• Distance from source to speaker
• Material (Walls, etc.) that the wire will run through – fire hazard
• Ohms rating of speakers
• Connector types necessary
• Wire insulation
• Wire material
Speaker wires are very confusing to buy for those who don't know what they're looking for. Here's a guide to help you purchase the correct speaker wire for your audio system.
A speaker wire is an insulated wire connecting speakers to the amplifier source. It's the wire that allows for sound to be outputted from the source. Picking the right wire will help with your audio quality and overall speaker performance.
The gauge is measured by its American Wire Gauge number (AWG). This number measures the thickness of the wire. The smaller the AWG, the thicker the wire. Thick wires are ideal for long distances and high power equipment.
Ohms measure the resistance an electric current encounters while flowing in a circuit. The longer the distance of a wire, the more resistance an electric current encounters. Thicker wires have less resistance than thin wires, so they're good for speakers that offer low ohms (4 to 6).
The next component you need to focus one when buying a speaker wire is how long you plan on running it. Measure the distance between the amplifiers and the speakers. If it is less than 80 feet (24 meters), then a 16-gauge wire should serve you well. If it's between 80 - 200 feet (24 - 61 meters), a 14-gauge wire will give you the best performance. If the distance between the amplifier and the speakers is over 200 feet (61 meters), you will need a 12-gauge wire.
Add a couple feet/meters to your measurements so you have a little slack and know the amount of speaker wire you need to buy.
Banana connectors are the plugs on the end of the speaker wire that connects to the amplifier and speakers at both ends. Make sure to purchase wire with the connectors, or else you may have a tough time making your connections.
Once you've found out what type of wire to buy, you need to figure out where you want to run your wire through. If you choose through the ceiling or the wall, you MUST pick speaker wire rated by the UL as CL2 or CL3. This is because these types of wires have been tested to be safe and certified by the UL. If they aren't certified, you could risk a fire in between your walls and ceiling. For underground wiring, it's recommended to get wire certified to be buried underground.
The last thing to look for when buying a speaker wire is the build quality. If you're looking for a high-quality audio output, you need pure copper and a bigger gauge that squeezes every bit of audio to your speakers. Of course, just by following the guide above your sound quality to should be good enough to go.
Hopefully, this guide helped simplify the complicated process of buying a speaker wire. Good luck with buying and have fun with your audio system!