Everything You Need To Know About Coax Speaker Cables

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Last updatedLast updated: August 18, 2022
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Coax cables are pretty versatile, which is why people think it can be used as a speaker cable too. If you are one of such people, take a bow, ‘coz you are right. You can use a coax cable as your speaker cable, and that’s not too difficult either.

“Coax” is a short form of “coaxial,” and it’s a multipurpose cable for various visual and audio connections. Wires and cables come in all sorts, and they can even confuse the experts in this field.

That’s why we have developed this guide on converting your coax cable into a speaker cable, as there are different things you have to consider.

What’s a Coaxial Cable?

A coaxial cable Trusted Source Coaxial cable - Wikipedia Coaxial cable is a type of transmission line, used to carry high-frequency electrical signals with low losses. It is used in such applications as telephone trunk lines, broadband internet networking cables, high-speed computer data busses, cable television signals, and connecting radio transmitters and receivers to their antennas. en.wikipedia.org is an effective way to transfer your video and audio data. It comes with an inner conductor with a conducting shield. Now, a type of dielectric material is separating these two conductor types.

The term “coaxial” is a combination of that inner conductor that this cable has, “co,” and its geometric axis “axis.” These two terms combine to form the word “coaxial.” This cable primarily transmits electric signals with high frequency. You can connect numerous devices for communication with it.

The purpose here is high-speed data transfer. This cable is useful for high-speed data buses and telephone communication, networking cables, cable television connections, and various receivers.

coax cableFeatures of a Coax Cable

Coax cables are cylindrical, and their color and thickness can vary. Some coax cables may have a more complex design and construction than others. But each coax cable has four important elements. These four elements are as follows:

  • Dielectric insulator
  • Core conductor
  • Plastic jacket
  • Metallic shield (woven copper, in most cases)

Woven copper is mainly for the core of a coax cable, but stranded copper and copper-plated steel are common. A dielectric insulator covers that core conductor, and the insulator can be of foam plastic, solid plastic, or air spacers.

Braided copper wire is for shielding and can have a silver plated braid. But high-quality coax cables have two different shields, including an aluminum foil with a braided copper wire.

Some coax cables even have 4-layered shielding – 2 layers of aluminum foil and 2 layers of braided copper wire. With improved shielding, a coax cable can perform much better. However, the cable becomes thicker and much less flexible, which can be undesirable in some cases.

The final layer is the insulation jacket, commonly made of PVC. This jacket can also be of a special kind of fire-resisting material. Such a material prevents oxidation and UV light and is resistant to water.

Can It Be Used as a Speaker Cable?

Of course, with its versatile purpose and execution, it comes to mind, can you use a coax as your speaker cable? And as we said earlier, if you can do so, you will have to go for a few modifications. You must change those connectors on this cable to use it with your speakers.

A coax cable comes with regular F connectors, and you will have to replace them with RCA connectors to ensure that the cable can work properly with the speakers.

Theoretically, RCA connectors can work with subwoofers and other speakers. However, you will have to deal with various problems too.

If you want to use coax with your speakers. It will cause different impedance problems for the amplifier. Due to the presence of resistance, your speakers won’t function properly. You might end up blowing your system altogether.

To deal with this problem, you must use a longer coax. Going for a shorter cable has more chances of blowing your equipment. Keep your link inside the kHz range, and you will be fine to use your coax with your speakers. But it will only be effective if you have no other option.

Pros & Cons of Coax Cables

Coax cables are commonly for telecommunications and radio communications, and there must be some reason for that.

One of the most significant advantages of these coax cables comes from their construction and design. These cables come with exceptional protection and shielding with the outer insulation jacket. Therefore, they are less susceptible to radio frequency or electromagnetism interference.

Another massive advantage of these coax cables’ design and construction is they can work with various high-frequency applications, usually 50 MHz or more.

Compared to paired twisted cables, coax allows more bandwidth transmission, and that too at higher transfer rates. Moreover, three cables are more affordable and pretty simple to it all, not to forget how durable they are.

However, there are a few disadvantages of using these coax cables. The main issue with these cables is that only one is for transmission throughout the network.

And if anything happens to this cable, the whole network will go down. Moreover, coax cables are pretty thick, so they are not that flexible to install, and to make them most useful, you have to ground them too.

Various Kinds of Coax Cables

There are different types of these coax cables as well. You can differentiate them on their construction and thickness. Other coax cables are for various purposes, depending on their overall design and construction.

Coax Types Based on Design and Construction

Flexible Coax

One of the common coax types, it features a braided external conductor made of fine wires. With these braids, the cable becomes more flexible but doesn’t have comprehensive shielding. So, signals can leak from the tiny gaps within its braid.

Semirigid Coax

This cable has a more durable, tubular metal external conductor that looks like a pipe. And with this type of construction, impedance remains uniform. There is exceptional shielding in this type of coax, but the cable itself becomes less flexible.

Triaxial Coax

Triaxial or Triax cable comes with two external conductors separated by a dielectric layer. An external conductor works like a signal ground while the other works like an earth ground. So, this type ensures better noise immunity and shielding.

Dual Coax

This variant features two different coax cables that are enclosed in a shared external insulation jacket. So, this type can handle faster data transmission with higher bandwidth.

Twinaxial Coax

Each twin axial cable has paired insulated conductors covered within a common external conductor. These conductors right at the center have to be running parallel to one another or twisted. This variant is frequently used in multiplexed high-speed data remission for huge computer systems.

Coax Types Based on Impedance

In terms of impedance Trusted Source What is Electrical Impedance? - Definition from WhatIs.com Impedance, denoted Z, is an expression of the opposition that an electronic component, circuit, or system offers to alternating and/or direct electric current. www.techtarget.com , there are primarily two kinds of coax cables. One is 50Ω (omega) impedance, and the other is 75Ω impedance.

50Ω Impedance Coax

50Ω coax cables are useful for radio communication because they work well with different radio transmitters and antennas, as well as ethernet networks or other digital transmissions with high frequency.

75Ω Impedance Coax

75Ω coax cables are standard in household use. They are suitable for video and audio transmission as well as telecommunication. Cable TV systems and RF video transmission are done using 75Ω coax cables. 52Ω and 93Ω coax cables are available, but they are not very common.

Based on RG standard

Another type is RG (Radio Guide) coax cable, where RG is followed by a number or a letter. The RG standard code is obsolete, but the wires are still widely used. With this code, you will know what diameter of the wire you have, its out diameter, dielectric type, impedance, and shielding.

You will know what type of connector will work the best with each RG cable type based on the code. There are different RG coax cables, including RG-6/U, RG-6/UQ, RG-8/U, RG-8/X, RG-11/U, RG-58/U, RG-59/U, and RG-60/U.

Types of Connectors You Can Use with Coax Cables

There are various types of connectors that you can use with these coax cables. The most common types of connectors used with coax cables are BNCs, SMAs, MCXs, 7/16 DINs, QMAs, N-Types, SMBs, TNCs, RCAs, and F-types.

BNCs

These connectors are excellent for video and RF applications for frequencies ranging from 10 GHz to 4 GHz. Outside this range, it might radiate signal, and losses begin to increase.

N-types

These connectors are for lower frequencies of up to 18 GHz. These connectors are for various RF applications, including broadcasting equipment and communications.

SMAs

SMAs are basically for RF applications but were originally for frequencies ranging between 0 Hz and 12 Hz. Modern SMAs can work with frequencies up to 24 GHz. They are for mobile telephone antennas, hand-held antennas, wifi antennas, and microwave systems.

F-types

These connectors are more common now for antenna and TV cables. They can handle up to 1 GHz frequencies.

RCAs

These connectors are commonly used for video and audio transmission and can handle up to 10 MHz frequencies.

TNCs

These connectors are a version of BNC and are usually more suitable for using microwave frequencies than the original BNC connectors.

SMBs

SMB connectors are compact versions of SMAs and are superior in electrical performance from DC to 4 GHz.

QMAs

These connectors have their internal design similar to SMBs, but these variants have much faster disconnection and locking features.

7/16 DINs

These connectors are threaded versions of RF connectors commonly used to transmit signals at a higher wattage. They are frequently used in defense applications as well as cellular networks.

MCXs

MCX connectors have smaller form factors and are suitable for various applications with limited weight, space, and size.

Difference Between Digital & Optical Coax Cable

The optical connection becomes more common while working with digital audio. Most devices come with both optical as well as coaxial connections. But there is a difference between these two connections.

The first difference is, of course, the looks. They both have different connectors, and their structures are different too. It means they both work on different functioning principles.

Optical cables come with optical fibers and don’t have a solid copper core. They are for transmitting light, not electric signals. However, it can transmit light pulses from source to destination.

Apart from that, these two cables are also different in terms of durability and performance. Coax cables can work with more bandwidth and transmit high audio and video quality.

An optical cable is better for shorter distances within 15 feet. However, coaxial cables can go way beyond that. Optical caves are less durable, and you might damage your cables by just bending them. Coax cables are much more durable; sometimes, bending them is difficult.

Highly Recommended Coax Cables

As you can see, you can’t use any coax cable and turn it into a speaker cable. You will need a quality coax cable for this job, so here are a few highly recommended options.

The Cimple Co Coaxial Cable

This cable is highly affordable, and it is 25 feet long. If you want to convert your coax cable into a speaker cable, you will need at least this length to prevent your system from blowing up. That’s why The Cimple Co Coax Cable is a top choice for you to consider if you need a longer cable.

Phat Satellite Coax Cable

Another option you can consider is the coax cable by Phat Satellite, which is 100 feet long. It can deal with the connection resistance and pair well with larger speakers and subwoofers.

How to Convert A Coax Into A Speaker Cable?

We have already found out that coax can be used for speakers. You can use your satellite box or a cable TV and connect it with a television. It’s a pretty versatile cable that can be used for various purposes. So, you need to have it with you in emergencies.

Various home theater systems also have coax outputs that enable you to connect your video and audio device. And being a versatile cable, you can use coax for this purpose, but not without a few modifications. Here are a few steps you can follow to make those modifications.

Step 1 – Remove those coax connectors

Coax has dual connectors for video signal transmission. And to hook your speakers up using coax, the first thing that you will need is to remove those connectors on both ends of the coax cable.

With the help of a sharp knife, you can remove these connectors. If your cable has additional wire coating, you might have to remove that before making the cuts at both ends.

Step 2 – Measure the coax cable length

Coax cables are available in various lengths. They can be as short as 6 feet and can go over 50 feet as well. So, you will have to take measurements and cut down the size accordingly.

The cable length you will need depends entirely on your system and your home theatre layout.

You can measure by using the length of the string from your receiver or amp to your speakers. You have to do this for each connection and add the total length.

Take the measurements at least twice or thrice to eliminate any errors in your measurement. Add a few feet to make some room, and you are ready to proceed to the next step.

Step 3 – Strip the coax insulation

The next step involves stripping that insulation coating on the coax cable. Again, be careful at this stage to prevent damage to the cable itself.

Using a ring tool for this job is highly recommended. Just adjust the knife’s length to ensure it only protrudes from the insulation and not into the cable itself. You will only have to go as deep as the depth of the coax jacket.

Proceed by opening the ring tool jaws and placing the coax cable inside the notch. After that, release the jaws and rotate the tool a few times. Doing so will remove the jacket without much effort.

But if you don’t have this tool, you can use a sharp utility knife for the same purpose. But be careful that you don’t end up cutting the cable inside and only remove the insulation jacket. Otherwise, you will have to make another cut and reduce the length of your cable.

For ring tools, you must be sure that you use a ring tool made for coax cables. Then, if you want to purchase a new one, be sure its specifications match the cable you are using.

If you go for a ring tool not meant for such a cable, you will face difficulties removing the insulation jacket because the tool doesn’t have enough pulling power.

Step 4 – Unbraid the sheiding

The next step is to get rid of that insulation coating. And for that, you will have to unbraid the shielding to protect the wire inside.

You have to keep in mind that removing the copper wire without any damage is highly critical here. Because you will be using his copper wire to link your speaker, start unwinding that sheiling, and when you are done, you will be left with a single copper wire that you will be using for the connection.

Now, if you have an RG6 coax cable, you must get rid of the metal shield. You can use the wire with this metal shield, but the best practice is to remove it as it can reduce resistance even further.

Step 5 – Remove the insulator

After removing the shield, you are almost done. You will only have to remove the translucent insulation layer on the conductor wire.

This additional layer is there to keep the copper wire safe. But for the connection purpose, you must remove it. You can use a pair of quality wire strippers, and once you are done removing this additionally, you are finished.

An Alternative Way of Connecting Your Coax with Your Speakers

You can go for another method when connecting your coax to speakers. But remember that you might significantly reduce the cable’s overall flexibility in this scenario. It might cause some placement issues later on.

The alternative method requires you to remove about 1.5 inches of the insulation shielding and the jacket. After that, you will have to remove some insulation at both ends.

But doing so will make your cable much more rigid, and positioning it will become a bigger problem. However, following these methods will enable you to reduce the amount of work significantly, as compared to the above-mentioned 5-step process.

Connect Your Speakers to the Coax

As you finish all the hard work on the coax, it’s time to connect it with the speakers. Put the core conducting wire on your speaker’s positive (red) connector. Hold the other end of this cable and position it according to the same color on your amplifier or receiver.

Now, you will be able to use that braided strand with the negative (black) connector, all while ensuring that the other end is placed on the negative connector of your amplifier or receiver. After making both the connections, your speakers will be playing out the sound of your choice, or you are done connecting your speakers.

Final Thoughts

Coax cables are highly versatile, and they are suitable for a range of different applications. Therefore, you can use them as your speaker cables too. There are many different types of these coax cables and their connectors.

So, there are lots of different options that you can use based on your needs. You will only have to go for the correct type of connector and carefully connect the needed one. These cables are pretty extraordinary, and that’s why you should have them in case of any emergencies.

References

1.
Coaxial cable - Wikipedia
Coaxial cable is a type of transmission line, used to carry high-frequency electrical signals with low losses. It is used in such applications as telephone trunk lines, broadband internet networking cables, high-speed computer data busses, cable television signals, and connecting radio transmitters and receivers to their antennas.
2.
What is Electrical Impedance? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Impedance, denoted Z, is an expression of the opposition that an electronic component, circuit, or system offers to alternating and/or direct electric current.
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