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DIY Speaker Cables on the Cheap

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Rich_S, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    I wanted to share the speakers cables I just made for my little PA. They're nothing fancy, just solid, heavy-duty cables that will get the power to the speakers, not break, and last a long time.

    For my purposes, I needed #16 AWG, 2-conductor cable. #16 is plenty for most low-to-mid-power amps, running reasonable lengths. My little Yamaha EM100 is only 50 watts/channel, but these cables will still work fine if I ever upgrade to a bigger power amp, say 200-300 watts per side. That's all my speakers can take anyway.

    My big discovery was a 100-foot 16/2 extension cord for sale at Lowes. It's designed for garden tools like hedge trimmers and electric edgers that don't need a third, grounding conductor. As outdoor extension cords go, this one's kinds cheesy, but its plenty tough for part-time PA use. The best part: it was only $18.95. Cut off the ends, and you have 100 feet of heavy-duty speaker cable for 19 cents a foot. By comparison, 16/2 lamp cord is 35 or 40 cents a foot. Added bonus: this cord is day glow green, so there's no mistaking which cables are yours.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2013
  2. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    This cable is slightly too fat for normal Switchcraft 1/4" plugs. I had a lot if them in the parts drawer and tried them, but forcing their bidies iver the cable was a chore, and I worried about the long-term durability if such a tight fit. In keeping with the low-budget theme, I decided to try some GLS large-body 1/4" connectors from Orange County Speaker. These are Chinese knockoffs of Switchcraft plugs; and they have the all-important fiberglass insulator rather than the meltable black plastic found in many cheapo 1/4" plugs. If these GLS plugs have a drawback, it's that their ground connection/strain relief seems to be lighter-gauge metal than real Switchcraft plugs, so the crimp over the cable jacket may not be as sturdy. Orange County sells a 10-pack of these plugs for 25 bucks, so after hacking up my extension cord, I had five speaker cables for under $50. I added a small tie wrap around the cable and "sleeve" connection to help reinforce the wimpy strain relief; there's plenty of room inside the jack's body for the head of the tie wrap.

    I made two 10', two 30', and a 20'. Since mine is a compact PA, it will usually be used at one side if the stage. I figure a 10' and a 30' will be good to reach the near and far sides, and made a spare for each. The remainder made an extra 20-footer, but I might get some more connectors and turn it into a few shorter cables for guitar cabs or whatever.

    Overall, I'm really happy with the results. I got five high-quality cables for dirt cheap, and they look badass.
     
  3. 6942

    6942 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    63
    Apr 15, 2006
    Santa Fe, NM
    I've been making my own cables for years now.
    IMO....Redco Audio (NO affiliation)....have the lowest prices I've seen on quality cables and connectors.
     
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  5. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

    Nov 13, 2011
    Colorado
    nice! speaker cables really are pretty basic and making your own can be fun. TubeDepot has a great, quick video showing how to make a twisted cable with some of their 18AWG wire. i recently started ordering wire from them and i really like the stuff they have (their aerospace-grade Tefzel wire is awesome!)
     
  6. Jimclarke100

    Jimclarke100 Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 8, 2009
    Horsham, UK
    Already there - my speaker cables are made from the power lead from a defunct garden strimmer. Mine are bright orange.....
     
  7. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    Those Neutriks look nice, and are actually a bit cheaper than the GLS I bought, but the shipping would kill the whole project.
     
  8. SamClemons

    SamClemons Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 23, 2011
    Jasper, TN
    Fairly often you can buy a lot of old switchcraft plugs on ebay at a good buy. Better than most of the plugs you can buy now.
     
  9. kleuck

    kleuck Tele-Holic

    615
    Oct 16, 2010
    France
    I suppose you can find the Neutriks locally, i'm from Europe so i buy them from Thomann.
     
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