How do I upgrade from factory speaker wire?


Unregistered guest
I'm rather new to home theatre. I just purchased the ONKYO SKS-HT520. It's my first system so I'm excited. However, the speaker wire in the box appears far less than par. I know wire can make a huge difference in sound. Can anyone help me with tips on upgrading. 12 gauge vs. 16., connectors etc.? What kind of connectors can i use? Since this is a home theatre in a box is it even worth upgrading wire? Where can I get the best price too?

Bronze Member
Username: Overdoze

Post Number: 13
Registered: Oct-05
Connection type will depend upon your system terminals, probably banana plug/screw down terminal combo.
Go for the screw down type using just bared ends of the speaker wire. Strip back 12mm/or 1/2" of insulation, twist several times, poke thru the terminal holes and tighten down the screw connection(dont overtighten)to pinch the speaker wire.
It's likely youve got very thin wire, substitute what you have for 18AWG minimum thickness multistrand copper wire. There are loads of manufacturers brands of reasonably priced cabling out there, so you should be able to get some for around £2/m GBP maximum, cheap as chips!
Dont get sucked in or carried away with the hype of 'specialist' cables, the only difference you'll notice is a lighter wallet. You could also use lamp flex if it is thick enough.

Bronze Member
Username: Musicluvr

Post Number: 12
Registered: Apr-05

I have a suggestion for you if you are willing to make your own speaker cables.

I've been expeimenting with speaker cables built up from inexpensive extension cord cable from Home Depot. There are a bunch of
people over on the Cable Asylum forum in Audio Asylum that have tried this out with pretty good results. In the past I have used
Monster Cable and Radio Shack 12 gauge which were both supposed to be "Oxygen Free Copper" and found them both only a slight
improvement over any other 2 conductor zip cord from 24-16 guage. The best cables I have tried are a pair of Kimber 8TC that
cost close to $300.00 for an 8' pair. These cables can make drastic improvements the sound quality of a system. In comparison,
the DIY Home Depot cables are closer to the Kimber 8TC than the Monster Cable or Radio Shack. I'm assuming that you are not
willing to spend $300 per pair on the Kimber 8TC for your 6.1 HT system. It would actually be much more than $300 per pair because
that stuff is sold by the foot, and you will need longer lengths to reach your surrounds. I think a 100' Home Depot extension
cord was around $30.00. Look for the orange cable with the black stripe, 14 gauge with ground wire. If your Onkyo's speaker
terminals accept spade connectors you can also get a box of 50 spade connectors for about $6.00.

Construction of the cable is pretty simple if you have ever stripped wire before. Tools required: A good multi-purpose wire
stripper/crimper/cutter is preferred, but a utility knive and a pair of pliers will suffice. Cut your cables to length, and strip
off 3-4 inches of the orange and black outer insulation to expose the 3 inner wires at each end. Strip off about a half an inch
from the white and black wires to expose the bare copper underneath. Cut off the excess ends of the green wire so it won't be in
your way. Repeat this operation for each length of wire you will need for your system. If you are connecting with the bare wire that's it. If you are using spades, insert each of the bare wires into a new
spade connector and crimp it down hard.

In my system, the HD14 cable has very good midrange and upper-midrange detail. Maybe even better than the Kimber 8TC. It is
fairly smooth in the high frequency range. The bass range is strong in this cable, but it loses a lot of the mid
and upper-mid detail. In the bass and lower midrange Kimber 8TC is clearly the better cable in my system. Others report a very
wide and deep soundstage and impressive imaging, and I would agree. One attribute that seems to be a weak point with the HD14 cable
is that when you start to crank up the volume it gets harsh pretty quickly. With the Kimber 8TC I often find myself listening at
volumes that are getting close to ear damage range, yet I didn't really detect that the system sounded really harsh. As far as
Monster Cable and Radio Shack speaker cable are concerned, neither has anywhere near the midrange and upper mid-range detail of
HD14. Even though HD14 isn't a match for Kimber 8TC in the bass and lower midrange, it is still a lot better than Monster or RS.

A few notes:

I have not tested this yet but, some of the people on the Cable Asylum forum claim that this speaker cable is directional.
That means they believe the system sounds better when these cables are always connected with current flowing through them in the
direction that was intended when the cable was manufactured. Something to do with the manufacturing process and copper grains and
metallurgy. So, this means you want to connect all of the cables in the originally intended direction from your amplifier to the
speakers. Well now you have cut the cable into pieces and you don't remember which end is which. All is not lost. If you look
closely at the cable there is writing on the orange outer insulation that shows which direction the cable ran before it was cut.
I don't recall the preferred orientation, but I expect that it is best to have them all running the same direction from amp to
speakers and not mix them up.

I have not testted this yet either, some of the people on the Cable Asylum forum claim that if you utilize the green wire to
double up on the positive or negative conductor when you build the cable the sound changes dramatically, and usually not for
the better. I've been enjoying the cable so much I just haven't had the opportunity to experiment yet.

This cable takes about 24-48 hours to "break in". Most of that break-in occurs in the first 12 hours though. If possible, run audio
through the system constantly for an extended time period to let it settle in. Don't take that as meaning your system will be
entirely unlistenable, but the main point is, give it a chance. Don't make final judgements on sound quality based on the first few
moments of audio that come across the new wire to your speakers. In my experience, Monster Cable and Radio Shack 12 guage speaker
cable don't change much in the break in period. They start out sounding blah and pretty much stay that way.

After break-in, if you still don't hear any difference in sound quality, I would guess that there is something more basic about
your system setup that is masking the changes. Look at speaker position and stability for a starting point.

You will be able to find more information by searching for "HD-14" speaker cable in the Audio Asylum forums.

New member
Username: Tongang

Post Number: 1
Registered: Apr-06
I have martin logan odyssey speakers and simaudio processor and amp
I currently am using Monster xphp bulk cable.I would like to upgrade
Home depot has hd-14 extension cord wire and also 12 guage wire
Because my run is 25-30 feet should I use the lower gauge wire or is the hd-14 the preferred home depot wire?
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