Yeah, I knew it could become a discussion all it's own, and now here it is, lol.
Basically I think the money is for peace of mind more than anything else substantial. Simply put, they are probably not worth the extra cost, at least for most setups.
When I buy a wire I look for 3 things.
1. Shielding (You want RF and EM noise rejection, not just a rubber covering)
2. Quality Connectors (As you plug and unplug a cord dozens of times, will it hold tight and true each and every time?)
3. Good insulation and copper (Harder to judge, but will the cable survive any crimping or pinches?)
I've sunk more money than I care to disclose into Monster interconnects, power supplies, you name it. Why? Mostly because I wanted the piece of mind, followed by wanting the best available, and third I wanted a good warranty/name I could trust.
I currently run these component wires on my HD Bigscreen at home.
Did I pay the suggested 200 bucks for it? Hell no, but close. Did I notice more picture clarity after the upgrade from the following wires?
Yes. And yes I upgraded from a set of wires that cost around 80 bucks (just to direct video from a DVD player to a TV) to a better set that cost around 145 bucks. It was worth it, because now I DO have more picture clarity. The clarity has improved so much that I can see a bunch of smaller details in DVD that I couldn't see before. Like how messed up the black is during the opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Yes I improved the quality so much I see more faults! :)
How does this apply to audio? Well same as the example above, but just in smaller doses. Will that Line Level Converter tapped into the stock speaker wire benefit from having a top of the line monster cable RCA behind it? Definitely not (unless you were picking up serious electronic noise post LLC). Will that aftermarket stereo benefit from Monster wire
over Radio Shack
? Definitely by a small degree, but it depends on a lot. Our cabs are filled with electronic and RF noise as is the world, and human ears vary greatly on sensitivity. But generally you will get truer, clearer, crisper, sound reproduction on a higher quality RCA. Will it be perceptable? Depends on you and the wires compared.
So is that Brand name cable worth 3-10 times the cost? Depnds on who's asking. It's definitely not
cost proprortionate. Like most other things in life, this part of car audio also follows the law of diminishing returns.
In the end just buy what you are comfortable with. Don't worry if your mild system doesn't have big name wires. Generic wires can definitely perform just as well in certain systems. It's just that generally speaking, that set of wires that costs 5 times more, may only perform 2-5% better.