<

Which cable would that be? I'd love to see the blind studies to which you

>>How come so few people know how much a zipcord pair sucks for

Sucks, as in causes as audible problem -- one that can be heard in blind
studies, since that is your criteria? Maybe because this has never been
established. This seems to be something you either read in a cable ad or
heard and believed. What sucks for inductance are cables with the positive
and negative separated.

>>smaller gauge is better for frequency response?<<

This also must have come directly from a cable ad -- where's the blind tests
or any other kind of scientific back-up for such a notion?

>>Think outside the marketing jargon box....So much misinformation.<<

Yes -- much of it located in your post.

DIY Cat5? Isn't that a high capacitance design?
I agree with Tvad,

Erikkellison, if you are so knowledgable, above and beyond everyone here, don't waste OUR time. Do your own research.

And if you really blind taste test wine, you must be anal.

You guys are right, I came off a bit harsh. I was thinking about it as I was logging in here. I am very grateful for all the responses. I just had my eyes opened when I read about how different frequencies travel across different kinds of wire, and basically, what characteristics need to be maximized or minimized in order to make a good speaker wire.
I'll assume that Tvad is referring to my disagreement with others on the type of wire in my price range, because those who listed expensive wire weren't responding very well to my original post.
Rsbeck, I wasn't referring to any blind testings per se, just surprised that absolutely no one recommended something that did well in that format, except maybe for Snofun. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if separate + & - makes for inductance, and zipcord has separate + & -, then wouldn't that make zipcord bad for inductance (amd possibly anticables too?)? As far as smaller wires working better for frequency response, read some articles on TNT, or just look at how some high end cables are designed.
Still, don't hate me because I disagreed with some opinions. If I don't take your advice, it's my loss, right? I seriously weighed almost everyone's post, and researched each item suggested. I just didn't have a starting point. Thanks again :)
Erikkellison: It's not the gauge so much as it is the depth of the conductor that causes skin effect. Using ANY type of stranded wire basically increases this problem, so using a smaller gauge stranded wire doesn't resolve the problem. This is why one needs to resort to something that has a large surface area to keep series resistance down but is also thin enough to remain mostly all "skin". Using multiple conductors for each polarity, regardless of how it is done, creates impedance variations between the various strands & polarities with further variances in the arrival times.

This is why heavy gauge low inductance "foil type" speaker cables both sound and measure the best. One path per polarity for consistent arrival times regardless of frequency, no skin effect, low series resistance, wide bandwidth, etc... Anything less than that is a compromise in at least one given category.

The cables that i suggested falter in several different areas, but they are still superior to many other more costly products. Like anything else though, how it sounds in a system is up to personal interpretation. Electrically speaking though, it is a winner and does quite well bang for the buck.

Then again, so does solid core 14 gauge from your local hardware store configured in a twisted pair arrangement. If you like more treble detail, you can reduce the gauge size to achieve the specific tonal balance that one seeks. If one is able to bi-wire, you can use a smaller gauge for the mids and treble and a heavier gauge for the woofer. Using such an approach reduces the damping factor of the circuit and lowers the dynamic current capacity that can be passed. Given that ALL amplifiers increase their output impedance as frequency rises, and distortion gets worse as frequency rises, using a smaller gauge that introduces even more potential for problems into the equation seems like putting the cart before the horse.

If you want to get technical, any "round" conductor that is heavier than appr 24 gauge should not be used if shooting for the ultimate in signal purity. If used as as speaker cable, you'll have no bass and the system will lack dynamics, so that's why the smarter cable manufacturers resorted to flat conductors. You get the best of both worlds without the drawbacks. You can maintain a low series resistance due to having a heavy gauge conductor working for you but skin effect isn't a problem either. Like i said, any other approach is a compromise in at least one area of measurable performance. Sean

PS.... TNT has nothing on the research that Jung, Marsh and Pass conducted 25+ years ago. Why learn from second-hand sources when you can go to the original information sources and get it from the horses mouth???
>>Rsbeck, I wasn't referring to any blind testings per se, just surprised that
absolutely no one recommended something that did well in that format,<<

There isn't any body of double blind testing so how could anyone draw from
such evidence in order to recommend cables?

>>Correct me if I'm wrong, but if separate + & - makes for inductance, and
zipcord has separate + & -, then wouldn't that make zipcord bad for

No. In Zip Cord, the positive and negative are attached -- they run in

>>(amd possibly anticables too?)?<<

In the anti-cables, the positive and negative are completely unattached and
left to dangle apart from one another -- that's what causes high inductance.

>>As far as smaller wires working better for frequency response, read some
articles on TNT<<

People say all kinds of things about cables and many of them sound really
authoritative, but just because someone mentions something like "skin
effect" for example and just because there *is* such a thing as skin
effect, there is absolutely zero evidence that this causes any audible effect at
audio frequencies. Same with the idea that high frequencies "like"
thinner gauged cable. People say stuff like this and it sounds ominoust, but
there is no evidence that this has any effect.

If you're a blind study guy -- ask anyone who tells you about skin effect or
how high frequencies like to travel on thinner wires to show you the blind
studies to show that anyone can hear such things.

>>or just look at how some high end cables are designed.<<

Yes, many of them are designed poorly.

>>If I don't take your advice, it's my loss, right?<<

I don't care which advice you follow, I just think there ought to be a good
discussion about these things. Otherwise, one would get the false impression
that there is no controversy about things like skin effect or that high
frequencies like to travel on thinner gauged cables.

>>I seriously weighed almost everyone's post, and researched each item
suggested. I just didn't have a starting point. Thanks again :)<<

If you want to research cables, you ought to know that there are at least two
sides to the debate -- there is absolutely no concensus. If you want to get
the skeptic position -- here is a good place to start.

If you are looking for the best for the money anything, will it ever be anything but the cheapest? I have never understood this concept. Now when you want to dismiss others who have better sounding systems which cost more money, you can always state that they wasted their money for a minor improvement. They in turn are unlikely to be impressed with your logic.
I have two friends who have told me the same thing independently of one another. They each said, "Buy cheap. Buy again." The best value is often found in a product that is not the least expensive, but rather offers better performance, or longevity, or any combination of positive attributes.

As every year passes, I appreciate more and more the truth of this statement.