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Speaker Cable and Conductor Gauge

Below are some guidelines for choosing Speaker Cable for your home installation. Transparent Audio based these guidelines upon extensive measurements conducted by McIntosh Laboratories that explored the relationship between speaker impedance, wire gauge, length of cable, and resistive loss.

HP14-2 has two conductors, each of which is 14 AWG (AWG = American Wire Gauge). HP12-2 has two 12 AWG conductors, and HP10-2 has two 10 AWG conductors. Higher AWG numbers indicate that the cable has less copper in each conductor. For example, a 12 AWG conductor has almost twice the amount of copper as a 14 AWG conductor.

Speaker impedance varies with respect to frequency. For example, a speaker that has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms could very easily exhibit a 2 ohm or less impedance characteristic at some critical audio frequencies. The guidelines below, therefore, represent minimum recommendations. If your budget allows, choosing the largest gauge (which is the lower AWG) will provide the best results. To ensure that your speaker cable has sufficient current carrying capacity at all frequencies, HP10-2 should be your preferred installation speaker cable.

Note: Lengths listed below are per channel.

8-Ohm Nominal Speaker Impedance
HP14-2 Up to 80 feet
HP12-2 80 feet to 120 feet
HP10-2 Over 120 feet
6-Ohm Nominal Speaker Impedance
HP14-2 Up to 60 feet
HP12-2 60 feet to 90 feet
HP10-2 Over 60 feet
4-Ohm Nominal Speaker Impedance
HP14-2 Up to 40 feet
HP12-2 40 feet to 60 feet
HP10-2 Over 60 feet
2-Ohm Nominal Speaker Impedance
HP14-2 Up to 25 feet
HP12-2 25 feet to 35 feet
HP10-2 Over 35 feet