This is the answer to the question: “How far can you run speaker wires?”
The “how far can you run outdoor speaker wire” is a question that has been asked for years. The answer is, it depends on how long the wire is and how much current it carries.
We earn money from qualifying purchases made on our website as an Amazon Associate.
If you’re planning an outdoor or indoor event, you’ll need speakers that can convey audio to a huge crowd with little effort. But how far can your speaker cords be run? Will your cables be able to transmit sound over long distances without significant quality degradation? The difficulties of running lengthy speaker cables are discussed in this article.
If your system includes a mixer or power amp, you may usually run speaker cables up to 50 feet. Anything more than 50 feet is deemed too lengthy and, as a result of signal loss, will degrade the overall quality of the sound generated by the system. Keep the speaker cord under 20 feet if you’re utilizing equipment with instrument-level output, such as guitars and keyboards.
Let’s take a closer look at this since the impedance of the speakers and the gauge of the wire are important factors to consider when determining how far you can reliably run it.
How Long Can Outdoor Speaker Wires Be Run?
Speaker cables come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, when we talk about how far we can run speaker cables, we usually mean conventional 12 – 14 gauge speaker wires. However, the gauge size of your speaker wires must be taken into account when determining how far you may run them.
This is because the gauge of your speaker wires determines whether you can get the most performance out of your speakers at a certain distance or length of speaker cable.
As a result, while deciding on the length of wire to utilize with your outdoor speaker for optimal performance, the impedance of your speaker and the gauge of wire to buy are important factors to consider. This simply refers to the thickness of your speaker wire in proportion to the load placed on the amp by the speaker.
More specifically, your voice passes through the cable as an electrical charge. As a result, the thicker the cable, the greater the sound quality it creates. The most common wire gauges are 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 AWG.
The “AWG” stands for American Wire Gauge, which is a measure for measuring wire thickness. The lower the number, the thicker the wire, therefore 12 AWG is thicker than 16 AWG.
The impedance of the speakers is also essential since the higher the impedance, the more resistance the speakers have to electrical current. With all else being equal, higher impedance speakers will have a tougher difficulty playing faint signals than lower impedance speakers.
The table below indicates the length of speaker wire that you may use based on the impedance of the speakers and the wire gauge.
Distance between speaker wires vs. gauge and impedance
How Long Can Indoor Speaker Wires Be Run?
The first thing to notice is the usage of ratings, such as UL, CL2, and CL3. These certifications show that these speaker cables are safe to use inside.
What is the true difference between these speaker cables, you may wonder?
Indoor speaker cables are appraised by their wire gauge relation to the speaker’s impedance, much like outdoor speaker wires, which implies that the distance for running the indoor wires is likewise a determinant of how thick the wire is.
The assurance that the inside heat or proximity to combustible home equipment will not put you in risk is what makes these wires acceptable for use indoors. Remember that your speaker cables will most likely be routed beneath carpets or through walls, so they must be robust enough to bear pressure and strain.
Is it possible for a speaker wire to be too long?
Yes, there is a straight solution. Depending on the speaker’s resistance and wire gauge, your speaker cable may be too lengthy.
For example, for a distance of up to 50 feet, utilizing an 18 AWG wire with an 8-ohm speaker impedance may be too lengthy.
This wire gauge’s influence will result in a poor sound output or even distorted sound. Another impact might be that too much pressure is applied to the wire, causing it to overheat.
Distance vs. Speaker Wire Gauge
As previously mentioned, the length of a speaker wire is entirely dependent on the thickness of the wire. The following are the most common American Wire Gauge speaker sizes:
ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, and eighteen
The thickness of these wires varies in decreasing sequence, i.e. the lower the AWG number, the thicker the wire.
However, this thickness acts as a package, allowing sound waves to travel farther and with higher quality. However, you must first comprehend the influence of speaker impedance before determining the distance this gauge may travel.
Using an 8-ohm speaker as an example, the greatest distance a 10 AWG speaker wire (the thickest) can reach is 200 feet per speaker, so if you want to go farther, you’ll need to connect to additional speakers.
Speaker Cable Length Minimum
To put it bluntly, there isn’t any. Although a speaker wire has a maximum length, there is no minimum distance it can go.
You may choose how short the cable distance is as long as it stays under the gauge-impedance ratio requirement. However, utilizing Bluetooth or other wireless connections that do not need any kind of speaker cord to connect the speakers is another possibility.
How far can 14 gauge speaker wire be run?
The thickness of a 14 gauge speaker wire is typical, however how far it will travel depends on the speaker it is used with.
This is because the speaker’s impedance dictates the amount of pressure it exerts on the amplifier, which in turn decides how far the sound will travel.
The 4-ohms impedance speaker, the 6-ohms impedance speaker, and the 8-ohms impedance speaker are the three most typical forms of speaker impedance you’ll encounter.
Using the three typical speaker impedances to calculate the distance a 14 gauge speaker would travel, the following is the result:
a 4-ohm speaker impedance of 40 feet, a 6-ohm speaker impedance of 60 feet, and an 8-ohm speaker impedance of 80 feet
How far can 16 gauge speaker wire be run?
As with 14 gauge speaker wire, the distance a 16 gauge speaker wire will travel is determined by the impedance of the speaker to which it is attached.
This implies that before deciding how far to run the 16 gauge wire, you must first determine the speaker’s impedance. As a result, the maximum distance may be calculated using the three most common speaker impedances: 4, 6, and 8 ohms.
24 feet for 4-ohms, 36 feet for 6-ohms, and 48 feet for 8-ohms
Is it possible for speaker wire to be too thick?
The answer is a resounding nay! There is no such thing as too much speaker cable. In fact, the thicker the wire, the better it is for your usage since it reduces resistance, which improves sound quality.
Chart of Speaker Wire Lengths
A chart illustrating the maximum length for the speaker wire distance is presented below, using the most common kind of speaker impedance that has been used as a reference in this article, i.e. 8-ohms:
The maximum length for 18 gauge is 32 feet; the maximum length for 16 gauge is 48 feet; the maximum length for 14 gauge is 80 feet; the maximum length for 12 gauge is 120 feet; and the maximum length for 10 gauge is 200 feet.
How do you figure out how much speaker wire you’ll need?
A simple method is the easiest approach to figure out how much speaker wire you’ll need.
Simply connect your source to your speakers using a standard wire, thread, chord, or rope. This will provide you with a very near approximation of the distance. It will, of course, work whether your speakers are inside or outside.
This distance may be used to calculate the wire gauge required to achieve the optimum performance from your speakers with the least amount of signal loss along the wire.
However, to prevent any complications with miscalculations, always purchase a piece of wire that is a little longer than you measure. This eliminates the need to splice and connect separate speaker wires, as well as the need to solder them together.
What Causes Unbalanced Speaker Cables?
You may be asking why speaker cables are unbalanced, given that unbalanced wires are more likely to take up noise and degrade signal quality.
An imbalanced cable is one that is constructed in such a manner that it does not offer interference or noise protection. Balanced cables, on the other hand, provide this protection.
As a result, why aren’t speaker wires balanced to reduce signal loss and interference/noise?
Unbalanced cables, on the other hand, are perfectly acceptable for gadgets and instruments that require instrument-level output, such as guitars, basses, and keyboards. However, when the signal travels farther, up to 25 feet and beyond, it picks up a lot of noise and becomes quite weak.
Speaker cables, on the other hand, are often utilized with systems that give significant gain or amplification. This implies that gadgets in your system, such as power amplifiers and mixers, will amplify the signal. As a result, the signal might be substantially greater than one received by an instrument wire.
When the signal is amplified enough, the quantity of noise in a 20′ unbalanced connection (without amplification) is sometimes comparable to that of a 50′ cable with amplification.
To put it another way, the signal in the 50-foot cable will be significantly bigger than the one in the 20-foot wire, but it will also have the same level of noise.
By the time the signal flows through the amplifier and reaches the speaker cable in the 50-foot cable with amplification, the signal-to-noise ratio will be substantially better than when it was at instrument level. We wouldn’t have to worry about signal loss over lengthy cable lengths in this instance.
A more straightforward explanation of everything in this page is that speaker cables are measured in thickness, and the thinner the cable, the better. We hope that this post will help you choose the optimal cable length for your indoor and outdoor speaker the next time you need one.
Watch This Video-
The “how far can you run 16 gauge speaker wire” is a question that has been asked for years. The truth is that it depends on the material used in the wires and how thick they are.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far can speaker wire be ran?
A: Speaker wire should be limited to no more than 100 feet.
How far can you run 18 gauge speaker wire?
A: 18 gauge speaker wire is a thin, but still heavy gauge. If you are using 14 gauge speakers, then you should be able to run about 100 feet before it starts getting too bulky for your hands to fully support the weight of the wire without straining them. It also depends on how much resistance there is from things like flooring and other objects in conductive materials that could attenuate or create interference with signal strength.
Does the length of speaker wire affect sound?
- how far can you run 14 gauge speaker wire
- maximum speaker wire length
- speaker wire length chart
- speaker wire resistance per foot
- should speaker wires be the same length