Speaker Cables

Want Audiophile Speaker Wires? We’ve Got The Cheap Solution!

We’ve talked many times before about how “audiophile” wires make no positive sound difference. With wires like HDMI, you need to make sure they are of sufficient quality or they will fail to pass all the data. But speaker cables are much simpler. They simply need to be thick enough not to attenuate the signal. For short runs, they don’t even need to be that thick. The upside of the “high-end” speaker cables is their looks. They are very pretty! But they are also expensive. Is there a cheap solution to audiophile speaker wires? There sure is! Let’s discuss!

Knock Off Brands Here We Come!

Obviously, you can’t just run down to your local audiophile store and find cheap solutions for audiophile speaker cable. Everything they have is going to be hundreds if not thousands of dollars a foot (no, we are not kidding). This sent us to the Internet to find other sources. We went to a number of sources and searched for “audiophile speaker wire.”

As you might expect, Amazon has some listings. Unfortunately, not many of them qualify as “cheap.” This offering from Gear IT is $20 for 10 feet which isn’t bad. They have longer offerings but none of them were in stock. The clearly computer-generated image doesn’t inspire confidence but we’re sure it probably looks and works just fine.

The Dark(er) Web

Next, we went to one of the darker parts of the web. AliExpress is known for its knock-off brands. They have tons of offerings that are clearly just rebadged or outright forgeries of other, more popular brands. Normally we’d be against such blatant copyright infringement, but these are knock-offs of audiophile brands that are selling a few dollars of cheap speaker wire for thousands of dollars. They have it coming.

When searching on AliExpress, you’ll need to be careful of a few things. First, their search doesn’t know the difference between RCA cables and speaker wire. Make sure that the cable you are buying has speaker wire connections at both ends. Some will be RCA cables and others will have RCA at one end and speaker connections at the other.

Second, you’ll need to do a little math or know something about speaker wire construction. Most of the listings don’t specify the speaker wire gauge. They’ll say something like “16 strands” or give you a millimeter diameter of the cable. Not very helpful. Just remember that the fewer the strands, the stiffer the cable. A wider cable might mean a lower gauge (thicker internal wire) though it could just be sheath or shielding.

Lastly, be careful of the type and quality of terminations. Many come with options for spades, banana plugs, or pins. Some will mix and match. Make sure you order carefully. Also, check the reviews (there usually aren’t many as these are fly-by-night operations) if you are looking at banana plugs. Most of the banana options require a friction fit. Cheap banana plugs tend to fall out, a fact that may be mentioned in any reviews.

Special thanks to AV Rant listener Sasi for the inspiration for this article.

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