Wiring is important when setting up the speakers, so should speaker wire be solid or stranded? After this article, it will not be difficult to choose between a solid speaker wire or one with strands.
Solid and stranded speaker wires are significantly different in performance. Higher gauge wires are thinner with more insertion loss; however, the lower gauge is thicker. Stranded speaker wires show 20-50 percent more attenuation than solid wires.
Moreover, the cross-section of stranded speaker wires is not all copper, so there is air presence but higher DC resistance.
Solid speaker wires tend to be the better conductors, providing stable electrical characteristics over a range of frequencies. Your speakers do not easily become susceptible to corrosion due to less surface area, or get affected by vibration because they are rugged.
Is solid or stranded wire better for speakers?
Let us consider the reasons below:
- Flexibility. A solid speaker wire is constructed as a single piece of metal, tougher than a stranded speaker wire. However, its ruggedness means less flexibility than stranded wires. Therefore, compared to a stranded wire, a solid wire can break easily when subjected to frequent flexing.
- Twisting. Stranded speaker wire is more flexible and considered ideal for connecting electronic components that require you to twist and bend to fit intricate speaker geometries. A solid speaker wire, on the other hand, is not malleable because it will not split or sever.
- Current transmission. A stranded speaker wire tends to carry less current than solid wires. This is due to the thickness of stranded wire, it is thinner, and there are air gaps and a larger surface area in the individual strands.
Can you mix solid and stranded wire?
You can mix solid and stranded wire but it does not mean you should do it. Moreover, it can be relatively complex to connect a stranded speaker wire to a solid wire.
You want the stranded wire to be a little longer than the solid speaker wires. This makes sliding a wire nut over the top easier, and the joints are twisted better.
Pre twisting is not necessary when mixing solid and stranded speaker wires but you may pre twist the wires.
How do you connect stranded wire to solid?
To connect a stranded wire to solid, use a Marrette or a twist-on wire connector. First, put the stranded wire in the speaker, ensuring to strip the stranded wire longer than the solid speaker wire.
Twist the wire connector on the speaker tightly and make sure every strand of the stranded wire is firmly in the connector. You do not want any bare wire showing. Otherwise, wrap some electrical tape on it.
If the wire size is larger, get the bronze split bolt type connector. It requires many turns of electrical tape though.
Focus on the task so that you can ensure tighter electrical contacts. If the speaker wires come free, you may get arcing and overheating, which could cause a fire.
Why do speakers use stranded wire?
The resistance of stranded wires affects performance. Its capacitance and inductance also have less effect due to insignificance relative to the capacitance and inductance of your speaker.
A speaker wire with strands is quite flexible and considered even more suitable for movable equipment.
Unfortunately, a stranded speaker wire has fewer amps than its solid counterpart. We determine amps by the frequency of the current passing through the speaker wire.
Since the thickness of a stranded wire is thinner, the individual wire strands contain more air gaps and a larger surface area. Thus, it carries less current than solid speaker wires.
Note that twisting strands together can cause terminal biting. This occurs on the wire strands as the wire is a solid circular conductor, that is, with a particular remaining space in the terminal. A future disturbance may cause the individual strands to re-arrange.
Does the number of strands in wire matter?
The number of strands in wire really matters in terms of wire flexibility. The wire gauge and electrical characteristics typically stay the same.
Certain frequencies travel across the surface of the conductor. Thus, more conductors mean more surface area for the signal to travel through.
Individual strands are important for the flexibility of the speaker wire, and not the current as you may think. The strands have small resistance effects at higher frequencies due to being in contact with each other.
If a speaker wire is built to reduce skin effect, they typically have each strand insulated from the others.
Again, speaking of flexibility, a stranded speaker wire is better than a solid wire, even if they have the same cross-sectional area.
Stranded wires will have stronger and more durable performance than solid wires. The conductivity could also be better than in the solid wire. If you opt for a stranded speaker wire, then you want to invest in one with many strands.
Can you use solid copper wire for speakers?
You can use solid copper wire for speakers. Copper is a widely used material for speaker wires, especially because it uses low resistance and low cost.
There is no inherent problem with using solid copper wire for speakers. Some people use stranded wires for the speaker due to its flexibility and convenience.
A solid copper wire is preferred because it is more affordable, and some companies say the production cost is cheaper.
A solid speaker wire also has a much more compact diameter but this does not reduce the current it can carry.
Solid wire for speakers
In this section, we look at the best solid wires to use for your speaker setup. Below is the best solid wire for speakers:
C&E 16AWG 2 Conductor Solid Copper, Oxygen-Free Speaker Wire Cable, CNE63638
This is a pro series OFC oxygen-free solid speaker wire that uses copper material. It, however, uses high-stranded conductors to provide the sound that fills any room or atmosphere.
An oxygen-free speaker wire ensures conductivity to carry more current to the amplifier. Moreover, it reduces the strain on your electrical system.
OFC oxygen-free solid speaker wire also ensures enhanced heat absorptions and higher resistance to corrosion.
This speaker is CL2 rated for in-wall use and along floorboards. You can place them over most obstacles or hide them behind the walls.
Apart from its tier 1 manufacturing process, C&E builds this speaker with quality performance in mind. The objective, according to C&E, is to ensure “high fidelity sound quality”, “maximum conductivity” and “durability” at no additional cost.
This solid speaker wire is also heavily tested for the highest performance and reliability.
This speaker wire arrives with a hard plastic spool, which contains unused wire, and ensures convenient dispensing.
You only have to set the spool on its side to seamlessly roll out the speaker wire. To keep the wire in place, set the spool on. see on Amazon
Stranded wire for speakers
For this section, we look at some of the best stranded wires for speakers:
GearIT 14/4 Speaker Wire (100 Feet) 14 AWG Gauge
This speaker wire follows the standard tier 1 manufacturing process and uses the highest quality premium material. It is built with high fidelity sound quality in mind.
Moreover, you also get to experience maximum conductivity and durability.
This product is professionally tested by GearIT to make sure you are putting down your money for the best speaker wire.
OFC oxygen-free copper wire
Like many premium speaker wires, this copper speaker wire arrives oxygen-free. GearIT designs it using high-stranded conductors to bring you the cinematic sound experience the way the content producers want you to listen.
Speaking of the advantage of oxygen-free copper, this OFC speaker wire provides the needed conductivity that can carry more current to your amplifier.
An OFC oxygen-free speaker cable also ensures reduced strain on any electrical system you may have around. It can withstand corrosion and absorb heat.
Some stranded speaker wires are built with toughness in mind, and this GearIT speaker makes the list. It is UL CL3 rated to meet outdoor direct burial requirements. You can install this speaker cable in your wall.
Moreover, this stranded speaker wire pairs excellently with spade tips, banana plugs, or bent pin connectors when connecting the speakers to an amplifier or A/V receiver. see on Amazon
Voltive 16/2 Plenum Speaker Wire – 16 AWG/Gauge 2 Conductor
For this stranded speaker wire, Voltive uses copper material, it also uses 65 cable strands. Other important benefits packed in this speaker are:
This speaker wire is highly oxygen-free and built to reduce signal loss. Speaking of durability, you get the value for your money because this conductor is better than copper-clad aluminum (CCA) conductors.
Voltive is offering you a CL3P rated speaker wire that prevents heat and fire in your commercial low-voltage applications. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is responsible for testing this speaker cable.
Its box uses patented winding technology, reinforced handles, durable cardboard, and an improved payout hole to eliminate tangles and kinks.
The box is coated to resist water and remain durable.
The jacket printing uses UL information and foot markers to show the wire left in the box. The ripcord feature saves time by reducing the time you spend terminating wire.
Other features include dual conductors, a white jacket, 16 AWG, and a 250 ft. box. This 16-gauge speaker wire is designed to meet standards without any production compromise. see on Amazon
How do I know which speaker wire for my speakers?
The speaker wire you select for your speaker setup is important for the sound. Thus, you want to consider the following to know which speaker wire is good for your speakers:
The gauge of wire is measured by a unit known as AWG (American Wire Gauge), the lower the gauge number the thicker the wire. AWG basically refers to the copper wire thickness in the speaker cable.
A speaker wire typically ranges from 12-16 AWG, and you want to use the correct gauge when setting up your speaker.
The length of a speaker wire is another important factor to consider, it also determines the gauge you need for your speaker setup.
If you use a longer length of cable, get a thicker speaker wire. For lengths lower than 50 ft., your speaker will work well enough with 16 AWG wires. However, you may need a thicker speaker wire for higher-end speakers, or when making longer runs.
Your speaker wire must be oxygen-free to last longer. Besides, many speaker wire manufacturers use “oxygen-free” as their selling point. Your copper speaker wire should not have oxygen to prevent reduced conductivity or exposure to corrosion.
Poorly manufactured speaker wires typically have microscopic oxygen trapped in the copper. With time, the oxygen expands larger, resulting in oxidation, which reduces conductivity or damages the speaker cable.
Look out for the type of material used for the speaker wire you are purchasing. Copper is the standard material used for electrical material rating. Other materials, including zinc, aluminum, and nickel are less conductive but quite cheaper.
Some speaker wire manufacturers tend to cut costs by mixing alloys and copper during production. Regardless of the alloy percentage, there would be a significantly reduced conductivity, which results in poor sound quality.
Look out for customer coverage, including the return policy and customer support. You want the best for your money, so be sure to buy a speaker wire with a warranty label.