Will a RG6 Cable Work as a Speaker Wire?

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Coaxial cable is used to connect a television to an antenna or a cable television service. An RG-6 cable is capable of conducting electrical signals over short distances (less than 100 yards) with very little signal loss, which makes it an excellent choice for conducting television signals.


Since television signals contain both audio and video components, it could be inferred that an RG-6 coaxial cable would be a good speaker wire. But will this assumption hold up under examination?

Function of RG-6 Cable

  • RG-6 cable is commonly used in home entertainment applications, such as to connect a satellite dish or cable television connection to a television set.

    RG-6 cable is a 75 Ohm cable. That means that RG-6 cable is designed to be used in an application where both sides of the completed electrical circuit have an impedance of 75 Ohms. When this type of coaxial cable is used in this manner, it is said to be properly impedance-matched.

Function and Construction of Speaker Cable

  • Speaker cable is used to carry an electrical signal to a speaker or a set of speakers. Speaker cable is different in construction than coaxial cable; while coaxial cable has a center conductor wire with an insulator separating the conductor from the return wire, which is also known as a "shield", speaker cable has two wire conductors of equal circumference running parallel to each other.

Specifications: RG-6 vs. Speaker Cable

  • Each wire in a speaker cable is typically larger in circumference (between 12 and 16 AWG) than the inner conductor wire of an RG-6 coaxial cable (18 AWG). Because of the difference in size, even the smallest typical speaker cable wire can carry more electrical current (3.7 Amps) than the RG-6 coaxial cable is capable of carrying (2.3 Amps).

    Depending on how long the cable has to reach from the audio signal source to the speaker, wire impedance (resistance) can also be an issue to consider. The inner conductor for coaxial cable has an impedance of 6.385 Ohms per 1000 ft in length. The smallest typical speaker cable has an impedance of 4.016 Ohms per 1000 ft in length.

Ease of Implementation: RG-6 vs. Speaker Cable

  • Typically, speaker cable contains two solid or stranded wires. Many speakers are manufactured with the capability of accepting a stripped speaker wire simply by plugging it into a spring-loaded terminal. Other speakers, such as car audio speakers, have terminals that speaker cable wires can be easily soldered to.
    Speaker cable is relatively flexible as well. Stranded speaker wire is usually limp, and can be worked into small spaces, such as the frame of a car door.

    Coaxial cable, such as RG-6, however, is not as easy to work with. The center conducting wire of coaxial cable is a solid wire that is surrounded by the braided wire shield and at least three layers of electrical insulation. This construction makes the cable stiff, and not as easy to work into small spaces. The braided wire shield of an RG-6 cable is also difficult to attach to a speaker terminal.

Considerations

  • While RG-6 coaxial cable is capable of conducting a signal from an audio source to a speaker, the construction of the RG-6 cable makes it impractical to use as a replacement for even the smallest speaker cable.

References

  • Photo Credit "Internet wiring" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: nicolasnova (Nicolas Nova) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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