Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Near Houston, TX, USA
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Thicker wire serves two purposes. The first is power tolerance. The smaller the wire, the more it will heat up when being pushed with high power outputs--the hotter the wire gets, the higher the resistance gets, but it takes quite a bit of heat to make an audible difference. For that reason, it's not at all unusual to change the factory dental floss size wires for larger size--it reduces the possibility of sound degradation when the amp is pushed close to it's limits. In other words, larger wires will tolerate more power without heating up; that's why your friend's equipment ran hotter after the wires were switched for bigger ones--less resistance to the amp's attempts to push power allowed it to create more power, thereby creating more heat in the process.
The second reason could be more audible. The majority of the power put out by the amp comes in transferring the bass signals. It takes a lot of power to set that large cone into motion, and according to Newton that cone will continue in motion even after the signal is stopped unless acted on by a counteracting force. For amplifiers, that counteracting force is reported in a measurement called damping factor. In effect, the damping factor is a measurement of the amplifier's ability to stop the cone's motion, which can have significant audible benefits. No more ringing in the midrange (which can often be mistaken for slap echo, a room boundary effect). Tighter, more defined bass with no more "one note" complaints (every speaker has a free air resonance point, a frequency at which it will oscillate given the chance--most often, that is the "one note" frequency). Larger wires improve the amplifier's ability to control the motion of the woofer's cone and damp those spurious sounds.
The nice thing about powered subs is that the damping factor is not important when dealing with line level outputs, only outputs in watts, and with the short runs of wires between the internal amp in the sub and the cone, there's usually not a problem. That's why it is important to pick an HTIB with a powered subwoofer. You still will have to expect the amp to damp the resonances in the cones for the mid-bass and the midrange, though.
A poorly damped system will sound "muddy", a term I often hear used to describe the sound of many HTIB's.
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