Car Audio Speaker Wire Gauge Guide
Are you unsure about choosing the right gauge wire for your car audio speaker?
Relative thickness of wire gauges is the first thing to consider. Thick wire is recommended for long wire runs, high power applications, and low-impedance speakers. For relatively short runs and speakers from about 8 ohm speakers and up, a 16 gauge wire should suffice.
Like everything else when you want the perfect car stereo system, however, there are several factors to consider.
If you need to know more, this car audio speaker wire gauge guide will help you.
What does gauge mean in relation to wire (AWG)?
Wire differs in thickness and capabilities. Different sized wires have different capabilities and should be used for specific jobs.
Wire has been sorted into different categories according to its thickness. The different sizes are known as gauges.
This generally refers to the diameter of the wire. The smaller the gauge, the thicker the wire will be.
The most common wiring system standard is the American Wire Gauge Standard (AWG). AWG has been in use since 1857 and is used worldwide to regulate the capabilities and thickness of a wire.
The British Standard Wire Gauge System (SWG) is also well-known internationally, but over the years, the AWG has become the standard of choice.
When you buy wire, it is important to make sure that it has an AWG measuring. Unfortunately, some producers don’t follow the AWG standard.
This can be a problem. If a producer doesn’t follow the AWG there is a chance that you could buy a 3 gauge wire and actually be buying a 6 gauge wire inside a 3 gauge jacket.
So make sure that the wire has an AWG measuring. This way you will definitely know what you are buying.
Check out this Wire Gauge Chart for a guide on all other devices in your stereo system.
Speaker cable types
There are a variety of speaker cable types that you can choose from. Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) is definitely the best option.
The copper in the OFC cables is a great conductor of electricity. You can be assured of excellent audio sound in car audio systems because OFC cables deliver maximum energy to speakers and amplifiers.
This cable works particularly well inside the engine bay, where it can be exposed to heat and damp. The small amount of tin in OFC cables helps to reduce corrosion of the cable in the long run.
The strand count of a wire refers to the number of individual strands that are interwoven together. These are all woven together to make a single conductor.
Two major benefits of using wire with individual strands over a solid wire are:
- Durability. Wires with individual strands are stronger and longer lasting than solid wires. Thanks to their numerous different strands, if one strand breaks you won’t experience a big loss in power transmission.On the other hand, if even a single wire in a solid wire gets busted, the power handling can decrease significantly.
- Flexibility. If you use a wire with individual strands instead of a solid wire, you will find it to be more flexible.This is very helpful because the wire can be curved and bent to your desire when installing it. Solid wires are very difficult to bend in any direction and can be difficult to install.
Speaker wire gauge chart
In most cases: 18, 16, or 14 gauge OFC will be plenty for car speakers. 12 or 14 gauge is best for long wire runs, high power applications, and low-impedance speakers.
For short runs to 8 ohm speakers, 16 gauge wire will usually do just fine, but for the same length runs with 2 or 4 ohms you’ll need down to 14 or even 10 gauge.
Check out this speaker wire chart for with your distance and load (resistance) for a more accurate estimate.
What gauge speaker wire for subwoofer
Using the wrong speaker wire is a sure way to dampen your subwoofer’s performance. It could cause humming and lead to a lengthy process of troubleshooting.
This is why it is very important to use the correct gauge wire for your subwoofer. As mentioned already, subwoofers typically use lower gauge wire.
The most common speaker wire gauges for subwoofers are 16, 14, and 12. These dual conductor wires carry positive and negative polarity and are by far the best to use for crisp, clear sound.
When choosing a gauge, it is better to round up than to round down in size. Using an 18 gauge wire when you need a 14 gauge wire will result in poor performance from your subwoofer.
Running a slightly bigger wire than what you need will not affect the performance of your subwoofer. Using an excessively large gauge wire, however, can be a waste of money.
For more information, read Car Audio Wire Gauge Guide, it covers all grounding and power cables and other audio devices.
Does speaker wire affect sound quality?
Yes and no. For low wattage systems – No. But the resistance that the speaker will offer to the current flowing through the cable and the distance it needs to travel are two very important things to keep in mind.
The better quality wire the more power can pass through and provide cleaner sound.
Is lower gauge speaker wire better?
No, lower gauge speaker wire is not necessarily better. It is better to use thicker wires over long distances, but the distance covered for a car’s audio system is relatively short.
A 16 gauge wire should work just fine for distances up to 100 ft. Lower gauge speaker wire will not offer better audio sound.
Can you run a speaker wire next to a car’s power wire?
Yes, you can run a speaker wire next to a car’s power wire. The idea that you can’t run a speaker wire next to a car’s power wire is a myth and untrue.
Having a central ground point for all your wires is more important. By grounding them all at one specific point you prevent any noise disturbance.
How many watts can stock speaker wire handle?
Stock speaker wire can handle up to 75W. This is sufficient for general use, but if you are looking for more wattage, you will need to replace your wire with a thicker gauge.
I am a passionate and skilled car audio enthusiast with 15 years of experience in the industry. My journey started when I replaced my first set of factory car speakers, sparking a deep love for high-quality sound. Since then, I have worked as a representative for renowned brands like Kenwood and Alpine.
With a background in both retail and distribution, I have developed a comprehensive understanding of the car audio market. Currently a certified (MECP) installer in the Mobile Electronics industry, my expertise lies in delivering top-notch audio installations. My knowledge, coupled with my genuine passion, makes me the go-to professional for all car audio needs.