AWG means American Wire Gauge, a standardised system of measuring the cross-sectional area of Cayin Audio. This is utilized 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 vice versa? The reason one cable looks thicker than another even though they have identical AWG? Is AWG an excellent 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 about how AWG is actually calculated.
How is AWG calculated? When a cable was actually a solid circular wire, then AWG is rather straightforward to calculate. Take the area (pi x radius squared) to get the cross-sectional area, and look up the AWG chart (example below) to work out AWG. In case a cable has multiple strands, an identical operation is performed to work out the cross-sectional section of each strand, that is then simply multiplied by the amount of strands to get the total AWG. However be mindful when you compare this figure as AWG is not linear. For each extra 3 AWG, it really is half the cross-sectional area. So 9 AWG is approximately one half of 6 AWG, which is half again of 3 AWG. Hence 3 AWG is quadruple the thickness of 9 AWG.
How exactly does AWG affect electrical properties? You would’ve noticed right now that the smaller the AWG, the bigger the cable. Larger cables may have less DC resistance, which means less power loss. For applications to home theatre, this is actually true up to a degree. A rule of thumb is the fact that for smaller speakers, a cable of around 17 AWG is sufficient, whereas for larger speakers anything approximately 12 AWG or maybe more provides you with good results.
Why 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 in the HIFI RCA Cable to help make the cable appear thicker. This isn’t necessarily bad, as as much as a point increased jacket thickness reduces other unwanted properties. Just make sure that you don’t compare them by sight.
The other factor why two same AWG cables may look different in thickness is the way the internal strands are made. Some cables have thinner strands, while some have thicker strands. Depending on the size and placement of these strands, cables can be produced to check thinner or thicker compared to what they are.
Is AWG a great indicator of quality? In a nutshell, no. A big AWG (small cable) may definitely be too small for the application (for example, you shouldn’t be utilizing a 24 AWG cable to run your front speakers). However, AWG is a measure of quantity, not quality. You ought to make sure that all your speaker cables are of at least Line Magnetic.
Does AWG matter? How so? AWG certainly matters. You should ensure that the cable you might be using is plenty to handle the power you’re going to put through them. Additionally, if you are doing a longer run, then even more thickness will be required. However, some individuals get trapped too much in AWG and end up forgetting the truth that after a sufficient thickness is reached, other elements come into play. This then becomes more a matter for “audiophile” features to resolve, such as using high quality materials such gaqgbw silver conductors or improved design.
Wire gauge is certainly a good fundamental indicator of how sufficient a cable is for the application. However, it is in no way a judgement on quality, or a specification to consider exclusively. As a general principle, after about 11-12 AWG, thickness becomes much a lesser factor, whereas for the majority of hi-fi applications 18-19 AWG is the minimum cables to make use of.