Originally Posted by Aarghon
I'm asking this question because I'm kind of confused on what I read on diverse sources... Some say that good cables are absolutely mandatory, and other ones say that a standard big gauge copper wire will perform as well as exotic cables... ***
On the other hand, some sites like whathifi insist on the need of high quality speaker wire...***
It's a simple exercise in following the money.
Sources that have some pecuniary interest* in wires and the various other cons permeating "high end" audio will invariably recommend setting aside some portion of the budget for such cons. After all, such things tend to have low costs and high prices, so that allows big marketing budgets, fat dealer margins, etc.
*i.e. because they're involved in the sales/distribution chain, receive ad revenues, desire to maintain the resale value of scam wires already purchased, etc.
Originally Posted by jaymalya
I am not sure wire gauge has anything to do with amp watts rather than the distance the wire would run
For most domestic uses, it doesn't. But wires that are carrying a lot of power may heat up unacceptably. (The act of carrying voltage and current through a device with nonzero resistance will always result in some heating.) The calculator Bill linked-to is good, because it accounts for that even though for most home uses it's irrelevant. (When is it relevant? For example, enter values of 1000W, 4Ω, 45 ft., and 14AWG.)
But basically, the factors a intelligent person uses to determine how much to spend on speaker wires is the following:
- The "Russell/BCAE1" technical factors. That is to say, the minimum impedance of one's loudspeakers and the length of each run.
- Local building codes (for example, if wire is run in a wall, does it need to be CL2 or CL3 rated to meet code)?
- Cosmetic/ergonomic factors. Examples of things that fit under this category include conduit, techflex, heat shrink, ends (Speakon/spade/banana/pin), etc.
The former two are objective, and the latter is subjective.
Also, keep in mind that a multichannel system will almost always require more wire speaker wire than one might expect. Especially if one is careful about concealing the wire runs. I know in my current 7.1-channel system there is about 200' of wire for the three mains and four surrounds, and about 90' of speaker wire for the five subwoofers. (Of all that wire, less than 7' total are visible.) So speaker wire for multichannel systems is best purchased in large spools.