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How to Make Your Own DIY Speaker Cables

by Dan Banquer May 05, 2015
Contributors:
Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder

Originally published 9/02/2004

A Do-It-Yourself Speaker Cable Guide

Contrary to audio cable marketing; anyone can cut, strip, and install banana plugs on speaker wire. The following is a step-by-step guide and recently added YouTube Video on how to do exactly that.  Save thousands of dollars with our tips and make the right speaker cables and lengths to meet your needs.  Our step by step instruction below utilizes basic 12AWG stranded speaker cable but we usually recommend 14/4 (4 conductor, 14AWG) stranded cable.  14/4 allows for pair redundancy should you ever desire to add more speakers either to that specific location or to have a tie-in point.  You can also parallel connect two pairs to lower resistance by dropping the effective gauge down to 11AWG.

More advanced users may wish to experiment with braided CAT5 cable designs to further reduce inductance. See DIY Speaker Cable Faceoff III for more instructions.

If you want to determine the best speaker cable gauge based on the impedance of your speakers and the lengths of your cable, check out our article on Speaker Cable Gauge.


How to Make your Own DIY Speaker Cables

The picture below shows all the wire, tools and banana plugs you will need.

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All of the above can be found at your local hardware store or online.

  1. 50 ft roll of speaker cable, oxygen free copper with a rope lay construction for flexibility. (Parts Express # 100-150) $22.95
  2. Wire cutters and stripper. (Parts Express # 360-634) $4.95. You may also wish to purchase this at your local hardware store. Make sure it has the capability to strip 12 AWG wire.
  3. Xacto Knife: (Parts Express # 360-369) $1.85
  4. Dayton Audio Banana Plugs: (Parts Express # 091-1260) $6.95 for a set of four. There are two red and two black banana plugs per package.

Step 1: Cut the length of wire you need to go from your power amplifier to your loudspeaker.

Step 2: Lay the wire down on a flat upraised surface and using the Xacto knife cut in between the two separate wires to separate them. Approximately 1.5 to 2.0 inches will be fine. See picture below.

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The following photo shows how the wires should look after you have separated them with your Xacto Knife.

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Step 3: Take the Wire cutter and stripper tool and insert approximately 3/4 inch of wire in the 12 AWG section as shown below.

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Step 4: Squeeze down with enough pressure to cut the clear insulation of the wire and then push the wire stripper toward the end of the wire to gently remove the insulation.

Step 5: Twist the wire with your fingers to tighten the loose strands together.

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Left Wire: Insulation has been stripped.
Right Wire: Twisted with your fingers to tighten the loose strands together.

Step 6: Take one set of the red and black banana plugs and loosen the thumbscrew on each of the banana plugs so that the speaker wire can now be inserted into the opening you have just made by loosening the thumbscrew. Attach the red banana plug to the (+) wire and the black banana plug to the (ö) wire. Insert the speaker wire into the opening and then tighten down the thumbscrew. If you use a wrench to tighten down the thumbscrew, do be careful and do not tighten down so hard that you break the connector. You may also wish to add a small drop of ãLok-Titeä to the threads of the thumb screw to insure the thumbscrew stays in one position. See photo below:

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Step7: Cut the excess wire protruding from the banana plug. 

Step 8 : Repeat this process for the other side of the cable and for all of the other speaker cables you need to make.

Editorial Note about Wire Selection and Cable Dress up by Forum Member Rojo:

Please note that ultra low price speaker wire (such as Amazon Basics) is copper-clad aluminum, and is only about 2/3 as efficient as oxygen-free copper. When you shop for speaker wire, make sure what you're buying is oxygen-free copper.   Monoprice typically has good quality OFC lamp cord for a reasonable price.

Also, a bit of heat shrink tubing, cable pants, and mesh wire sleeve can really dress up your cables and make them look expensive.

Special Request: Share your favorite DIY Speaker cable designs in our forum and let us know how you made them.

Happy Cabling!

Dan Banquer
R.E. Designs

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!

 

Recent Forum Posts:

DaleAV posts on May 13, 2015 10:53
I've been playing around with different speaker cable schemes for decades. I can also recommend Blue Jeans Cable for many cable applications. I think they about as high end as anyone needs to go, regardless of your available budget.
In the last few years I have gone with KnuKonceptz Kord Ultraflex speaker cable for a couple of important reasons.
The main one being the flexibility of their cable. They lay flat no kinking at all. The 2nd reason is they use a very high strand count of tinned soft copper wire. (Another reason for the flex quality). What this does is reduce the overall cable diameter compared to most other cables of the same gauge.

Unless you need to impress folks looking at your system with boa constrictor or car battery sized leads coming from your speakers, I think they are one of the best cables around.
At first glance look like ordinary 16 or 18 ga lamp cord when in fact they are 14 ga. That is the gauge I used for my 12' pair. They have 10, 12, 14 and 16 gauge cable running 27 to 79 cents a foot.
They also carry more esoteric and bi wire cables as well auto wiring and connectors.
Deep Ear posts on May 11, 2015 20:18
When I started out my loudspeaker design career at Marantz (Sony-Superscope) in 1971 we had rolls of twisted 14 gauge (which lowers inductance vs. non-twisted) we used to wire our loudspeaker prototypes internally. So 44 years later Gene's advocacy of dual twisted pairs is very good advice indeed. Another relatively inexpensive trick I've used is to buy 12 or 14-gauge extension cord wire (at a Lowe's or Home Depot) which is already twisted and cut the ends off. Then attach to banana plugs as Dan shows.
corey posts on May 08, 2015 16:29
For my front 3 speakers I made cables with a four strand braid. I don't think it makes a sonic difference, but it looks kinda cool. With braided cables it's a good idea to check continuity with an ohm meter before using them.
15856
Henry Belk posts on May 07, 2015 18:08
I have been doing this for years, even before Home Theater became a mainstay in the market. I started out purchasing Monster cable by the roll from my local store and just used bare wire when the receivers had only clips on the back. Then came 5 way binding posts and banana plugs and spades, I now purchase wire from Monoprice by the roll (white, in-wall 12 gauge) and vola I have great sound on my system. The system consists of Yamaha RX-v475 receiver, Polk Audio TSi200's, CS20, OM3's (rear), Fluance AVBP2 (Surrounds), and a Sunfire SDS8 subwoofer on a Auralex Grandma pad. I listen mostly to Jazz recorded in FLAC Lossless format from the master recordings, or from LP on a U-Turn Orbit table. This works for most anything out there, from movies and TV shows in 5.1 or 7.1, to music in any format from mp3 to AAC and Flac. I have a Yamaha BD-S71 Blu-ray player but have not used it much due to all my files are stored on an external 3tb WD Cloud, using an ACER Tower computer with JRiver 20 to run all files.
Speedskater posts on May 06, 2015 13:14
On Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) conductors. We are seeing much more of this type of wire. The big-box stores have it the audio/video/phone department. With impressive brand names, including ‘RCA’. Some of the major on-line vendors also have it.
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