The only absolutes in speaker cables are:
(1) Keep them as short as possible;
(2) Try them in your system ... listen and compare.
You are not running high current through a speaker cable, but relatively low voltage, so heavy gauge wire is not necessarily the answer. The quality of the wire, the coating which encloses the wire, its running pattern, the connectors, and the solder joints make far more difference than the gauge of the wire.
Also, brand name makes very little difference in your system. You can't hear brand name! Even in a given brand line of cables, there will be big differences in sound between different models.
There are small companies ... individuals ... who can produce very good sounding cables, and at reasonable prices. Very few cable companies are extruding their own wire ... most of them buy the coated wire and then make their cables. What they do with it makes a lot of difference in the resulting sound. You can hear every solder joint ... so the quality of solder, and the quality of soldering can be heard.
So, I would suggest that you talk with dealers who sell the components that you have, and hopefully get educated and honest recommendations. Then try a couple of recommendations against what you already have. Use a good CD or record ... one that sounds close to live ... and play that reference source over and over while changing the cables in and out. Shut you eyes and picture the soundstage in front of you.
Buy what sounds good in your system! You are not buying brand names or gauge ... you are buying sound!
A lower gauge(thicker wire) means lower per/length resistance but larger per/length capacitance. A capacitance load for large amps(>60W/ch) usualy will not create any problem. For poweramps >150W/ch I would recommend a minimum of 12AWG
A higher gauge means higher per/length resistance. Usually high-end or even professional audio brands provide all paramenters for the cable or wire. Monster doesn't and I can't tell why.
A short runs of speaker cables or wires will benefit in all cases: low overall resistance and capacitance at once.
If you go to the VanDenHul gauge/ampere/ chart you will know how to calculate the current flowiing through your wires and the gauge neccessary to conduct such current with minimal loss.
I use a 1m short run of 14AWG for my VTL MB100(100W/ch).
I'll dare to rephrase Skooks: Use a CD of a music You love the most to all your auditions.
Just to add to what has already been sais: generally for speakers cables, a larger cable is better if you need a long runs. At least 12awg.
Years ago, Monster speaker cables got a bad reputation-- among audiophiles-- as being too soft, dull, rolled off, and generally uninvolving. Monster speaker cable was to good speaker cables as Bose was to high end speakers, IMO.
I actually don't know if Monster wire has improved the sonics of their cables or not-- say in the last 5-10 years? But if you like the sound of yours, don't worry about others opinions. But I would encourage you to compare it to a couple of other brands in your price range though-- and there are many to choose from. Try The Cable Company at www.fatwyre.com if you have no other nearby sources. They offer good advice and will send wires for home audition for a nominal fee. Good Luck. Craig
Lower gauge is better. Monster XP is probably around 16 gauge. 12 gauge or lower would be better. 2 runs of 12 guage or lower even better, if you can bi-wire. The Carol brand of speaker wire sold at Home Depot is probably as good or better than Monster and is cheap if you can find it. Spidergear.com sells good entry level cable for around 50 or 60 cents/ft. Of course, the more exotic and expensive cables will sound better, but that will depend on your equipment, budget and taste.
Very simple: Lower gauge = thicker wire = lower likelihood that the cable will adversely affect the sound. To calculate the gauge you need, see:
The 12-gauge at Home Depot runs 30 cents a foot, last time I checked. There is a school of thought that says you won't find anything better on the market at any price for most uses.
Consult with Cable Company www/fatwyre.com for cable suggestions relevant to the equipment & speakers that you're using. They can provide useful recommendations for interconnects, AC cords, & speaker cables. They have a cable lending library available; for a nominal % you can try out diferent cables (either their suggestions or your own). They have a used cable section that you may be able to purchase from once you decide what you like. They also hold your cable-rental fees on account which you can apply to any purchase of cable or accessories.
Look into "Straitwire" speaker wire. I believe dealers
will allow a home trial and a one year trade-up. My local
dealer will. I've tried various cables (Monster, Cable Talk,
NAC A5, Kimber4VS) on a relatively inexpensive system. Cur-
rently I'm using "Straitwire-Quartet." Inexpensive, well
terminated(no solder used on banana plugs), sounds very good. I believe the quartet model uses 4-14 guage wire. Bi-
wirable. For more info: www.straitwire.com. I think you'll
be pleasantly surprised by how good this wire can be (and at
such a reasonable cost.)
My favorite cheap cables is the IXOS 6003. List is $2.50 a foot, but www.AC4L.com (Accessories for less) sells it for $1.49 per foot with free shipping. I have compared it with the Home Depot/Lowes 12 gauge and it is a big improvement. More glare in the treble with the 12 gauge.
Bereft of a technical background, I had to listen to, first, the experts, and ultimately, my ears. The experts said use heavy wire, so I wound up with biwired Kimber 8TC between my CJ Premier l2s and ProAc Response 3s. Then I tried superthin Mapleshade Double Golden Helix just for the heck of it (and because of the moneyback guarantee) and was dumbfounded. Now everything in the system is wired with Mapleshade, OmegaMikro and magnet wire and it sounds simply glorious. Nice bonus: I sold all my "garden hoses" for more than the new stuff cost!
Thank everyone, I'll look into all the different recommended wire sites and see if I can't reach that audio nirvana (at least as close as I can get with my present system) that we're all after.
In general, the appropriate gauge for speaker cables is 12ga +/- 2-3gauges (about 10ga. through 14ga.)
This has been borne out by some "objective" tests that have been published in JAES and elsewhere. BUT...
But, that doesn't tell the whole story by any means.
Two cables that are identical in effective (electrical size) gauge may result in completely different sound. A cable made like a capacitor will have different sound than one made like a big coil (inductor).
The problem with really big (low gauge) wires is that they start to get self inductive and roll off the top end... while the problem with thin wires is that they tend to not be able to deliver peak currents.
Still, it is interesting to try some rather thin pure silver wires on your bi-amped tweeters and see how that sounds.
So, the 12ga turns out to be a good middle of the road compromise.
So, gauge is only the simplest criterion for speaker cables.
In abstract theory, the idea cable would be "none at all" - the output devices being part of the voice coil of the speakers, so no distance at all. The idea for the practical audio person is to use a speaker cable that comes as close as is possible to having no cable at all.
In reality, most cables are designed to, or by definition (do anyhow), in some way interact with the amp and the load to cause some change in sound. Thus, the hunt for a "good sounding cable."
What I call the "geometry" of the cable plays a big role in the gross L & C of the finished cable - and is a big reason that people hear a difference between "regular" and "shotgunned" speaker cables. The geometry being everything between the two conductors and how the conductors are physically related to each other.
One problem can occur like this: you might have actually tried a cable that is essentially "not there" and not liked it at all! It may have revealed another defect in the signal path. So often folks use cables to attempt to do what I call "complementary coloration" in an effort to get what we call "good sound." The problem with this quest is that it is rare or impossible to in effect filter something twice and restore the original (which is the ultimate goal for high end).
Anyhow, the gauge thing is only a minor consideration in the resulting sound that you're likely to hear.
Of course, you mileage may vary, as may your perceptions and ears...
Everything stated above is great advice but let me add my two cents. I have yet to try out the very expensive cables out there such as kimber 8tc and son on. I was in your exact situation. When I started the sytem I was using monster xp. Then I changed to Geneva cable. After that I changed to original monster, and now I'm running some Z1 monster. Now, each change in cable was not neceserily an improvement. It was just a different type of sound for each. Listen to as many brands as possible and your ears will tell you what you like. You may like the big gauge stuff or may not. Its all about what you like and what you like and what you are willing to pay for it. If you like the monster xp then I recommend you try out some of there Z1 series. I found some here for a good price used.
PURIST AUDIO DESIGN MAY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU. YOU CAN EMAIL PURIST@PURISTAUDIODESIGN.COM