Mar 092018

Remember my Big Round Tone post from a couple of weeks back, where I discussed the relationship of tone to gauge size for headshell leads, interconnects, speaker cables, and speaker/equipment internal wiring?

In relative terms, you get bigger, richer, and rounder tone as gauge size decreases (fatter wire).

Chubby 6th string E on the left, skinny 1st string E on the right.

You can think of it in guitar terms too. The little skinny 1st string E (far right, above) gives a brighter and more penetrating tone, and its chubby big brother, the 6th string E (far left, above), which gives a rich and bassy tone.

While the reasons for this relationship of tone to gauge size is a little different between guitars and audio wire, the relationship of gauge size to tone still holds, and is really useful in audio because you can use it to fine tune your system to get the sort of tone you’re after.

Need more clarity and brightness? Go with skinnier wire gauge size. Need more richness and warmth? Go with chubbier wire gauge size.

Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeaker.

I can’t believe how fast time goes by, I’ve had my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers now for over 8 years. 8 years! I can’t hardly believe it’s been that long!

The Westminster’s are a terrific speaker musically and sonically, and my appreciation for them grew ten-fold after building crossovers for them out of Duelund CAST components.

That was also my first experience with modifying equipment – nothing like diving off into the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim!

Duelund CAST crossovers for the WRSE’s.

Besides being great to listen to music with, the Westminster’s are great for reviewing, because that little high-frequency brass horn you see in the center of the dual concentric driver is ultra-revealing of small differences in just about anything, whether it be wire, resistors, capacitors, inductors, or what have you.

When you get the overall tone dialed in perfectly the big Westminster’s are amazing, but if something is a mismatch you’ll know it in a hurry.

I’m always fiddling with my system as an audio writer, because something is always changing in it.

I’ve been using Duelund DCA12GA as speaker cables for my West’s, and the Duelund crossovers are wired with Duelund DCA16GA wire in the low-frequency part of the circuit, and Duelund DCA20GA wire in the high-frequency part of the circuit.

Just for kicks, yesterday I decided I would swap out the DCA20GA in the HF crossover circuit for some DCA12GA to hear what would happen.

Intuitively it seems like way too fat of wire to use in a HF circuit, but you never know what’ll happen until you try it.

Duelund CAST crossover with DCA12GA added to the HF circuit (the bottom part of the crossover). That’s the DCA20GA in the upper left corner that I took out.

The DCA12GA wire is so much bigger than the DCA20GA wire that it wouldn’t fit into the standard McMaster-Carr setscrew lugs I use in my crossovers, so I had to use some much bigger McMaster-Carr setscrew lugs to get the DCA12GA to fit. Luckily I had the foresight to order some of the big McMaster-Carr setscrew lugs awhile back, so I had some on hand.

Driver side closeup of DCA12GA wire (foreground) and prototype Duelund CAST resistors with tinned-copper leads.

It took me about an hour to redo everything in the HF crossover circuits with Duelund DCA12GA. Note the size difference with the two versions of the McMaster-Carr setscrew lugs in the middle-right of the photo above. The DCA12GA is a lot bigger, necessitating the big lugs.

By the way, those prototype Duelund CAST resistors with the tinned-copper leads you see in the photo above have really nice tone.

In the upcoming Duelund crossover project for my vintage Altec A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, Frederik is indulging me a little (ok a lot!) with an idea I have for the resistors.

For each resistor specified in the Hiraga-style circuit, I asked Frederik if he would mind building resistors that have two paralleled resistive elements, as well as use chubbier leads than he usually does.

Amplifier side close-up of DCA12GA in the HF crossover circuit.

My rationale was that experience has taught me that I get bigger tone with paralleled resistors and fatter leads, and I can push them harder without overloading them.

I’ll be pretty embarrassed if it doesn’t work out like I think it will, but I’m really excited to find out!

Ok, enough on my little resistor diversion, now back to the effect the DCA12GA in the HF circuit had on the musicality and sonics of the music playback.

Good Pickin’s by Howard Roberts.

I had Howard Robert’s Good Pickin’s on the turntable, so after letting the system warm up suitably, I started listening.

The difference in tone with the DCA12GA in the HF crossover circuit was dramatic, with the presentation being richer, bigger, and warmer, by a lot.

Timbral textures were more obvious, and the sense of spaciousness in the recording opened up a lot.

The DCA20GA sounded smoother, a little leaner, and more articulate, but the DCA12GA was very enticing.

I did notice that with the DCA12GA the sense of beat and tempo were a little more relaxed than I liked, but still good.

It never ceases to amaze me how much difference a few short lengths of wire can make on system voicing.

I’m thinking that maybe part of the HF circuit wired with DCA12GA and part with the DCA20GA might give a very nice blend of musical & sonic qualities, so I might try that too.

Of course the point of the post is that it is worth experimenting with differing wire gauge sizes to voice a system, and there’s no magic recipe other than to roll up your shirt sleeves and try a few combinations to see what happens, until you find the favored combination.

Have fun experimenting, and as always thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 2:46 pm

  14 Responses to “A Duelund DCA12GA tinned-copper wire adventure to kick off the weekend!”

  1. Thank you Jeff for sharing your experience with the effects of interchanging different wire and resistor lead sizes, and the analogy with guitar string sizes. I also had discovered pretty much the same effects and results many years ago when I started dabbling with DIY speaker x-overs and tube preamps and power amps. Similar to your findings, I too found that–all other things being equal–the bigger the wire (smaller gauge number), the fatter, fuller, bolder, thicker and warmer the tone plus a sense of relaxation and slower (longer) risetime and decay of the notes while a thin wire (higher gauge number) did all of the opposite bringing more definition, speed, attack, tightness, transparency, airiness, and veering more analytical than ‘musical’ when passed a certain point. I’ve also found that bigger wire on tweeters can warm up and bring a richer density in treble, especially with multistrand copper instead of solid core. I also prefer by a wide margin 2 watt resitors instead of lower wattage ones for the same reasons as wires even if the circuit does not demand it electrically. As for single or an equivalent of 2 connected in parallel, I found that the single resistor sounds more intimate and focused while 2 in paral. sounded a bit more transparent and spacious. Counterintuively with capacitors (tubular shape types) I prefer the sound of smaller bodies to the bigger ones and also those that have lower voltage limits than the higher ones (without taking any electrical risks of course); the higher voltage ones sounding less warm and intimate. The art (of the tone) is to mix up the rignt combination of all these ‘micro-tuning’ componants in ones system to produce whatever sound we are searching for.


  2. Hello Jeff, I really like your column about the guage size vs music tone as it is similar to my own experiences. What about if for you HF cross-over section you would try with multiple runs of 20guage wire to get a cross section equivalent to the 12 gauge? A bit like a litz configuration.I have a feeling that you would get the best of both!

    • Hi Felix,

      One would have to combine 6 lengths of DCA20GA wire to get a 20-gauge equivalent wire. That’s a lot of DCA20GA to get an equivalent 12-gauge “wire”. Both the DCA12GA and DCA20GA are stranded cables, so I’m not sure how it would work out or if the overall result would be much different.

      Given I’ve got a limited amount of DCA20GA, I’ll probably try combining DCA20GA with DCA12GA in different locations in the HF circuit instead, and see how it works out.

      Kind regards,


  3. Hi Felix,

    I have a very bad expirience with any kind of parallel wires in my sytem (Altec 604 and SET amplifier).
    My DIY integrated 300B SET amplifier has 50 cm input wires. When I used 21AVG Cadras litz, sound become muddy and unfocused. The vocal sibilants where especially annoying with this litz cables.
    The same unfocused vocal sibilant issue I observed in my parallel isolated wires XLO Signature cables.
    I know that many people like litz and parallel wires cables. But it is not my cup of tea. I see much more disadvantages then advantages in these kind of cables.
    It is interesting to know, what do Jeff and other people here think about it.


    • Hi Alex,

      My experience has been somewhat varied using Litz (like Cardas), stranded (like DCA20GA, DCA16GA, and DCA12GA), fused-stranded (Art of Tone), and solid core wires/cables.

      In general, I’ve found solid-core wire to have rounder & warmer tone than Litz or stranded cables of the same/similar gauge, with their main drawback being they are rather stiff and inflexible cables at lower gauge sizes. Fused stranded wire sounds more like solid-core wire to me, but is rather stiff & inflexible as well.

      For example, the Duelund 2.0 solid-core silver wire is a transparent, rich, and mellow sounding wire that I really like a lot, but the Duelund 1.0 wire sounds more classically “silver”, being brighter and more forward, with the difference being the gauge size. The Duelund 2.0 is superb for taming fussy high-frequencies while maintaining transparency, but it is expensive if you need much of it.

      My experiments paralleling wires in interconnects and speaker cables are similar to yours, and the results haven’t made me want to try doing it again.

      I’m not sure there’s a single “best” solution when it comes to wire, but rather it just takes some experimenting as to what best matches a particular room, equipment, and listener needs, with the “best” one being the one that best satisfies an individual listener.

      That’s my 2 cents.

      Kind regards,


      • Hi Jeff,

        I think that Litz and isolated multi-wire cables and stranded wires (Tin-Plated and regular copper) are different.
        In stranded wires small wires have contacts during the cable run.
        As result, stranded wires don’t have vocal sibilant issue.

        I use 22 awg, LEGENBURG Rectangular HOOK-UP Wire in my amplifier and I like it more than Cardas Litz.

        I used LEGENBURG Rectangular wire between my tonearm to SUT. Now I use DCA20GA in this place.
        LEGENBURG Rectangular have very lush, smooth and in the same time transparent sound, but DCA20GA sounds even more transparent with better dynamic and instrument separation.
        The tone of these cables is also different. LEGENBURG is good for vocals but piano and horns sound more natural with DCA20GA.


    • Hi Alex and Jeff

      My experience has lead me to believe that conventional litz suffers from its insulation having a high dielectric constant and other parallel wire configuration also suffer from having a high dielectric volume & constant / total wire gauge size. The DCA20GA wire solve this issue by having cotton/oil dielectric having a lot of empty /air pocket, significantly reducing the dielectric constant of the wire. My DIY speaker cables are constructed of 12, 24 gauge wires each individually insulated in a fiber rope. The 24 gauge wire reduces the skin effect, the fiber insulation reduces the dielectric constant and the overall gauge reduce resistance sufficiently.

      • Hi Felix,

        I think, a multiple wires cable works like number of parallel way of the same signal.
        And in some implementations, it sounds like we receive the same signal with different delays (or phases).
        This effect is more listenable on high frequencies. I listen it like vocal sibilants are not in focus.


  4. Hi Jeff,
    can I know if you prefear dca12ga or 16ga for speaker cables please? I have a pair ov Altec 19.


    • Hi Salvatore,

      On my Westminster Royal SE’s I use the DCA12GA as speaker cables, and on my Altec 832A Corona’s & Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers I use DCA16GA as speaker cables.

      I’m not familiar with the Altec 19’s, but if you are looking for a more vibrant & colorful sound the DCA16GA is a good choice, and if you are wanting a richer and smoother sound the DCA12GA is an excellent choice.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind regards,


  5. “In relative terms, you get bigger, richer, and rounder tone as gauge size decreases (fatter wire).”

    The correct way to state that is ‘…as gauge NUMBER decreases (fatter wire)’. And an even-better way would be to simplify it to wire size with no reference to gauge, as in ‘In relative terms, you get bigger, richer, rounder tone as wire size increases)’.

    American Wire Gauge numbers and wire sizes going in opposite directions is confusing enough, Jeff; pls don’t make it worse. 🙂

    FWIW, Wiki has an article on AWG.

    I was surprised when I discovered years ago that doubling or halving the number of same-size conductors changes the AWG number by three, something I think many of us don’t know.

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