Best Speaker Wire
Speaker wire, whether rated for use in-walls, outdoor, or indoor-only, all has the same purpose: carrying audio signals from an amplifier, receiver, or radio to one or more loudspeakers. In theory, any wire designed for carrying electricity will work. The reality is that speaker wire is designed for audio, and is constructed differently. The outer jacket of speaker wire is marked for polarity to help ensure you connect speakers in phase (a pair of out of phase speakers will sound thin due to bass frequencies being canceled out). Speaker wire also uses purer, higher-grade copper which is more consistent in its electrical properties. Some companies make fanciful claims about this and that technology, but in general, thicker is better in terms of wire gauge and insulation thickness.
Our reviews cover three types of speaker wire. Indoor speaker wire is for general use in the home, and includes wire that some could consider audiophile. In-wall speaker wire is rated for safe routing inside of walls and has a level of fire resistance. Outdoor speaker wire is suitable for direct burial and is also designed to resist damage from heat, cold, moisture, and UV. There is nothing stopping you from using outdoor wire indoors or vice versa, but it just makes sense to use the right tool for the job at hand.
Best Indoor Speaker Wire:
Speaker wire is important for an obvious reason: it carries the electrical signal to your speakers from your amplifier or receiver. An electrician will tell you that any insulated wire can deliver current. But cable thickness, insulation, length, and other factors can affect how much of the pure audio signal gets to your speakers.
When it comes to speaker wire, the general rule of thumb is "thicker is better," especially in systems with long wire runs, or with speakers that demand lots of power. Higher gauge wire with more individual strands can handle more current and has less signal loss. Higher grade insulation, often called the jacket, can help prevent external electromagnetic fields from introducing noise or distortion to the audio. That being said, lower gauge wire (16 ga) can work fine in many consumer audio systems, and is easier to install and hide. And, for those audiophiles using very low power tube amplifiers combined with super efficient speakers, thinner cables mean less electrical resistance. But that is a special case, and the subject for a future best list.
We've judged our picks for best indoor speaker wire (cable) based on gauge, price, and quality of materials used.
If you want full-fidelity sound without compromise, this is your best choice. Mogami only makes wire and cables, and their products are found in prestigious recording studios worldwide. Read Full Review
This affordable, high-quality speaker wire contains 10 gauge stranded copper conductors covered by a blue, flexible PVC jacket. It's a great choice for audiophiles on a budget. Read Full Review
Monster's 14 gauge speaker cable is a good upgrade from lower quality, thin wire. It's suitable for in-wall usage, and thick enough to deliver all the signal to your speakers. Read Full Review
Monoprice products are known for their value, and this speaker wire is no different. Its high gauge, oxygen-free copper construction offers good audio quality at a great price. Read Full Review
Best In Wall Speaker Wire:
Our in-wall speaker wire reviews encompass similar criteria to those of our assessment of indoor speaker wire, with a critical difference: any wire used in a wall simply has to be CL2, CL3, or CM rated for fire resistance. The best wire will also have aspects such as flexibility and slipperiness that make it easier to route around insulation, anchors, and other structures in a wall. But beyond that, the best in-wall speaker wire will be audibly superior to standard wire, and feature a higher-grade of copper, and other features that maximize the delivery of audio from your amplifier or A/V receiver. Our selections of in-wall speaker wire are based on conductor quality and gauge, certifications for fire resistance, and price.
Kimber Kable's offering for in-wall speaker wire is an audiophile's delight. It's a four-conductor system (per speaker) using high-grade copper for signal purity, summing up to the equivalent of 12 gauge conductors. The jacket is CL2 rated, and designed for ease of routing in walls and tight spaces. It's our top pick, for obvious reasons. Read Full Review
FLX/SLiP speaker wire from AudioQuest brings audiophile-quality sound to any room. This wire uses their concentric packed special LGC (long grain copper) conductors enveloped by a slick CL3-rated jacket. This is an outstanding cable for in-wall use, and might be your top choice depending on budget and needs. Read Full Review
With 12 gauge 100 percent oxygen-free copper conductors, a CL3-rated jacket, and high flexibility for routing, this excellent speaker wire from KnuKonceptz is worthy of your consideration. It's a wire for golden ears, at a price that doesn't break the bank. Read Full Review
Monster XPHPBIG speaker cable provides a good solution for in-wall or standard usage. It has a CL3-rated jacket to ensure proper resistance to flame, and all-copper conductors designed for high fidelity sound without phase issues. The Monster brand is ubiquitous, and you really cannot go wrong buying their speaker wire or other products. Read Full Review
Pi Manufacturing's in-wall speaker wire provides an inexpensive option for safely routing good quality speaker wire in your walls. The conductors are 14 gauge and 100 percent copper, and the outer jacket has the higher CM (communications grade) rating. Check this one out if you have a basic A/V setup. Read Full Review
Best Outdoor Speaker Wire:
If you want to have music outside, you'll need to have some speakers outside. Wireless is an option, of course, but you'll have many more choices if you use wired speakers.
Many indoor/outdoor systems have long wire runs that are 50 feet or longer. The speaker wire will likely be exposed to moisture, large differences in temperature from summer to winter, UV radiation, and perhaps even vermin. With that said, thick, low-loss conductors and, tough UV-resistant coverings are a must. A CL-3 rating is a good starting point. And the reality is that outdoor listening is not the same as listening to a half-speed mastered LP in your living room. Thus, our best outdoor speaker wire selections are based on wire gauge (thickness), jacket toughness, and price.
Suitable for direct burial or exposure to the elements, this speaker wire with thick oxygen-free copper conductors is the way to go. It's a high quality wire that should satisfy audiophiles wanting outdoor spaces augmented with music. Read Full Review
With a very tough and water resistant outer jacket, JSC Wire 14 AWG direct burial speaker wire will allow you to setup an outdoor listening space without worrying about wire exposed to the elements. It is a good choice where the wire will be hidden either underground or behind trim. Read Full Review
This tough speaker wire from West Penn can handle weather and moisture extremes, and offers thick 12 gauge conductors for superior signal transfer. This is high quality wire. But if you need a wire that will blend into the background, or require audiophile-grade copper, there are better choices. Read Full Review
Theater Solutions CL3 rated speaker wire is suited for both in-wall and direct burial use, and is flexible enough for more difficult routing involving tight curves and bends. It uses thinner conductors than our higher rated picks, but in many cases might be exactly what you need. Read Full Review
Monster's S14-2-DB outdoor speaker wire is a quality product for bringing your speakers and music outside. This is a two-conductor wire that is suitable for most outdoor setups, with an attractive look that should blend in well when cables are visible. Read Full Review