If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
After spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on premium audio components it may seem absurd to spend an equal amount on speaker cable. The short take: it is absurd, don’t do it.
Not all speaker wires are the same, and if you’re installing a professional-level sound system, built for professional experiences (say for a studio or live venue), then you’ll want spend the money for premium parts. However, if you are simply installing a sound system for home or mobile use, then most any speaker wire will do just fine.
The best speaker wires come in various gauges; as the AWG (American Wire Gauge) number decreases, the size of the wire increases. For example, a 12 AWG wire is bigger than an 18 AWG wire. These numbers come into play when building out the wire runs for a system.
If the run between receiver and speakers is on the shorter side, less than 50 feet or so, an 18 AWG or 16 AWG would work well. As the distance between receiver and speaker grows, impedance increases within the wire, and to assure proper power, a larger wire is needed such as a 12 or 14 AWG.
Most of the best speaker wires are made from copper, since copper is a wonderful conductor of electricity. For the best quality wire, looking for something made with 100% copper is highly recommended. However, if you’re looking to save a bit, copper-plated or copper-clad aluminum wire is a fine substitute, and there is no noticeable difference in sound quality.
Moral of the story: don’t buy cheap, don’t buy expensive; like Goldilocks, find the wire that is just right. Our list will give you a great head start.
1. InstallGear 14 Gauge
InstallGear’s wire is a quality copper-clad aluminum that works exceptionally well for all installation applications. The rugged construction makes it especially suited for car audio panels, as it’ll hold up to long-term use.
The soft-touch jacket is easy to strip and the stranded wire fits easily into various end clips. Dual colors let you easily identify polarity.
This set gets you 100 feet of wire.
PROS: There’s an option to get this with banana plugs.
CONS: Without the banana plugs, wire installation is a bit frustrating, but that’s any wire.
2. GearIt 14 Gauge
GearIt’s 14 AWG is a premium, copper-clad aluminum wire that makes home and auto audio projects sound impeccable. The high strand count wire allows for greater flexibility, and thus makes it easier to custom install.
This set gets you 100 feet of speaker wire. Expect reliable, undistorted sound with full conductivity.
PROS: Premium craftsmanship and durability.
CONS: We wish the polarity signals on the wires were more pronounced.
3. Extreme 14 Gauge
This set gets you a 14 gauge stranded copper speaker wire with a PVC jacket that will help your audio system fire with clean and crisp sound. This is heavy-duty wire that is ready to equip any home or vehicle with monstrous phonic potential, with lower static and impedance.
This versatile wire is great for home stereo systems, car audio or even wiring a large room, say for a conference, wedding, religious service or live performance.
Note: this is a copper core speaker wire and not a CCA (copper clad aluminum) wire.
PROS: Heavy-duty caliber which feels extra professional. This speaker wire is made in the USA.
CONS: We wish it was 100% copper, but honestly, there is no large discernible audio difference. This set gets you a 50-foot spool — the smallest length on our list.