What Gauge Speaker Wire For Subwoofer

You can use 12-gauge speaker wire if your sub system will produce more than 1,000 watts RMS. In most cases, though, 16-gauge speaker wire will suffice. Take a cue from the experts and order twice as much as you think you’ll need. You never know when the position of a sub or amplifier will need to be adjusted, and you’ll be glad you have the extra length.

Wires sized 12- to 16-gauge are recommended for wiring subwoofers. There will be no audible difference between them; the larger cable will simply have less power loss.

Is 12 gauge speaker wire good for subwoofers?

If your amplifier has a greater power rating, such as 100 watts or 600 watts, you should use 12 gauge cable. If the speaker has a lower power rating, such as 40 or 50 watts, 14 or 16 gauge wire will suffice.

Is 14 gauge speaker wire good for subs?

Subwoofer wire should be 16-, 14-, or 12-gauge. Tyler, 8-gauge speaker wire should have no trouble delivering that much power to a 2- or 4-ohm subwoofer. Heavyer, 4-gauge speaker cables are required for a 5000-watt sub system with a total impedance lower than that.

Can my speaker wire be too big?

Speaker wires might be excessively lengthy. The greatest length of speaker wire that should be run should be around 50 feet. Anything longer than 50 feet is deemed excessive. The quality of sound generated by a system is influenced by the length of speaker wires running from amplifiers to speakers.

This means that, while the wire’s thickness is significant, the distance it covers is equally important. Even if the wire thickness is appropriate, speaker runs of more than 50 feet should be avoided. This is due to the fact that as the distance of the run rises, the audio quality decreases.

It’s worth noting that speaker wires with smaller gauges/thicker wires are ideal for longer runs between the audio amplifier and the speakers.

The resistance of bigger speaker cables is low, allowing you to run these wires over longer lengths and distances. Over extended distances, bigger speaker wires can actually help decrease or eliminate power loss and dampening. Speaker wires with bigger wires are also better at lessening the impact of resistance on the signal generated when used over long distances.

Is 22 gauge speaker wire good enough?

If you use 22 gauge wire for a 40-foot run, the cable will have a higher resistance than the speaker, resulting in more power being transferred to the wire rather than the speaker; this is bad. To ensure that at least 90% of the amplifier output reaches the speaker, you’ll need 14 gauge wire.

Is Thicker gauge speaker wire better?

In a nutshell, speaker cable is not included with most speakers. You must choose the appropriate gauge (thickness) and type of wire for your system.

You’ll need UL-rated speaker wire labeled CL2 or CL3 for in-wall or ceiling speakers. For additional information, see our guide to in-wall wiring.

Buy wire rated for direct burial if you want to run wire underground to a set of outdoor speakers.

What gauge do you need?

The American Wire Gauge (AWG) number is used to determine the thickness of wire. The thicker the wire, the lower the gauge number. The resistance to current flow is lower when the wire is thicker.

Long wire lines, high power applications, and low-impedance speakers should all use thick wire (12 or 14 gauge) (4 or 6 ohms).

16 gauge wire will usually suffice for relatively short runs (less than 50 feet) to 8 ohm speakers. It is both cost-effective and simple to use.

How much wire do you need?

Run a string from your receiver or amplifier to each of the speaker positions to determine how much speaker wire you’ll need. Add a few more feet to the string measurement (to provide some slack for easier connection to your gear).

What type of wire do you need?

If you buy wire without connectors, I strongly advise you to purchase banana connectors. It’s a headache to connect bare wire ends to a home theater receiver.

You’ll need UL-rated speaker wire labeled CL2 or CL3 if you’re going to run speaker wire within your walls or ceiling.

You’ll need wire rated for direct burial if you want to install your outdoor speaker wire underground. For additional information, see our full in-wall wiring guide.

With a 4-conductor wire, you can run a single line from your amplifier or receiver to an in-wall volume control in another room across a long distance. The volume control can then be connected to each of the stereo speakers in that place via 2-conductor cables. Connecting stereo-input speakers with four-conductor wire is also an excellent idea.

Inquire with a Crutchfield A/V designer about the best wire for your installation.

Connect a 4-conductor cable to an in-wall volume control (left) or a stereo-input speaker with a 4-conductor wire (right).

Are high-end speaker cables worth it?

Take a look at the Audioquest speaker cables we have available. Check out the (mainly 5-star) customer feedback. People are raving about the construction quality and the sonic improvements they’ve noticed.

Connection tips

  • Make sure your speaker wires’ positive and negative leads are connected correctly to your speakers and your amplifier or receiver. Your music will not sound right if one of the connections is crossed.
  • If you want to join your wires without connectors, remove about 3/8-inch of insulation from the ends of each lead with a wire stripper, exposing the bare wire strands. Twist the bare wire strands of each lead securely so that no stray strands protrude. Short circuits can be caused by loose strands making touch with the cable’s other lead, potentially destroying your components.
  • Bare wire, pin connectors, spade connectors, single banana connectors, and twin banana connectors are shown from left to right.

    Speaker wire terminals

    Spring clips and binding posts are the two types of speaker wire termination available (see illustration below).

    Spring clips are relatively simple to use. Simply press the clip down, insert the speaker cable, and let go. The wire is held in place by a spring-loaded device. Bare wire and pin connectors are accepted by spring clip terminals, however spade connectors, banana plugs, and dual-banana plugs are not.

    Unscrew the collar to disclose the hole where bare wire and pin connectors are connected.

    The banana and dual banana plugs go straight into the middle hole of a binding post.

    When you screw the collar back down, a spade connector glides around it and secures it. Check out our full range of connectors.

    We show you how to set up your home theater receiver in this step-by-step guide. Placement, connectors, calibration, network configuration, and remote control are all covered.

    Are you looking for some pointers on how to connect surround speakers? Trying to keep a tangle of cables from tripping anyone who walks through your living room? These guidelines should be of assistance.

    Learn how to hide the wires that protrude from your wall-mounted television. Get rid of the tangle of wires behind your A/V receiver. Hide the cords that connect your speakers in the back.

    How to run speaker and audio/video cables through your home’s walls. With videos, this is a comprehensive DIY instruction.

    When putting up your new A/V system, you may come across a variety of connections. Find out what all of this implies!

    Is it possible to power five speakers with a seven-channel receiver? That extra power does not have to be squandered. Learn how to use the two unused amplifier channels to improve sound quality.

    Is 18 gauge speaker wire good?

  • Using 18 gauge (18AWG) wire for home or automobile speakers (not subwoofers) is fine in most circumstances. For 4 ohm (vehicle) speakers, 18AWG wire is good for about 50W, while for 8 ohm (home audio) speakers, it’s good for about 100W.
  • 16 gauge is a suitable choice for greater power systems or longer lengths.
  • To avoid losing power, increase up two gauges (14 ga.) for longer lengths (50-100ft/15-30.5m). Due to resistance, very long lengths of speaker wire lose a little power over long distances. This can be reduced or avoided by using larger wire. (For more information, see my detailed graphic below.)
  • Choosing speaker wire for long distances

    For the most part, the table above will suffice. But what if you require a length of 50 or even 100 feet? In that scenario, choose a wire gauge two sizes larger to double the size.

    By shifting to the next gauge, rather than the one after that, the wire gauge (the quantity of copper in them) doubles.


    If the wire is 50 feet long, it will lose around 4 watts at maximum power. To avoid this, we’ll go two sizes up in wire gauge: 18 -> 16 -> 14 gauge.

    Is 24 gauge speaker wire good enough?

    Since it’s AC, 24AWG would have enough resistance or impedance to make an impact, especially at higher frequencies. Simply twist the ends together and run one wire for each post if you have a bunch of 24AWG.

    First and foremost, you must understand that you should not purchase more speaker wire than you require.

    Purchasing wire that is larger (and hence more expensive) than what you require is a waste of money. Despite what salespeople may tell you, it will not improve the sound or anything else.

    The size of speaker wire you require is determined by three factors that are simple to check:

  • The power output of your stereo or amplifier (typically expressed in watts) “(RMS)
  • Ohms (ohms = ohms = oh “Your speakers’ impedance”)
  • Required length
  • How many watts should my subwoofer be?

    A subwoofer may significantly increase the performance of your audio system. What size (or strength) should you get?

    The bottom end, or bass, is where the true sonic strength lies. Bass is when you sense a rumble in your chest.

    Most of us desire this at home, but with so many subwoofers to choose from — and even more specifications and sizes — how can we know which is the best? While the obvious answer is “the biggest, most powerful you can afford,” the correct answer is a little more complicated.

    Let’s start with a definition of what we’re talking about. A subwoofer is a square(ish) box that provides all of an audio system’s low-end bass sounds. Subwoofers are included with most soundbars and HTIB systems, however they’re usually low-powered.

    If your subwoofer is connected and has a single RCA-style cable flowing to it, you may be able to upgrade it. This might be a component of an HTIB, a true 5.1 system, or even a soundbar with a wired subwoofer. Wireless subwoofers included with soundbars or HTIBs are often proprietary and cannot be updated.

    If you have anything like the Bose cube speakers, where the speakers link to the sub, there’s probably some extra processing going on inside the sub, and I’d do some further study to be sure you can swap it out without any problems.

    You’re not out of luck if you want to add a sub to your system but don’t have a receiver, HTIB, or soundbar with a connected output. A subwoofer output is available on some televisions (these are rare, however). An audio output is available on all televisions. To discover if activating the audio output disables the TV’s speakers, consult your owner’s manual. Unfortunately, if it does, you’re out of luck (and should get a soundbar or other audio system anyway).

    You can use a subwoofer if it outputs audio at the same time as the internal speakers. The cheapest option is to use a wired system, in which you connect the TV’s output to the sub. This may need the use of an optical-to-analog adaptor, which can cost anywhere from $25 to $45. Wireless audio transmitters, such as the Audioengine W1, Outlaw Audio OAW3, or subwoofers with their own wireless audio transmitters, can also be used. The key to this strategy is to set the crossover on the subwoofer to exclusively emit low-frequency noises (generally, under 100Hz is good, 80Hz is very common).

    Any discussion of subwoofers will center on two specifications: driver size and power. In a moment, we’ll talk about driver size. Let’s talk about power for a moment. When I was selling audio, it was very typical for customers to avoid high-powered subwoofers. I’ve received e-mails and comments on other stories expressing the same sentiment. High-powered subwoofers, it was assumed, had to be louder than low-powered versions. No! This is extremely crucial:

    A 1,000-watt subwoofer does not need to be any louder than a 100-watt subwoofer to be effective.

    The watt rating is a general estimate of how loud a subwoofer can go, although it doesn’t have to be that loud. The volume is always in your hands. In reality, a 1,000-watt sub may sound better than a 100-watt sub at “normal” room volumes. When it comes to subwoofers, 100 watts isn’t all that much. 300, 500, and greater watts subs are now quite affordable because to digital amplification.

    However, watt ratings alone do not provide a whole picture of a subwoofer’s capabilities. They’re merely a single, plainly identifiable spec. There are a few additional things to think about as well.


    Subwoofers, in general, are boxes that fit beneath an end table just barely. A pretty large driver (the part that generates the noise) and the amp that powers it are usually found within. A driver needs some space in the cabinet behind it to perform as its optimum. A 12-inch driver should have a good-sized box, whereas an 8-inch driver may have a smaller box.

    The issue is that bass waves are quite lengthy, thus the driver must exert considerable effort to produce them at audible volumes. One method to do this is to use a larger driver — 12 inches is a common size, but 15-inch units are also available. Multiple drivers are available for some models. No, two 6-inch drivers will never match the performance of a single 12-inch driver, but they will almost always outperform a single 6-inch.

    The other option is to use a lot of power. As the size of the driver and cabinet shrinks, the power must increase dramatically to compensate. So, if a 12-inch sub in a huge box had much greater power, an 8-inch sub in a small box could sound similar to a 12-inch sub in a big box.


    The rule of thumb for subwoofer placement is that placing the sub against a wall will increase the volume slightly. It will add a little extra if you put it in the corner. Both places won’t provide you the most precise bass response (i.e., certain frequencies will be emphasized more than others), but they will give you greater volume if that’s what you want.

    Sit in your main listening position and have someone move the sub to get the best bass in your room. Alternatively, place the sub at your listening position (on your sofa), at ear level (height is also crucial! ), and crawl along the wall till it sounds best. You’ll be surprised at how different the bass sounds even if you’re only a few feet apart. You could acquire a lot in one spot and then get next to nothing by moving just a few feet forward. Because the low-frequency bass waves are so lengthy, they have a substantial interaction with the room. The acoustics of the room are fantastic.

    Multiple subs is another option. Again, the goal isn’t necessarily more bass; it’s better bass. Because of where they are, multiple subs in different locations interact with the space in different ways. Check out Subwoofers in Multiples: If one is good, two are much better, according to Brent Butterworth’s epic Subwoofers: 4, 2, or 1?, which is perhaps the best article on the subject of numerous subwoofers ever written.

    Steve Guttenberg has a wonderful post on subwoofer setup called, unsurprisingly, How to set up a subwoofer that I recommend you read.

    EQCertain subwoofers and many receivers offer room EQ processing, which provides a room-specific equalizer setting by playing test tones via your speakers and subwoofer. These can be quite useful in reducing frequency response peaks (over-accentuated notes). They can’t, however, fill a gap in frequencies that are difficult to hear due to the room’s acoustics. These aren’t magical systems. They can’t make a cheap, underpowered sub sound like a big, powerful one, and they can’t totally compensate for bad sub placement. They do, however, help, and if you have the opportunity, you should consider them.

    In a tiny space, a little sub will suffice (Small, in my parlance, is a 10- or 12-inch sub with at least 100 watts). Not so much in larger rooms. If your room is open to the rest of the home, you’ll need more power or a bigger sub because the bass will need to fill the entire space. Consider numerous subwoofers if you have the space and/or the funds, as they will frequently perform better than a single subwoofer. The importance of placement cannot be overstated, and a little effort spent locating the ideal location can provide significant improvements in bass sound quality.

    Bass quality vs. bass quantity (a important last note)

    Subwoofers are most commonly associated with the thump-thump of other automobiles at stoplights. This is a terrible bass. Quality is sacrificed in favor of quantity. A good subwoofer, properly placed in a space, may provide realistically deep sounds, not simply the thump-thump. The goal of every speaker system is to reproduce all frequencies in the audio spectrum as precisely as possible. So the best subwoofers don’t produce a boom sound, but rather a greater bass than small speakers can provide. Better audio fidelity, not necessarily more bass, is the goal of good bass. An auditory representation that is more accurate to the music or movie. You can certainly turn it up if you want to add more bass, but the idea is that you don’t have to.

    The difficulty is that specs alone won’t distinguish a good subwoofer from a mediocre one. They might point you in the right direction, but a well-built 10-inch, 100-watt sub could sound fantastic, while a poorly designed 12-inch, 500-watt sub could sound awful. This is where reviews come in handy, and they’re well worth looking at. Our customer reviews can be seen here. Brent’s detailed subwoofer tests in Sound+Vision magazine and Gene DellaSala’s at Audioholics are also worth checking out.

    So while there’s no rule that says “12-inch 100-watts for ‘X’-size room,” larger, higher-powered subs will almost always sound better, even in smaller spaces. A 12-inch, 100-watt sub is unlikely to suffice in a large room or one that is open to the rest of the home. In fact, 12-inch, 100-watt subs should generally be considered the bare minimum. Subs with less than 100 watts should be avoided, and if the driver is smaller, you’ll need much more power. Of course, there are exceptions, but this should serve as a good starting point.

    In conclusion

    The first thing most people notice about a home audio system is the bass. It has the greatest “wow” factor. The subwoofer is almost completely to blame for this. A huge sub with a lot of power is the safest bet. Running a large sub at “4” rather than a tiny sub at “10” is considerably better. Multiple subs in different locations in a room (or even just in the corners) nearly always sound better and more realistic than a single sub if you want the best sound.

    Though any subwoofer purchase can increase your sound, if you want to go truly extreme, a local custom installer can definitely assist you with installation and placement (there are even some pretty trick in-wall subwoofers).