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Home Theater & A/V

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.

OSD 12 Gauge 2-Conductor Oxygen Free Speaker Cable

OSD 12 Gauge 2-Conductor Oxygen Free Speaker Cable

This outdoor speaker wire from OSD is the best for several reasons. It uses thick 12 gauge oxygen-free copper conductors, similar to those found in audiophile-grade indoor wire. This will keep signal loss to a minimum, and of course thicker conductors can carry more current. The outer jacket is CL3 rated for outdoor use or direct burial, and is also UV-resistant for installations where the wire is exposed to direct sunlight. The inner insulation is color-coded (red and black) to help insure you connect your speakers with proper polarity. All in all, the OSC 12 Gauge 2-Conductor Oxygen Free Speaker Cable is a great choice.

JSC Wire 14 AWG Direct Burial Underground Speaker Wire

JSC Wire and Cable's 14 gauge direct burial wire is made with 99.9 percent pure copper wire, with a high strand count in each conductor which makes it easier to bend without breaking. In most instances, 14 gauge wire will be perfectly fine unless your speaker connections cover very large distances. The outer polyethylene jacket is very tough, suitable for direct burial, and also offers some resistance to damage from UV. The inner insulation on the conductors is color coded, red and black. JSC's underground speaker wire is a great value, with the only downside being its black color - harder to hide, and will get hotter with direct exposure to sunlight.

West Penn AQ227-SEG-59 12 Gauge Aquaseal Wire

West Penn AQ227-SEG-59 12 Gauge Aquaseal Wire

West Penn 12 gauge Aquaseal wire is obviously designed to be impervious to water and moisture, and has a PVC outer jacket. PVC is much more resistant to water than is polyethylene, but is also stiffer and harder to bend. So right away, if you know you'll need to make some tight turns when running speaker wires, this may not be your best choice. The black color may also not be perfect for situations where the wires are visible.

That being said, if your setup will require that your wire runs are exposed to extreme conditions over long distances, you will want to consider using West Penn's speaker wire. The conductors are 12 gauge copper, and the cables are rated for use from -20C to 60C (-4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Theater Solutions CL3/2-100 In-Wall and Outdoor Speaker Wire

Theater Solutions CL3/2 In-Wall and Outdoor Speaker Wire might be the perfect solution for situations where wires will be run both indoors inside of walls, and underground. The jacket is CL3 rated (flame retardant) and is also suitable for burial. Theater Solutions speaker wire is also very flexible, primarily due to its 16 gauge stranded copper conductors. This is great for situations involving tight turns and routing. However, this wire will have more signal loss than speaker cable utlizing larger (12 or 14 AWG) conductors. But it might not matter unless your speakers are a great distance from your amplifier or receiver.

Monster Cable S14-2-DB EZ500 Outdoor Speaker Wire

This durable outdoor speaker wire from Monster Cable is sold primarily as a spool with 500 feet of cable. If you don't require that much you may be able to find it sold by the foot. That being said, this wire has the usual Monster Cable quality. The inner conductors are 14 gauge, but are their Monster Standard line, and not specifically noted as oxygen-free or other higher quality copper types. The outer jacket is tough enough for outdoor and direct burial use, and is also color coded for maintain correct polarity during hookup. Audiophiles might not feel this is a good choice, but other who want the reassurance of the Monster brand will be happy.

Kimber Kable - KWIK-12 In-Wall 12-Gauge Speaker Cable

The foundation of Kimber Kable KWIK 12 speaker cable is the copper conductors, designed and built in-house. Kimber makes audiophile-grade products, and this 12 AWG speaker wire will deliver all the music to your speakers. Like other upscale four-conductor cables designed for single speaker use, each set of two color-coded conductors are joined to create positive and negative leads. This concept reduces any issues with cable resonance in the strands, yielding clearer audio. The copper strands are very pure, and a superior dielectric is used to separate the leads inside the jacket.

Speaking of the jacket, it is made of a tough and very slick PVC that is CL2 rated, perfect for in-wall applications. In summary, this is a great product, with Kimber quality that maximize the music, and make installation easier.

AudioQuest FLX/SLiP Speaker Cable

AudioQuest FLX/SLiP Speaker Cable

AudioQuest FLX/SLiP speaker cable has been specially designed by AudioQuest for in-wall installations. It uses a 14 gauge version of their concentric packed copper conductors. The copper used is very pure, with larger copper strands positioned so that they do not change position within the color-coded inner jacket. This ensures that the electrical properties (capacitance, impediance) stay constant and do not influence the signal negatively. And all it takes is one look at the CL3-rated jacket to see the innovative design which makes in wall cable routing easier. If you have a high-end system, you'll want to consider this speaker wire.

KnuKonceptz CL3 In Wall Audiophile 12 Gauge Speaker Wire

As I've mentioned in other reviews, KnuKonceptz is more well-known in car audio circles, but have no doubt that their CL3 In Wall Audiophile 12 AWG speaker wire will make golden ears happy. This is a thick 12 gauge cable that utilizes 100 percent pure oxygen-free copper for maximum conductivity. Each conductor has 294 strands, making this a cable that is easier to bend and route within walls. The jacket is CL3 rated, but does not have the special profile and slipperiness of some of our other best picks in this category. Nonetheless, if your primary concerns are audiophile-grade copper and fire ratings, this is a fine choice.

Monster XPHPCIBIG100 Speaker Cable

This 14 gauge wire also appears in our category of Best Indoor Speaker Wire. It is another cable from Monster that incorporates all-copper conductors, and features patented wire construction technologies said to help promote proper phase relationships in the signal. The flexible CL3 jacket is designed for in-wall use, and, although not sleeved in a neutral color, has an attractive look that might work well when exposed in more modern decor.

Monster Cable is a well-known brand, and there is no doubt that their products are high quality. This is a good choice for many situations, but other products may perform better in terms of audio quality.

Pi Manufacturing 50ft 14AWG 2 Wire CM Rated Speaker Wire

Pi Manufacturing 50ft 14AWG 2 Wire CM Rated Speaker Wire

Pi Manufacturing is not a household name, but their CM-rated speaker wire is a product you should know if you need to run cables inside of walls. The conductors are 100 percent copper (not copper-coated aluminum), but are not the highest grade nor made with a proprietary process. Each conductor is surrounded by color-coded insulation, and the tough outer jacket is made of CM-rated PVC. The outer jacket is white which makes it blend in with light colored wood trim, and provides a clean look overall. This is a good choice if you do not have a high-end system, and simply want to get the audio effectively, and with low loss, from A to B.

Mogami W3103 Speaker Wire

Mogami cables are the choice of many audiophiles as well as professional recording studio owners. Mogami wire is also found inside the circuitry of expensive condenser and ribbon microphones, places where perfect signal transfer is key. W3103 is a 12 gauge speaker wire using their proprietary NEGLEX oxygen-free copper. Each lead is insulated in PVC, with the cable surrounded by a tough, secondary PVC jacket. This is the top choice for music lovers who want to hear every detail in the music, and don't mind paying more.

KnuKonceptz Kord Kable 10 Gauge Copper Speaker Wire

This high gauge wire is made with oxygen-free copper for maximum signal transfer, and has a thick PVC jacket with any easy-to-see black polarity stripe. This wire is very flexible which makes in-wall routing easier. Keep in mind however that this wire's round profile may not make it the best choice for running under carpets. Knukoncepts.com products were primarily developed for the demands of high-power car stereo systems. Their speaker cables a great value for the home audiophile.

Monster XPHPCIBIG100 Speaker Cable

This 14 gauge wire also appears in our category of Best Indoor Speaker Wire. It is another cable from Monster that incorporates all-copper conductors, and features patented wire construction technologies said to help promote proper phase relationships in the signal. The flexible CL3 jacket is designed for in-wall use, and, although not sleeved in a neutral color, has an attractive look that might work well when exposed in more modern decor.

Monster Cable is a well-known brand, and there is no doubt that their products are high quality. This is a good choice for many situations, but other products may perform better in terms of audio quality.

Monoprice 12AWG CL2 Rated 2-Conductor Loud Speaker Cable

If you are on a tight budget, but don't want to skimp on speaker cables, consider this 12 gauge wire from Monoprice. It features oxygen-free copper strands similar to those found in higher priced cables. It also has a C2 jacket rated for in-wall installations. And while this speaker wire does not offer some of the advanced technologies found in audiophile-grade wire, if your ears are less than golden, or your music tastes lean more toward the loud than the subtle, you may never hear the difference anyway.

AudioQuest X2 Speaker Cable

AudioQuest X2 speaker cable provides great performance for those with discriminating ears and high-resolution systems. This 14 gauge wire is made from a special LGC copper that contains fewer impurities, and uses larger strands packed concentrically that resist movement and potential breakage inside the jacket. This flat wire is a great pick for those using low- to medium-powered systems. X2 cable is perfect for baseboard and under-the-carpet runs too. However, if your speakers are a great distance from your amp or receiver, you might want to consider one of the other heavier gauge speaker wires.

Sean Dennis
I'm a freelance technical writer and editor who has been interested in music and audio for a long time. I was bitten by the audiophile bug as a child, fascinated by the turning reels on my father's Sony Reel-to-Reel Tape Deck. In college, I took courses in audio production and analog recording techniques, and participated in my college's radio station. And, I discovered the magic of tubes, acquiring a vintage Fisher KX-100 stereo tube amp that I still have today.

As a Bestcovery expert, my goal is to provide information to help you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to the enjoyment of recorded music, and to point out the features, sonics, and build quality that differentiates top notch audio gear.
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