16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire

16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire, which one should you choose? Speaker systems with high power requirement will need a 12 or 14-gauge speaker wire because they have lower resistance and will be better at power handling. Using a 16-gauge speaker wire in this case will result in speaker wire getting hotter.

Comparing 16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire, the main difference is their thickness and resistance. Going by the speaker wire gauge distance chart, you can easily choose the one suited for your application. While both 14 and 16-gauge wires are quite flexible, the 16 gauge will be more flexible or bendable than 14-gauge.

Monoprice, Amazon Basics, and SVS manufactures some of the best speaker wires for home theater. They are affordable, have high quality and performs well in producing undistorted sound. The main purpose of having a speaker wire is to make sure it doesn’t consume amplifier power and will be able to produce undistorted and clean audio. 

16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire: Technical differences

 16-gauge14-gauge
Diameter1.4mm1.3mm
Distance12-48 ft (max)20-80 ft (max)
ResistanceHighLow
PowerCan handle less powerCan handle more power
Impedance (speaker)Can handle higher impedanceCan handle lower impedance

When it comes to speaker wire, resistance is the ultimate term you want to look into. We don’t want wires with bigger resistance on which an amplifier or receiver power will be wasted. So generally, thicker wires are better because they have less resistance than thinner wires. 

Yes, thicker wires are better however it doesn’t mean you should spend more to get bigger wire even though you don’t need it. The size or thickness of speaker wire will depend on your home theater setup, speaker impedance and other factors.

How many watts can 16-gauge speaker wire handle? Well, a 16-gauge can work for moderate loads like a subwoofer with power less than 225W. Generally, an 18-gauge speaker wire is good enough for most home theater applications that has 100W for 8 ohm speakers. You can also use them in your cars. 

The table above illustrates some major technical differences between the 16 gauge and 14-gauge speaker cables. Comparing the 16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire is thicker so it will be slightly difficult to hide or bend it throughout the setup.

How to choose between 16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire:

Choosing one from 16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire will depend on some factors:

Distance

The first and foremost factor that helps choosing from 16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire is distance. Here distance means the length of separation between your amplifier/ receiver and your speakers/subwoofers. 

16-gauge: If you have an 8-ohm speaker and the distance is less than 50 ft, 

14-gauge: distance is much longer and speaker impedance is lower (2,4 or 6 ohms)

The speaker cable gauge chart shows that if you have an 8-ohm load and length of maximum 48 ft., a 16-gauge wire is preferred. For similar load and a length of maximum 80ft, choose a 14-gauge. 

How to determine the length of wire needed?

To measure how much speaker wire you need, simply take a measuring tape. Then, assuming you have a 5.1 home theater system, measure the distance between the AV receiver and front speakers, rear speakers and subwoofers. 

Once you have noted down the distance, add 2 or 3 ft. with it. This is to stay on the safe side and not run short of wires. Some additional wire will also make setup easier. 

Speaker impedance rating

When the resistance becomes more than 5% of the speaker’s impedance, the speaker performance gets affected. That’s why the 16-gauge vs 14-gauge differences comes in because the resistance of 14-gauge speaker wire will be less than the 16-gauge.

For you to get an idea, the table shows the speaker wire length chart at which the resistance will be lower than 5% of speaker’s impedance.

 2-ohm4-ohm8-ohm16-ohm
22 AWG1.0m max1.8m max2.7m max3.6m max
20 AWG1.5m max3.0m max4.5m max6.0m max
18 AWG2.4m max4.8m max7.3m max9.7m max
16 AWG3.6 m max7.3 m max11 m max14.8 m max
14 AWG4.2m max12m max18.2m max24.4m max
12 AWG9m max18.2m max27.4m max36.5m max

Power

The following table shows the speaker wire wattage chart. When you know the power of your speakers, and distance along with speaker impedance, you can easily choose the right speaker cable for you and save money.

 Length/power
8 ohm speaker
Length/power
4 ohm speaker
Length/power
2 ohm speaker
20 AWG3ft: 263W,
16ft: 49W,
25ft, 32W
50ft: 16W
3ft: 131W,
16ft: 25W,
25ft: 16W,
50ft: 8W
3ft: 66W,
16ft: 12W,
25ft: 8W,
50ft: 4W
18 AWG3ft: 418W,
16ft: 78W,
25ft: 50W,
50ft: 25W
3ft: 209W,
16ft: 39W,
25ft: 25W,
50ft: 13W
3ft: 104W,
16ft: 20W,
25ft: 13W,
50ft: 6W
16 AWG3ft: 664W,
16ft: 125W,
25ft: 80W,
50ft: 40W
3ft: 332W,
16ft: 62W,
25ft: 40W,
50ft: 20W
3ft: 166W,
16ft: 31W,
25ft: 20W,
50ft: 10W
14 AWG3ft: 1056W,
16ft: 198W,
25ft: 127W,
50ft: 63W
3ft: 528W,
16ft: 99W,
25ft: 63W,
50ft: 32W
3ft: 264W,
16ft: 50W,
25ft: 32W,
50ft: 16W
12 AWG3ft: 1679W,
16ft: 315W,
25ft: 202W,
50ft: 101W
3ft: 840W,
16ft: 157W,
25ft: 101W,
50ft: 50W
3ft: 420W,
16ft: 79W,
25ft: 50W,
50ft: 25W

Material:

The speaker wire material is quite important. You will find speaker wires made from copper which is affordable but is prone to oxidization. Another one is Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA) which has aliminium core along with copper plating.

While CCA wires are lightweight and cheaper, aluminium falls short in terms of conductivity. It has 39% more resistance than copper. Another well-known speaker material is silver. You will find it in high-end or audiophile speaker cables. 

It is made of silver plated copper and although silver has higher conductivity than copper, the change in performance in most cases isn’t visible. You can check this by yourself and go by ear. 

16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire: Product analysis

Amazon Basics 14-Gauge Audio Speaker Wire Cable - 99.9% Oxygen-Free Copper, 100 Feet vs KabelDirekt – Pure Copper Stereo Audio Speaker Wire & Cable – Made in Germany – 16 AWG Gauge – 100 feet 

This Amazon Basics speaker cable is made of 99.9% oxygen-free copper (OFC). OFC cables are well-known to minimize distortion, resistance and phase shift. With longer lifetime, better durability and less prone to corrosion, it is one of the best OFC speaker wire.

If you are using this 14 gauge OFC speaker wire for long cable runs, the performance will remain stable and you can rely on this. The 14-gauge speaker wire has an insulation jacket around it. It is flexible as well which is needed to bend around room corners or hide them under carpets. You can use them for in-wall setups as well.  

With slight increase in cost, you can purchase banana plugs or speaker connectors with this wire. For convenience, the wire has measurement marking on every foot. Overall, the wire is easy to move around for setup and has a sturdy built. Using it for long hours, shows an improvement in audio quality. 

Comparing the 16-gauge vs 14-gauge speaker wire, the 14-gauge is slightly costlier than the 16-gauge. This 16-gauge 100 ft speaker wire from KabelDirekt has excellent build quality. it is durable and long lasting. 

The 16-gauge speaker wire has 0.2mm strands of pure copper. The surrounded PVC sheath is easy to bend and move around. It also has long lifetime and impressive signal quality. the speaker wire has polarity markings which make them easy to use.

Comparing the 14 vs 16 AWG, the 16-gaige wire is thinner and more flexible. You can use this wire with KabelDirekt banana plugs to connect speakers to the amplifier or home cinema receiver. 

This speaker wire will ensure the audio quality is enhanced and remain similar to the original file. Both these 14 and 16-gauge are some of the best affordable speaker wires which will impress you with performance as well. 

Best in-wall: Monoprice 100ft 14AWG CL2 Rated 4-Conductor Loud Speaker Cable (For In-Wall Installation) vs 16 AWG CL2 OFC in Wall Speaker Wire 

The Monoprice 14-gauge speaker wire is made of oxygen-free 99.95% pure copper. The speaker wire uses CL2-rated white PVC which means it is fulfils the fire safety and insurance requirements. 

As a result, you can use them inside walls of your rooms to complete in-wall setups. The cable is quite flexible which makes setup easier. While you can spend several dollars on speaker cables and use them as audio jewelry like the AudioQuest X2 Unterminated White Speaker Cable - 100 ft. (30.48m), this cheap Monoprice speaker cables will work equally well. 

You can use this cable for stereo speakers or build a 7.2.4 home theater system with it. The wire is designed to have zero effect on the sound quality. This means, it will make the sound realistic and powerful just as the amplifier will boost it. 

If your length measurements tell to go more a thinner wire, then you can choose the GearIT Pro series 16 AWG speaker cable. This speaker cable can be used both in home theaters and in car audio systems. It is made from oxygen free copper and the build quality is very good. 

The 16-gauge wire is also CL2 certified similar to the 14-gauge wire from Monoprice. These are some of the best in-wall speaker wires you can get that are budget-friendly as well. These OFC 16-gauge wires increase conductivity and can absorb heat in a better way than copper clad aluminium (CCA).

You can use banana plugs, spades or pin connector with this 2-conductor GearIT speaker wire. They are color coded so that you can understand the positive and negative terminal. Overall, you will get undistorted, pure and rich signal from your speakers. 

SVS SoundPath One 100 FT Spool 100' Spool SoundPath One vs Amazon Basics 16-Gauge Audio Stereo Speaker Wire Cable - 50 Feet

SVS is a well-known brand for making subwoofers, speakers as well as speaker cables. This 14-gauge SVS is available in 50 and 100-foot spool. The speaker cable has electromagnetic shielding which allows noise isolation of the wire. 

It is made from 99.99% stranded copper wire. This ensures better signal transfer when you use it for long runs. The color coded cables make it easier to understand polarity. The dielectric outer shell ensures minimum interference and sturdiness. 

Given that you own good quality home theater, these speaker cables will ensure clear and undistorted audio. High flexibility of this wire allows it to lie flat on floor needed for clean and non-messy setup. 

Amazon Basics are quite popular for making affordable yet high-quality speaker cables. For 50 ft. long run, it is the best 16-gauge speaker wire under $10. The plastic jacket around the wire ensures stability in signal without any distortion. 

Between the two wires, one is marked with a white line to make it easier to know the difference in polarity. Although this is copper plated aluminium speaker wire, the sound quality through speakers remain unaffected and as detailed as they should be.

Overall, the quality is very good and the brand is reliable. Comparing 14 vs 16-gauge speaker wire, the 16-gauge is thinner and is much easier to twist or bend. The cost vs quality is attractive and will be perfect for most home theater applications. 

Do Expensive Speaker Cables Sound Better than Cheaper Cables?

Some of the best expensive speaker cables are from Audioquest as mentioned above or the Morrow Audio MA2 RCA Audio Cable Interconnects – with SSI Technology – Unbeatable Resolution and Sound – Audiophile Grade – Digital Ready – 4 Meter Pair (13.1 feet).

should you spend several hundreds or thousands on speaker cable? Well, you definitely can. Audiophiles or music enthusiasts often want their music system to be close to perfection. For that, they spend well and understand their speaker system and love their audio jewelry on them. 

Premium or high-end speaker cables are like audio jewelry because they have unique and excellent aesthetics. If you like branded items, then you can pay more for speaker cables. By spending more, do you get more? Well, definitely. 

The specs, measurements and quality of expensive speaker cables will be much higher than speaker cables that cost under $50. But the question is, do expensive cables sound better? This is quite controversial and relies on placebo effect.

To understand more, if you look into real measurements provided by several audio researchers and enthusiasts, you will understand that although the high-end speaker cables have better numbers in their spec list, the improvement they might do to the audio signal is not noticeable to human ears.

You can easily perform this testing yourself by doing ‘blind test’. We are not discouraging you to not to spend more. But the truth is, spend more if you think you hear a clear improvement through your speaker cables, otherwise, with proper distance, a 14 or 16-gauge cheap cable will deliver similar performance. 

Parting words

There are several speaker cable sizes but the most widely used in home theater setups are 12 AWG, 14 AWG and 16 AWG. You will hear a noticeable difference if you change your wire size in large distances. In smaller distance, 12-gauge, 14 or 16-gauge will not make any difference in audio. 

For instance, changing the speaker wire for subwoofer to 14 AWG at appropriate distance, will make bass deeper and punchier than before. If audio jewelries attract you, you can shop for high-end speaker cables as well. However, audio experts claim they sound the same, or even if the expensive cables sound better, it isn’t noticeable for listeners. 

Along with have the best speaker wire, you should make sure, the speaker and subwoofer quality, speaker placement, good quality receiver and room acoustics are taken care of. Only then will speaker cables make a difference by producing unaffected and original sound.

FAQ

We are almost at the end of the article, and still we are trying to help you even more in depth with these FAQs. let’s find out more!

Which one is positive in speaker wire, the copper or silver color?

While you can choose either one to be positive, generally, the copper is said to be the positive wire. The other one, silver wire, is negative. It is needed to identify the positive and negative terminal while connecting the speaker wire to the speakers

How to splice speaker cables?

You can solder the speaker wires or use crimp connectors for splicing. Soldering is difficult to do if you don’t have experience but is quite efficient.  For that, you need to have solder, soldering iron, electrical tape. 

You can also perform crimp method where you need crimp tool and connectors. Blue colored connectors can be used for inserting the twisted wires. They are also quite affordable.