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#10 AWG (2 conductor) vs #12 AWG (4 conductor) Speaker Wire

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by kmetal, Aug 5, 2016.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, I'm doing some wiring specs (exciting right !? Lol) and I'm completely unsure of what to go with.

    It's speaker wire for a cinema setup. The surrounds, and the Screen Channel speakers accept up to 10awg wire with barrier strip screw terminals. The reference speakers and subs are on speakin NL-8 connectors which accept up to 12awg wire.

    625w (or 400w)per surround single amp, 625w/1150w or the refernce top tri amp, 1150w for the subs (dual 12") single amp. Same for the screen channel speakers 625w bi amp, 1150w for the subs (dual 18") single amp. Lol the 21" sub will be for fun someday....2500w...

    The manual simply states 'use the lowest guage wire, and shortest cable run.'

    The place is roughly 16x22 (tiny by film standard but it's only temporary-ish) so I would imagine the average cable run between 20-50ft.

    It's going in my yet to be built or even drawn, home studio room. I'm gonna work out the electric and physical runs so they should be clear of any interference.

    So it looks like there's 5 options for cable:

    Belden 5T00up- 10awg 2 conductor

    Canare 4S11- 14awg 4 conductor

    Mogami W3104- 12awg 4 conductor

    Mogami W3103- 12awg 2 conductor

    Gepco GSC138- 13awg 8 conductor.

    I'll include screenshots of the w some prices but the only one that's a bit painfully priced is the Mogami w3104, at $5.25 per foot.

    But that said this thing has got to be as technically correct as possible becuase there's nothing cheap about the cinema system. Besides that the runs are short enough to not be disgustingly expensive with any option. The system design is all about max headroom and efficiency with minimal components.

    I feel proper setup, spec, and calibration, will help maximize the results of some of this stuff which is low-mid pro standard class.

    So anyway it seems 8 conductor wire for the NL8 speakons makes sense. Gepco is usually a decent budget wire. I'm open to options.

    As far as 2-4 conductor I'm wondering if the 4 conductor wire is overkill becuase the system is gonna be pretty interagency free. Should I use that for Bi amp applications? Is it overkill for a per channel basis?

    Also is the 2 conductor 10awg better overall than the 12-14awg 4 core.

    Honestly I'm kinda lost on this whole thing. I'm not used to things that are both high power and high quality.

    Is there one technical ideal to shoot for?

    I'm gonna work on my mobile system wiring while I'm waiting for response on this. But I'm getting the gear budget ready for the accountant and there's a significant (50% approx)jump between the 12awg 2 and 4 core. I don't mind whatever it ends up costing as long as there's no waste, and no compromise. 'Just right' is what I'm shooting for.


    Attached Files:

  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    How long do you expect to run the system wide open at a time? Probably not more than ten seconds and probably not more than once or twice in your life. So all that speaker and amp capacity is mostly there for headroom to accommodate occasional high peaks. Given that and the short runs 14AWG lamp cord would probably meet the electrical requirements. Point being that any of those listed products will perform well enough so maybe focus more on things like meeting code (for in-wall), cost and ease of assembly. I suspect 10AWG is over kill and may be harder to use with the connectors.

    In my live rig I ran near 1KW on 100 feet of 12AWG all the time without the slightest problem.
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'd put in 12AWG for all of it, maybe 10AWG for the sub(s) if you're just trying to show off.

    I have installed MILES of this stuff: JSC 12AWG 4/c and JSC 12AWG 2/c with very satisfactory results at a much better price.

    Excellent value, High strand-count (65), In-Wall CL3 rated, 99.9 pure copper, Made in the USA. Durable outer jacket, Incrementally marked.

    UPS can break the plastic spool in transit, it can be on the stiff side, the outer jacket is difficult to strip/cut.

    I'll leave it up to you whether the white color of the jacket is a pro or con. It's usually a 'plus' in church installations. If it's in-wall, who cares?

    I don't mind the difficulty cutting the outer-jacket, its toughness is the exact thing that makes it good for pulling through stud-bays etc. and also what makes it a little stiffer than some other cables. A more flexible cable with a softer jacket, is more prone to getting nicked up pulling around bends and scraping over nails and sharp surfaces. The JSC and Belden, made specifically for in-wall use, would both be harder to ruin in those cases.

    Like Boulder, I have mostly 12AWG in my live rig. I keep almost all of my speaker cables under 30ft. If I'm running one of the smaller configurations, there's just one amp-rack behind the near stack (with 5ft. and 10ft. cables) and the farthest stack is no more than 30ft. of 12/4 away. If I'm pressing the bigger configuration into service, I add another rack full of identical amps (one behind each stack) and run XLR from the Main amp-rack to the far amp-rack. That keeps all the speaker cables under 10ft. If I have to go full-scale, I do have some 10/4 SOOW cables. I've used a few short-ish 13/4 cables and been satisfied with the results. I can tell you first hand, the 10-gauge will have to lose some strands if it has to fit in a SpeakOn cable end.

    Back when I was working slightly bigger stages and running 4-way, the speaker harness consisted of 10/2 for the subs, and 2x 12/2 for the low-mids, 12/2 for high-mids, and 12/2 for highs. So it was a bundle of cables about the size of your wrist. On the rack-end, NL8s for the mids and highs, and an assortment of smaller (idiot-proof) Hubbells connecting to the mid and high cabinets. Plus, Hubbell connectors the size of soup cans at both ends of the 10/2 sub cables, There was one big amp rack, and the far-side cable run was 65ft. the near-side as 15ft. The loss wasn't terrible on the long run, most people would never notice. But if you listened carefully from FOH, you could definitely tell which side had the extra 50ft. of cable.

    The biggest challenge using 4-conductor in a NL4 SpeakOn to NL4 SpeakOn cable, is the unavoidable twist on one end. The position of the conductors is the same through the length of the cable and with a normal male <-> female cable, the pinout is mirror image between the two connectors - easy. With an NL4 to NL4 cable you're making a cable that's female to female. The pinout that works perfectly at one end, will be bassackwards when you get to the other end. For me, compensating for this on a 4-conductor SpeakOn cable usually means cutting back a little extra jacket on one end to allow for the twist, assembling the connector, then adding a couple layers of heat-shrink tubing to make up for the loss of the jacket. For my current live rig, some of my cables avoid the 4-conductor "twist" completely by terminating the stack-side with a breakout box that consists of a single gang outdoor type water-proof box, a beefy water-tight cable connector, and a stainless steel wall plate with 2 SpeakOn NL4 panel-mount males (one for sub / one for tops) soldered onto the 12/4 - then I use 10ft. and 5ft. SpeakOn cables to drop to the breakout box. (quick, easy, durable, scaleable) There is always insertion-loss when you add another connector in the path, but it's very minimal in this particular real-world application. [I can post a picture if that doesn't make sense]
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies fellas. Your expertise is always appreciated. I have a few more questions I'll put after the quote replies.

    Precisely. If I live past the first time lol.

    Yes. My thought being it lend to a killer dynamic range, and super fast transient response, which should help keep phase anomalies minimized.

    Cool, ya know i hadn't accounted for in wall yet. Thanks, good call. Cost and assembly ease are 'cry once' factors so less crucial to me.

    Sweet this stuff looks cool. Significantly cheaper than then the others, more importantly it's in wall which I wouldn't had to start from scratch on. Thanks you saved me a ton of time, I'm gonna leave that as a place holder for the surrounds.

    Yup in the wall, who cares.

    Does this mean for the low mids, you had 2 of the 4 conductors in the positive terminal, and the other two in the negative? Like 'doubled up' I'm completely a newbie with 4 core wire, barring the neglex/star quad we put in Normandy, which i ran, but didn't solder, I oversaw the soldering tho.

    Funny you mention this. I've been contemplating whether or not it makes sense to have identical length cables for the front speakers. Even the surrounds. We're talking about 5-10 feet of 'extra' slack or 'waste' if I matched the lengths exactly. Financially it wouldn't be a concern. I'm looking for technical ideal. Even though In reality the symmetry wouldn't be identical since one wall borders the house foundation and one wall wouldn't. So it's gonna take some calibration anyway.

    That said one less thing to compensate for is good w me.

    Not sure what the right thing to do is.

    If you have a pic handy it'd be welcome. No need to go out of your way.

    I'm planning on running point to point as much as possible so I'll avoid any extra connections whenever i can tho, in reality like you said it's a minimal effect.

    The main 3 refernce speakers and there 3 subs take the NL 8. The rest are screw terminals. The amps are 'euroblock' connectors which I'm unfamiliar w. The Google pics look like basic wore harness type things like on a car radio.

    Questions / Confusions:

    Does 4 c wire mean I treat them as two separate wire pairs aka 1 wire-2 speakers, or is it 4 conductors for a single speaker.??
    What's the 'rules' on this.

    How do I fit 8 connections into one connector lol. I had in mind stripping the sheathing and heat shrinking like you described.

    My thinking is 1 physical wire (2-4c) per amp channel / speaker input. This helps me if I have to repair something. And since I'm terrible at soldering right now, I'd rather not screw up a 8ch cable lol. I'm bound to make some mistakes.

    As I see it, I'll use the 10awg just for the standalone subs, and 12awg for everything else. There isn't a strong reason not to use 10 for the subs. And since the NL connectors won't accept 10 anyway, no sense forcing it. 12 for the surrounds should be more than adequate it not overkill, but is pretty affordable. I don't see a reason to use 10 for a 4-650w speaker 15 ft away. Although the the thought of it is 'cool' to me lol. 12 should be fine.

    10 on the large screen channel 'stereo' mains as I'm calling them is still a maybe. But technically those are slightly underpowered anyway, based on qsc reccomendations. This is becuase the way the surround setup works I end up w to 'extra' amp channels on the low amp and the mid/high amp.

    So i thought it'd be perfect to use them for a set of stereo 'bigs' since I've been dying for a pair since I used uerie 813cs.

    This leaves no wasted amp channels. The amps are 1-2k each and there's 5 total soo it's sinful to leave extra.

    Eventually I'll add a third screen channel speaker, and two screen channel subs and the 21" sub (for fun). But I'll need to buy amps along w them. I don't see that happening until 4 or more years from now, and likely only when I'm in 'my home' not my parents basement as this current setup is.

    Thanks again. Your input is welcomed and appreciated fellas.
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Lol I've already 'saved' $120 by walking to get food and living supplies over the last month instead of taking the truck. Lol. If I do that for the next 20 years this system will be 'free' lmao. I think the wiring won't change much between amp and speaker makers of this type. But I will start another thread based on the actual speakers and amps, again becuase the cinema/film arena is new to me. Lol sorry I just thought of that as I stepped out into the rain.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    This is the rear of the qsc DPA amp.

  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I like the idea of symmetrical cables. I wouldn't bother for live but for this it makes sense.
    kmetal likes this.
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    OK, Random notes.

    Back then, we were running 5 amps in a 4-way system. We had 2 big sub cabinets per side, and jumped the 2 cabinets together for a 4-ohm load, and ran the 10/2 back to one big amp. [4 subs, 1 big (for the time) 2-ch amp]
    We had 2 big low-mid cabinets per side that each had very different characteristics. One pair was extremely punchy, in-your-face, low-mids, the other pair was super smooth low-mid. So rather than jump them together, we ran a separate 12/2 from each cabinet. Each pair had their own 2-ch amp, so we could tailor the amp volumes to get the best results for any given venue.
    We had 2 horn cabinets per side, which were OK jumped together. And we had a single cabinet containing 3 super-high compression tweeters per side, so they were jumped together inside the box.

    Normally with a 4-Conductor cable it's:
    Conductor #1 = Speaker #1 +
    Conductor #2 = Speaker #1 -
    Conductor #3 = Speaker #2 +
    Conductor #4 = Speaker #2 -​

    SpeakOn Cable ends only require cutters, wire strippers, and a good screwdriver to assemble. You could tin the wire, but you don't need to.

    The panel-mounts are available in 3 varieties:
    1) Normal MP which has 3/16" solder tabs, that can also accept 3/16" crimp-on spade connectors
    2) UC-Version, designed for higher power amps - which uses a ¼" solder tab, that can also take ¼" crimp-on spade connectors (also better for 12AWG wire)
    3) ST-Version, which uses screw terminals

    And whether you solder or crimp, heat-shrink can always be useful.

    I may be the only one, but I hate Phoenix plug / Euro-block connectors.
    kmetal likes this.
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Thanks fellas. im gonna plan on one 2/c cable per amp channel. Just in case. It's. Not quite as neat and tidy as 4/c, so that may change, but there is some element of extra sheiding. Something about 1:1 I like.

    I'm also gonna plan on symmetrical cable lengths. Again just cuz I like the sound of it. I guess technically the capacitance would be different either way because one would be coiled, but that's getting a little too picky. The racks gonna not be centered so I'll live with it. Unless it's at the rear of the 'studio' in which case I could have things identical/symmetrical. Either way, it'll be good enough.

    This is actually turning out to be pretty solder free!!!!!

    As far as euroblock terminals, I've never used them aside for car radio types, so I guess I can learn to hate them. Lol. Personally I thought it was an odd inclusion.

    Also hawk you brought up a good point about adding speakers to change the load. I was on the fence between the 400w or 650w amps for the surrounds becuase the diff is $200. I'm gonna go w the bigger one, in case I add more surrounds I think I can do so without adding an amp. I'll double check. Either way that made me decide on the bigger amp. Sweet.

    So here's the list fwiw

    Mogami-12/2 cinema refernce main (650w 8ohm) Tri-amped

    Mogami- 12/2 cinema subs (1150w 8ohms)

    Jsc- 12/2 surrounds (650w per channel 8ohm)

    Belden- 10/2 screen subs (1250w 4ohm)

    Belden- 10/2 screen channel (650w 4ohm) Bi-amped

    Overall this is pretty good. It lands $0.50-3.00 per foot. The 'name brand' wire is in the reference grade speakers. I know it doesn't matter much but it'll look good on the website and YouTube Ect.

    I'm open to suggestion on a non name 12/2 wire you guys have had good luck w. For non-in wall installation.

    Thanks again fellas, this one got solved pretty quickly and easily.

    It's also helped w the design aspect too. Since the most expensive wire and most number of wires are in the front, I'm going to try and plan in the amp rack in the front of the room. My main concern was power wire cost but it appears copper is copper. So I'll likely locate the front wall speakers on the breaker wall too. Unless a significant acoustic reason arises.

    Building the room around the system is a new way for me usually it's the opposite. I like it.
  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    On second thought since I wasn't thinking about the NL8 connectors. It may be simpler to use 4c for the mid/high refernce speakers. It'll keep things neat and save a little money. Since they're coming from the exact same amp, it doesn't make any sense to use two seperate cables.
  11. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    From what I've read from people I trust it's not good to tin the speaker wire with the Neutrik connectors. The solder flows slowly and allows the tinned end to deform, decreasing the pressure of the clamping screw. And I think there's supposed to be a copper collar or something. It's been a while and I'm talking about NL4 connectors so I could be wrong about this, but check it out before tinning ends.
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Okay, definitely something I want to confirm. I've used that type of connector twice, once for a club install, and once for my bands PA. I didn't tin the wires for either one and had no problems. But since I've got plenty of time, there's no excuse for not making a point to get educated on it.
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Kyle those are nothing like car stereo multi pin blocks in reality. Theoretically, wire strippers and a screwdriver are all you need, but they use the cheapest metal for the set screws. And if you ever get one tight enough, a lot of times they won't come out later if you need to change something. And on the inputs, you end up having to insulate the shields on the balanced input blocks so they don't short across any neighboring wires. Give me an XLR connector for the inputs any day, and full size 5-way binding posts or SpeakOn outputs. For me, an old-fashioned terminal barrier strip is way more reliable than the newer plastic euro-phoenix version.

    I've only ever tinned the ends for a SpeakOn female cable end a couple times, and it because there was a problem with the set screw and I soldered them in solid. Generally, I would avoid it because I think being less flexible would cause it to break sooner. It's not a bad idea to go through and tighten the SpeakOns occasionally.

    The original SpeakOns did have a copper collet and used a small allen-wrench to tighten the set-screw. Every generation since then has gone phillips head screwdriver and done away with the collet. Now there's a small lollipop shaped metal tang with a hole in the round end that goes around the set screw, and the tang sticks down into the hole alongside the wire to give the set screw something more solid than tiny strands of copper to mash against.

    Nobody can accuse the folks at Neutrik of resting on their laurels.
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Man sounds like those euro block connectors suck. Thanks for the fair warning! I wish they'd just put the screw terminals in. $2k for and amp and crap connections. Go figure.

    I like when companies work to improve their product and actually improve it, not just make it cheaper lol. Neutrik is German I belive and I'm a big fan of German stuff. I'll be using a combo of switchcraft and nuetrik connections for everything.

    Any thoughts on 12awg /2/4 wire? As I'm thinking through the room orientation I may have to put the speakers on the opposite wall of the rack... This makes the mogami stuff uncles sedately expensive. Short runs were one thing. But it's probably gonna be more like 30-40ft.

    Thoughts on jsc or belden for non in wall?

    Also I'm not sure what technically counts as in wall. The drywall structural wall will have an 'acoustic wall' just a basic 2x frame housing the treatments. Instead of wall panels. I was planning to do my wire runs hi/low voltage between the drywall and acoustic walls as much as possible. Both to avoid penetrations in the ISO layer, and be able to easily add more, and remove the wire when I move.

    Does that count as 'in wall'??? My thinking is that in wall codes are for between the ISO walls. Not sure.
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member


    Hey man have you used these ? http://www.neutrik.com/en/speakon/stx-series/nlt8fx-bag

    Nuetrik NLT8FX. They (nuetrik / parts express) say they fit up to 10 AWG wire. The others are rated for 12awg as you indicated.

    These are all steel which I like, and $22 each, which I don't.... But I only need 6 so watever.

    I'm more concerned about them fitting the wire. I was gonna order a plug and like 10' of the belden 10awg to try and fit all 8 wires in as a test. This opens the possibility of using all 10awg wire for the reference speakers. Using the in wall wire keeps it affordable an makes sense since the runs are in wall. Plus I could do individual wires for each amp channel.

    The mogami is out, I just can't think of a design that has the rack on the screen wall, or near it. So it's gonna be at the rear, at least as of now. So my runs are 40' each. Between the belden and the jsc I should be covered.

    I'm curious about your experience, if I can save $40 by not having to buy one plug and some wire it'd be cool. Otherwise I'll have to bite the bullet.

  16. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Sorry Kyle, I can't really comment on those specifically, because I haven't used them. The standard SpeakOn connectors are incredibly durable, so I couldn't justify paying double for steel. I can't recall ever having a broken SpeakOn cable, but as I've said - I will go through them every few years and make sure the lugs are tight.

    I don't think you're going to like the fact that those are solder connections, on the NLT8, which is probably why you can go up to 10 gauge. I'd want put a little heat-shrink on them too, which would also be a challenge. They recommend you strip back an inch of the outer jacket, then about 5/16 of the insulation on each conductor. That doesn't leave a lot of room for heatshrink, and during the soldering you'd have to be careful not to get the wire so hot that it started to shrink before it was in place.

    Which reminds me…… I haven't specifically used the NLT8, but this may be of interest. A couple years ago Neutrik had just introduced a cable mount male (NLT4MX) that I thought I'd use to make a SpeakOn Male-Female extension cable to throw in the trailer in case of emergency. I'm certainly no soldering rookie, but I remember the cable mount male being a total PITA. It was impossible to get the contacts (which look very similar to the contacts in the NLT8) to "take solder". There was something about the combination of flux, solder, and/or iron temperature it did not like. I could tin the solder cup, and solder in the perfectly tinned wire, and after it cooled down, give it a little tug and pull it right apart. I scuffed up the solder cups, I tried both liquid flux and flux paste, I tried 4 different irons of different temperatures, and even a big soldering gun. Any combination of those would have worked fine on the countless panel mount males I'd soldered, but nothing that I tried worked on that cable mount male. I don't know if there's some secret combination, or if I got one that was somehow defective. As a VERY experienced solderer I did not expect it to be the slightest problem, (other than the heat-shrink scenario described above, which triggered this flashback) but it ended in frustration and expletives. So after this 5 minute project turned into well over an hour, I put a normal (set-screw) female on the cable, and as a workaround for the in-case-of-emergency kit, I bought a couple Neutrik Male to Male couplers - which is a better solution anyway, logistically.

    You can decide if that's relevant. But before you drop $22 a piece on 6 of them, you might want to try 1 first.

    I recently bought a pair of speakers from Clair Brothers, and they tend to favor the Amphenol EP series multi-pins in cabinets of that vintage (probably because of the metal shell). But you'll have the same wire gauge limitations. 12Awg on the EP-4 and EP-6, and I think it's 14 or even 16AWG on the EP-8. I took out their Amphenols and put in the round-flange NL4MPR version of the SpeakOn panel mount male.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Hey thanks so much! I honestly didn't even realize they were solder connectors. I'm not dead set on using 10 AWG, but the price is right and it wouldn't hurt. But I'd it's gonna be absurdly annoying, or result in wasted materials due to my failed attempts it quickly becomes not worth it.

    I'm gonna order a test connector and 10-15ft of wire and the heat shrink and see.

    I've got a while to make the final choice but would like to be as accurate as possible w the accountant in a few weeks.

    I appreciate you sharing your experience.
  18. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    A certain, rather eccentric, ex-RO moderator said when she worked at NBC that they had thousands of extra feet of cables (actively passing signal) in the bowels of the building, to insure that the cables were the same length to keep everything in sync. Discussed in these 2 links: Link #1 Link #2.

    In a room the size you're talking about, it doesn't seem like a bad idea to keep your speaker cables exactly the same length, but with speaker cables shorter is always better. It couldn't add much to the overall cost and could only enhance laboratory measurements, as long as the loss/foot wasn't robbing you of something else more important. Whether or not any of this would be perceivable by human ears is anybody's guess, but the power of suggestion is powerful - so make sure you tell everyone about it so they'll convince themselves they can hear the difference. Install a switch, connected to nothing, and ask if they can hear the difference between A/B.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Sean G likes this.
  20. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Ah the old producers fader...lmao

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