Difference between 22 gauge and 16 gauge wire?


Mar 29, 2010
Hey guys.

I just hooked up my car subwoofer to the surround sound system in my room for the heck of it, and dang its loud! I used the same 22 gauge wire that was connected to the stock subwoofer, and voila, it worked.

I was wondering how much of a difference it would make if I went to the store and got some 16 gauge wire, to maybe push a little more power to the sub?

Is this safe to do? I'm not sure if it will cause any problems, since all the stock wire that came with my surround sound system was 22 gauge.

I fear that I might cause my receiver to fry if I use the improper wire. But on the other hand, if switching to 16 gauge is no big deal, then I would like to do so.

Thanks ahead of time for any help or advice!!!


Jun 28, 2010
Heavier gauge (16) will generally transfer the signal better than lighter gauge. It won't cause any problems but might not make much difference in the depending on how long the run is.


Mar 29, 2010

Thank you for the response.

So heavier gauge doesn't allow the amp to push more power to the subwoofer? It just allows a better signal? What if i went to 14 or 12 gauge, would I be able to notice it then do you think?


Dec 19, 2009
speaking, basing off physics... the thicker the wire the lower the resistance... now the question is how does that effect the sound.

ur best bet is just to hope that the impedence of the wire is the same through the whole frequency range.

some can provide more bass, because the impednce is EVER so slightly lower at the lower freuqnecy spectrum... "what hifi" and "stereophile" even claims that they can hear a TIGHTER difference... but from the laws of physics... i just dont see how resistances of wire and time delays in the output signals connect.....


Mar 28, 2010

Hmm..tighter can be such a subjective term used, I think perhaps in this case they might be talking about accuracy, tight and accurate vs. loose/muddy and inaccurate(which is still subjective I guess).

Anyways as far as the physics part of it goes (darn this is taxing my memory), it boils down to electron compression. Most people consider electron flow like a stick, move one end back and forth, the other end follows exactly. But that's not the case, electrons at one end push those around it, those push others, and that propagates down the wire. During that compression at any particular point in the wire, the electrons can either push further down the wire, split with pushing some down the wire and some back towards the source or strictly push back towards the source. In the case of normal wire, it's the 2nd case, pushes further down the wire with some pushing back towards the source.

Given the wire is inconsistent on a molecular level throughout the wire length, the ratio of push forward, to push back is inconsistent and changes as it propagates down the wire. Also, any given section of the wire is also inconsistent over the course of time, say most of the push happens on the top part of the wire vs the bottom then flip flops (there is turbulence in the flow of electrons), and muddies the signal. If I remember correctly, these irregularities also create preferences for certain frequencies.

Basically all that translates to signal in /= signal out and the smaller the gauge, the greater the compression and the greater the inconsistency. I'm not sure I explained that good and it's been a very long time since I studied physics, but hopefully it helps out. Now, whether or not this happens at a scale that we can actually notice, I don't really know and couldn't tell you.


Dec 19, 2009
well im not sure if ur right ont eh irregularites but different materials have different impdence. and we all know that not all 'copper' wires from different companies are ht esame.. hence this is PROABBLY why they have different sound signature. i also believe changes in inpedence are gradual along the frequency response, rather then 'certain' waves.


Mar 28, 2010
When you are looking at wire at the atomic level, there are countless irregularities. It's not just one perfect lattice structure running the length of the wire. Those irregularities affect electron compression. Sometimes they have to jump gaps or holes, sometimes they run down a straight line of atoms and at other places it's a zigzag line of atoms. This all has an affect on the signal being transferred. Each little irregularity by itself doesn't matter, but it does have the capability to stack with others.

At this point we aren't talking impedance as it's simply the overall amount of restriction over a length of material and doesn't matter if the signal is distorted over the course of the material or not.


Oct 15, 2007

well resistance is one thing.. how fast the wire is willing to let go of the electricity is another thing.

resistance of the wire is, based on physics, how much resistance is there when the electricity tries to enter the wire.
letting go of the electricity once it is in the wire is kinda like an exact opposite.. and there really isnt any consumer information given for the mass market of speaker wire.
most of the time, there isnt any specifications listed.
any specifications that are listed are represented with a full sentence or note.

going in and going out being different is one way time delays 'connect'
another way the time delay happens is when the resistance of the wire is too high (or even too low) and the amplifier circuit takes extra time to build up stability before the signal can be sent without data problems.
yes, there needs to be some type of feedback for the accumulation process to happen when the resistance is too low.
that could be the capacitors refusing to release the electricity on the first cycle because the impedance is too low.
maybe there is a resistor that is 'bulking up' when the resistance is simply not matching specifications.
the characteristic properties of the different pieces can do the accumulating based on the resistance of the circuit the electricity is traveling to.
a system of feedback analyzing can also tell the signal to 'charge a moment' before release.
but the feedback analyzer needs to be incorporated with the entire amplifier circuit for it to work correctly.
as the feedback analyzer tells the circuit to wait and charge.. that is like a buffer somewhat, and it could be as easy as adjusting a variable resistor to accumulate some extra energy from the amp section.
for it to work best, the resistor needs to be a match with the intended frequency response and phase degree (aside from esr and other characteristics of the amp circuit)

if you try a different approach.. something needs to be done after the circuit says 'okay you can send the electricity now'
because something has to stop the amp section from pouring out (or running/bleeding out) the extra energy that was charged up.

like.. if you had a bank of capacitors and the capacitor closest to the output says 'the resistance is too low and i aint gonna touch it'
then the capacitor closer to the input is gonna say 'you are waiting and causing me to charge up'
a conflict can arise, and if the energy rises high enough to make the capacitor closest to the output say 'okay i have enough energy to transfer the signal without being scared' then there shouldnt be a problem as long as the energy built up doesnt exceed the safety rating of the capacitor.

when one channel is doing the accumulation of energy faster than the other channel.. a time delay can occur.


Oct 15, 2007

this is pretty righteous.
it might affect what i wanted to say if the whole thing wasnt absorbed.

bigger wire can lead to less of the compression.. and that allows more energy to be transfered to the speaker.
tighter, more accurate sound translates to the energy from the amplifier being seen at the speaker.

different amps have a different hold on the audio as it goes through the input and on to the output.
the tighter this hold, the more you are going to hear.
whether it is a factor of ignoring the input or losing the will power to release all of what was input.. i dont know.
that would be a question for each stage of the amplification process.
if the preamp input is ignoring some of the audio signal.. the rest of the amplifier cant even begin to bite down nice and tight because the information simply doesnt exist.

electronic pieces can be just as stubborn and lazy as some people who say 'i will do it later' and then they never actually get around to doing it.
or if they do, the quality of the work is very poor.
like carrying some trash to the garbage.. maybe they drag the bags across the ground, and when it is time to place the bag inside of the can, the person is tired or lazy and hits the edge of the can making the can lean (or fall over).
emotional health for people is just as important as the emotional health of electronics.


Dec 19, 2009

how fast the wire is willing to let go of the electricity is another thing is due to resistnace.... u cant delay a signal, by changing the charactereristic of a wire, it can only change its impedence characterisitcs and hence sound signature.... phase shifts and time delays are due to its length....

..i hope u are not making stuff up here... this is some time ago, but ppl get taught THESE basic stuff in A lvls....


Oct 15, 2007

hmm.. of course i'm not certain if you are arguing.
but it appears you have added something to what i said, that being 'phase shifts'

resistance going in is not the same as resistance going out.
a wire company might try to baffle the instance when they strive to maintain equal in and out measures.
but there is nothing bipolar about the two when you start to break things down to atoms and chemicals and physics of those two.

here's the thing..
some companies might be 'provided' the chemicals to make their wire.
based on what is 'provided' there are a list of impossibilities.
it is hard to blame these 'parental guidances' when they are set in place to prevent problems.
perhaps an improvement requires a higher price category.
perhaps the improvement is simply further than the reach of the company.
for whatever reason, it could be the company who makes the wire.. or the people providing the chemical.

a phase shift was mentioned.
if the input and release measures are the same for the entire frequency and the entire phase 'band' .. then it could be said that the phase shift is uniform and only requires that the phase be adjusted for the wire across the board to compensate.

the entire talk is a real headache because of the complexity involved.
a number of things could be different from one wire to the next.. or even more unfortunate, from one portion of the spool to the next.
you know, maybe something wasnt fully stirred and the results have been poured across the wire at different portions.. creating a spool of wire that has large chunks of difference.
then to say that some of those chunks are better than others, and then again to compare the 'better' chunks with premium wire.
its a lot of key combinations.

a dsp can be programmed to phase shift every frequency to keep the output at a constant short.
to say that every rise or fall of the soundwave is adjusted to remain flat in the middle.. doing nothing but sending heat to the voice coils.
(whether that breaks something or not, i dont care to think about it at the moment)

at the very least, we could summarize and say 'this is why premium audio cables, video cables, and optical cables exist'

which cables are better is relative to the person reading the specifications.. or buying the product from different manufacturers and benchmarking the wire.
consistency goes a long way here.
because you can program a dsp to compensate for the wire.
and then you dont have to worry about any changes in the entire spool.
when one length of wire is giving different measurements than a different length of wire from a different part of the spool.. it should be more trouble than it is worth IF you are actively conscious and caring about the situation.

simple things like, a bigger wire could be higher resistance.
but wait, because if the higher resistance gives the amplifier some time to accumulate energy.. is the extra energy beneficial or degrading?
that is how custom installations have a dsp for the speakers and the cord length.. and cutting the cord or replacing the cord can cause problems such as 'warranty void' or 'satisfaction guarantee void'

and that is how a small prank like cutting someones speaker wire could lead to fines for physical and emotional damages.


Dec 19, 2009
do u mean bigger as in thicker??? cos thicker wire has lower resistnace-more electrons can pass through a wire per unit time.

plus i cant see how u say resistance going is different to resitance going out- we are talking about a SINGLE variable here.


Oct 15, 2007
i agree that a bigger/thicker wire can be less resistant when the smaller wire was really too small for the requested electricity flow.
if you try to shove the audio through the smaller wire by increasing the voltage, the wire will get warm (or even hot enough to melt) and the audio will have the unique sound of compression.
that is not to say that a thicker wire cant be custom ordered to sound the same, but flow more voltage with greater ease.
how to find it and how much would be an experience :/

but i also know that a wire that is too thick will again start to bring the resistance back up.
there is a point where the simple number of extra strands will bring the resistance back up.

say you have 200 strands of 0.5 ohm wire in the cord.
that equals 100 ohms
a 400 strand cord with 0.25 ohm wire will also equal 100 ohms

maybe it is worth it to consider the 'copper clad aluminum' approach.
i dont know what the resistance of the aluminum is.
the aluminum can add a characteristic to the sound, while allowing the guage to increase.

there was quite some talk about copper clad aluminum wire for use as a power cord for amplifiers in car audio.
a 0 guage copper clad aluminum cord would be 0 guage in size, but it would function like a 4 guage cord.
however, i believe there is some reason that the aluminum was introduced.
maybe it allows for more of the tiny sparks to pass along.
because copper has been used for hundreds of years and has been known to carry raw current.
i dont know if the aluminum was added to increase the fidelity of the amperage (or even the voltage)
the same benefit might not apply to audio signals, since the signal changes much more.

i really havent read into it that much, because i always thought if i was going to transfer current, i would stick to something i know works.
i dont have the spare money to try different combinations and see for myself.
and when i planned on running about 1,500 watts in the vehicle.. i again dont have the money for trial and error.

i'm not trying to give advice towards something that is going to be the same problem or worse.
as i said, i havent read about it in detail at all.
and as one cord might be combined with aluminum.. another might be combined with tin.
as i have seen some wires with tin on the ends of the cord for connection surface area.

i'm sure copper can do a lot of things.. but there are other metals out there that can be combined to really open doors to an option that can help customize the sound from the cord.
and if the cord is helping a problem with the speakers, by all means it might prove to be appropriate.

it was said previously in this thread, a wire's characteristics can sometimes change with age.
i suspect the same to be true with other metals added.

for what it is worth, maybe you are suggesting something on your behalf of some wire you are dealing with.
when you allow the compression of the electrons to be shoved backwards towards the source, without arguement, i dont see how a release time is difficult.
its a matter of two variables, release and absorption.

a 'generic' specification could be to use each end of the cord to measure an impedance reading.
but that certainly doesnt provide you with a measurement of time.
that is important, as it may come as a shock to see two cords with the same resistance delivering the power at different speeds of time.

impedance isnt often talked about as having the ability to be converted into a unit of time.. and there should be good reason for it.
as absorption and release are two different actions.

have you ever felt a cord from an electric heater?
sometimes the end of the cord by the wall outlet gets warm and the rest of the cord is cool.
if resistance and the flow of electricity was constant and uniform, the entire cord would be warm.

i have noticed this to be easier to see when dealing with vacuums.
some cords are hot for only a couple inches (up to half a foot), and other cords can be warm for 3 ft.

i experienced this growing up as a kid, so i cant hold certainty that the same display can be had today.
i know my electric heater cord gets warm for only a few inches, and the vacuum cord gets warm for a foot or so.

based on the electron compression described above.. if the vacuum is 'sucking' from the wall outlet, then those electrons that move closer to the wall outlet will then be violently drawn back into the cord towards the motor.. creating the warmth felt in the cord.

how fast you can think and how fast you can talk are two different things.. but both of them are said to be your thoughts.
a car can sometimes brake faster than it can speed up.. but both are units of traveling.

units are groups, as variables are within a unit and are individualized.

absorption and release are both a part of electricity flow.. making the flow a unit.
that could lead to the impedance being a unit measurement rather than a variable measurement.
i dont know which one is politically correct.. but i believe one of them MUST be talking about both, while the other one is either the absorption time or the release time.

i see how it can be confusing, based on the electrons compressing and pushing the electricity forward.
you have to realize that the electron (or whatever atom is used) should be respected to say that the absorption and release are different.
maybe you first need to ask yourself 'is it impossible?'

if somebody says something to you, your brain might come up with a reply faster than your mouth can spit out the words.
we are talking about 'you' and not the brain and mouth being different.
it is a matter of perspective, respect, and rationality.

now lets have a look at the word rationality.
inside the word contains another word - ration
have you ever heard people talk about a food portion being a ration?
i have heard it, and they used to say it back in like the 1800's (and maybe the 1950's and 1960's)

a ration is a portion of the same food.
say you have a whole turkey and cut it up into sections.
each section is then a ration.
the cutting of the turkey is the problem, as each individual piece (leg, breast, thigh) isnt being accounted for.

if one was to tell me that an electron simply and always passes along electricity at the same rate for both actions.. first i would ask how an electron absorbs electricity in the first place.
and then..
i would conclude that there is something else attached to the electron causing the input and output difference.

what would be a logical thing to attach to the electron?
a dielectric is the first thing that comes to mind.
as a dielectric can allow an extremely long cable to maintain a resistance regardless of what the length is.

that is how coax cable used by cable companies and satellite companies are always 75 ohms
doesnt matter if the cord is 3 ft or a spool of 500 ft .. the resistance is always 75 ohms.

it is really neat and worthy of thought, and if you are having any problems with your wires.. it might be well enough to start researching upgrades to be one step closer to perfection.

i mean, to put it blank..
you said 'i cant see how you say resistance going is different than resistance going out'
and that is simpler to explain.. as i can see where the confusion is.
as the first electron absorbs the electricity, that electron pushes on the next electron.
because the electron would then not actually absorb the electricity, it would run away from it as if it was scared.
then as the electron is running away, it bumps into another electron and shoves it to try and run away.
that 2nd electron is then forced to bump into another electron, and the chain of movement down the wire happens.

that means the electrons are running away all the way until the electron meets the voice coil of the speaker.
but that suggests there is a transfer of electrons from the speaker wire to the wire of the voice coil.

it might be bragging rights to say the electron doesnt ever actually touch the electricity, but instead runs away from it.
but with water as an example.. if the water ever bumps into anything, the wave will travel backwards in the direction it came from.
those going forwards and backwards is how the wire affects the sound quality by coloring the sound.

it would be better to have each atomic particle actually absorb the electricity and each atomic particle touching the first atom actually sucks the electricity away from the first one.
that means you have to fill up the wire with electricity until it is full, then the electricity will flow extremely fast because each instance of more electricity being added is like adding more water to a bowl that is already full.
the exact moment you add more water, the water is going to go over the edge of the bowl.

that is also how coloring can happen.
one because of how the atomic particles handle the electricity.
two because of if/when the wire becomes less than over-flowing.

if the electrons have the ability to jump from one wire to the next, that could lead to a wire that is running low or even empty of electrons.
when the atomic particles dont leave or move, but simply steal the electricity from eachother.. there is hardly a chance for those atomic particles to escape and causing a bad wire.
it also makes more sense to say that when each atomic particle is sucking up the energy, that is how the resistance is created.

so you choose which method you want to believe.
because i am having a difficult time using electrons as an example.

and think about it, if electrons run away from the electricity.. what happens when there is no more room to run?
do they then FINALLY start to absorb the electricity and pass it along as other electrons are also forced to absorb the electricity?
because that would explain why electrons are so very eager to release the electricity, since they are 'scared' of it.

but i find it hard to believe that an electron can move in the wire and not run right out of the edge of the cord without needing to be refilled with electrons.

i would think the electron example needs a refill more often than the other example i provided.
and that means the cord will last for almost forever, except maybe when corrosion happens.


Dec 19, 2009
also jsut remeber the voltage going out form a wire cannot exceed the the input voltage into teh wire... an ideal wire basically... impossible but ye...

"...should be respected to say that the absorption and release are different."

nothing is absorbed here, the electrons in ALL or MOST metals are delocalised.

higher resistance = higher temp lower resistnace= lower temp. e.g. this is how a hair dryer works.

"it might be bragging rights to say the electron doesnt ever actually touch the electricity, but .."
u cant differentiate electron and electricity, the electicity measured in volts, is the measure of the FORCE of electrons moving around a conductor(current going in the opposite direction)... and hence a better way of saying voltage would be the electromotive FORCE


Mar 29, 2010
My mind is blown right now. So much information to digest.

I'm somewhat of a newbie but you guys take the term Audiophile to a whole new meaning!

Thanks for all the input, it is appreciated.


Dec 19, 2009
OP u can read in, cos the math will show u.

"say you have 200 strands of 0.5 ohm wire in the cord.
that equals 100 ohms
a 400 strand cord with 0.25 ohm wire will also equal 100 ohms "
this is what has anwaypasible said... which is not correct, im afriad, cos wires are strands in parallel..

OP if u can do the math im sure you will understand, that thicker wires are better, assuming other vaiables are kept the same.


"a 400 strand cord with 0.25 ohm wire will also equal 100 ohms " false.

1/R(Total)= 1/0.25 X 400


therfore...R=0.000625 ohms.


"say you have 200 strands of 0.5 ohm wire in the cord.
that equals 100 ohms " which it doesnt....

using teh same equation for parallel resistors ...1/R(total)=1/R + 1/R + 1/R ...and so on...

the ohms for the wire above is 0.0025 ohms..


this is all an example, a real speaker wire can be far much lower, - so the math shows that the thicker the 'ideal' wire the lower its resistance. (u only need to look at THIS post to understand this)


Oct 15, 2007

nobody but me is interested in the difference between resistance and impedance?
i know if i have a 9 volt battery and connect a light bulb, the bulb burns bright.
more bulbs and they burn less.
even more bulbs and they dont burn at all.

i think hair dryers are hotter because they have less resistance.. to say, a resistance that is calibrated with the amount of voltage coming from the outlet to determine the amount of desired heat.
now if a nasa material were to use some electrons or whatever atom to bounce around, those atoms could be selectively chosen to move at a high rate of speed without much electricity required.
that would be the equivalent of 1500 watts of heat by using less voltage to aquire the atomic movement.
and that it is the atomic movement that is causing the heat build up.

i certainly couldnt differentiate electron and electricity, as i dont know where to begin.
some kind of packet sniffing would need to take place.. but i wouldnt know how the hardware is setup.
wondering if there would be a blank canvas to start, or if there is some type of material that is electrically conductive.
makes one wonder if an electron can pass along energy at all.. and if there are smaller atoms (or alternative atoms) that can decrease the size of the electricity being sent.

that might explain how computers run on electricity very well and efficient without much voltage needed.

i participated in this thread because i know a smaller wire can lack the transport medium of the voltage being requested to transfer.
you can use the smaller wire until it gets hot enough to melt the plastic around it.
it would be safe until the plastic melts and one wire touches the other wire.
and it wouldnt suprise me to find people actually prefer the smaller wire and run it close to the maximum for the characteristic sound it might have.
whether it is a function of heat, or a function of having no extra room for the request (and possibly working faster to make the room)
i suspect this is how the smaller wire can have additional sound characteristics.
because yes, the metal used could sound a certain way.. and then when that metal is 'abused' to work at full production - creating the heat, then the sound signature might change again.

i would think the wire would need to get hot for the entire duration of the cable.. and not simply a hot spot at the end of the cord.
because a hot spot at the tip would certainly melt the plastic while the rest of the cord is cool.
it's dangerous there at the tip because the wires will inevitably touch eachother.
to say that the wire needs some type of heat conductor in the metal to spread the length of the heat uniform to prevent damage at the tip.
to some, maybe that is their niche and considered a premium wire for them.
it wouldnt be far-fetched if the metals and chemicals they use are providing better results than most of the widely available wire that can be purchased.
a matter of what it takes to make the best of what they have.
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