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Thread: To splice or not to splice - stock speaker wires that is...

  1. #1
    Variable Bitrate The Grinch's Avatar
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    To splice or not to splice - stock speaker wires that is...

    I'm ditching my factory head unit for the carputer. I've got a nice six channel amp going in the trunk in the next couple of days when I have time. Today I started runing my speaker wires into the doors where the factory speakers are located. I am actually going to be keeping the factory speakers for now (they are 4ohm and not too shabby). The question is how to connect the wires to the factory speakers.

    The Delco speakers are wired up with a connector from the factory. Should I just cut the wires and solder the leads to my new wire, or should I attempt to solder my wires right to the speaker? The factory wires are really small, it looks like 22 gauge wire (I'm running new 14 guage wire into the door). I'm not sure I want to go from 14 gauge into 22 gauge. It kinda seems like a waste.

    The issue of soldering directly to the speaker is that I risk heating up the speaker's internal wire. Those two internal wires don't like to be heated or they become hardened.
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  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate cadence117's Avatar
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    I am far from an expert when it comes to wiring and/or soldering. But, I'll give you what i have: experience.

    I cut the factury wire right at the head unit connector and soldered the new sterero calbes right there. The Sound is great on my stock speakers.
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  3. #3
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    cutting the wires damages the value of the vehicle. whenyou sell the car, I assume you wont be leaving the computer in there!

    you can get a wire harness from any stereo shop for $15 or less. you can solder or crimp that, and it will plug into the stock harness directly. that way, you dont damage the vehicle, but get all the connections you could need or want.

    if you insist on bypassing as much factory wiring as possible, then I would go to a custom shop (best buy or CC dont have them) and ask for some t-taps. they tap right into the factory wiring without actually cutting anything. you can disconnect the factory radio and tap into the wires in the kickpanel area (if you dont want to run 14 gauge into the doors) or you can tap just before the speakers themselves. as long as the factory radio is disconnected, you dont have to worry about backfeeding signals where you dont want them or having multiple signals sent to the speakers.

    as far as resistance si concerned, if you go to most custom shops, they will splice into the wire harness I suggested first, even if you get a 50 watt 4 channel amplifier ot power all your drivers, and use the stock wiring anyways. this may not be ideal, but it works fine.

    if you do decide to tap the wires closer to the speakers, remember that resistance (and therefore heat build up) is also defined by distance, as well as size! you can push 100 amps through an 8 gauge wire at 12 volts, if you wanted to! Just not for very long before heat becomes an issue. so if you wanted to install that 350 watt 2 channel amplifier powering your door speakers, you can still tap in the kickpanel or by the speakers and not notice any difference versus hooked to the speakers directly, bypassing all stock wiring.

  4. #4
    Newbie Kamo's Avatar
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    You're right, it'd be a waste going from 22 to 14 guage. But would it be such a waste that it would affect sound quality? I guess the cover-all solution is to go 14 into 22, play music for a week and then let the niggling suspicion that it could possibly sound better take over and get rid of the 22 guage wire!

    To do this without being concerned about heating the speakers when attaching the new 14 guage straight to them, try melting and dripping the solder onto the connections, rather than touching the connections with the 'soldered-up' soldering iron. This takes a little practice (and some pliers to hold the wire in place while your hands are full with solder and soldering iron) but coincidently gives you a much cleaner join ... And less heat will be transferred.
    [Insert witty comment here]

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    14 gauge wire and you are worried about heat buildup from a soldering iron?

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    um... That's kinda a ridiculous way to solder. I would follow Whiterabit's suggestions, but if you want to solder it, here's how:
    First use your soldering iron to heat up the existing solder on the joint and suck it off with a soldersucker or wick (5 bucks at radioshack). Once you've got most of the solder off, you should be able to pull off the 22ga wire no problem.
    I don't know exactly what the factory speaker connections look like, but assuming they've got a hole large enough for the 14 Ga Wire, strip about 1/2 in of insulation off the wire, and twist it pretty snug. keep the end clean. you may want to use alcohol. oils from your hand can prevent the solder from wicking properly. heat the end with your iron for a second or two, then feed the solder into the wire, tinning it. Then put the wire in the hole, apply a little sideways pressure, and heat the joint with the iron. You may need to add a small amount of solder, but not much. As soon as it's hot enough to melt the solder and wick it properly, you'll see the joint melt together. Trim off the excess to keep the joint clean.
    If the hole isn't large enough for 14Ga, then just split the wire into 2 bundles and do a similar thing with one bundle through the hole and the other outside, pressed into place during your final heating.
    If you're really worried about the internal wires, use a hot (40w?) iron for a very brief duration. That way it'll get hot enough to melt the solder before significant quantities of heat can be transfered through to the internal wiring. You can also put a heatsink on the internal wires (damp paper towel held on with a clothespin?) to prevent them from getting too hot.

    Dripping solder onto a connection is a bad idea. solder has resin in/on it that when heated creates a vapor shield around the joint to prevent oxidation of the joint and keep it pure. Dripping solder would just put hot metal on the joint without insuring the cleanliness (and therefore quality) of the electrical connection. I also doubt that dripping solder on the joint would insure good penetration of the wire strands, which also has a direct effect on the quality of the connection.
    It might work once or twice, but I wouldn't want that technique used on an airplane I was riding in.
    But then, I'm not a professional electrician and I may be mistaken. If I am, please correct me.

  7. #7
    Newbie Kamo's Avatar
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    Fair points

    Perhaps dripping was the wrong term, I meant use the solder directly inbetween the iron and the speaker rather than touching the iron itself to the speaker; I can see how 'dripping' made it sound like I was dropping mercury from a metre! That would definitely be a baaad idea ... This way the solder still melts, and it does it while the solder is touching the connections, so it immediately goes between the strands of the wire, rather than get all funky on the end of a soldering iron (the resin-flux stuff I'll bet).

    IronSolderConnection, not IronSolder-------->Connection!
    'Dripping' was definitely the wrong term, I apologise
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  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate b_nom's Avatar
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    well, still, you would get a "cold solder joint" and would be a point of failure in the near future, because soldering requires *all* components to be hot so that the solder will bond as it's supposed to.
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  9. #9
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    I see!

    Yes, you can let a drop of solder dangle off the tip of the iron and just let the drop touch the joint until it flows. That works. You do still have to do it reasonably quickly so you keep the vapro barier around the joint, but that can definitely work okay. Little miscommunication.

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate
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    Factory speaker wires are generally 16-18ga wire. If you're not running an external amplifier this is more than adequate. If you are running an external amplifier you really should consider upgrading those speakers since they probably won't be able to handle the power from the amplifier.

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