How to select cables for car audio?

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Update time : 2019-06-28 11:45:30
There is three main cables(or call it "wires") common using in the car audio system: power cable, speaker cable and RCA cable. Now let's talk about how to select them when purchasing.

How to choose power cable 

First, we need to know the actual power of the amplifier before buying.  

Sometimes descriptions in the product packing are not the real power of the amplifier, and even the error is very large for it. Also, car audio installation stores usually don't have special power test equipment. So it's better to ask clearly and choose suitable cables for an amplifier before buying.

Second, we should choose a suitable material. 

Now there are two main materials on the market: OFC and CCA. From the table, we can probably know what kind of cable is better with what amplifier. It is the best choice for the most suitable cable, not to waste costs, but also to meet the equipment needs. Generally, we have to choose a cable that is slightly larger or just better than the "amplifier" power.

Moreover, we need to know the actual core square number when buying. 

For example, in the international standard, 8gauge OFC requires 8.36 mm2. 

There also have some special conditions in material usage and design.

1)Power Cable with Shielding Layer

The shielded layer can effectively prevent some interference from the current itself. The cost may be about 1.5 times higher than the ordinary cable's, but not very high in price. If you have higher audio installation requirements and have a reasonable budget, you can try this design.

2)Ground Cable Selection

The power cable has a positive pole and a negative pole. We usually call the negative power cable as ground cable. In the selection, ground cable (negative power cable) should keep the same specifications as a positive power cable when using.

3)Remote Cable Selection

The remote cable is generally available in 18ga and 20ga sizes.

How to choose speaker cable 

First, we need to acknowledge the speaker power before buying speaker cables.

In the actual modification, the power of tweeter is generally below 100W, and the normal condition is between 20-60W. So the most suitable speaker cable for high frequency is about 0.5mm2 ;

The power of the mid-woofer is generally below 200W, and the normal condition is below 150W. So the mid-bass is generally equipped with 16GA speaker cable (1.3-1.5 mm2);

The power of the subwoofer is generally below 400W, and the normal condition is below 250W. So the middle and low frequency are generally equipped (2-3 mm2).

When you choose a speaker cable, you also need to pay attention to its materials and craft design.

1) OCC speaker cable only applies to low-frequency

2)It is recommended that the single conductor of the midrange speaker be between 0.10-0.15mm.

3)The specifications of the single conductor of the high horn are recommended to be below 0.10mm, and the finer the better.

4)If you have higher audio installation requirements and have a reasonable budget, you can try speaker cable with a shielding layer.

How to choose RCA cable 

RCA cable looks simple but actually, it is the most difficult to design in car audio cable.  Designers should consider all aspects of signal transmission and market.

There are not many styles of audio cables, but they are very important in material selection and structural design.

Same materials may have different effects designed by different designers. Also, RCA cable quality will vary based on the material and structural design.

1)Conductor Material

OCC(Ohno Continuous Casting): Suitable for people who like low frequency, generally need to be combined with copper conductors to use better. Also, the price is very high.

SPC(silver plated copper): If the design and the process are properly produced, it is a good choice. But the price is relatively high. If the production is not handled properly, the effect is not good.

OFC(Oxygen Free Copper): Can fully meet the audio requirements. 

CCA(Copper Clad Aluminum): Suitable for low and medium class car audio.

CCS(Copper Clad Steel): Usually used in the low-end household appliances in some market.

2)Insulating Material

PVC insulation material: It is very common to use for RCA cable. 

3)Shielding Material

CCA/copper wire: They are commonly used materials and can fulfill the general audio modification and reach a good effect

Aluminum foil: It is the most common material and can meet the general audio modification.

4) Sheath Material 

Elastomeric sheath: It can be used when the cable needs to be soft.

PVC Jacket: It can meet the needs of all audio modification.