30 Jul What’s in a Wire?
You may notice when you come into our store that we sell specially packaged wiring and power accessories. We’ve been asked by many customers what these are and whether they are needed or required for a particular installation job. Of course, any installation comes with the necessary wire and cables to make your equipment function and sound good, but we may recommend higher quality wiring or accessories depending on the size of your system. So why would someone spend additional money to buy wire … and should you?
Wire is used to pass power to run your equipment, or audio signals to produce music, from one source to another. Different wires are designed for different types of applications. If you think of power or signals as, say, water, then wire is the tube it travels through. What if you had a straw? It would be great for drinking water from a cup. But if you needed to water your lawn, you would need something larger than a straw that is able to handle the additional force required to push the water through.
Wire works the same way. Quality wire and wiring accessories give your system the ability to push more power or more signal through to the amplifiers to allow your system to work more efficiently, which means components don’t have to work as hard to produce rich sound. Quality wire often includes additional technology or different materials to help it resist electrical interference (produced by other wires or devices in your car) that can cause unwanted noise. This is especially important in any system that includes one or more power amplifiers.
The type of wire you need for your system depends on the complexity and power requirements of the system. In general, the more power your amplifiers require, the thicker the power and ground wire you need to let them work to their fullest potential. Along with that, you may require higher-quality signal cables to ensure that noise and interference don’t damage your amplifier and speakers over time.
Here are some types of high-quality wiring and accessories:
Power and ground wire: These supply the muscle to make amplifiers run. Amplifiers that produce higher power ratings generally require thicker wire.
RCA cables: These cables provide the audio signal that allows amplifiers to produce music. The technology in better cables may include thicker casings, internal shielding around the wires, or use of different metals, all in an effort to provide a crystal clear, noise-free audio signal to the amplifiers.
In-line fuses: Like the fuses in your car, in-line fuses are designed to break the connection between the battery and audio signals if there is a malfunction. Fuses prevent wires from overheating and causing damage to the vehicle. Depending on how much power your system uses, the in-line fuse is designed to cut the circuit if power requirements go beyond a set level.
Distribution blocks: These are used primarily for high-power systems that have more than one amplifier. Distribution blocks are the safest way to distribute power from one main wire to two or more amplifiers. Some distribution blocks may also contain in-line fuses for additional protection.
Capacitors: Also used in larger systems, capacitors help your amplifiers by storing power that the amplifier can use when there is a peak power requirement, such as a heavy bass note in the music. Capacitors prevent amplifiers from trying to draw this additional power from the car’s battery. By doing so, capacitors increase the battery’s life.
The good news is, we know how to calculate exactly what you need! If you’re just replacing a radio, for instance, the wiring that comes with your installation is usually perfect for the job. But if your system is more complex, or if you want to add amplifiers to make it sound better, we will provide you with recommendations based on our expertise as to which wiring and accessories will give you the best performance.