Can speaker cables be too short?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Bell, Jun 23, 2002.

  1. Jason Bell

    Jason Bell Stunt Coordinator

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    Probably a stupid question but I just shortened my cables all the way down to about 5.5 ft and it seems like it changed the sound. Is this possible or just psychoacoustic?
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    If they were 100' before, you might hear a difference, otherwise it's probably just psychoacoustics. AFAIK, speaker cables cannot be too short. The only downside to short speaker cables is you have a problem if you have to move your speakers further away from your amp.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    assuming your connections were good before and still are, the answer is no. sometimes the sound changes, because in the process of rewiring, we move the speakers and they're not positioned the same way. but that is rather minamalist and personally i'd leave some leeway.
     
  4. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    If they are now shorter and not touching the floor at present vs. before or if the speakers have been slightly moved, it is possible that there could be some difference.
     
  5. Jason Bell

    Jason Bell Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for answering that for me.
     
  6. Jason Bell

    Jason Bell Stunt Coordinator

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    Phil,

    Both sets of cables take the same route on the floor to the speaker. My receiver sits in a cabinet just a few inches from the floor. The reason I did it was to clean up some of the clutter behind my entertainment center. The other cables were about 10-12 feet. Thanks.
     
  7. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    The only possibility I can think of is if the previous cables had been there for a very long time (several months or longer) and they'd oxidized, then the cutting/recabling might have resulted in fresh metal contact at the binding posts. This may improve signal transfer to the point where the sound improves slightly. Oxidation will be worse in a humid environment, and bare wire oxidizes faster than wire terminated in spades/bananas. If you're forced to use bare stranded wire for whatever reason, it's a good idea to treat the ends with anti-oxidants, or leave some slack and cut off 1/2" or so every six months.
     
  8. jeff peterson

    jeff peterson Supporting Actor

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    Since you are cleaning up the clutter, what about the possibility that you were getting some interferance from power cords running parallel to the speaker wires? I've always heard they should be perpendicular if they must cross, in order to reduce this.
     
  9. Mark Tranchant

    Mark Tranchant Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeff (edited from "Saurav" - see below :b ): this doesn't really apply to speaker cables.

    The issue is that mains power cables are passing AC, and thus generating an alternating electro-magnetic field around them. Any other cable in the vicinity will pick up this field like an aerial.

    However, the "impedance" of this pickup is very high - in other words, there is little "power" behind it. With a very low-impedance high-power line like a speaker cable, where you have a few ohms to drive, the effect of the interference will be completely negligible and inaudible, and will be totally swamped by the speaker signal. Looked at another way, the interference does not have the power needed to move the cone - otherwise radio transmissions would have the same effect!

    This does apply to signal interconnects, though, which are usually driving an input of a few tens of kilohms. This is why interconnects must be shielded, but speaker cables need not be.

    Jason: if you are hearing a real effect, and are using half-decent speaker cable (i.e. not bell wire), I'd go with the better connection/oxidation theory.
     
  10. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Jason, it is also possible that coiled-up it was coiled in a manner with some sharp bends that could make a difference.
     
  11. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Mark,
     
  12. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Saurav:

     
  13. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Good call. You're right, of course.
     
  14. Jason Bell

    Jason Bell Stunt Coordinator

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    They were coiled up a little before. That was part of the reason I shortened them.

    I thought Phsycoacoustics meant a placebo effect. I've been using the terms interchangeably. Can you define psychoacoustics for me. Thanks.

    As far as the change I'm hearing its almost like I'm hearing too much detail. I'm hearing more of the musicians interaction with their instruments (fingers sliding on the fretboards picks dragging on the strings.) Maybe I was just listening more critically after I shortened the cables and it was there all along. I wouldnt call the extra detail a bad or a good thing. I would call it distracting at times.
     
  15. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Loosely speaking, psychoacoustics is the study of how the brain processes sound. Run a search on Google, you'll find plenty of articles on it which would probably give you a much better idea about the subject than any explanation you find here.
     
  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Yes, you are probably listening more critically and starting to pick out the more subtle aspects of the musical pieces. Its only when you start hearing voices you need to be careful...lol. Eventually you may even start to dislike it if you hear it too often. Our brains are most amazing organs and our satisfaction with what we are listening to is influenced by the outside world and that can include perceptions. Now my recommendation, is to go out and buy a good microbrew, have a couple of bottles, and just enjoy your system.
     
  17. Jason Bell

    Jason Bell Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Saurav.
    Youre right Chu Gai, time to relax and just listen to music. No voices, yet.[​IMG]
     
  18. Mark Tranchant

    Mark Tranchant Stunt Coordinator

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    Saurav,

     

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