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Can Speaker Cable be too Short ? (1 Viewer)

Joe Mihok

Second Unit
Dec 14, 2003
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 :). Thanks for any answers this thread might produce.

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
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.


Stunt Coordinator
Nov 21, 2003


If the distance between your amp and speaker is 12 feet and your cables are 10 feet, then they're too short. :)
Jan 31, 2003
The best reponse to all questions regading speaker cables that I ever heard was the following:

"I like my speaker wire SHORT and THICK"


Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002
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.

Robert Cowan

Supporting Actor
Nov 10, 2003
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 :)

the less cable in a system, the better.

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