#1 Posted by rachelepithet (1391 posts) -

I'm 26, and old enough to have grown up in a time where I never had to install proper good old fashioned speaker wire, having made it through life using boom boxes, then shelf mini hifis with attached speakers, next jumbo stereos with a proprietary non-removable speaker wire snuck under the cabinet, over to PC speakers with self powered 3.5mm green connections, and finally soundbars.

I know have a proper receiver, and need to know the basics of dealing with regular, non banana plug, speaker wire. I bought a thick ( low gauge ? ) heavily insulated monstercable 50' spindle on clearance at RadioShack. Looks thick enough that pets won't chew it. I'm wondering if both left and right wires need to be the EXACT same length or if due to the stereo itself being on one side of the TV, having a 6' left cable and 12' right speaker cable wouldn't make a difference in sound quality.

Then, I'm wondering if speaker cables, in addition to having a positive and negative to match up, do the colors of the cable sides really matter, or are they just for simplicity, for example as long as stripe matches stripe and non-stripe matches non-stripe, does it matter whether you picked stripe as "negative" or "positive"? And I've heard something about phase, does it matter which side of the portion of cable I use as the speaker end or the receiver end? Do the cables have a direction, like, the words printed on the cable should read left to right from receiver to speaker, etc.?

Finally, the appropriate length to strip for terminals. I notice the terminals basically have like a cookie cutter circle for the bare wire to rest on, with the other circle above clamping down once you tighten up, but I'm wondering do I need the bare strip to be long enough to touch not just the front of the O but go all the way across like a vertical line touching the "top" of the circle and even sticking out a millimeter or two from it, you know?

Any advice is much appreciated.

#2 Posted by Tireyo (6409 posts) -

It's not my area of expertise. I can't offer any advice.

#3 Edited by BaconHound (68 posts) -

@boocreepyfootdoctor: I don't know if length of the speaker wire makes a difference, but I've always used the same lengths for left and right.

On positive/negative - the stripes are just there for you to know which is which at either end. It doesn't matter whether you use the stripes/colors for positive or negative. There is also no "direction" to speaker wire. Speakers that are out of phase have mis-matched positive/negative connections - in other words, the positive wire at the receiver is connected to the negative terminal at the speaker, or vice versa.

I usually strip about a half inch for the terminals. You can strip more if necessary, but you once they're connected, you don't want the possibility of bare wires touching each other.

Hope that helps!

#4 Posted by Jams (2960 posts) -

It's not rocket science. Just make sure you don't get the two wires mixed up from one end to the other. So if you chose the striped one to be positive then make sure it's positive on the receiver. It doesn't matter (to an extent) how long the wires are. I'm pretty sure they don't degrade quality until you get up to something like 150ft or more so wire length won't matter for you.

As for exposed wire length you could probably Google a good answer but something like less than half an inch would suffice for inside the receiver. For speaker end with the cap that you loosen and a hole in the middle, just make it like less than an inch of exposure. You can buy banana clips or solder the tips so the individual copper wires stay together though I just twist them really tight and that does okay.

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#5 Posted by MikkaQ (10284 posts) -

The colors don't matter, you just have to pick one and stick with it, on my speaker cable I always make the wire with the writing on it my negative, for example.

Also, I have speaker cables of different length and I don't notice anything off, it sounds fine to me.