Temporarily connecting stereo speakers
July 22, 2007 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Stereo speaker cable length AND connection questions...

I've got two sets of speakers hooked up to my Onkyo receiver. I want to (temporarily) put the downstairs speakers (Bose 161) in the window so people sitting outside can listen to music. However, the 161's are already on about 50 feet of cable (standard 16 gauge wire). The questions: 1) Can I add another 15-30 feet without effecting performance? 2) How to splice them together? Just twist and cap them off? (Putting them back is no problem - I'll just cut and reconnect.) Thanks!!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan to Technology (7 answers total)
To splice them together, yeah, you just twist the wires together, add a bit of electrical tape, voila.

Can't really answer about the performance. You could simply try it and see what happens, I suppose...
posted by vernondalhart at 10:01 AM on July 22, 2007

You will lose a bit of range, but likely not enough for the human ear to notice a difference. Generally, you should use a thicker wire for longer permanent runs, but temporarily shouldn't be a problem. I'd splice them the same way as above. Make sure the two strands are well insulated from each other.

More information here on wire length:

posted by Roger Dodger at 10:33 AM on July 22, 2007

Yeesh, clickable link.
posted by Roger Dodger at 10:35 AM on July 22, 2007

Response by poster: Electrical tape vs. caps - is it one or the other? Or, just to be sure, should I splice, cap, and then tape to cover?

A Home Depot guy (!) thought capping should do fine.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:42 AM on July 22, 2007

An additional 15-30 feet will be a nearly imperceptible loss.

16 gauge wire will add about 0.8 ohm of resistance per 100 feet. Therefore, simplified:

30 / 100 * 0.8 = 0.24 ohm

Home speakers are nearly always an 8-ohm load.

8 - 0.24 = 7.76 ohm

7.76 / 8 = 0.97

Bottom line, your extra 30 feet will add about 3% attenuation or ~ -0.13 dB.

A good twist splice won't change things much, perhaps another 0.05 ohms -- just make sure and maintain the polarity (-,+) and rock on.

On preview - caps are fine, I wouldn't worry about taping for a short term setup unless the wires are exposed beyond the cap, or it is wet.
posted by SpookyFish at 10:51 AM on July 22, 2007

Best answer: If it were me, I'd splice, cap and tape. Honestly, simply stripping the wires and twisting them together would probably work just fine as a temporary solution (alternately, you could just buy 150 feet of lamp cord and use that), but tape and caps seems like a good middle-of-the-road option (and adding the tape is, what, ten seconds of work?)
posted by box at 10:53 AM on July 22, 2007

I find caps are a lot neeter. Electrical tape deteriorates pretty quick.

Whatever you use for insulation (or whatever combination of things), you have to be sure that the +ve and -ve wires can't touch each other, but otherwise it doesn't really matter.

Might be interesting to note that a tiny little bit of touching (like one strand of the stranded conductor) is probably worse than a well connected short. Typically, an amplifier will be designed to detect "hard shorts" and shutdown, it is often "partial shorts" that cause trouble.
posted by Chuckles at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2007

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