Coaxial cable is referred to by the abbreviation “coax.” This wiring option is used by telecommunications companies and Internet service providers all over the world because it effectively transfers audio and video data.
It didn’t take long for people to realize that high-speed communication required a better mode of transportation than what was available in the early twentieth century. Because of its accuracy and dependability, coax became the preferred transmission medium.
The shielded design is what makes it such a successful product. Although coax will never compete with fiber optics or other 21st-century inventions, it may be a resource you can use at home as speaker cable.
WHAT IS A COAXIAL CABLE?
A coaxial cable is an efficient method of transferring audio and video data. The inner conductor of this cable is shielded by a conducting shield. A dielectric material separates these two conductors. The term “coaxial” is a combination of the terms “inner conductor” and “geometric axis.”
The name is made up of the words ‘co’ and ‘axis.’ Coaxial cables are primarily used to transmit high-frequency electrical signals.
This cable can connect a variety of communication devices. It is commonly used for high-speed computer data buses, telephone communications, cable television connections, internet networking cables, and various receivers.
CAN YOU USE COAXIAL AS SPEAKER CABLE?
Coax can be used to make a speaker cable, but it is not an efficient process. To make the setup work, replace the standard F-connectors with an RCA end. Although any speakers should work, the best option is to use a powered subwoofer with it.
The problem with using coax as a speaker cable is the impedance load it adds to the amp. You can’t drive it hard because there will be more resistance in the setup. You’ll get sound, but you’ll risk blowing everything out. This risk grows in proportion to the length of the cable used.
To reduce the risk, bring your equipment as close to the coaxial cable as possible. When you keep things in the kHz range, you’ll generally have a sound-producing routing experience. The sound quality may not be what you hoped for when you wired your system. If you don’t have any other options, coax will suffice.
HOW TO USE A COAXIAL CABLE AS A SPEAKER CABLE?
Most people are aware that coaxial cable can be used to connect your cable or satellite feed to your television in order to watch your favorite sports, shows, and movies. Some systems include a coax output that connects to other audio-video equipment setups to form a home theater system.
Although video applications receive the most attention, coaxial cables are surprisingly versatile. It will require some effort to overcome its lack of flexibility and overall thickness, but it can be used as speaker wire.
These steps will guide you through the procedure. Before beginning this work, please remember to disconnect the coax from any power source.
Step #1: Remove the Connectors
The majority of coaxial cables have dual connections that route video signals from the wall to your television or box input. To make a secure connection, you run the unit over the threading. These items must be removed if you intend to use it as speaker wire.
The existing connectors are usually cut off with a sharp utility knife. If you have an unusually thick coax with extra shielding, you may need to remove this layer before cutting each end with a small set of wire cutters.
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Step #2: Measure Your Length
Most coaxial cables are six feet long, but this high-quality RG11 coax cable is 50 feet long. If you have a custom TV setup at home that necessitates additional length, you may have some extra wire to use for your speakers.
You’ll want to calculate how much is required to make the connections required to produce sound. Run a string from your amp or receiver to each location to determine how much wire you’ll need to connect your speakers. Calculate the length needed to complete the connection.
As a general rule, measure twice before cutting the wire length you require. Because a longer piece can be trimmed to fit, try adding a couple of feet to your final measurement to ensure you have enough reach for your setup. Even if it is quite long, the extra slack will make the connection more manageable and stable.
Step #3: Strip the Jacket
A ringing tool is the quickest way to remove the insulation from coaxial cable. To avoid damaging the wire contained within the coax, adjust the blade depth to match the jacket thickness. You’ll open the tool’s jaws and insert the coaxial cable into the notch that appears.
Release the jaws, rotate the ringing unit several times, and you should be able to pull the jacket off. Please do not assume that a tool, such as the one shown above, is made for coaxial cable unless it specifically states so.
Many multitools lack the power to cut through the coax’s jacket. If you don’t have a ringing tool, a sharp knife can be used to cut through the jacket to get to the wire underneath. Once you’ve removed one side, peel the rest away to reveal the wire.
Step #4: Unbraid the Shields
After removing the outer wrapper, you’ll need to remove the braided shield that protects the wire beneath. If you can remove the woven copper wire without damaging it, it can be used to wire your speakers.
Unwind the shielding gradually until you have one long copper strand to use for your audio setup. If you disassemble an RG6 coax for speaker cable, you’ll find a steel shield instead. Although it could theoretically be used for wire, it is preferable to get down to the conductor.
Step #5: Remove the Insulator
When you unbraid the coaxial cable’s shielding, you’ll notice a translucent insulation layer that protects the main signal conductor.
To get to the core, you’ll need to remove this item with a wire stripper. Repeat these steps until you have enough braided or core wire to make your speaker connections.
Bonus Step: An Alternative Connection Method
As an alternative to the five-step procedure, you could cut and strip approximately 1.5 inches of shielding, jacket, and insulation from each end to expose the core wire. By leaving the rest of the cable intact, you can save time while still exposing the connections you want to use.
If you only strip the coax ends, you will lose the flexibility benefits provided by bare core wire. You will save time, but the results may not be satisfactory. This method works best if you have a stash of unused coaxial cables stashed away in a drawer at home.
HOW TO CONNECT YOUR SPEAKERS USING COAX?
It’s time to connect your speakers now that you have the core wire and braids from your coax deconstruction.
- Take the core wire and connect it to your speaker’s red connector. Take the opposite end and connect it to the same color at the back of your receiver.
- The braided strand should connect to the black connector on a standard speaker, with the other end connecting to the same color at the receiver’s rear.
- The same rules apply if you need to connect your speakers in series or parallel to your system. Use the core wire for all of your red (positive) connections, and the braided wire for your black connections (negative).
- When you’ve completed all of the connections, you should hear sounds coming from your speakers. If you have a small system, using coax may produce similar, if not better, results than using the wiring from the manufacturer’s setup.
- Coax is not the best choice for premium sound when you have invested in a high-end audio system with top-of-the-line speakers. The core wire’s limitations limit the overall quality of your listening experience.
WHY DOESN’T COAX WORK WELL FOR PREMIUM SPEAKERS?
The majority of speakers do not come with a wire. That means it is up to you to select the appropriate thickness, or gauge, and type for your system. When you buy speaker wire, you can get it with or without connectors.
Some manufacturers may provide this resource in addition to the speakers you’ve purchased from them, while others may include small units in the box to get the system up and running.
If you add new speakers to an existing system, you’ll need new wiring. Coax can be useful in a pinch, but it should not be used as a long-term solution. Wire thickness is measured using an American Wire Gauge (AWG).
The numbers work in reverse, so a lower number indicates greater thickness. A 12-gauge or 14-gauge wire is highly recommended for long wire runs. It would be preferable if you used that option for low-impedance speakers or high-power applications as well.
When dealing with a short run, defined as 50 feet or less, a 16-gauge wire will allow you to make the connections required for an 8-ohm speaker. When putting together your setup, always try to stick to the recommendations provided by the speaker’s manufacturer.
If you use an AWG product that does not meet their specifications, your wiring could void the item’s warranty. When you look at the AWG measurement on standard coaxial cable, you’ll notice that it doesn’t meet the specifications.
- The majority of people have RG6 coax cable in their homes. It’s the industry standard for connecting televisions to incoming cable TV feeds. This product is 18 AWG, which is smaller than what most standard connections under 50 feet require.
- If you don’t have RG6, you’re probably using RG59 coax cable. This product is even more compact, with a 22 AWG wire included. It only works with extremely short connections, but even speakers less than ten feet away may suffer from poor sound quality when using this item.
- Some homes have RG62 coax cable lying around that can be used. This product’s inner core is the same as an RG59, making it 22 AWG. Don’t be deceived by the larger number!
- The inner core wire of an RG58 coax cable is a 20 AWG product. It’ll work better than the RG59 or RG62, but you won’t get the same quality that a thicker product could provide in a similar situation.
An RG11 coax cable is the best to use. The conductor is 14 AWG, which provides the necessary distance support for most speaker installations. It meets all audio, video, Internet, and broadband expectations while causing the least amount of interference.
If you don’t already have an RG11 coax cable, you can buy one online for a reasonable price. This product should not cost more than $1 per foot.
You may also notice that traditional speaker wire provides twice the length for half the price of RG11 coax. If you have coaxial cable stashed away in a drawer, it may come in handy when connecting your speakers. Unless you have RG11, it should be considered a temporary fix rather than a permanent solution.
AUDIO FORMATS TRANSMITTED OVER COAX CABLES?
Uncompressed PCM stereo audio, as well as DTS and Dolby digital surround sound signals, are supported by a coax audio connection. Coax cables, on the other hand, do not support multi-chain audio, such as Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos.
Additionally, due to licensing restrictions, playing DVD and SACD audio is not supported. Soundtracks are only available in high-definition files and will thus not play as intended. You don’t need to be concerned.
Your player’s manual will tell you how to handle audio formats that are incompatible with the coax output. Aside from lowering the resolution, one option is to downmix the audio to stereo PCM. However, if you want to play this type of audio properly, you will need an HDMI cable.
ALTERNATIVE WAY FOR CONNECTING COAX TO SPEAKERS
There is another way to use coax for your speakers, but this method reduces the cable’s flexibility and may cause other positional issues later on. This alternative method would necessitate the removal of approximately 1.5 inches of shielding and jacket. The insulation must then be removed from both ends of the cable.
The problem with this is that the cable becomes so rigid that it is difficult to bend and place in the proper positions. However, the five-step process will significantly reduce the amount of work and time required.
Connecting your Speakers to Coax
Now that you’ve finished all of your hard work and deconstructed your coax, it’s time to connect the coaxial to your speakers. Take the core conductor wire and connect it to your speaker’s red (or positive) connector. Take hold of the other end of the cable and place it on the same color port on your receiver or amp.
You can then connect the braided strand to the black (or negative) connector on your speaker while also connecting the other end to the black connector on your receiver. After you’ve made all of these connections, you should hear sound coming from your speakers.
WHEN TO USE A COAX CABLE FOR AUDIO?
The primary method for transmitting audio signals is usually via an HDMI connector. This is due to the fact that HDMI supports all types of audio signals and can transmit both audio and video over a single cable.
If you don’t have an HDMI cable, a digital coax audio connection is an excellent way to transfer audio from one device to another. With this connection, you’ll be able to listen to both surround and stereo sound.
A coax output cable will serve you well when connecting to your sound systems, such as a computer or DVD player, when transferring audio from a multiple channel source. Alternatively, you could connect a CD player to a stereo amplifier.
There may be a digital coax out on the back of your TV to transmit audio to an AV receiver or a digital amp. The most recent televisions on the market appear to have an optical out for this purpose. Your television, on the other hand, may use a Coax cable instead. It makes no difference so long as your speaker has the exact input type.
CONCLUSION on Coaxial Speaker Cable
Yes, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you can use your coax cable to connect your speakers. However, in order to complete the task, you must first complete a few steps. It will require stripping the wires and removing all of the protective casing, but it is doable.
They aren’t an exact fit, but they’ll suffice if you don’t have many options. Just make sure to use a longer cable so that impedance isn’t as much of an issue. However, if you use short cables, you risk blowing or overloading your system.
FAQs About Coaxial Speak Wires
Can coaxial carry audio?
All available audio channels are carried by a single digital coaxial cable. A single cable is required to carry right and left stereo signals, as well as 5.1-channel surround sound signals.
What type of speaker cable can you use?
With 8-ohm speakers, 16-gauge copper wire can run up to 48-feet. So, if you want a wire size that will work in most situations, a 16-gauge copper wire is probably a good choice. However, for speakers with a lower impedance, you should use 12 or 14 AWG just to be safe.
Can telephone wire be used for speakers?
It’s fairly simple to connect speakers throughout the house via existing phone lines using existing telephone wire and powered speakers. This will only work if the lines have three extra wires, as when there is no land line in use, or if the house has six (very common) or eight strand telephone wire.
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