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When putting together a speaker system for your vehicle, you may be buying all of the components separately. An important but often overlooked component is speaker wire.
You might think that all wiring used for car audio is the same, but there are several factors that can impact the quality of your sound system. Don’t overlook or underestimate the value of good car audio speaker wire.
Failing to get the right speaker wire can result in distortion and poor sound quality. Signal interference due to low quality wiring is something to be avoided at all costs. Let’s look at the factors you need to considered.
What to look for in the best speaker wire for car audio
The quality of the wire will affect how long it lasts and how well it carries a signal. Moat wire are made of copper wire. Copper is resistant to corossion, has minimal resistance, and is very durable.
Another enhancement for wires is silver-coated connectors. These provide better sound quality than simple standard connectors. They are cheaper and less resistant than gold-coated connectors.
Many experts agree that thicker wire is better for sound quality. It less resistant but tends not to bend as easily as larger gauge wire. Some high quality thick wires will be designed to bend more easily than others.
Take note that the gauge must be compatible with your speaker. The AWG (American Wire Gauge) inscription (e.g. 12AWG) can be found easily on the spool. The lower the number, the thicker the wire.
The distance and directness of your receiver to your speakers will influence cost and sound quality. Speakers should be positioned relatively close to the receiver in order to maximize responsiveness. This can be achieved by simply using less wire. Furthermore, it uses your wire as cost-effectively as possible. Wires normally come in spools of 50 or 100 feet, so make sure you plan for how much will be needed before deciding on your purchase of car audio wire.
Resistance and Interference
The simple rule is: the less resistance, the better the sound quality. Ohms measure resistance. A higher number of Ohms means more resistance. The protective covering (the jacket) prevents sound interference and distortion. It also protects the wire from damage by physical forces.
It’s likely that you’ll need to bend you speaker wires around corners or squeeze it between other parts when setting it up. Thicker wire tends to be less flexible. So gauge is a consideration when thinking about flexibility. High quality thicker gauge wires should still be flexible enough to suit your needs without compromising sound quality.
In terms of the connection from your wiring to your speakers, the material used at this point is key. If the material is not suitable, your sound quality will undoubtedly suffer. For best results, choose copper or silver-plated due to their excellent conductivity.
10 Best Wires For Car Audio
1) InstallGear Soft Touch 14 Gauge Cable
The InstallGear 14 Gauge AWG 100ft uses a compact wrapping that makes it easy to store and unwind from its spool. Its durable jacket offered in black and blue allows it to be easily maneuvered through the inside of a vehicle during installation. Copper Clad Aluminum conduction makes, this wiring a great performer with high resistance for true delivery on sound quality.
- Strong, durable design
- Large capacity for sound delivery
- Low resistance
- Easy to measure using foot markings
- Insulation is a bit thin compared with other options
2) Pyle PSC1850 18 Gauge Wire
With slightly thinner 18 gauge size, this copper coated wire offers a more flexible alternative to the 14 gauge wire without compromising sound quality. At only half the length of the previous wire, 50 feet, consider purchasing more than one spool if needed. Jacket is suitable for good insulation and protecting the integrity of the copper-coated wire inside.
- Easy to identify polarity with red marking on one wire covering
- Strong, durable jacket
- Good heat tolerance
- Thickness makes it more challenging to squeeze into tight spaces
- Shorter length spools
- Lesser quality markings on cables can scratch off
3) The Wires Zone SWC10-100 10 Gauge Cable
The lowest gauge wire in our review provides the highest power capacity and is the largest product tested. This is recommended if you plan on pumping serious power through your car audio system. Despite being the thickest wiring in our review set, this wire has decent flexibility. It’s also excellent for other electrical systems: security systems, intercom, or nurse call. Lower gauge allows use with high power capacity.cent
- Highly durable and high heat tolerance
- Heavy duty strength
- Versatile use
- Bendable, despite thickness
- Low resistance
- Less flexible that other choices
- Too thick to double the DVC wiring
4) GearIT Pro Series 12 Gauge Wire
This oxygen-free pure copper wire allows for the very best in premium sound quality for vehicle audio systems. It reduces the strain on the vehicle’s electrical system. This superior treated copper is highly recommended when you are choosing car speaker wire. This cable is able to be paired with banana plugs, spade tips, or bent pin connectors to connect your speakers to your A/V receiver or amplifier .
- Improved heat absorption and higher conductivity rating
- Best safety standard rating
- Lifetime guarantee
- Highest grade material
- Although we found no drawbacks, a small number of customers commented that the wire was thinner than expected
5) Mediabridge 12 Gauge Wire
The Mediabridge 12AWG is superior quality as it is constructed of 99.99 oxygen free copper. It’s jacket insulation is constructed with the highest quality, offering pure sound delivery. It’s safe for various uses – Able to be safely used in buildings as well as vehicles. It easily fits with a host of connecting modules: spade tips, bent pins or banana plugs. This makes it easy to work with for customized projects.
- Highly durable and effective shielding
- Very flexible
- Best copper quality available
- One casing contains both wires
- Red and black wire for easy polarity identification
- Single casing is slightly loose around wires
6) Monoprice Access Series 14 Gauge Wire
Having a 99.95% oxygen-free composition, this is one of the products with the best conduction capability. 100 feet of 14 gauge wire come on an easy-to-use, neatly packaged spool. The white jacket surrounding the wire is sturdy, protecting it from external wear and tear.
- 99.95 oxygen-free copper
- lightweight and easy to handle
- Durable jacket
- wires are color coded
- Cannot be used for marine applications (not tined)
- Somewhat bulky casing
7) AmazonBasics Audio Stereo Speaker 14 Gauge Wire
One clear channel and one white striped channel make polarity easy to identify, allowing for quick and easy installations. This is one of the most flexible wires we found, easily bending without damaging internal copper wires. The jacket covering the wires is pvc plastic, preventing damage or signal interference from outside sources. This product is guaranteed to last for decades without compromised signal quality.
- Highly durable
- Great flexibility
- Easy to identify polarity
- Easily cuttable
- Good conductivity
- Sometimes tangles when respooling
- Thinner jacket
8) Tyumen Speaker Wire 18 Gauge Wire
Rather than using color coating to identify the different wires for polarity, this product has different shapes of the jackets, squared and round. Tyumen’s speaker wire is created with 99.95% pure copper wiring, divided into 52 strands per wire. Being AWG 18, this thinner wire is easy to route around corners and obstacles without compromising sound quality. This is available in a 40 foot and 100 foot cable. Don’t get stuck with less than you think you’ll need.
- Unique polarity identification
- Maximum conductivity and durability
- Very flexible
- Somewhat pricier than other options
9) Extreme Professional Grade 14 Gauge Wire
Durable car audio wiring made from pure copper rather than copper-coated aluminum. This stranded copper speaker wire has a PVC jacket with a white stripe on one casing for identifying polarity. It is especially promoted for use in vehicles rather than inside walls. Several lengths of wire available, from 50 feet up to 500 feet.
- Superior conductivity
- Sturdy jacket casing
- Domestically manufactured
- Vehicle recommended
- Multiple spool lengths
- Slightly less flexible that other choices
10) Maxbrite High Performance 12 Gauge
This was the wire with the highest percentage of pure copper. Made of 99.99% oxygen free copper, this product delivers a high quality signal from receiver to speakers. A combination of 41 Strands per channel provides undistributed signals. UL Safety Certified, NEC 725 Class 2 Rated for Home and Commercial Use. It’s marked every 2 feet for easy measuring and precise cutting.
- Top quality material
- Clear sound delivery
- High safety certification
- Easy to measure
- Highest rated option by customers on Amazon
- Most expensive option on our list
Frequently Asked Questions
Does strand count matter?
The short answer to this question that the number of strands does not affect sound quality. Strands are the individual metal “fibers” that are combined to make up the wire. However, if you need a wire that will require more flexibility, a high strand count will provide this feature.
Does Oxygen-free matter?
Not by a significant degree for vehicle audio systems. Oxygen-free copper wires are composed almost entirely of copper. The normal purity of this type of speaker wire is 99.95% pure. This makes them more conductive than standard copper wiring. The alternative is aluminum wire which is covered with a copper sheathing. It functions in a similar way as the pure copper version, but is not quite as conductive.
Copper wires that contain this lower level of oxygen also have a tendency to corrode more easily. That not only leads to breakage, but also reduces the conductivity (and thus sound quality) of the sound system over the long term. This can happen if the wiring is openly exposed to air. The slightly higher conductivity means a slightly better sound quality.
What matters Most?
On top of the features mentioned, if there is a simple guideline to be given, it is this: ultimately, reducing resistance in the top concern when choosing your new wires for vehicle sound systems, and as previously mentioned, the bigger the gauge, the more resistance. Simply put, this is why thicker wires are generally recommended over thinner ones. Because most vehicles will have wires run less than 50 feet, 12-18 gauge wire is fine.
What are some safety tips?
Never run wiring on the outside or underside of a vehicle. This can result in serious damage to your vehicle, harm to users, and the wiring itself.
Be careful when wiring around sharp metal edges. It’s a good idea to tie wiring down or use grommets to safely secure wiring so it won’t move around inside the vehicle.
Sidney U. Harman has over 10 years of experience working in the AVL industry. He originally cut his teeth as a stagehand in the OKC area before moving to Denton for university. After learning to run the boards, he developed a solid passion for sound. His obsession with car audio developed 5 years ago as a natural progression from commercial AVL.