AWG is short for American Wire Gauge, a standardised system of measuring the cross-sectional area of Cayin 300B. This is used to determine how much current a wire can handle. AWG causes much confusion for consumers, as the standard can be a little hard to understand. Is 12 AWG much better than 14 AWG or the other way round? The reason one cable looks thicker than another even though they have identical AWG? Is AWG a good indicator of quality? Does AWG matter, and if so, how? These are all good questions, and we’ll get to them shortly. Firstly, let’s briefly touch on how AWG is actually calculated.
How is AWG calculated? If a cable was a solid circular wire, then AWG is pretty straightforward to calculate. Take the area (pi x radius squared) to have the cross-sectional area, and look in the AWG chart (example below) to work out AWG. If a cable has multiple strands, a similar operation is done to work out your cross-sectional part of each strand, that is then simply multiplied by the amount of strands to get the total AWG. However be careful when you compare this figure as AWG will not be linear. For every extra 3 AWG, it really is half the cross-sectional area. So 9 AWG is approximately half of 6 AWG, that is half again of 3 AWG. Hence 3 AWG is quadruple the thickness of 9 AWG.
So how exactly does AWG affect electrical properties? You would’ve noticed by now that this smaller the AWG, the larger the cable. Larger cables will have less DC resistance, which translates to less power loss. For applications to home theatre, this is actually true up to a degree. A rule of thumb is that for smaller speakers, a cable of around 17 AWG is enough, whereas for larger speakers anything as much as 12 AWG or even more provides you with good results.
How come some cables of the same AWG look different in thickness? Two factors dominate here. Firstly, the AWG only takes into account the interior conductors. Therefore, a cable manufacturer could easily boost the thickness from the CopperColour Cable to create the cable appear thicker. This isn’t necessarily bad, as up to and including point increased jacket thickness reduces other unwanted properties. Just make sure that you don’t do a comparison by sight.
One other factor why two same AWG cables may look different in thickness is how the internal strands are created. Some cables have thinner strands, and some have thicker strands. Depending on the size and placement of those strands, cables can be produced to appear thinner or thicker compared to they are.
Is AWG an excellent indicator of quality? In a nutshell, no. A big AWG (small cable) may certainly be not big enough for a particular application (for example, you shouldn’t be employing a 24 AWG cable to perform your front speakers). However, AWG is really a measure of quantity, not quality. You need to make certain that your speaker cables are of at the very least Line Magnetic 518ia.
Does AWG matter? How so? AWG certainly matters. You need to be sure that the cable you are using is enough to handle the power you’re planning to put through them. Additionally, if you are doing a longer run, then even more thickness will be required. However, some people get swept up excessive in AWG and forget the fact that once a sufficient thickness is reached, other elements come into play. This then becomes more a matter for “audiophile” features to resolve, such as using better quality materials such gaqgbw silver conductors or improved design.
Wire gauge is unquestionably a good fundamental indicator of methods sufficient a cable is perfect for the application. However, it is by no means a judgement on quality, or even a specification to look at exclusively. As being a general principle, after about 11-12 AWG, thickness becomes much a lesser factor, whereas for most hi-fi applications 18-19 AWG will be the minimum cables to utilize.