Have you ever wondered how to shield speaker wire for your DIY hobby projects or commercial use? If so, you have definitely come to the right place.
Speaker wire is a cable used in electrical and electronic devices such as computers, televisions, and home stereos. A Speaker wire is made up of two wires that are connected to create an electrical circuit. These cables are usually made from copper or aluminum but may also be made from other materials such as steel or plastic.
Speaker wire connects speakers to audio equipment such as amplifiers and preamplifiers. Its purpose is to carry an electrical signal from one device to another without losing quality or clarity.
Shielded speaker cables are used to keep your audio equipment or audio devices safe from electrical interference. The shielding on these cables protects the wire from any potential damage. They also eliminate unwanted noise that would degrade the sound quality.
If you are a serious DIY audiophile thinking about how to shield speaker wire, then this guide has got you covered.
What is Speaker Wire Shielding?
Speaker wire shielding is the process of wrapping a length of bare wire in a rubber or plastic jacket to protect it from high-energy electromagnetic interference. The purpose of speaker wire shielding is to provide a path that minimizes the amount of electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can enter your electronic equipment via the exposed wires.
The shielding is typically used on speaker cables, but it can also be used on other types of audio cables, such as interconnects and power cords.
Speaker wire shielding is commonly used with high-end home theater systems and professional sound system applications such as music recording studios, nightclubs, theatres, professional wrestling arenas, etc.
The most common way of using audio cable shielding iss by applying it to the electrical wires from the source (e.g., your TV), which then connects to another cable that goes into your speakers.
What does Speaker Wire Shielding Do?
Speaker cable wiring provides electrical signals for speakers, amplifiers, and other devices attached to your stereo system. Speaker lines transmit these signals from one device to another and can act as antennae for radio waves.
These radio waves can interfere with other devices in your home, causing them to malfunction or stop working altogether. Speaker wire shielding works by covering these exposed wires with a layer of insulation or rubberized material so they cannot pick up unwanted frequencies or radiation.
How to Shield Speaker Wire from Electrical Interference
Speaker wire is an ideal candidate for shielding because it’s already a thick, durable cable with high resistance to electricity and other forms of interference. The following steps should help you shield speaker wire on your own to improve sound quality.
The first step in shielding speaker wires is identifying which wires connect your speakers. These can be identified by looking at the back of your speakers or simply by checking the specifications on the product packaging.
Cut the speaker cable to a length of about 6 feet. This will allow you to use a longer wire shield than if you had only used half of the length of wire.
The goal is to have a thin layer of aluminum foil around the inner wires, between the plastic and the copper.
Strip off the outer insulation from both ends of the cable using electrical tape or another method to hold the insulation in place once stripped off.
Strip about 3/4” of sheathing from each end of the speaker wire with your scissors.
Cut out a strip of aluminum foil at least 6 inches wide and as long as your wire. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, then open up the folds.
Twist the bare wires together back and forth across their entire length using your fingers. It will tangle and look awful, but don’t worry, keep it up until all the wires are twisted together.
This twisting of the individual wires together ensures they won’t move around inside the sheathing as much. Make sure to keep them tight against each other. This will help keep them from slipping off.
When you’re done twisting, cut off both ends so they are even lengthwise. Then slip a piece of heat shrink tubing over each length of twisted wires and slide them down to just cover where you stripped off the covering earlier.
Using a lighter, shrink the tubing around the twists. Make sure they’re not overheated, or they will melt the insulation on the wire strands, and you’re done!
The sheathing should completely cover the twists but leave enough slack so it can hang straight with no loops that might rub or touch anything.
Pros and Cons of Using a Shielded Stereo Cable
These are the advantages and the disadvantages of using shielded stereo cables:
- Speaker wire shielding does not interfere with the audio signal.
- It is a cost-effective way to protect your equipment from damage and improve its performance.
- Shields the speaker wire from EMI and RFI interference.
- Eliminates ground loops.
- Reduces noise on the audio by providing a level signal.
- The procedure is often complex and requires special tools.
- It can be expensive and difficult to install.
Shielded vs Unshielded Audio Cables
A shielded cable has a metal shield that protects the inner conductors from electromagnetic interference (EMI). Shielding is important because if you live near a power line or other electrical source, EMI can cause damage to your equipment.
The shielding also helps reduce crosstalk between channels, which is the interference between speakers or headphones. It causes a “buzzing” sound when playing music through multiple channels simultaneously.
Unshielded cables have no shielding, so they’re susceptible to EMI, especially if they’re located in close proximity to high-voltage lines or other electrical sources such as power outlets.
In addition to this risk, unshielded cables are not as effective at reducing crosstalk as their shielded counterparts because they lack any form of shielding or barrier between their internal conductors and those outside the cable.
After looking at the steps discussed in this article on how to shield speaker wire, we hope you can comfortably go about it. We won’t lie; shielding wires is complex, but you can do it with enough practice and patience.
Following the guidelines above will significantly reduce the chance of EMI creating noise interference. Ultimately, you can’t stop EMI from getting into your audio system, but you can do a lot to prevent it from getting into your speakers.
You will be able to deliver a significant amount of sound from your sound system without worrying about noise interference from other electronic equipment.