Does gauge of speaker cables matter?

Now a dumb question.For a full range speaker is it better to use say,a 9 gauge as opposed to a 12 gauge? Also if one were to use a double run of 12 gauge to the woofers would this be equal to a single 6 gauge run.Im considering this and using an 11 gauge single run to the tweeters.I would be using Harmonic Technology cables..Thanks!
Yes, gauge does make a difference -- just like size makes a difference, I suppose. However, beyond some gauge/size, it's not meaningful. For longer runs of speaker cable, it is necessary to use thicker wire (smaller gauge number) to ensure that the audio/electrical signal is transmitted as accurately as possible. Now, at what point does it NOT matter much? For front and center speakers in a high-quality audio system, I would not personally use anything smaller than 12 gauge. I use the following as a rough criteria: 1) speaker cable runs of 8 feet or less: 14 gauge is fine 2) speaker cable runs of 8-12 feet: 12 gauge 3) speaker cable runs of more than 12 feet: 9 gauge. However, for rear or side surround speakers, where audio quality is less critical, Monster Cable says that 12 gauge is sufficient for runs up to about 50 feet. I have 2 runs of about 35 feet under my living room (to power the rear surrounds), and I use a 12 gauge Monster Cable wire that works fine.
David, a simple rule of thumb is that doubling the size of the conductore takes you down three wire gauge sizes. In other words, two 16 gauge wires run in parallel = 13 gauge. In order to go measurably heavier than this, you would need four 16 gauge wires. Since two of the 16's equals 13 gauge, we are in effect doubling that amount again ( 2 + 2 ) to come up with 10 gauge. This is a generic rule of thumb. As to specific wire gauges for individual drivers, it is sometimes not the actual gauge that matters most but the materials used and the geometry of the overall design. While a larger gauge does offer less resistance which is very critical on a real long run, heavier wires typically tend to roll-off or smear high frequency information. Running heavy wires like this side by side ala standard Monster type zip cable will result in a MEASURABLE roll of of upper mid and treble output. That is why many manufacturers have gone to using several very small gauge wires routed in parallel. Kimber, Audioquest, Axon, YBA, etc.. all do this with individually insulated cables in various geometries. These are designed to produce the flattest and widest bandwidth carrier that they can. Of course there are those that go the opposite route like Goertz, Analysis Plus, etc... that use different geometries and try to give the most surface area possible. Some will say that there is a difference in solid and stranded wire and i am one of those folks. In MOST cases, i prefer to use solid wire whenever possible. Your question touches upon one of the most volatile subjects around though, so expect to get some answers that will contradict each other. For more info about speaker cables, take a look at what Nelson Pass had to say when he took measurements of several older designs. You can find this detailed testing on the Pass Labs website listed under "articles". Hope this helps. Sean >
Does anyone feel a double run of 12 gauge to the woofers and a single run of 11 gauge to the tweeters would be worth the expense and effort?
That would all depend on what frequency range the woofer covers, what specific wires were used and how you configured it. If you want specific answers, you need to provide more specific info. Sean >
David, I always thought "the bigger the better", until I found out about Mapleshades cables here on Audiogon. I have used Cardas, Straightwire, PAD,ARC & several others. When I recieved the M.S.double golden helix cables I almost sent them back before I gave them a try. I thought no way could these small wires push my old inefficient Magnepans but they sound better than any thing I've used. I know all of this may be system dependent & is subjective but I wanted to give you something to consider. I can't explain why this worked for me, others here or Pierre @ Mapleshade would be able to provide an explanation. Good luck in your search for better sound.
David, I can say the same for the Mapleshade stuff,it is very very good and when you see it you think man that shit can`t sound that good there is nothing to it, but be prepared to scrach your head in disbelief. I had some Omeaga Micro a-2 that when you saw them you wouldn`t have thought those cable could do what there did , but they do and they were the best IC I`ve ever had. they are very fragile and that is why I let them go, but last week I order two pair of there Clearview. They are very close to the Omeaga`s , they are only $65 for a one meter pair.I`ll let you know how they came out. Greg
Dave i have found that lowe gauge 16/24 gauge makes the besy choice.If you can get 24 better and the run 8 or 16 conductors of it to get your desired heavy gauge.
Must be a guy thing,always obsessing about size./ My olds 454 can whip your ford 289/and the like. Speaker wire isn't only about size. Would,that it were that simple. A? What's next?-Diamonds by the pound?
To confuse things even more, there are some who feel that higher frequencies travel better on smaller guage wire (ie. 22-30 AWG) while lower frequencies should use larger gauge (8-12 AWG). But keep in mind that material used, whether copper or silver, will matter. You really should audition a number of cables of different types to see what sounds best in your system. Good luck, Dave