Multi gauge cables

December 7, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

If you had a chance to read my post of several days ago titled The Bypass Cap you might have been thinking it was about headwear. Or, you might have gotten my analogy of using a super tweeter to augment a standard tweeter.

Here’s another for you.

If you were to take a thin, 22 gauge wire and use it to connect your loudspeakers to your power amp, I am quite certain it would sound dramatically different from whatever you are now using. What you would likely hear is a reduction of bass and a focus on higher frequencies. Thin sounding.

You might also notice that the highs you do hear are perhaps more extended sounding than your typical speaker cable setup.

This experiment is the basis of one way to design a cable, using multiple wire gauges in parallel: a slim wire gauge for the treble, a thicker and with more surface area conductor for the midrange, and a brute for the bass.

This technique is somewhat like designing a 3-way loudspeaker. Big woofer for the bass, a smaller driver for the midrange, and a tiny tweeter for the top end.

When PS Audio was making cables this is the technique we used to craft some really good sounding ones.

There are any number of ways to maximize the sound of cables.

This multi-gauge method is but one.

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28 comments on “Multi gauge cables”

  1. The super tweeter augment seems to have gone the way of the ghost for home speaker supplement.
    I guess in many or most cases it’s not needed since the talk is most always about bass.

    Multi gauge, Muti strand, and all the other buzzwords for speaker cables. Finding the one that fits the synergy of an individual system can be exhausting, finding one that fits the synergy of the wallet can be equally exhausting.

    One could easily have a closet or shed full of cables. Guess that’s why people tend to settle and call things good for the long term once they find something they like or just works for them. (One thing less to chase or compare)

      1. Changed mine last year after 30 years of the same higher end speaker cable . The difference was night and day in the sound. Of course a year later that sound is now normal. (◔_◔)

        A really good Black Friday sale and a 30 day return policy cinched the decision. Both the ears and wallet were happy. Then again I only need less than a meter of speaker cable length per side, so that helped with the price.

        The biwire on my speakers was also a big plus.

        1. My interconnect and speaker cables were in my system through several component changes over a period of 25 years. Finally, after seeing the review by Jonathan Valin about the low end model from Synergistic Research Foundation Series that to his ears they gave up little to their top of their line Galileo Series clinched the deal for me to make a move and switch over to XLR balanced connectors as well. It took quite a bit of time for these cables to burn in and now I have zero regrets. The Incredible differences that these new cables made to the overall sound quality of my music system is almost beyond my belief system. It was time for me to switch over and I got what I wanted for a very reasonable price.

          1. I need a thumbs up emoji here

            This is the line I like the most….. 😀

            “It was time for me to switch over and I got what I wanted for a very reasonable price”

            1. At my age with a limited income, it’s the only way that I can make a change like this is to get exactly what I need. In the audio industry with the incredibly high prices being asked for any component including cables, someone like me needs to do a lot of digging to actually get my cake and I eat it too.

  2. Definitely Paul…but only for loudspeakers that really benefit from being bi-wired or bi-amped.
    I had a lower gauge (thicker) PCOCC wire to the mid/bass driver, compared to the wire to the tweeter, when I had my Harbeths back in’93.
    After the Harbeths, I never found any of the subsequent loudspeakers that I owned actually benefited from being bi-wired & now, with the DeVore’s, I have no choice as John DeVore has had the good sense to eliminate bi-wiring from his O/93s & so I chose a loudspeaker wire that tightens the bass right up, but still allows great detail in the mids & highs.

  3. As far as I understood, one basic challenge is the simultaneous transport/speed of the whole frequency spectrum through the cable. This seems definitely more complex than the right gauge for the right volume level of low and high frequencies. I guess similar details are also the reason why cabling of a non cabling-specialized HW manufacturer only reaches a certain level and mostly is just a rebranded or slightly reworked mass product.

          1. Townshend Isolda. Two very flat solid copper conductors with an even thinner thing between them. The design has been used since the 1970s.

            1. Oh, yeah, of course…you did mention that previously.
              My short-term memory loss.
              Probably due to all of the marijuana that I ingested
              over the decades, finally biting me on my arse…
              well, my brain actually. 😉

              Good ol’ Max Townshend…one of many of Australia’s best.
              So, still solid copper…as I suspected.

              1. I am a bit agnostic to the wire crusades. Been there done that—- have a box with various designs. I always find it puzzling that high frequencies prefer one wire type while the midrange prefers a different material and geometry whilst the bass prefers yet a different product. Amazing how smart snd discriminating these electrons are. Who’d a thought? If you have a balance control A/B comparisons aren’t too difficult. Cheers.

                  1. oh, I see. Gee,I wonder if they’re genre specific as well.

                    It’s all about preferences….not unlike Musical instrument preferences I suppose.
                    Guitars with certain Strings, Different Reeds for our Woodwinds, different
                    ‘sticks’ for our percussionists. we all pick & chose for a variety of unique reasons.

                1. It’s not that the different frequencies prefer different gauges as much as it is due to skin effect.
                  Anything larger than about 22 gauge rolls off high frequencies (there are calculations and charts for this)

                  A bundle of insulated 22 gauge conductors with an overall effective 10 gauge for use as a speaker cable will transmit 20 Hz bass frequencies the same as solid core piece of 10 gauge Romex, but will transmit 20,000 Hz frequencies much better than the Romex.

    1. I just hope they don’t sound flat and thin? Only joking Steven. Actually, many years ago, I tried something very similar. I don’t think they were Townshend but they could have been. Do you know if anyone else make something similar? Anyway, I liked the sound and would have bought them but at the time just couldn’t justify the cost. Thankfully these days there’s less need for justification but it still enters the thinking equation. Old habits and all that.

    2. Sain Line Systems makes silver ribbon cables (and a few other styles) to order.
      The art of sound link is old, but is where I found the description.
      The maker is currently selling these and other exotic cables through Minneapolis HiFi

      https://www.minneapolishifi.com/
      https://theartofsoundllc.com/product/sain-line-systems-reference-power-chord/

      Ultra Pure silver ribbon. Wide bandwidth phase linear conductor. Elimination of skin effect Flat out to 245 k. Hand polished to ultra fine finish. 98 percent reduction of conductor/dielectric surface contact.

      Features Silver platted OFHC copper, Teflon dielectric, cryogenic-moleculastreatment, Noise canceling conductor geometry, Precision handmade construction, 10 AWG, highly flexible, Furutech Carbon fiber connectors, Cryogenic treatment, Low impedance, Low loss PE jacket, Carbon EMI/EDS shielding.

      Sain Line Systems Reference Power Chord, Interconnect and Speaker Cables available.

  4. After trying a few different options I settled on Duelund’s 2 x 12awg, Tin-plated, Stranded Copper, wrapped in Oiled Cotton insulator. Its based on the old Western Electric WE16GA cable. It works best for my ears and my Goldenear Triton 2+ being fed by a Rouge Audio Cronus Magnum 3.

  5. I first heard true high end audio at Music Lovers Audio in Berkeley California and at the time they were using Synergistic Research cables and each system I heard impressed me. I started with their entry level cables and started on my upgrade path. I am now using their Level 3 Atmosphere Speaker Cables and interconnects along with their Tesla T2 Power Cables and the combination has worked with all combinations of equipment used. They not only provided the timbral quality I was looking for but also opened up the soundstage to be more 3 dimensional along with a noticeable drop in the noise floor. My Speakers are Legacy Audio Classic HD’s floor standers. I have found that cabling has a big influence on your speakers completely disappearing. I am also using Synergistic Research Acoustic Art room treatment along with their HFT’s. I also have floor to ceiling corner bass traps behind my speakers and 6” 2’•4’ bass trap right behind my seating position since in my 15’ wide by 14’ deep room with a cathedral ceiling requires my seating position to be right against the wall. I am probably the odd audiophile since my cabling and room treatments along with power conditioning cost more than my components. The difference is that I have not found a need to try any other cables as I explore different components. My two cents.

  6. Once I Heard the sonic benefits of “Solid core, Small gauge, Individually insulated” wires (SSI technology), became a believer! The Grand Reference SP7 speaker cables by Morrow Audio (567 stands per each pos/neg leg-totaling 11 gauge wire diameter) offered an immediate “I am there” presentation that places me inside the recorded venue. Realism, musicality, tonality, timbre, imaging, and holographic presentation have all taken a quantum leap forward toward the Live Event. Bandwidth is outstanding with totally unrestricted micro/macro dynamics. The musical presentation, the emotional impact (like the 3D roundness of images within the sound field) and the ambient details of attack and decay transients are all there! I now have no stereo system in my listening room as it has disappeared…nothing left but the musician’s performances!!

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