The Effects of Twisting Speaker Cables

Written by richard asmus
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The Effects of Twisting Speaker Cables
You can run twisted pairs or parallel wires to a speaker. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The two most common types of speaker wire are twisted pair and parallel wires. The argument between which is better revolves mainly around the impedance or how much signal gets lost or distorted while travelling down the wire. The main considerations of impedance at audio frequencies are the DC resistance, the inductance and the capacitance of the wire. All work together to determine the overall signal loss of any particuar length of cable.

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DC Resistance

Two factors determine the DC resistance of the wire: the gauge of the wire and its length. Any speaker wire will have at least some DC resistance. The longer the wire, the more resistance it will have. But a larger gauge wire will have less resistance at the same length as a smaller gauge. The more DC resistance a speaker wire has, the lower the signal power will be when it reaches the speaker.


When current passes through a wire, it builds out an electromagnetic field. That field, when it crosses into another wire, induces the signal into the other wire. Since each wire of a speaker cable run induces signal into the other, the effects can either improve or deteriorate the signal quality, depending on other circumstances.


Capacitance is the capacity of two conductors to store electricity. An actual capacitor has two metal plates placed close to each other, with the two sides of an electronic signal applied to each. Since two speaker wires represent such an arrangement, the capacitance of the cables affects the overall impedance of the cable.

Twisting the Pairs

In speaker wire, the current in the two conductors runs in opposite directions. Twisting the wires changes the characteristics of how the signal is induced from each wire into the other and lowers the overall inductance, possibly improving the overall impedance. But the gauge of the wire, its capacitance and the length of the wire work together to determine the overall affect. So there is no general rule for whether simply twisting a speaker cable will either improve or deteriorate its performance.

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