Collection: What Size Speaker Wire Do I Need?

If you’re looking for speaker wires that simply fit your gear, that would depend significantly on your speakers and the runs you aim for in the first place. However, things get more complicated if you want better sound quality, although not everyone can hear the difference in the sound quality produced by these wires —unless, of course, you’re one of the special few! 

Generally, speakers from the 90s and newer models can take 12 GA. One of the most obvious signs that you need a different wire is if you have trouble fitting the wire in certain terminals. 

Although people generally run 12 GA, whatever the length, the general rule of thumb is 18 GA for under 6 feet, 16 GA for under 12 feet, 14 GA for under 25 feet, and 12 GA for under 50 feet. 

Types of Speaker Wires (based on thickness) and What You Need to Know

Wire thickness is represented its American Wire GA (AWG) number. Lesser numbers mean thicker wires. 

1. 12 GA Wire (12AWG)

For 12 GA wires, the lengths and power for 8 ohm speakers are:

3ft: 1679W

16ft: 315W

25ft: 202W

50ft: 101W

Lengths and power for 4 ohms speakers (12AWG):

3ft: 840W

16ft: 157W

25ft: 101W

50ft: 50W

Lengths and power for 2 ohms speakers (12AWG):

3ft: 420W

16ft: 79W

25ft: 50W

50ft: 25W

2. 14 GA Wire (14AWG)

Lengths and power for 8 ohms speaker (14AWG):

3ft: 1056W

16ft: 198W

25ft: 127W

50ft: 63W  

Lengths and power for 4 ohms speakers (14AWG):

3ft: 528W

16ft: 99W

25ft: 63W

50ft: 32W

Lengths and power for 2 ohms speakers (14AWG):    

3ft: 264W

16ft: 50W

25ft: 32W

50ft: 16W

2. 16 GA Wire (14AWG)

Lengths and power for 8 ohms speaker (14AWG):

3ft: 664W

16ft: 125W

25ft: 80W

50ft: 40W     

Lengths and power for 4 ohms speakers (14AWG):

3ft: 332W

16ft: 62W

25ft: 40W

50ft: 20W

Lengths and power for 2 ohms speakers (14AWG):    

3ft: 166W

16ft: 31W

25ft: 20W

50ft: 10W

3. 18 GA Wire (18AWG)

Lengths and power for 8 ohms speakers (18AWG):

3ft: 418W

16ft: 78W

25ft: 50W

50ft: 25W

Lengths and power for 4 ohms speakers (18AWG):

3ft: 209W

16ft: 39W

25ft: 25W

50ft: 13W

Lengths and power for 2 ohms speakers (18AWG):

3ft: 104W

16ft: 20W

25ft: 13W

50ft: 6W

With the detailed chart above, you could look at your speaker’s specs and easily see what type of speaker wire you need.

Thick vs. Thin 

12 and 14 GA wires are of the broader category compared with 18AWG wires and above. 12 and 14 GA wires are the recommended wires for long wire runs, low impedance speakers (about 4 - 6 ohms), and high power applications. 

For thinner wires (18 GA and above), 18 GA is recommended for car and home speaker wires of up to 25 ft with average power levels of 50W RMS and below; and 14 GA is recommended for long speaker runs (i.e., 100ft+) and higher power applications (2 to 4 ohms sub-woofers).

The speaker wire you need could depend on your speaker’s specs, and target runs, as stated earlier. For relatively short runs, say less than 50 feet, and 8-ohm speakers and 18 GA wire will usually do just fine. Between 14 GA and 18 GA wires, 18 GA wires are easier to work with and more cost-effective.

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