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Q & A: Combining Cables

Is it possible to combine a four-conductor cable into a two-conductor cable for long loudspeaker cable runs? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

Q: Is it possible to combine a four-conductor cable into a two-conductor cable for long loudspeaker cable runs? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

A: This is actually a common practice. Its advantages include a lower direct current resistance (DCR), a greater cross-sectional area of copper, and round cable is easier to handle than two-wire cable, which is more oval, unless special characteristics are built into it. In addition, in some instances the smaller wire gauge will have UL ratings higher than the larger gauge. The disadvantages are that four-wire cable is generally more expensive to manufacture, and the combined AWG (American Wire Gauge) measures an odd size. For example, 2 x 14 AWG = 11 AWG, and 2 x 16 AWG = 13 AWG. There's some subjectivity involved in evaluating the impact of inductance and capacitance on amplified signals but, basically, the lower the DCR, the better the performance.

— Kirk Horlbeck, senior vice president, corporate marketing and international business development, Liberty Wire & Cable, Colorado Springs, CO

Next month's question: I've been tasked with wiring a 250-seat company theater with an audio-only teleconferencing system. The room requires an easy-to-use system with audience participation during conference calls. We've tried many of the popular desktop conferencing solutions, but these systems are just too small for the room. I anticipate that we'll need to hang mics from the ceiling and tie into our existing sound system. Any ideas for a solution?

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