Can Speaker Cable be too Short ?

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by Joe Mihok, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. Joe Mihok

    Joe Mihok Second Unit

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    Someone told me Speaker cables should be at least 20ft in length because anything shorter will cause great resistance. Right now I'm using 5 ft pieces of 12-gauge wire for my 2 fronts and centre speakers .... is this a bad thing ?

    Might be a stupid question but I thought I would ask it anyways [​IMG]. Thanks for any answers this thread might produce.
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Joe.

    Make a note of who "Someone" is and never, ever take their advice again.

    There are several things wrong with that persons statement.

    First: resistance is a function of length. Double the length and you double the resistance.

    Second: Many audiophiles believe in short speaker wires. Arthur Dunluvy (a designer of high-end speaker systems) made sure one system had speaker wires of no more than 6 feet in length. This involved putting a separate amplifier behind each speaker to keep the wires short.

    There IS a audio myth that 'Someone' might be pushing. It's based on this:

    Fact: Your speaker has a "Nominal Impedence" of 8 ohms. But the impedence changes based on the sound. At low frequencies, the speaker impedence can be around 2 ohms. Several minutes of low-frequency sounds (like the lobby shootout scene in The Matrix can look like a short, causing heat and damaging your amp.

    Fact: One way to 'protect' your speaker is put some fixed resistance between the amp and speaker to make sure the resistance/impedence stays in the 3,4,5 ohm range.

    Myth: A long run of speaker wire will give a fixed resistance and 'protect' your electronics.

    This is bad for 2 reasons:
    • Speaker wire has a resistance of about 0.0082 ohms/ft. 20 feet of the stuff would give you something like 0.16 ohms resistance - hardly doing anything to protect your amp
    • The long run of speaker wire creates other issues including roll-off, and RFI issues (the long wire can act like an antenna)

    I suggest measuring your speaker wires to the exact length needed, then add a few feet so you can play with speaker positions. You also want to add about 1-2 feet beyond this so you can cut off the ends and re-strip every year or so as the exposed copper will oxidize.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Joe Mihok

    Joe Mihok Second Unit

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    You have no idea [​IMG] [​IMG] .
     
  4. DavidLW

    DavidLW Stunt Coordinator

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    YES

    If the distance between your amp and speaker is 12 feet and your cables are 10 feet, then they're too short. [​IMG]
     
  5. Joe Mihok

    Joe Mihok Second Unit

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    lol, great answer [​IMG]
     
  6. Doug_M_Fraser

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    The best reponse to all questions regading speaker cables that I ever heard was the following:

    "I like my speaker wire SHORT and THICK"

    [​IMG]
     
  7. JasonMilch

    JasonMilch Extra

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    No TRUE. No such thing as too short. (Regarding cables that is :)
     
  8. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Bob, you forgot to describe the #1 explanation of that "audio myth":

    The retailer gets to sell at least 100 ft. of really expensive speaker wire.

    Sort of a insidious variation of the "all wires must be the same length or else your ears will hear the sounds at different times" myth.
     
  9. Robert Cowan

    Robert Cowan Supporting Actor

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    eh, i use 3ft speaker cable for my mains. i have amps RIGHT next to the speaker, and the terminals on the speaker are at the very bottom. i could get away with 1ft if i wanted to [​IMG]

    the less cable in a system, the better.
     

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