Q: I just purchased a Pioneer Elite TX-MS09 speaker set, with six speakers and a center channel. The maximum wire run will be 35 feet, and I need about 180 feet total. What should I buy for speaker cables?
A: All you need is speaker wire with enough thickness for the speakers' impedance (given in ohms) and the length of the run. In your case you have 8-ohm speakers, and 16-gauge speaker wire is adequate because it is good for runs up to 48 feet. There is a handy chart at www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm that is a great reference for determining what wire is required.
A 100-foot spool of 16-gauge speaker wire runs about $12 online, so $24 will get you the wire you need. Use a wire stripper to expose the bare wire cleanly, and adding banana plugs will make connecting everything easier. (These are optional.) I recommend Mediabridge banana plugs, which are beautifully crafted and easy to set up. That will add another $30 or so to the total.
There is a lot of marketing hype about fancy speaker wire and connection cables, and it is all snake oil. You can spend thousands of dollars on speaker wire, but it has been proved time and time again that it does not improve sound quality. There are some benefits to higher-quality speaker wire or custom-made speaker cables, however. Pricier cables look better, have higher reliability from the custom-terminated connections and make it easier to connect the components. If you are spending a lot on a system, I can understand wanting something a little better looking than plain wire to connect it all together. If that is you, check out SoundPath accessories (www.svsound.com/pages/soundpath) from SVS. They make an excellent product, price it fairly and market it honestly.
One of the neatest things I saw at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show was a unique appliance from Panasonic. The Countertop Induction Oven uses a combination of induction and infrared heat to quickly prepare meals with minimum effort.
Everything is done in a single dishwasher-safe grill pan that fits into a device about the size of a small microwave oven. Just put the meat in the center with the potatoes and vegetables around it, program the oven and press start. The grill pan distributes the heat so the different ingredients are cooked properly, and less than 30 minutes later everything is done. No preheating is necessary, and the small interior of the oven circulates moisture to keep the food from drying out. It can cook everything from casseroles to frozen pizzas. A cookbook is provided to get you started.
I had a 100 percent success rate using this oven. It was so handy that I didn't even use my regular oven the entire time I had the countertop oven for review. I also found that my restaurant expenditures went way down. Granted, it's not big enough for family-style meals. And at $599, it might seem like a niche product. But the more I used it, the more I realized how handy it could be for single people and couples.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.