The best speaker cable


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Aug 19, 2023

The best speaker cable

If you’re unboxing your new speakers and setting up your home theater or music system, there’s one thing you should have to make sure you get the best sound quality. High-quality speaker cables make

If you’re unboxing your new speakers and setting up your home theater or music system, there’s one thing you should have to make sure you get the best sound quality. High-quality speaker cables make all the difference in speaker performance and proper placement, and there are plenty of options depending on your needs.

One of the more popular speaker cables is the AudioQuest X-2 Bulk Speaker Cable. This long-grain copper cable comes on a spool for easy installation and provides you with the cleanest, purest sound.

What to know before you buy speaker cables


Most speaker cables consist of braided copper, specifically oxygen-free or long-grain copper. This type of copper is the purest and reduces hum, noise and audio signal distortion. Sometimes the core has copper-clad aluminum (CCA), which tends to be more affordable. The third type of speaker wire material is silver, which is lower in resistance. This means you can use a thinner cable to get the same sound quality. Audiophiles tend to prefer silver wire speaker cables for this reason.

Wire gauges

You can tell the thickness of any wire by its gauge. In the United States, some companies refer to it as American Wire Gauge (AWG.) Other parts of the world have their own gauge standards, and if you need a conversion chart, these are available online. The smaller the gauge number is, the thicker the cable will be. A thicker cable provides lower resistance, so the audio will be less prone to electrical noise. Thicker cables also conduct electricity more easily, which puts less of a load on your amplifier. Common speaker wire gauges range from 12-18AWG.

Strand count

Another way to measure a cable’s thickness is in the strand count. The exposed speaker wire is actually made up of many small pieces of wire, known as strands, all twisted together. The higher the strand count, the sturdier the cable. Keep in mind that the strand count does not affect the sound quality. Sometimes, the strand count and gauge are denoted as two numbers, such as 7/16, meaning there are seven strands in a 16-gauge cable.


The center of the speaker wire, or core, is almost always copper. This is because it’s the most conductive metal. Sometimes cords have one solid piece of copper, and other times they are strands or braids. The only time you might want a solid core over a stranded core is if the cable will be outside, as solid core wire tends to be more robust.

Speaker cables features


Most speaker cables connect onto the back of the speaker. These sometimes come as a bare braided wire in a pair, also known as zip-cord speaker cables, or in a cluster of four wires. The latter is usually for a higher-end cable, and it comes with spade connectors that tighten on the speaker with a small knob.

Jacket and color coding

The jacket on the speaker cable wires is usually color-coded for positive and negative polarity. Some speaker cables connect with quarter-inch stereo plugs or RCA plugs. The jacket is also known as the shield because it shields the exposed wire from interference.

Spools and bulk cable

Speaker wires sometimes come in bulk on a spool in lengths of 25, 50 or 100 feet. If you think you might move your speakers at some point or don’t know how much wire to cut, this bulk cable can be an advantage. It also tends to be a little more affordable. However, if you know the distance needed, you can order speaker wire in precise lengths.

Speaker cables cost

Speaker cables range in price from $20-$200 depending on the length and quality of materials.

Speaker cables FAQ

Why is there a hum after I connected my speakers?

A. Double check all your connections to see if there might be an issue. Sometimes speaker hum occurs when several pieces of audio equipment are plugged into more than one outlet. This creates what’s known as a ground loop, or 60-cycle hum. Other times, it might be because the gain on the amplifier is set too high, which creates noise.

Why is polarity important with speaker cables?

A. When your speaker wires connect to the amplifier, the negative and positive sides must match or there will be reverse polarity, which can sometimes cause audio issues. This is why the speaker wire jacket is color-coded. If you notice audio issues, check to make sure the positive and negative sides match.

Which speaker cables should I get?

Best of the best speaker cables

AudioQuest X-2 Bulk Speaker Cable: available at Amazon

Our take: This 14-gauge professional-grade speaker cable comes on a spool in lengths of 30 or 50 feet.

What we like: The cable is sturdy and thin enough to add spade connectors. It has directional arrows to indicate correct signal flow and polarity from amp to speaker. It’s marked at one-foot increments for easy cutting.

What we dislike: Some feel the price is slightly high and others noted flimsy cable construction.

Best bang for your buck speaker cables

Monoprice OxygenFree Pure Bare Copper Speaker Wire: available at Amazon

Our take: This 12-gauge cable is made of 99% oxygen-free copper and easily fits a variety of connectors.

What we like: It has a color-coded jacket making it easy to identify polarity. And the plastic coating on the wires makes the wire sturdier.

What we dislike: Some users find the plastic coating makes the wire slightly hard to cut.

Honorable mention speaker cables

ELAC Sensible Speaker Cables: available at Amazon

Our take: This nylon braided 99% oxygen-free copper cable is precut to 10 feet with banana plugs on the end.

What we like: No cutting or wiring is required and setup is easy. The cables are flexible so you can route them easily.

What we dislike: They only come with banana plugs and not spade connectors or as bare wires. Some users found the price to be high for their budget. Adrian Wengenroth is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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