14 vs 16 Gauge Speaker Wire: Explore The Differences

When connecting speakers to your sound system, it is crucial to choose the correct speaker wire gauge for the best signal transmission. People often debate whether 14 or 16-gauge speaker wires are better. When you compare 14 vs 16 gauge speaker wire, the major difference is their resistance and thickness. 

Both 14 and 16-gauge speaker wires are flexible, but the 16-gauge wire is more bendable compared to the 14-gauge wire. SVS, Monoprice, and Amazon Basics are a few of the finest speaker wire manufacturers for home theater systems. Their speaker wires are high quality, reasonably priced, and deliver undistorted sound.

If you are installing a home theater system for the first time, you may be unsure about the thickness of the speaker wire and how it affects sound quality. But fear not; we’re here to break it down for you and aid you in choosing between a 14-gauge and a 16-gauge speaker wire.

What Is A Speaker Wire?

A speaker wire is a kind of electrical wire with two or multiple silver or copper-covered conductors. These wires transmit information between the loudspeaker and the amplifier. Speaker wires play a big role in the final sound quality. You might feel a bit puzzled by all the different wire gauges, but it’s not too difficult once we break it down within a minute.

In America, the standard scale for wire gauges is the American Wire Gauge, also known as the Brown & Sharpe gauge. It’s not just for speaker wires but for all types of wires used in America. American Wire Gauge (AWG) isn’t the lone wire gauge around the world, but it is the one utilized in America.

It was created by the Brown & Sharpe Company back in the mid-1800s. In 1857, AWG became the official industry-standard sizing. You might think the numbers of the wire gauge mean different sizes, and you’d be right. However, the system might be a little counterintuitive.

The lower the number of the wire gauge, the thicker the wire, and the higher the number, the thinner the wire. Therefore, a 14 gauge wire is thicker compared to a 16 gauge one. The most common sizes you’ll find are 12, 14, and 16 gauge, but there are other thinner and thicker wires on the market, even though they aren’t used as much. 

It’s particularly true for sound systems and home theaters in general. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s check out the 14 and 16-wire gauges in detail. 

Introduction To A 14 Gauge Speaker Wire

A 14 gauge speaker wire aims to prevent power loss over long wire runs. This gauge works well in high-power applications, like with 2 or 4-ohm subwoofers. You can use a 14 gauge speaker wire for different audio setups, including home theater speakers, stereo speakers, and digital audio. 

Generally, manufacturers make 14 gauge speaker wires with two conductors to distinguish polarity. These two conductors are bare copper and tin. They also cover it with a transparent PVC jacket for effortless installation. 

A 14 gauge speaker wire’s diameter is 1.62814 millimeters, giving it a cross-section area of 2.08 square millimeters. This wire supports a maximum of 5.9 amperes for power transmission and 32 maximum amperes for chassis wiring. 

Finally, the breaking force for a 14-gauge copper wire is around 119 pounds. A 14-gauge cord is good for long runs over 50 feet when you’re using 120 volts, and it won’t harm the sound going to the speakers. Keep in mind that thicker wires mean less impedance.

Pros of A 14 Gauge Speaker Wire

  • A 14 gauge speaker wire is easy to install
  • They are ideal for wiring long-wire runs
  • When it comes to high-power audio systems, these speaker wires work efficiently

Cons of A 14 Gauge Speaker Wire

  • A 14 gauge speaker wire is not good for in-wall wiring

Introduction To A 16 Gauge Speaker Wire

A 16 gauge speaker wire measures 1.29032 millimeters in diameter, giving it a cross-section area of 1.31 square millimeters. This wire supports a maximum of 3.7 amperes for power transmission and 22 maximum amperes for chassis wiring. The breaking force generally for a 16-gauge copper wire is around 75 pounds.

The 16 gauge speaker wire is good for giving power to high-impedance speakers, like 8-ohm speakers, over short wire runs. They’re also inexpensive for short runs in underground and indoor wiring. Some 16 gauge speaker wires, like the Musician’s Gear 16-Gauge Speaker Cable, are made with oxygen-free copper wires with 2 conductors. 

As a result, they are great for short-run monitors. Despite being affordable, the Musician’s Gear Cable prevents ultra-low signal resistance and low noise. A 16-gauge speaker wire can work well for moderate loads, such as a subwoofer that has less than 225 watts of power. 

Also, you can use them for your car’s subwoofers. Experts suggest using 16-gauge cords for moderately-powered sound systems and stereo speakers to get the best performance.

Pros of A 16 Gauge Speaker Wire

  • These wires are highly recommended for efficiently transmitting audio signals from a power amplifier to a speaker in short runs
  • 16 gauge speaker wires are cheaper than 14 gauge speaker wires
  • Experts in audio systems suggest using these speaker wires for home theater speakers
  • They’re a perfect choice for short-run monitors

Cons of A 16 Gauge Speaker Wire

  • A 16 gauge speaker wire isn’t efficient when you use it over long distances

What Are The Differences Between 14 Gauge Wires and 16 Gauge Wires?

Trying to decide between a 14-gauge speaker wire and a 16-gauge speaker wire for your home theater system? Consider these common factors when choosing between a 14-gauge speaker wire and a 16-gauge speaker:

Impedance Rating

Speaker impedance means the resistance to the movement of electric current. When a speaker has a lower impedance rating, it indicates that the electrical signals in sound can flow through the speaker more easily. 

When dealing with low-impedance speakers that have a 4 or 6-ohm rating, it’s a good idea to use thicker speaker wires, like 14-gauge speaker wires. On the flip side, 8 or 16-ohm speakers work well with 16-gauge speaker wires. However, the impedance rating becomes important when you link two or multiple speakers to an amplifier. 

For example, linking four 4-ohm speakers to a single amplifier creates a total impedance of only 1-ohm. That’s very low for your power amplifier. In this case, using an impedance-matched speaker selector becomes necessary.

Wire Resistance

When dealing with speaker wire, a crucial factor to consider is resistance. You would want to avoid wires with higher resistance, as they waste the power from receivers or amplifiers. Usually, thicker wires are comparatively better because they offer less resistance compared to thinner ones. 

However, just because thicker wires are better doesn’t mean you should pay more for larger wires if it’s unnecessary.  The thickness or size of the speaker cable should be chosen based on speaker impedance, your home theater system,  and other relevant factors. 

When the wire resistance surpasses 5% of a speaker’s impedance, it starts affecting the speaker’s performance. This is where the difference between 14-gauge and 16-gauge speaker wires comes into play, as the 14-gauge wire has less resistance compared to the 16-gauge wire.

Distance between Source and Speakers

Consider the distance between your speakers/subwoofers and your amplifier/receiver to choose wire thickness. A 14-gauge speaker wire is particularly important for lengthy wire runs. Choose these wires when the distance spans from 40 to 80 feet, provided the speaker impedance isn’t very low and the power output isn’t very high. 

On the contrary, a 16-gauge speaker wire works well for shorter distances, and you likely won’t need to stretch your wire beyond hundreds of feet to connect the speakers to the amplifier. The 16-gauge speaker wire performs very well with low-impedance speakers, provided that the distance doesn’t exceed 24-48 feet.

You will notice that attaching a 6-ohm speaker to a 14 gauge speaker wire for wire runs of about 50 feet is feasible for the best performance. A 16 gauge speaker wire can secure a 6-ohm speaker inside a distance of 36 feet. 

For an 8-ohm load speaker with a maximum length of 48 feet, a 16-gauge speaker wire is recommended. Go for a 14-gauge wire for a similar load speaker and a maximum length of 80 feet.


The cost of the wire goes up as it gets thicker. Copper is the general material for speaker cables. Thicker wires cost more as they use more copper in making the wires. So, a 14-gauge speaker wire is pricier compared to a 16-gauge speaker wire. 

Final Words 

When picking speaker wires gauge size, go for the size that suits your speakers. Picking between the 14 vs 16 gauge speaker wire boils down to selecting between affordability and efficiency. For most people and for maximum purposes, a 16 gauge speaker wire is more than sufficient.

Your home theater likely isn’t huge enough to need very long wires, so you won’t lose any sound quality with thinner wires. Also, they are cheaper, which will save you some money. However, if you require longer speaker cables, consider buying a 14-gauge speaker cable. 

They’re good for covering more distance, compensating with thickness. Keep in mind that the best speaker wire is the one that fulfills your sound, user, and economic requirements.

David Huner
David Hunerhttps://yourtechscholar.com
I have completed my graduation from The University of Phoenix. Being a graduate, I’ve been writing on tech tips and products for several years. I love to write about all the latest trends in technology, as well as give my personal take on new products. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just want to read more articles like this one, check out our website!
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