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In last weeks hangout I was asked “What effect does the speaker wire inside the speaker have on the quality of sound?” Well I have to laugh because I’ve been in this business, I’ve been in hi-fi since I was sixteen so I don’t know how long ago is that, forty-five years?

Yeah 45 years ago, something like that, so this was a debate years and years and years ago. Now here’s what you have to remember. In theory, yes you should use a very high quality wire inside the speaker, in practice you have to remember that that final sound that comes out of that speaker is a combination of about ten variables, the quality of the drivers, the size of the drivers, the electronical components in the crossovers, the cabinet size, the internal cabinet film, material, the density and composition and materials used in the cabinet construction.

So remember the pallet that a painter uses, he sticks his hand through a pallet and he’s got all these paint colors and he gets this paint and this paint and he paints, that’s what a speaker is, it’s a pallet of many things. So the designer, to produce the final sound, the cable probably accounts for maybe five percent, or two percent or one percent of the final sound. So in the big picture it’s not that big of a deal and here’s another reason behind that, the lengths that they use inside those speakers are very short.

The distance between, if you tear your speaker apart, I’m not telling you to do this but if you go inside your speaker you will see that the crossover and the drivers, the speakers are really close to each other most of the time. So the length of the cable is very short. When you have really short distances the quality level is not that critical. When you have long distances you need thicker cables because you have signal lost and all kinds of other issues, interference, RF from the air and our cellphones and all that stuff.

So the lengths are short but most speaker manufacturers today do use good quality cables, a lot of them use silver. So I think it’s something that they do and I know speaker manufacturers personally and they actually design speaker cables for particular manufacturers to meet the manufacturer’s specifications. So it’s a great question, it was a question that’s been discussed for years and years and years but you’ve got to remember that the final sound that comes out of the speaker is a composition of many variables of which the speaker cable quality issue is probably not that important in the total picture because the lengths and the amount of cable that’s used is so small.

Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

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