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Short on speaker wire, long on cat 5

Maximo

Well-Known Member
I heard that you can use cat 5 as speaker wire. Is this true? I may not have enough speaker cable for my incieling surrounds. But I have loads of cat 5 and 6. What do you think?
 

DIYer

Well-Known Member
Famous
Any conductive material can be used as speaker wire. Someone even tried coat hanger and it's said to have done a good job. If you do use cat5 or 6, make sure you bunch the strands up enough to provide necessary thickness per each polarity per this table.
 

Rope

Well-Known Member
Famous
I prefer coat hangers. Easy to work with and no pairing of wires.

Rope
 

soundhound

Well-Known Member
If you do, just make sure you treat each twisted pair as one conductor. Otherwise, capacitance and / or inductance buildup might be an issue. I don't think that the total equivalent wire size of all the conductors in CAT 5 cable would be the same as something even like 16AWG though.
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
If I'm not mistaken, I believe Flint uses 4 cat5 cables per speaker...The equivalent of 8 twisted pair per polarity. Perhaps he will set me straight if I'm wrong.
 

Maximo

Well-Known Member
Well if that is the case then I will just buy some more speaker cable. I am going to Lowes tonight anyway. Thanks!
 

Dennie

Well-Known Member
Maximo said:
Well if that is the case then I will just buy some more speaker cable. I am going to Lowes tonight anyway. Thanks!
That's the best idea, and get "In Wall" speaker wire, it is much easier to pull!

Dennie
 

DIYer

Well-Known Member
Famous
Batman said:
If I'm not mistaken, I believe Flint uses 4 cat5 cables per speaker...The equivalent of 8 twisted pair per polarity. Perhaps he will set me straight if I'm wrong.
Last I heard (read) him mention those was, he only uses them to connect amp and tweeter of his active tri-amp mains. Tweeters don't draw much current so thinner wire may not be an issue compared to something like mid woofer or bass woofer which he uses 10 ga wire.
 

soundhound

Well-Known Member
DIYer said:
Last I heard (read) him mention those was, he only uses them to connect amp and tweeter of his active tri-amp mains. Tweeters don't draw much current so thinner wire may not be an issue compared to something like mid woofer or bass woofer which he uses 10 ga wire.
Resistive losses are resistive losses, no matter what the current. A larger gauge wire is always going to be better for driving a low impedance load such as 8 or 4 ohms than a smaller one. Deviations in frequency response will appear if the gauge is too small regardless of the current flowing through the wire. If the (AC) impedance of the speaker driver is a significant enough part of the speaker wire resistance, a voltage divider is formed. The impedance part will introduce frequency dependent changes in this voltage divider with frequency. The result is a frequency response which mirrors the impedance curve formed.
 

DIYer

Well-Known Member
Famous
If my memory serves, he mentioned something about capacitance when deciding cat5 cable for connecting his tweeter.
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
DIYer said:
Batman said:
If I'm not mistaken, I believe Flint uses 4 cat5 cables per speaker...The equivalent of 8 twisted pair per polarity. Perhaps he will set me straight if I'm wrong.
Last I heard (read) him mention those was, he only uses them to connect amp and tweeter of his active tri-amp mains. Tweeters don't draw much current so thinner wire may not be an issue compared to something like mid woofer or bass woofer which he uses 10 ga wire.
I don't recall his main listening room specifically...I should have said in his demo area, but I could still be wrong.
 

soundhound

Well-Known Member
DIYer said:
If my memory serves, he mentioned something about capacitance when deciding cat5 cable for connecting his tweeter.
He needs to clarify his technical reasoning for using cat5. We're working with pretty low resistances and impedances here. As long cat5 has enough size to offer no appreciable resistance, there's no real reason not to use it. However I can't imagine any technical advantage to using it over regular speaker wire.
 

DIYer

Well-Known Member
Famous
soundhound said:
He needs to clarify his technical reasoning for using cat5. We're working with pretty low resistances and impedances here. As long cat5 has enough size to offer no appreciable resistance, there's no real reason not to use it. However I can't imagine any technical advantage to using it over regular speaker wire.
Since he hasn't responded, here's what I found over at S&V.

IG: "I also built new speaker cables just for my tweeters using the famous CAT5 bundle where I take the negative (white) wires from three lengths of CAT5 and connect them together then take the positive (colored) wires from the same 3 CAT5 wires and connect them together. The result is a ~13 gauge cable with extremely low capacitance, which is very appropriate for a tweeter. I wouldn''t bother with these complicated wires for mids or woofers, and definitely not for regular passive crossover full-range speakers. " link
 

soundhound

Well-Known Member
That may be, but at impedances we are talking about, and the really small capacitance of any likely cable, it would take a LOT more cable capacitance than you could realistically have to have any influence on audio frequencies. The output impedance of the amplifier is the major determinant of how much influence cable capacitance (or inductance or resistance) will have on frequency response. He he undoubtedly using a transistor amplifier, almost all of which will have output impedances approaching zero. This would make the capacitance of a cable of hundreds or even thousands of feet inconsequential to frequency response. Even the relatively high output impedance of a tube amplifier will interact very little, if at all, with the capacitance in any practical cable type or length.

The Zobal (snubber) network on the output of a typical transistor amplifier has WAY, WAY more influence on bandwidth than any real world cable could possibly have.

Just use regular speaker cable and be done with it. Worrying about the minute capacitance in any cable is the stuff of shake oil, and is right up there with worrying about the skin effect of cables. :angry-banghead:
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
I knew we were using those cables at Flint's GTG in 10/08 , we were using them while interchanging the many demo speakers we had on hand at this infamous GTG...The cables seen here were borrowed from his demo area when we set up the C1s in his main HT...I'll let Flint elaborate more as to the applications he utilizes them, but I knew my memory wasn't failing me...

The gray wires that are wire-tied together are hooked up to the C1s, I thought he used 4/speaker but it very well could have been the 3/speaker as described a few posts back....

 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
Yes, I have some Cat-5 cables. There are four Cat-5 cables per speaker length. At 24AWG per strand, using 4 strands per cable and four cables per speaker run, that's 16 strands of 24AWG wire which is equivilent to one strand of 12AWG wire.

So, the effective cable gauge for four leads of wire is 12AWG for positive and 12AWG for negative.

I connect the white/color striped wire of each pair to negative and the solid color wire of each pair to positive resulting in vastly reduced inductance compared to traditional monster style cable. The capacitance is slightly higher than standard speaker wire.

While the physics is solid, the difference in performance is not terribly different. Only speakers with very high impedances or very complex loads will experience any notieable difference, if there is any at all. Mostly I built these because I have a mostly unused 1000ft box of Cat-5 wire and I needed some more good speaker cables for testing speakers.
 

soundhound

Well-Known Member
Flint said:
While the physics is solid, the difference in performance is not terribly different. Only speakers with very high impedances or very complex loads will experience any notieable difference, if there is any at all. Mostly I built these because I have a mostly unused 1000ft box of Cat-5 wire and I needed some more good speaker cables for testing speakers.
The inductances are so small in even a regular speaker cable, that using cat5 is not going to make any audible or measurable difference at audio frequencies. The output impedance of the power amplifier will have way more effect on frequency response than inductance and / or capacitance in the cable.

The physics may be solid at ethernet signal bandwidths, but not at audio frequencies. This is the same trap that people fall into when worrying about the skin effect in cables at audio frequencies. The physics doesn't translate because the signals are vastly different.
 

Maximo

Well-Known Member
Ok, how about this. I have a crap load of some really big coax cable (about 50-100% bigger in diameter than RG-6) I has a 16 gauge solid copper core, silver/aluminum braiding/shielding and a silver/aluminum 16 guage grounding cable (like a sat tv cable).

Can I use this with good results? It's not that I am cheap but I am being force to clean out my cable trunk (and then throw it away so it may never be filled again) and I would rather not see this stuff go to the scrap yard.
 

soundhound

Well-Known Member
Maximo said:
Ok, how about this. I have a crap load of some really big coax cable (about 50-100% bigger in diameter than RG-6) I has a 16 gauge solid copper core, silver/aluminum braiding/shielding and a silver/aluminum 16 guage grounding cable (like a sat tv cable).

Can I use this with good results? It's not that I am cheap but I am being force to clean out my cable trunk (and then throw it away so it may never be filled again) and I would rather not see this stuff go to the scrap yard.
I wouldn't bother with it. Just buy some proper speaker wire and be done with it.
 
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