In this detailed how-to guide, I’ll show you how to extend speaker wire for longer length with great results. It’s not very hard once you know how to connect & splice wire correctly.
There’s a basic diagram included right at the top. However, for best results be sure to check out my detailed steps & photos below (and to find out which way is best for you).
This article is part of the speaker wire main page.
- How to splice wire with crimp connectors
- 1. How to cut speaker wire
- 2. How to strip speaker wire
- 3. How to use crimp connectors with speaker wire
- Splicing speaker wire by soldering
- How to solder speaker wire
- Using twist connectors (wire nuts)
- Why you shouldn’t do it the “just twist and tape” way
- Which speaker wire is positive? Which is negative?
- How do I check if a speaker wire is positive or negative?
- Which is positive: copper or silver?
Quick diagram: how to splice & extend speaker wire
First things first: here’s a simple diagram covering the basics for stripping & connecting speaker wire using one of the 2 most reliable ways.
You’ll only need a few tools to do it. Between the two ways, using solder is extremely reliable but more hassle & takes more time. Crimp connectors, however, give great results in only minutes and this approach is what I use most of the time for my home or car installation jobs.
While my diagram may be helpful, I’d like to help you understand the pros and cons of each so I can help save you time, hassle, and maybe even a bit of money, too.
Read on to learn more about these plus other options you have.
How to splice wire with crimp connectors
Using crimp connectors is one of my favorite ways to splice & extend speaker or power wire as a professional installer. It’s fairly fast and gives professional results with very little hassle or work.
This is my top recommended way to extend speaker wire for nearly anyone.
Here are a few reasons why I recommend it:
- When done properly, it’s very reliable and the wire won’t come apart
- Easy to do – only takes a few minutes
- Not affected by temperature changes & time
- Crimp tools & connectors are widely available and are affordable
There are only a few steps involved: cutting the wire (if needed), stripping the wire, and preparing the wire & crimping the connectors.
1. How to cut speaker wire
Examples of some of the best ways to cut speaker wire using tools or a pair of utility scissors. Cutting wire is easy with the correct tools. Many tools like wire strippers or crimpers also have a cutting feature built-in.
Cutting speaker wire (or power wire) normally isn’t hard but you definitely need the right tool. The reason why is thatcommon tools like regular scissors can’t cut wire properly and can even become damaged.
Some great tools are very affordable that will cut wire very well and make extending or repairing speakerwiremuch easier:
- Cutting pliers
- Automatic wire strippers with a cutter section
- Needle nose pliers with cutting section
- Crimper/stripper tool with cutting feature
- Utility scissors – works ok for smaller gauges, not larger
Of the 5 listed here, I recommend and use wire cutting pliers as they’re capable of cutting a wide range of wire sizes. For typical speaker wire like 18 gauge, the wire cutting feature on many other tools works fine.
Ultimately, though, it’s a lot more convenient to have an “all-in-one” tool like a crimp tool if you’re only doing light work occasionally.
Wire cutting tips
To cut wire, just insert the wire and slightly close the tool until the wire is securely held in place & can’t move. Then squeeze very firmly. The wire should “snap” lightly and will be cut.
While you can get by with utility scissors (don’t use standard scissors used for paper or fabrics!) you’ll have to insert the wire right at the inside of the blades and cut very carefully.
Scissors aren’t a good choice and the wire can even get jammed inside.
2. How to strip speaker wire
To strip speaker wire you can use a number of tools. I recommend standard wire a standard low-priced wire stripper/crimper (shown above) or similar.
Stripping speaker wire can be alittle bittricky, but it’s a skill you’ll pick up quickly after a few tries. The main trick is to pinch only the wire’s insulation and not the wire strands themselves.
If you catch the wire inside by squeezing a stripper too hard you’ll likely break off of the wire strands.
To strip wire:
- Insert the wire in the stripper and close it carefully on the insulation. Use enough force to hold the wire in place and slightly pinch the insulation, but not enough to put force on the wire inside.
- Hold the tool & pressure in place firmly so it cannot move.
- Pull the wire. The insulation could break off and the exposed wire should remain.
What to know before stripping speaker wire the first time
Certain types of wire (especially smaller gauges like 20AWG, 24AWG, etc can be harder to strip without breaking. For your first few times, practice on some surplus wire that won’t hurt your speaker wire length needs.
Once the wire is stripped you’re ready to connect it & splice using crimp connectors.
I recommend stripping enough wire to leave about 3/8″ to 1/2″ wire exposed. For soldering, you’ll need a minimum of 1/2″ to be able to twist the wire together.
For crimp connectors, 3/8″ or more should be fine.
3. How to use crimp connectors with speaker wire
Once you’ve prepared your speaker wire by stripping it, it’s time to use a crimp connector on each wire and a tool to crimp them for a reliable connection.
Using crimp connectors with speaker wire isn’t very hard – I promise! You’ll get the hang of it after a few tries.
How to crimp speaker wire properly:
- Strip the wire leaving 3/8″ to 1/2″ bare wire exposed.
- Tightly twist the wire so it can be pushed into the connector properly.
- Insert the wire into one end firmly, pushing it into the metal contact inside. Be sure to insert it fully.
- Place the connector into the crimp tool in the appropriate position in the tool, near the end of the connector.
- Crimp very hard with the tool to make press the connector down hard, holding the wire inside permanently.
- Repeat the same for the other side & speaker wire.
Tip: For best results, once you’re done pull gently on the wire while holding the connector. The wire shouldn’t come out. If it does, you’ve crimped it poorly and will need to do it over again.
What should it look like when you correctly extend speaker wire?
Crimp connectors, also sometimes called butt connectors, are sold in standard colors for the range of wire gauge sizes they can be used with. Although red is listed as fitting 18 AWG wire, I’ve been using blue butt connectors with 18 AWG wire for years without problems.
Examples of “butt” (crimp) connectors are shown here. They’re sold based on the wire gauge they can be used with.
I recommend trying that as since the internal opening is a bit bigger you can be sure they’ll fit with various types of speaker wire near that size. That’s because speaker wire manufacturers sometimes have different internal wire conductor sizes.
Splicing speaker wire by soldering
This is hands-down the most reliable way to extend & splice speaker wire. When done properly soldered wire is extremely strong.
How to solder speaker wire
To begin, follow the wire cutting & stripping steps from the first section (using crimp connectors).
Follow these steps:
- Cut & strip the speaker wire (at least 1/2″ length of bare wire is needed).
- Hold up both ends to form an “X” shape with the wire facing opposite directions.
- Hold both ends and tightly twist each end around the other until they’re completely wrapped over each other.
- After the soldering iron is hot, apply heat to the wire with the tip. Once heated (after a few seconds usually), apply solder enough it has flowed fully through the wire.
- Rotate the wire to the other side and apply the solder until all of the wire is fully saturated with solder.
- Allow the wire to cool for a few moments.
- Tear 2 short pieces of electrical tape. Starting at the insulation and at an angle, tightly wrap the tape until it is fully covered.
It’s important to fully cover the wire once you’re done. That’s to prevent the wire from touching each other and cause a short circuit that can permanently damage the output components in an amplifier or stereo.
How long does soldering speaker wire properly take?
All in all, you’ll need about 10-15 minutes to do this work with a soldering iron vs about 1-3 minutes with crimp connectors.
Budgeting for soldering speaker wire
A soldering iron can be bought for about $7-$10. You’ll also need some electrical wire and solder, too. For best results, I recommend at least a 25W soldering iron to get the wire hot enough for the solder to flow well.
Using twist connectors (wire nuts)
Wire nuts, also called wire twist connectors, are typically used for wiring installation in homes & buildings. They’re another option although I don’t recommend them as they’re a bit less reliable than crimp connectors or solder.
Wire nuts work by using a threaded metal insert to screw down onto the wire, holding it together as it goes.
They’re pretty fast, but unfortunately, on occasion, I’ve seen them come loose from wire so I don’t advise using them. Instead, I’d highly recommend crimp connectors.
Why you shouldn’t do it the “just twist and tape” way
You may be tempted to use the “just twist and tape” method, but Istrongly encourage not to do so.
Why? Because it’s very unreliable and can be a mess to fix later.If the wire comes apart, as often happens, you can potentially damage your stereo or amplifier due to a short circuit.
It’s not worth the risk!
Simply twisting the speaker wire and then wrapping it with tape isn’t enough. In my experience as an installer, over time the 2 speaker wires will begin to separate since they’re not held together. To make matters worse, over time heat can affect electrical tape and it can begin to come off of the wire.
It also leaves behind an adhesive residue if it has been subjected to a lot of heat as often happens in car audio installations.
Which speaker wire is positive? Which is negative?
The most common kinds of positive wire markings are shown here as examples. 99% of the time, figuring out which wire is positive is really easy once you know what to look for.
The good news is that once you know what to look for, 99% of the time it’s very easy to tell which speaker wire is positive and which is negative.
How do I check if a speaker wire is positive or negative?
Here’s a list of the most common ways to tell which is the positive wire:
- A printed line or series of dashes/lines is on the positive wire
- One wire’s insulation is red or a different color than the negative wire (most often red is used)
- One wire has a copper color and one has a silver finish
- The positive wire may have small positive (“+”) symbols and/or wire gauge info printed on it
- An imprint or molded stripe is made in the positive wire’s insulation
Of the 5 kinds, imprints can occasionally be a little bit harder to notice so sometimes you need to look very closely under good lighting. Also, positive wires that use a “+” print can be a little hard to read sometimes, too.
Which is positive: copper or silver?
These are less common, but of speaker & power wires that have a copper and a silver color, you can pick one of the two to be positive. However, as a rule the copper wire is treated as the positive.
The “silver” wire isn’t really silver – it’s copper wire that’s been lightly coated (“tinned”) in most cases.
Once you know which is the positive wire then the other is the negative wire.
Music uses alternating current (AC) signals and doesn’t flow in only one direction. We use one wire as the positive one when connecting speakers to be consistent when connecting them so as to wire them all the same way for the best results.
How do I extend the length of my speaker wire? ›
Insert the positive end of your existing speaker wire into the first crimp connector as far as the bare wire will go. Then, insert the positive end of the extension wire into the other end of the connector. Put the negative ends of the wires into a second connector in the same way.How do you splice and extend speaker wire? ›
One of the easiest ways of splicing a wire is using a twist-on wire cap. Simply put the two wires you would like to splice side-by-side facing the same direction. Affix the cap to the ends of the wires and twist clockwise to tighten the wires together.How can I extend speaker wire without soldering? ›
What you need: a roll of electrical tape and two wires whose ends have been twisted together. First, lay the twisted part of the wires onto a strip of electrical tape. Wrap the tape around the wires tightly 5-6 times, making sure to cover up all the wire. Give your connection a tug to make sure it is strong.What is the best way to splice speaker wire? ›
There are a couple of ways to splice speaker wires. One way is to twist speaker wires together and use electrical tape. However, tape wears out over time, and the smallest tug on the wires can separate the connection. The better option is an in-line electrical crimp connector (also known as a "butt" connector).What can I do if cable is too short? ›
Whenever a cable is not long enough to reach the new location with enough length to make a proper termination and splice, you only have 2 choices. Replace the entire cable from its origin to the new destination, or you can splice the cable and add the required length by using an approved junction box and cover plate.Can you connect 2 speaker wires together? ›
Summary of Connecting 2 speakers
If each speaker has an impedance of 8 ohms or more, then you can generally connect them in parallel. If each speaker has an impedance below 8 ohms, you should wire them in series.
Simply strip the middle of your wire, remove the insulation using a hobby knife/soldering iron, wrap a separate wire/terminal to the exposed wire, and solder. When finished, add some heat shrink or hot glue for insulation. The image below shows a resistor and wire being added to the middle of two wires.Is it OK to twist speaker wires together? ›
If you have a vintage amp, then it is generally recommended that you twist your speaker wires. This is because vintage amps tend to be more susceptible to interference. If you have a modern amp, however, twisting your speaker wires is generally not necessary.What is the best way to join two wires? ›
A much better way is to solder the wires together. Twist the strands as before, use something to hold them in place and use a soldering iron. The easiest way is to use a flat tip which you then place under the wires. This will ensure that the wires get hot enough and make a good connection with the solder.How do you splice speaker wire with electrical tape? ›
Strip about half of the speaker wire, coating off a single end of all wires, then twist the stripped ends together. Now, fit the twisted wires into a wire nut opening and twist the cap till you get secure wires. Finally, enclose the spliced speaker wire via electrical tapes for more protection.
Can I cut speaker wire to extend it? ›
It is not recommended that the speaker wires be lengthened or extended. Doing so may reduce the audio quality and performance of the connected speakers. There are several variables to consider when extending speaker wire cables.Does speaker wire length affect sound quality? ›
When long runs (of either interconnects or speaker cables) are used, cable quality becomes extra important. Due to the additional signal losses longer runs impose, the better the cable is at “protecting” the signal, the better will be the sound.Does cable length affect? ›
So, Does Cable Length Actually Matter? Yes, cable length does matter when it comes to sound quality, and it is something you will need to consider. However, the extent to which this is true varies from situation to situation. The good news is the cables you already have are probably fine even if they are long.Does longer cable affect speed? ›
Length is one of the many factors. To answer the question, if the length of the Ethernet cables has anything to do with the speed of the connection – yes it does. The Cable run limitations of Ethernet cables in your network have a direct impact on the speed of your internet connection.Can you daisy chain speaker wire? ›
Most speaker cabs have 2 jacks on them. One jack is used for connecting the speaker to the amp and the other can be used to connect a second speaker off the first. This process is known as "daisy-chaining."Is it better to wire speakers in series or parallel? ›
Speakers are always louder when wired in parallel. Series wiring leads to more impedance and thus less voltage per speaker which translates to less volume per speaker. A parallel circuit reduces the resistance and impedance on each speaker and equates to more volume.What cable do I need to connect two speakers? ›
You will need standard coaxial audio cables. They are not included with the speaker. The instruction manual will tell you how to pair the speakers together in what they call a Party Chain using the cables.What are the three ways to splice a wire? ›
- Stripping Wires before Splicing Them.
- Using a Twist-On Wire Cap.
- Installing a Butt Splice.
- Making a Lineman's Splice.
Depending on the techniques used in twisting or tying the wires together, there are three tes of splices commonly used in household wiring and repair jobs: the pigtail splice the Western Union splice, and the tap splice (also called a branch splice).How do you keep two cables together? ›
- Fasten Cables to Walls With Coaxial Cable Staples. ...
- Guide Cords Along Delicate Surfaces With Command Strips. ...
- Secure Bundles of Cables With Zip Ties or One-Wraps. ...
- Use Painter's Tape in a Pinch. ...
- Set Up Enough Power Strips. ...
- Label Your Cords. ...
- Use Bread Bag Tags if You Don't Have a Label Maker. ...
- Store Unused Cables in a Shoe Rack.
Which wire is used to connect? ›
So, due to its low resistance, copper wires are used as connecting wires.Is it safe to splice speaker wire? ›
Still, companies try to sell wire "cookers" and break-in services to perpetuate this myth and make a buck. Splices degrade the sound: Audio experts have determined that properly spliced and soldered wires do not change or degrade the sound coming out of speakers.Should left and right speaker wires be same length? ›
It's also important that the wire lengths to both speakers are the same to ensure they both have equal impedance values. The cross sectional area of the wire is referring to the thickness, or gauge, of the wire. The thicker a wire or the lower the gauge, the less resistance.Can you splice with just electrical tape? ›
The quick answer is "You don't use electrical tape for making a splice; it's almost certainly illegal, it's terrible workmanship, and it's harder to get right than other actual splices." Some homeowner is going to see this and think it's fine to splice their wires with just some tape (probably buried, of course).How do you splice wires without electrical tape? ›
Heat Shrink Tubing
To use heat shrink tubing, you just need to thread the wire through the tube you want to insulate. Next, shrink the tubing around the wire using a heat gun. If you don't have one, a hairdryer usually works just fine. The tubing will shrink as it heats up, forming a tight fit over the wire.
While in theory heavier wire can have longer runs, recommended household audio lengths should not exceed 50 feet (15 m). The gauge numbers in SWG (standard wire gauge) and AWG (American wire gauge) reduce as the wire gets larger.How far can speaker wire go? ›
Note2: Avoid Speaker Cable runs more than 50 feet. Best Performance can be achieved by moving the amplifiers closer to the speakers. For example, 18 gauge wire connected to an 8 Ohms speaker should not exceed more than 32 feet in length from amp/receiver to speaker.What happens if speaker wire is too thick? ›
For ordinary lengths of speaker wire in a home (a few feet), any wire size thicker than #16 is unlikely to make any difference, Thicker wire will not matter, but it won't help. It will be a waste of money and a hassle to connect.What gauge is the best speaker wire? ›
Speaker wires that are anywhere between 12 to 16 gauge are most commonly used for connecting speakers to an amplifier or an Audio/Video (A/V) receiver. A lower-gauge number indicates a thicker wire, while a higher-gauge number indicates a thinner wire.Do banana plugs improve sound? ›
Most audio enthusiasts find the majority of these are fairly common and the process of connecting them to the bared wires is not as difficult as it might appear. Clearly, banana plugs, and connectors like them are the key elements for gaining impeccable sound quality from your audio system.
What is high quality speaker wire? ›
For the best quality wire, looking for something made with 100% copper is highly recommended. However, if you're looking to save a bit, copper-plated or copper-clad aluminum wire is a fine substitute, and there is no noticeable difference in sound quality.Can speaker cable be joined? ›
Splicing your speaker cables can be an incredibly effective way to extend the length of your cable runs. If it's done well, you really shouldn't notice any difference in your audio playback. If it's done poorly, however, it can lead to audio dropouts and even short circuits.What are the four wires for in speaker wire? ›
4-conductors are most often used to send an amplified stereo signal to two speakers which are in close proximity to one another or to a stereo volume control. Run this 4-conductor cable (+ and - for Left; + and - for Right) to a pair of speakers by running one cable to the first speaker and then continuing t...What are the speaker wire connectors called? ›
A speaker terminal is a type of electrical connector often used for interconnecting speakers and audio power amplifiers.Can you use extension cord for speaker wire? ›
Yes, you can. Some audiophiles will surely disagree, but I would feel comfortable using almost any insulated wire for my speakers. The wires in an extension cord are likely to be 16 gauge or thicker, and that should work well enough for most speakers.Does length of speaker wire matter? ›
Generally speaking, resistance starts to have an effect on the performance of a speaker when resistance is greater than 5% of the speaker's impedance. Resistance is affected by two key aspects: wire length and the cross sectional area of the wire. The shorter the wire is, the less resistance it will have.Is it OK to use extension cords? ›
Extension cords can overheat and cause fires when used improperly. Overheating is usually caused by overloading or connecting appliances that consume more watts than the cord can handle. Damaged extension cords can also cause fires. Extension cords should only be used temporarily.What wire is used in extension cords? ›
Polyethylene, or PE, is used for antenna lead wire and multi-conductor cables. Flexible Cord is the industry name for the types of wires and cables from which power supply cords and extension cord sets are made.What happens if speaker wire is too long? ›
For example, 18 gauge wire connected to an 8 Ohms speaker should not exceed more than 32 feet in length from amp/receiver to speaker. If you have a wire that exceeds its recommended length, the audio signal and quality will degrade.What size speaker wire for 100 watts? ›
For example, if your amp is in the trunk and you're sending 100 watts to your front speakers, 14-gauge speaker wire is a good call.
When should I use 12 gauge or 14 gauge speaker wire? ›
The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. Thicker wire presents less resistance to current flow. Relative thickness of wire gauges, drawn to scale (not actual size). Thick wire (12 or 14 gauge) is recommended for long wire runs, high power applications, and low-impedance speakers (4 or 6 ohms).Does speaker wire need to break in? ›
All audio cables require a period of break-in for the sound quality to reach its full sonic potential.