How far can you run your speaker wires (the truth!) - BoomSpeaker (2023)

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When hosting indoor or outdoor events, you need speakers that allow you to broadcast audio to a large audience with minimal effort. But how far can you run speaker cables? Will your cables be able to carry sound over long distances without significant loss of quality? This article explains the challenges of using long speaker cables.

The maximum speaker cable length depends on the cable gauge and impedance (resistance in ohms Ω) of the speaker. Speaker size doesn't matter.

The maximum length of speaker cable must be governed by a rule that states that the total resistance of the cable must be less than 5% of the impedance (resistance) of the speaker. For example, if your speaker is rated for 8 ohms, you can run 18-gauge wire up to 32 feet, 16-gauge wire up to 48 feet, 14-gauge wire up to 80 feet, and 12-gauge wire. feet tall.

Below is a table showing the maximum length you can run speaker wire, depending on speaker impedance and wire size:

wire strength
2 Ohm Last4 Ohm Last
6 Ohm Last8 Ohm Last
22AWG3 feet max6 feet max9 feet max
12 feet max
20AWG5 feet max10 feet max15 feet max20 feet max
8 feet max
16 feet max
24 feet max
32 feet max
16AWG12 feet max24 feet max36 feet max.
48 feet max.
14AWG20 feet max40 feet max60 feet **80 feet **
12AWG30 feet max60 feet **90 feet **120 feet **
10AWG50 feet max100 feet**150 feet **200 feet **

(**) 50 feet is the recommended maximum length for a standard power cord or Romex solid copper wire.

You will find that the thicker the wire and the higher the speaker impedance, the longer you can use your speaker cables.

However, please note that, as a general rule, you can use speaker cables up to 15 meters in length if you have a mixer or power amplifier in your system. Anything over 50 feet is considered too long and will degrade the overall sound quality produced by a system due to signal loss. However, if you are using devices with instrument-level output, such as guitars and keyboards, keep the speaker wire under 20 feet in length.

Let's dig deeper into this, as you'll also need to consider your speakers' impedance and cable gauge to determine how far you can safely run it.

How far can you run the speaker wire outdoors?

There are manySpeaker cable types. However, when considering how far we can run speaker wire, we are generally talking about normal 12- to 14-gauge speaker wire. determine how long you can run it.

How far can you run your speaker wires (the truth!) - BoomSpeaker (1)

This is because the speaker cable diameter helps determine if you can get maximum performance from your speakers at a given distance or length of speaker cable.

Therefore, when thinking about the length of cable to use with your external speaker for maximum performance, speaker impedance and the gauge of cable to be purchased are important considerations. This simply refers to the thickness of the speaker wire in relation to the stress the speaker places on the amplifier.

More specifically, its sound propagates inside the cable as a form of electrical charge. The thicker the wire, the better the sound quality it produces. The standard wire gauge you can get is; 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 AWG.

“AWG” refers to theamerican wire gauge, which is a metric used to evaluate wire gauge - the lower the number, the thicker the wire, i. H. 12 AWG is thicker than 16 AWG.

Impedance also plays an important role, as the higher the impedance, the more resistance the speakers have to electrical current. This means that higher impedance speakers will have a harder time reproducing weak signals than lower impedance speakers, all else being equal.

Below is a table showing the length of speaker cable you can use, depending on your speakers' impedance and cable gauge.

Speaker wire spacing vs. gauge and impedance

speaker wire meter4 ohm speaker6 ohm speaker8 ohm speaker
12 AWG speaker wire60 feet90 feet120 feet
14 AWG speaker wire40 feet60 feet80 feet
16 AWG speaker wire24 feet36 feet48 feet
18 AWG speaker wire16 feet24 feet32 feet

How far can you run the internal speaker wire?

The first point to note here is the use of ratings, ie H. UL, CL2, and CL3 ratings. These ratings are specifications that have certified these speaker cables for indoor use.How far can you run your speaker wires (the truth!) - BoomSpeaker (2)

The question you might want to ask is; What really makes these speaker cables different?

Like external speakers, internal speaker cables are also classified by wire gauge relative to speaker impedance, which means that the distance to run internal cables is also a factor in cable thickness. .

What makes these cables suitable for indoor use, however, is the certification that indoor heat or proximity to flammable appliances will not put you at risk. Also remember that you will likely beRoute speaker cables under rugsor inside walls and therefore must be thick enough to withstand compression and load.

Could the speaker cable be too long?

A direct answer is yes. The speaker wire may be too long, depending on the speaker resistance and the gauge of the speaker wire.

How far can you run your speaker wires (the truth!) - BoomSpeaker (3)

For example, using an 18 AWG cable with a speaker impedance of 8 ohms for a distance of up to 15 meters may be excessive.

The effect of this wire gauge will result in poor sound output or even distorted sound output. Another effect can be putting too much pressure on the wire, which can lead to overheating.

Speaker wire gauge vs. distance

As mentioned earlier, the total runtime of a speaker cable depends on the thickness of the cable. The American Wire Gauge size of speakers you most often get is:

● 10
● 12
● 14
● 16
● 18

These wires are down gauge, meaning the lower the AWG number, the thicker it is.

But that thickness is a package that helps the sound wave travel further and with better quality. However, to determine the range of this meter, you need to understand the effect of speaker impedance.

Using the 8 ohm speaker as an example, the maximum distance that 10 AWG speaker wire (the thickest) can reach is 200 feet/speaker. So if you're trying to go further, you may need to hook up more speakers.

Minimum speaker cable length

To answer that directly, there are none. While there is a maximum length that the speaker wire can be, there is no minimum length that it can be.

You are free to choose the cable length as long as it falls within the thickness to impedance ratio limit. The other consideration, however, is using Bluetooth or other wireless connections that don't require any kind of speaker wires to connect the speakers.

How far can you run 14 gauge speaker wire?

14 gauge speaker wire is medium gauge wire, but how far it will go depends on the speaker it is being used with.

This is because the speaker's impedance determines the pressure it exerts on the amplifier, a condition that determines how far the sound travels.

There are three common types of speaker impedance that you will encounter, including the 4 ohm speaker impedance; Speakers with 6 ohm impedance; and the speaker with impedance of 8 ohms.

So, if you determine the distance a 14-gauge speaker will travel using the three common speaker impedances, the result will be:

● 40 feet for a 4 ohm speaker impedance
● 60 feet for a 6 ohm speaker impedance
● 80 feet for an 8 ohm speaker impedance

How far can you run 16 gauge speaker wire?

Just like we said about 14-gauge speaker wire, the length of a 16-gauge speaker wire depends on the impedance of the speaker you connect it to.

This means that to properly decide the length of 16 gauge cable, you must first look at the speaker impedance. Using the three common speaker impedances, i. H. 4, 6 and 8 ohms, the maximum distance is therefore:

● 24 feet to 4 ohms
● 36 feet to 6 ohms
● 48 feet to 8 ohms

Could the speaker wire be too thick?

The simple answer is no! Your speaker cable can never be too thick. The thicker the wire, the better for your use, as this will help you reduce resistance, which also contributes to better sound quality.

Speaker cable length chart

Using the most common type of speaker impedance used for reference in this article, i.e. H. 8 ohms, a chart is shown below showing the maximum length for speaker wire spacing:

● For 18 gauge, the maximum length is 32 feet
● For 16 gauge, the maximum length is 48 feet
● For 14 gauge, the maximum length is 80 feet
● For 12 gauge, the maximum length is 120 feet
● For 10 gauge, the maximum length is 200 feet

How do you determine the length of speaker cable needed?

The easiest way to determine the length of speaker wire you need is with a simple trick.

Just take a regular cord, string, cable or string and run it from the source to the speakers. This provides a very accurate estimate of an accurate distance measurement. Of course, it also works whether your speakers are indoors or outdoors.

You can use this distance to determine the cable gauge you need to get the best performance from your speakers with minimal signal loss along the cable.

However, always make sure you get a length of wire that is slightly longer than you measured to avoid problems with miscalculations. so you don't needsplicing and connecting different speaker cablesand you don't needSolder different speaker wires together.

Why are the speaker cables unbalanced?

You might be wondering why speaker cables are unbalanced, considering unbalanced cables run the risk of picking up noise and causing signal quality issues.

An unbalanced cable is simply a cable that is constructed in such a way that it does not shield against interference or noise. However, balanced cables offer this protection.

How far can you run your speaker wires (the truth!) - BoomSpeaker (4)

So why aren't the speaker cables balanced to avoid interference/noise and signal loss?

Well, unbalanced cables are really good for devices and instruments that use an instrument-level output, like guitars, basses, and keyboards. However, as the signal spreads out further, up to 25 feet and beyond, it picks up a significant amount of noise and becomes very weak.

The advantage of speaker wire, however, is that it is often used with systems that offer significant amplification or amplification. This means that the signal from devices such as power amps and mixers in your system will be amplified. Therefore, the signal can be much larger than the signal coming from an instrument cable.

In many cases, if the signal is sufficiently amplified, the noise on a 20-foot unbalanced cable (without amplification) is about the same as on a 50-foot amplified cable.

In other words, the signal on the 50-foot cable is much larger than the 20-foot cable, but it also contains the same amount of noise.

On the 50-foot cable with amplification, by the time the signal passes through the amplifier and reaches the speaker cable, the signal-to-noise ratio is much better than at the instrument level. In that case, we wouldn't have to worry about signal loss over long cables.


Maximum speaker cable length is determined by speaker impedance and cable gauge. The thicker the wire and the higher the speaker impedance, the further you can run the speaker cables.

We hope this article can help you find the best option the next time you choose a cable length for your indoor and outdoor speaker.

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