In this economy, prices are constantly changing, and, in most cases, prices seem to rise every week!
I recently went shopping with an aspiring audiophile and found that a pair of good quality hi-fi cables now costs well over $50! That is a surprisingly high cost, especially if you are someone like me who doesn’t like to throw money away.
Of course, you can make do with a lower-quality wire as well, which should cost you no more than $5 (or even lower, in some cases).
But unfortunately, it would also mean a lower quality sound, losses, lags, or even distortions from time to time. I’ve tried several of these cheap wires over time and haven’t found one that I can say was a great investment.
And the third option you have is to make your own hi-fi cable. DIY hi-fi cables are a great way not only to get the results you are looking for but also to help you make the most out of your money. Furthermore, it is a great hobby, letting you experiment with different wires, components, and combinations.
In this article, I will walk you through DIY hi-fi cables, particularly what you’ll need to make your own, a step-by-step guide, and the benefits you can get from them.
What You’ll Need to Make Your Own Hi-Fi Cable
Here is a list of things you’ll need to make your own hi-fi cable:
- Wire cutters
- Connectors (banana plugs, spades, or pins)
- Soldering iron
- Shrink tubing (optional)
First and foremost, you will need a few tools to get started. A wire cutter will come in handy to cut the cable to your desired length. You will also benefit from a wire stripper, especially if you are going for a more complicated wire, such as a fiber optic audio cable. Screwdrivers will be used to loosen or tighten the screws on the connectors.
Pliers may also come in handy depending on the type of connector you choose. Most pliers also have makeshift wire strippers in them. You can use that, too, but be careful not to strip too much of it!
As for the cable itself, you can find various options available in the market. The most common type is OFC (oxygen-free copper). This type of cable is made of multiple strands of pure copper wire, which has had the oxygen removed. This process is crucial as it helps prevent corrosion and degradation over time.
The next type is stranded copper, which is made up of multiple small strands of copper that are twisted together. This type of cable is more flexible than OFC but not as durable.
And finally, there is silver-plated copper, which uses a thin layer of silver to coat the surface of the copper wire. Silver is a great conductor, which helps improve the signal’s quality. However, it is also the most expensive option.
I’m not saying that one is better than the other here, as the results ultimately depend on your connections, the components you choose to connect the wire with, and how much money you spend.
Of course, the more expensive options also offer better results, but you have to first make sure that your speakers support the components you are looking for.
For instance, hi-fi speakers before 2010 did not have an optical cable input or output port. While optical audio cables offer some of the best hi-fi experience (and are particularly difficult to work with), they won’t help you if your system is older than 2010.
Once you have decided on the type of cable you want to use, the next step is to choose the appropriate connectors. The most common types are banana plugs, spades, and pins.
- Banana plugs are the most user-friendly option, as they can be connected and disconnected without the need for soldering. All you have to do is insert the wire into the plug and screw it in place.
- Spades, however, require soldering but offer a more secure connection. These are typically used by audiophiles who want to ensure that their connections are as good as possible.
- Pins are mainly used for connecting speakers to amplifiers. Pins also require soldering but offer a very secure connection.
And speaking of soldering, you will also need some solder to complete the connection between the wire and the connector. Make sure to get lead-free solder, as this is a safer option.
The Soldering Iron
Of course, you will also need a soldering iron to melt the solder and create the connection. I would recommend getting a soldering station as this offers more control over the temperature.
Shrink Tubing (Optional)
Once you have soldered the connection, you may want to use shrink tubing to insulate it. This is optional, but it does help improve the durability of the connection.
Making Your Own Hi-Fi Cable – Step by Step
Now that we have all of the tools and materials, it’s time to get started.
- Cut the cable to your desired length using a wire cutter. Make sure to leave enough wire to easily connect it to your components. I also leave some margin for error, especially if I use pliers to strip the wire.
- Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws on the connector.
- Insert the wire into the connector and tighten the screws.
- If you use banana plugs, spades, or pins, you will need to solder the connection. First, tin the wire by heating it up and adding a small amount of solder. Then, add a small amount of solder to the connector. Heat up both pieces until the solder has melted, and then touch them together until they are well connected.
- If you are using shrink tubing, slip it over the connection and heat it up with a heat gun or hair dryer until it shrinks down.
And that’s it! You have now successfully made your own hi-fi cables. You need to make sure that you are connecting the right wires, though.
For instance, if you connect the wrong channel to the wrong end of the connector, you may also negatively affect the sound! It is a good idea to have a tester or digital multimeter handy to ensure this does not happen.
Making your own hi-fi cables can be a fun project and save you some money. However, you must ensure you have the right tools and materials before you start. Otherwise, you might end up with subpar results.
A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.