Speaker Wire Gauge?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Lon, Aug 14, 2003.

  1. Lon

    Lon Member

    Location:
    Fremont, CA
    Hi all !
    I was wondering if somebody could explain what the differences were between the different gauge sizes and what exactly that means as I am pondering what size to get.
    Thanks!
     
  2. aashton

    aashton Here for the waters...

    Location:
    Gortshire, England
  3. Lon

    Lon Member

    Location:
    Fremont, CA
    Thanks Andrew!
     
  4. Clay

    Clay New Member

    Location:
    Saratoga, CA
    Here are a few more links to some interesting reading on wires.
    http://home.cogeco.ca/~audiovideozone/DIY_Cable_Info.html
    http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/caelin/caelin.html
    http://www.cardas.com/products/index.html

    One thing for sure. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what is the best. single strand, multiple strands, silver, copper, silver plated, braided, small diameter, large diameter, different diameters in the same wire, oxygen free.

    I replaced 10' 12g ofc tiny strands with 5' 14g ofc with some silver plated strands and it seemed to sound better.
     
  5. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana
    Steve, what kind of speaker wire or what gauge would you recommend for use with vintage tube amps and high efficiency speakers such as the Tannoy Golds?
     
  6. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    18 gauge is what I use for my minisystem speakers and I don't buy the "audiophile grade" speaker wire as that's what minisystem speakers actually come with.
     
  7. Hoser Rob

    Hoser Rob Member

    Personally, I think there is a lot of nonsense about speaker cables, which is NOT to say they don't matter. The best explanation I've seen is in an article in the Bryston newsletter (see www.bryston.com), which says that the sound of a cable is determined by its impedance (and there are a zillion ridiculous "new-agey" ways cable makers have to describe capacitance), which is determined by its construction. A twisted pair will have high shunt capacitance and low series inductance, a spaced pair the reverse. High capacitance is parallel to the load and should not be a problem for any decent amp. High series inductance is more serious, since it is in series with the speaker load and will always generate some phase shift. Whether this will be noticeable in the real world, given that ALL speakers will have much more phase shift than the cable, is another question.
    The guage does matter, of course, but more for its series resistance, I believe. The resistance of a cable matters because it effectively raises the damping factor of the amp. My system, which is solidly in the "point of diminishing returns" camp, seems to be a bit (speaker) cable sensitive, because my Paradigms are 6 ohms nominal (so probably 4 ohms minimum) and my NAD is rated at .16 ohms output impedance. This is perilously close to the 5% out-to-in-Z limit my research indicates you want. In any case, kepping the speaker cables as short as possible seems to be the way to go. I suspect this is a lot more important than using exotic cable.
    My experience with biwiring shows that you must use the same wire for both crossover poles, just as Paradigm tech support told me. Also, I found that you MUST separate the bass and treble wires by at least an inch or two. If not, the higher current in the bass section creates a magnetic field that modulates the treble section. If I don't do this, it actually sounds worse than single wired (see the excellent Vandersteen site for the best explanation of biwiring I've seen). Beware cable makers and salespeople trying to sell you "biwire-ready" cable.
    Speaking of current, I'm a little suspicious of claims that current capability matters in speaker wire. If a hair dryer can draw more than 10 amps continuous without its 16 AWG power cord even getting warm, what is the problem with an audio signal?
    I guess I'm starting to rant, but the whole subject of insanely overpriced cables gets me going a bit.
     
  8. DanG

    DanG On Green Dolphin Street

    Location:
    FL
    Rob, welcome to the forum. I enjoyed your post, thanks.
     
  9. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Bryston.com is no longer online.
     
  10. mudbone

    mudbone Gort Annaologist

    Location:
    Canada, O!
  11. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    Thanks, mud. For a minute there, I thought they might have went out of business!! :eek:
     
  12. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana


    I'm a little confused. Are you saying that the smaller the gauge of wire, the higher the damping factor of an amp?
     
  13. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Location:
    GTA, Canada
    Steve once mentioned that vintage amps were "voiced" with regular, plain old wire. Speaker and interconnect. Makes sense, huh?

    Just a thought.

    You should try a few different wires, IMO.

    Gary

    Rob, Welcome! Your post sure does not seem like a "hose" to me! :D
     
  14. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana

    Is this true, Steve? Someone told me that with regard to the vintage Tannoys, "they weren't designed to be used with high end, modern speaker cables, just use nice, copper lamp-cord".
     
  15. Hoser Rob

    Hoser Rob Member

    Actually, the lower the guage of the wire, the larger the wire is and the lower the resistance of the wire. This effectively increases the damping of the speaker since the speaker doesn't know the difference between the output impedance of the amp (ie. the damping factor) and the resistance (or impedance) of the wire. Sorry if I was confusing.
     
  16. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    But, Steve IS using silver ICs (Grovers), right? :)
     
  17. Richard Feirstein

    Richard Feirstein New Member

    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Dampening factor is an issue with certain speakers and amps. Typically, most amps have adequate dampening factor at real world impedance levels seen at low audio frequencies in almost all speakers. DC resistance is not a factor that makes much difference. With a few amps it is important to avoid certain speakers that do not present a proper load. This is a better approach that messing around with DC resistance in the speaker wire. I don't know of any combination out there today where this is an issue.

    Richard.
     
  18. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Location:
    GTA, Canada
    Right! :thumbsup:

    Maybe Grover will make some speaker wires one day, too....
     
  19. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    They were pulling your leg. They probably suggested you should get some nice 40-year old cloth-covered Western Electric wire - which actually might be pretty good.

    I cannot imagine that vintage Tannoys would not sound superb with my DIY silver foil cables.

    Regards,
    Geoff
     
  20. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana

    That's good news! I think I'll just use my DIY aluminum foil cables with masking tape insulation, then.:D Kidding. Okay, well then I have yet to find the definitive answer to the following question:

    What are the best cables to use with a vintage tube amp and a pair of vintage Tannoys?
     
  21. pdenny

    pdenny It's only an album

    Location:
    Ask the NSA, narc
    I'd like to know, too. I'm using Monster XP (about 14G); there must be SOMETHING better out there. :D
     
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Mastering Your Host

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Vintage dudes,

    It all has to do with what YOU want your vintage system to sound like. My Tannoys used to be a bit "soft" with my modern tube gear, so I used "bright" speaker wire to put a bit of grit in the sound.

    When I hooked up my Marantz 8B's to the Tannoys, that "sound" was just perfect for me, so I took out the up-tilted audiophile type speaker cable and just put Monster in. Works fine for me in that system. I don't know what Prix's amp sounds like so I can't make a judgement...
     
  23. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    That's because no 2 systems are exactly alike. I needed to make speaker wire extensions and I honestly didn't know what speaker wire was used with my system so I decided to buy 18 gauge speaker wire and wire strippers and my guess was correct. It was definitely an educated guess.
     
  24. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana

    I understand. I just wanted to know if there was a general opinion on one type of cable being better than another.
     
  25. thegage

    thegage Well-Known Member

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    Just how long have you been an audiophile? :D

    I couldn't resist a straight line like that!

    John K.
     

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