CABLES: If a 12 gauge cable sounded fuller, what would happen with a bigger, fatter 10 gauge, or an 8 gauge?


Paul McGowan .........

In my new found quest to figure out why power cables made a difference in my preamplifier circuit I began to suspect that I wasn’t adding fullness or, for that matter, anything to the preamp’s sound but rather guessed that what must be happening is one of degrading in the first place.  By that I mean that some of the power cables I was using must be doing something bad to the power and the ones that sounded better were doing less of it.

I came to this theory because of the illogical first conclusion I made that I was “adding” fullness by increasing the wire gauge.  Further, when I shielded the power cable I got better results but this was equally illogical since the entire run of power cables in the wall is unshielded – how in the world could the last 6 feet being shielded make any difference?  Logically it cannot and does not – unless whatever is happening was somehow detracting rather than adding.

I think this was an important observation for me because my mental picture of this whole problem was one of making something better by adding and doing more – when in reality it must have been the opposite – I must be doing less harm.  Unbeknownst to me at the time my friend Bill Low from Audioquest was coming to the same conclusion, as were many others, but back then there was little communication between companies, no internet to speak of and so we all kind of worked in a vacuum.  Pretty much the only times we got together was at the annual CES and then it was mostly just to say hello.

Because I was just beginning to suspect the less damage idea, I was still experimenting with adding more and more to see what happened.  If a 12 gauge cable sounded fuller, what would happen with a bigger, fatter 10 gauge, or an 8 gauge?  How about a 4 or 6 gauge pair of jumper cables for a car?

I continued to experiment when I had time and the inkling to build more power cables and listen and one of the observations I was making concerned having too much copper.  The heavier the gauge I used the fuller the midbass but at the same time the sound became thick and ponderous.  It was like cooking a recipe and adding too much salt or spices.

One side of me rejected all of this as missing something important – I was just skirting around the problem not really figuring it out – while the other side of me reveled in the power of alchemy that allowed me to tune the system with various concoctions of wire.

Since I only suspected the idea of do less harm – and for that matter what caused harm in a power cable anyway? – I continued on the path of learning the wizard’s tricks of tuning the system with various blends of wire and construction.

Truly a witches brew.