How to Make Your Own DIY Speaker Cables
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.
All of the above can be found at your local hardware store or online.
- 50 ft roll of speaker cable, oxygen free copper with a rope lay construction for flexibility. (Parts Express # 100-150) $22.95
- 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.
- Xacto Knife: (Parts Express # 360-369) $1.85
- 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.
The following photo shows how the wires should look after you have separated them with your Xacto Knife.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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Recent Forum Posts:
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.