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Thread: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

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    Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    I'm about to install some outdoor speakers on the far side of my pool (from the house). It's about a 250 foot run from the amp to the speakers. Does anyone have any advice for the proper speaker gauge?

    The local Paradigm dealer was recommending 12 or even 9 gauge, which he sells for $4/foot!!! I checked out what an electronics big box store had and the largest they had was 16 gauge. The guy in there told me that with the low resistance and efficencies of modern speakers, you didn't need to go larger than 16 gauge. He said he's been in the home theather design business for 30 years (to give credibility to his statement).

    So what does anyone think? Is 16 gauge big enough for a 250 foot cable run?
    700 sq. ft./30,000 gal, gunite pool; 48 SF DE filter; 1.5 HP pump; Salt Water Generator; Solar Heat

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    Voodoo_Pool's Avatar
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Just like filters, speaker gauge is better Bigger! If bigger yields a response from the nieghbors...then good job!

    Bigger is better...having 'inhereted' a less than optimal system from the former owner. Pay for quality...it will pay you back!
    22,000 gallons "L" shaped with spillway spa; Hayward 4820 DE; IG Vinyl; 2000 ppm salt; 50 ppm Borates; liquid chlorine; Polaris w/ booster; TF-100 Test Kit w/SpeedStir

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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Hey, here's an idea for you... I've done this on high-powered systems and it WORKS. (I was a sound engineer for a band for 7 years, and owned a roller rink for more than 20).

    Get stranded electrical wire from your Home Depot / Lowe's / etc. It's far cheaper. The bigger gauge the better but 14 would be minimum IMO. You could go up to 10 gauge if you wanted. MAKE SURE YOU GET STRANDED, NOT SOLID. If you are burying it, you can even get the stuff for outdoor use.
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Wow that's a very long run. I'd definitely get the heaviest gauge wire you're willing buy. Like RobbieH said, stranded will make life a lot easier. Also, don't sweat the expensive wire gimmicks, home depot/lowes etc... is going to be fine.

    Here is a link that a number of folks on home theater forums reference when it comes to speaker wire gauge/general info http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm. Scroll down a little you'll see a chart that reads "Maximum Wire Lengths For TWO CONDUCTOR Copper Wire"

    I think 250 is beyond the recommend distance for 10 gauge but close. Frankly they don't generally recommend going over 50ft, but there's a big difference between a critical space like high end listening room/home theater and a backyard pool deck. You'll probably be fine with just going with the heaviest gauge wire you're willing to buy.
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    If you go 10 gauge, just tell them at the hardware store you need X amount of feet of 10/2 electrical wire. It won't be cheap. I did a quick search online and 250' is $150 or so. BUT, that's a lot less than $4 a foot!!
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Well, my dh ran wire for our pool and it was about 100 ft. He used low voltage landscape lighting wire and it was a lot cheaper. Not sure what the gauge is .We have Boston Acoustic speakers and it sounds great!
    27,000 gal freeform, 3ft.-7.5 ft., 675 sq.ft., 50 sq. ft. 18" raised spa w/ 2 hp blower, 60% Color quartz plaster, Hayward 450 sq. ft. cartridge filter, Hayward 2hp 2 speed pump, 400,000 BTU propane heater, SWG, Goldline PS 8, Hayward Phantom cleaner

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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Wow! Thanks for the quick responses folks!!!
    700 sq. ft./30,000 gal, gunite pool; 48 SF DE filter; 1.5 HP pump; Salt Water Generator; Solar Heat

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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    I've also used low voltage cable and it seems to work fine. I think it was 14 ga, but for a long run like you are talking, 12ga would be better. This should be cheaper than what you were quoted. Just try to maintain polarity between the L/R pair.

    250 over any cable at speaker levels is always problematic. This is due to the low impedance of your speakers (probably 8 ohms). Relative to that 8 ohm load, your cable resistance starts to become more and more of a problem over increased length. An alternative is to run high impedance line pre-amp outs and use an old stereo receiver aux channel to drive your outdoor speakers. For this, you could easily get away with twisted pair (e.g. in Cat5). Better yet would be to use baluns that balance the signal to the extra receiver.
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    You could also run a 70 volt line with transformers at the amp and speakers like used in PA systems with VERY long wire runs. This would allow you to use smaller gauge wire, but the cost of the transformers and smaller wire could add up to the same as just using larger wire.
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    I think 14 ga wire would be fine. Look at http://monoprice.com. They have great prices and quality stuff. Built out my media center with their wire and wall plates, and then did it again for the pool just a couple of weeks ago. The have the CL2 rated 14 ga wire for way cheaper than you can get it anywhere else.
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Run the same wire you are running for low voltage wiring. Should be more like 1$/foot.
    Insane to spend more.
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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    Quote Originally Posted by shakenbake
    Run the same wire you are running for low voltage wiring. Should be more like 1$/foot.
    Insane to spend more.
    IMO $1 per foot is insane $.30-.50 is my happy place.

    I could argue speakers in a controlled environment COULD sound better with better cables, but outdoor speakers it's a complete and total waste to buy good cable.
    20X40 30,000 gallon gunite pool

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    Re: Wire gauge for long speaker runs?

    I'm putting in a pair of speakers soon myself, though mine will only be 90' away. I'm going by these recommendations:

    http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm#wiretable (Edit: Puffin, I see you referenced that site too....I need to read more before posting.)

    There's lot's of technical stuff on that site too if you are into that.

    I have an 8 ohm impedance pair of speakers so I'm going to use the same 12 gage wire I used for my landscape lighting.
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