Speaker cable

Speaker cable  
Decent speaker cables will deliver you with the maximum audio quality.

Deciding on how to link all your audio together may be a bigger issue than you think. Poorly cabled speakers can render your expensive high-end equipment defunct, and a bad wiring installation can also reduce the quality of your overall listening experience.

Sound quality aside, a proper installation will also ensure that you don't have mounds of cable running around your room, creating a major eyesore or a trip hazard.

Types of cable

Power cables connect system components to the mains power. Some aftermarket power cables are noticeably better than others, but in terms of the effect they have on sound quality, power cables are probably the least significant cables in an audio system.

Digital cables are most commonly used for linking a DVD player and an AV receiver. These are becoming obsolete now that HDMI cables can transfer audio and video information digitally from the source to the amplifier, and from the amplifier to a video device.


The most significant cables in an AV system, from a sound perspective, are speaker cables and interconnects.

Speaker cables connect the amplifier to the speakers, and interconnects are used for connecting electronic components within your audio system, such as a CD player to an amplifier.

The cost of speaker cables can vary from practically nothing, to many thousands of dollars. Beware of cheap or ‘free’ interconnect cables, as they may give an inferior sound. They are typically thin, bright and brash. The sound of a modest system can be dramatically improved by changing the interconnect cables between CD player and amplifier. The resulting sound can be much smoother, richer and more involving.

What affects the quality of speaker cables?

There are many different marketing claims around speaker cables, and without addressing each one, it's important to know that the length, the gauge and the shielding of the cable will make a difference above all else. A cable that's too long will degrade the sound quality due to excessive resistance - and the same issue is true with a cable that's too thin. The resistance of a cable affects what's known as its capacitive and inductive reactance - which in turn has a direct affect on a speaker cable's ability to faithfully transmit sounds of different frequencies.

How to find the right cable

One of the best ways to assess cables is to listen while they're plugged in, preferably on a system similar to yours. Alternatively, audio dealers can usually advise on the most suitable cables for your system. Simply looking at specifications or the cable configuration gives little indication of their sonic quality.

All else being equal, a cable made from high-purity copper should sound better than one made from a lower grade. High-purity silver may sound better again, particularly in the treble, though at a much higher price.

It is usually preferable to use high-quality copper cables than similarly priced, and therefore lower quality, silver cables.

Where to position speakers

Where to position speakers

Speaker systems, particularly those that use surround technologies, are designed to be positioned in very specific ways. Find out how to position your speakers for the best possible sound.

Types of speakers

All kinds of speakers are available for all kinds of purposes, and it's not always as simple as getting the biggest set available. Find out what separates subwoofers from the soundbars.

Music to test speakers with

Obviously everyone has different tastes, but the right sorts of music can make a significant difference to how objectively you're able to test your speakers. Find out how the experts evaluate and demonstrate their speakers.

How surround works

Home audio performance considerations

The quality of your home audio is affected by a number of variables - impair one, and you alter the rest. Find out more about the variables that affect home audio performance.

Home audio components

Learn about the various devices needed to set up the ultimate home audio experience, including AV receivers as well as media players and streamers.

What is home audio

What is home audio?

In the simplest terms, 'home audio' refers to the sound systems that you install in your home - but this can encompass a hell of a lot. See what's on offer...