Connecting speakers to a sound system is one of the hottest debates among audiophiles. There’s a lot it takes to connect speakers to a receiver or amplifier for the best sound output. Some audiophiles argue that using specially rated cables is the only sure way of getting the best sound output from speakers while others argue that using the correct speaker wire gauge is what matters most. Both factors matter. It’s necessary to use a specific speaker wire rating and a specific speaker wire gauge for the best sound output. In this article, we’ll educate you more about CL2 vs CL3-rated speaker wires.
How is speaker wire rated?
To help you understand the basic difference between CL2 and CL3-rated speaker wires, it’ll help to know what speaker wire rating entails. Essentially, speaker wire is rated under certain classifications. The abbreviation “CL” refers to the word classification. Thus, CL2 and CL3 are special speaker wire classifications.
CL ratings are based on fire safety. Each rating is done based on the material used in making the speaker wire and the material used as the speaker wire cover. You need to know the right fire safety rating depending on where you want to run the speaker wire. Running speaker wire in certain spaces without the proper fire rating may cause a fire and damage your property. In worst-case scenarios, life may be lost due to electrocution or fires.
Essentially, CL2 and CL3 speaker wires as specially made for in-wall and in-ceiling speaker wiring. There’re specific fire ratings that have to be met for the safest in-wall or in-ceiling speaker wiring. That’s why these wires are specially made for such connections.
CL2 Rated Speaker Wire
CL2 is an abbreviation for Class 2 speaker wire. Speaker wire rated as CL2 means that it’s only safe for low-voltage connections. Speaker wire rated as CL2 can be safely installed inside a wall or inside a ceiling and resists a voltage spike of up to 150 volts. Within this range, the speaker wire won’t be prone to burning out and causing a fire, especially due to sudden power surges.
CL3 Rated Speaker Wire
Speaker wire rated as CL3 is also safe for use inside a wall or ceiling. It resists a voltage spike of up to 300 volts, which is twice the voltage limit of a CL2-rated speaker wire.
What’s the difference between CL2 and CL3-rated speaker wires?
As you can see, these two speaker wires are used for the same purpose. However, their difference is that CL2 has a lower voltage limit than CL3. This means that you can use CL3 in place of a CL2 speaker wire. However, you can’t use CL2 where CL3 should be used. Both ratings are for copper-based speaker wire.
Wiring in-ceiling and in-wall speakers require using the right speaker cable. While it’s important to consider the speaker wire gauge, it’s also important to consider the classification rating of the speaker wire for safety reasons. Both CL2 and CL3 speaker wires are ideal for running inside a wall or ceiling. Their only difference is that CL2 is safe for handling a voltage surge of up to 150 volts while CL3 can handle a voltage surge of up to 300 volts. Thus, take note of these ratings when choosing speaker wire for your in-wall or in-ceiling speaker wiring to keep your property and yourself safe.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.