Created on 05/04/2015 12:20 PM.
Last updated on 17.02.2020 20:55.
Author: Pavel Sayk.
Power wires, clamps, fuses, magnetic interrupters, distributors, terminals, holders, splitters – there are often no suitable Russian names here, so one can imagine that most people do not know much about this. And in order to be well versed in the products of different manufacturers (and there are more than a dozen of them), you need serious experience.
There are still some differences in construction, materials used, convenience and design. We will tell you about them. More specifically, about the accessories of four manufacturers: Monster Cable, Sound Quest, Vampire Wire and partly about Straight Wire. It is these accessories that are easiest to purchase from us.
I thought for a long time how to systematize this entire huge group of accessories and decided that it would be easier and more understandable to simply move from the battery to consumers, solving all the problems that a novice installer faces along the way.
And although batteries also belong to the power supply system, this is still a subject for a separate conversation. So we’ll start with the terminals that fit over the battery contacts.
The main requirements for such terminals are ensuring tight contact over a sufficiently large surface area, reliable fastening of the supplied wires, a special anti-corrosion coating of the contact surfaces (usually 24K gold). The main differences are the size of the holes for the supplied wires and their number on each terminal. Most often, such terminals are designed for wires of the 4th or 8th gauge, but there are also those to which you can bring “one” or “two”.
First of all, it’s worth talking about the thickness of the power wires. A few years ago, this was not given due importance. Meanwhile, the power wire is an overpass through which energy is pumped to consumers. And the full-fledged and rich sound of the system will depend on the bandwidth, or rather, on the maximum bandwidth, with lightning-fast drops in the music signal from 5 amperes to 50. When using a thin low-quality wire, you will hear a weak pulsation of sound, lack of depth and juiciness.
Which wire to choose and how are they marked? The current English term “gauge” (our version of “gauge”) defines the resistivity of the wire. The higher the number in the gauge designation, the thinner the wire, the greater the power loss per meter of wire length. If you know the maximum current in your system (it can be roughly estimated from the fuse ratings in amplifiers and other devices) and the length of the wiring, you can determine the correct size of the power wire.
Probably, not everyone will need really thick “ones” and “twos”, but this is not at all a reason to think that this is overkill. In high-power systems, even these wires get hot – which means they work!
All manufacturers use oxygen-free electrolytic copper for the production of high-quality power wires. As for the design of the power cable, especially in thick cables, it is necessary to solve the problem of uneven current distribution over the conductor cross section and the problem of rigidity, which creates inconvenience in the operation of wires. Both problems are solved by using many thin (and super thin) cores instead of one solid wire.
In the power cable category, Monster Cable offers two models – PowerFlex and Monster Standard. The high-quality wire uses the Magnetic Flux Tube technology – here multi-core beams are wrapped around a dielectric, which reduces the effect of induced magnetic fields and ensures high speed and quality of energy transfer, and a special durable but flexible Duraflex coating – protection from external influences. PowerFlex wires are available in 1, 2, 4 and 8 gauge, and the cheaper Monster Standard wires are also available in 10 gauge.
Now it’s time to introduce another manufacturer – Straight Wire. It is he who offers a unique power cable with double shielding: the first shield (outer) is a standard braid, and the second (inner) is a foil shield. This solution was recognized by the Innovations Award in 1995.
Sound Quest power wires are also available in two types, the difference between which is quality and price. The Max-Amr Reference cable has a translucent PVC insulator that can withstand temperatures up to 105 degrees. These wires use ultra-thin strands – for example, a 10-gauge cable has 3,150 copper strands! This design makes the cable very flexible and easy to install in a car. Cheaper wires Max-Amr Power Cble have a much smaller number of cores and a cheaper insulator material.
All manufacturers offer wires in two colors – black and red. This color coding allows you to avoid confusion with “weight” and “plus” during installation.
When connecting the power wires to the battery or to the consumer, they are “put on” in special lugs, which facilitates assembly / disassembly.
Lugs with a ring are simply necessary when connecting to terminals that use a wing clip, when connecting magnetic breakers, some amplifiers.
Here, however, as in all other accessories, good contact is important, a reliable way of attaching the tip to the wire. In many designs, special conical crimps are used, which provide a large contact surface, uniform compression, and vibration resistance.
In order not to confuse you, it is worth explaining something. In a complex and expensive audio system, the need to use reliable and high-quality wires, connectors, distributors and, first of all, fuses is due not only and not so much to the safety of the audio system. The fact is that any normal device – be it a radio tape recorder, amplifier or changer – must have its own fuse.
So in the case, for example, when the power cable from the battery in the engine compartment to the amplifier in the trunk for some reason (for example, in an accident) is exposed and shorted to ground, most likely the fuses in the amplifier will save it from damage. But with the car itself, if you did not install the correct fuse somewhere at the beginning of this circuit, it will be worse. The damage to the wiring and electrical equipment of a car can be very severe. So installing these fuses is a matter of responsibility for the safety of the car and audio system.
In addition to protecting the car and equipment, which we have already mentioned, the fuses must also be “transparent” – that is, they must not make any changes to the natural sound of the system, although a voltage drop across the fuse is inevitable.
Another requirement is operational. The design of the fuse and the way it is installed in the car should ensure ease of diagnosing the system and replacing defective fuses.
Usually, the simplest fuses for car audio electronics remind us of the fuses we are used to – the same glass tube, a fusible element inside. This type of fuse is sometimes referred to as AGU, and …